By Cathy Eck
A Man Called God
Yesterday, I saw an amazing film at the “San Diego Black Film Festival” entitled, “A Man Called God.” The description read: “India’s most infamous Holy man, a fanatical cult, fifty million followers, one American family, an epic tragedy…” I had a hunch I knew the film’s message; but quite frankly, I was shocked that anyone had the guts to tell it.
Years ago, I lived in a small town in Virginia that was filled with devotees of a guru called “Master Charles.” I watched people slowly lose themselves; eventually, they couldn’t do anything unless the guru gave them permission. They were possessed. They thought they were spiritual, but they were really just fucking lost. You could see it in their eyes.
In addition, I also met many New Agers. Much of what they said sounded true until they talked about their gurus — often Sai Baba. I’d feel strong agitation in my stomach — the feeling you get before you vomit.
Ironically, my ex-husband had priest friends, and I felt that same level of emotion in my stomach every time I was around them. My body simply couldn’t stomach them, but I thought perhaps there was something wrong with me.
For communication purposes, I’ll label this emotion disgust or lust. But you can’t let go of a labeled emotion. In truth, the emotion was my True Self screaming that these men or their devotees/believers were speaking falsehood. I mostly just politely ignored them — unless they tried to recruit me. Then I honestly told them what I felt. At which point, I was severely judged.
Why is there so much lust in clergy? More important, why do followers turn a blind eye even when they know abuse exists?
Lust was probably the real reason early Biblical leaders had so many wives. If someone is spewing beliefs (lies) all day long, they become filled with emotions. Their emotions were saying: Let go. Shut up. But they believe their minds are telling the truth — their strong emotions must be validation of righteousness.
Lots of these men turn their emotion into charisma and dissipate it on followers. Others gravitate to violence or war. Many turn to sex. When we don’t know the purpose of our emotions, and we can’t let them go, we project the release outside of us; and we do awful things to ourselves and others to get emotional relief.
The Story (Spoiler Alert)
Kristoff St. John wrote and produced the film. I learned that he’s famous for his Emmy-winning performance on the American soap, “The Young and the Restless,”
As a young boy, about thirty years ago, Kristoff’s stepmother became enamored with Sai Baba. She took young Kristoff to India. Sai Baba asked Christopher St. John, Kristoff’s father and a famous actor/film artist, to make a documentary about him. Consequently, Christopher arrived in India with a full camera crew and began filming.
One day, young Kristoff talked to some local college students (something forbidden by Sai Baba). They told him that Baba had sexually abused them; they were paid to keep quiet.
Meanwhile, Kristoff’s stepmother was becoming possessed by Sai Baba. The look in her eyes says it all (picture below); it’s a look I’d seen by every devotee in Virginia. All she wanted was a look, touch, or word from her guru so she could feel whole.
Eventually Kristoff was sexually abused by Baba. Contrary to orders, he told his father. The story evolves, and Sai Baba forces the family to leave; his stepmother didn’t leave until her life was threatened. Other devotees, whom they’d met in India, ended up mysteriously dead.
The raw footage of this movie is old. But Kristoff and his team put it together beautifully; it’s a work of art with a powerful message. Kristoff had to heal before telling the story. San Diego was his first showing, and his ten-year old daughter was present. He didn’t hide this horror from her — I could see how much she appreciated that. It brought them closer. Honesty doesn’t harm our children; it’s our secrets that harm them.
Sai Baba died on Easter, 2011, with a $9 billion estate. Devotees took his Easter death as a sign, but the truth was they simply took him off life support. Sai Baba was famous for producing white dust from thin air — vibhuti. Turns out, Sai Baba’s grandfather was a famous magician; it was a damn good trick.
In the east, it’s gurus. In the west, it’s the Pope, his minions, or the false notion of Jesus as God. Why do people follow these false teachers? It’s simple. We’re trained to follow our emotions — we believe relief is outside of us. We’re not trained to let go of causal beliefs.
When I felt emotion around gurus, clergy, or their followers, I viewed it as a signal from my True Self to ignore them. When believers feel emotion, they think it’s a sign of truth. Devotees say they feel unconditional love from the guru — but it’s actually magnetism. The gurus and clergy hold a belief that they have the truth; the followers also believe their gurus or clergy have the truth. The complementary beliefs magnetically link creating a false sense of calmness. When we try to pull away, we feel the strong emotions again; we often run right back for relief.
I felt validated watching the film. I’d often been judged for my repulsion to gurus and clergy. The devotees/believers labeled me unspiritual and even evil. Often I wondered if they were right; I’d fall into seeming endless sadness. But I’ve learned that if we continue to trust our emotions, and use them as designed, eventually the truth does set us free.
I applaud Kristoff. Having the courage to share the truth without even an ounce of victimhood set him free of his past. He’s created a huge crack in the illusion leading the way for others to expose the con men in their life.
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