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Outsourcing Spirituality? A tale of two ashrams

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Outsourcing spirituality – a tale of two ashrams
America is a land of spiritual poverty.  There is an acute shortage of qualified gurus, so we have to outsource our spiritual help to India, Israel (for Kabbalah), or Japan (for Zen Buddhism).  America went from being a land of shamanistic Native Americans to being a Christian country, but is now a multi-religious and mostly athiest and spiritually lost country.  The best spiritual help we receive is from groups from India.  There are two spiritual groups that stand out in my mind.  Both have wonderful spiritual benefits, but vastly different management styles.
SRCM – The Sri Ram Chandra Mission AKA Sahaj Marg.
A very spiritually potent group based in Manapakkam, Chennai, of Tamil Nadu, India.  With a lineage of three very powerful Masters or “Gurus”, this group has a lot to offer spiritually.   However, the management of the group engages in a multitude of sins including neglegence, discrimination, and general disorganized behavior. The current living guru is very capable at administering fast spiritual work to aspiring followers (abhyasis).  The previous guru has long since departed this world, but remains available to many of us in spirit form.  One French lady has written volumes of very long books with her conversations with this departed spirit.  The lady is a clairvoyant medium, and considered to be very talented spiritually, and at spirit communication.  The issue is that SRCM has had a presence in North America for roughly forty years, but has not grown its presence.  The Master is frustrated with the lack of growth, and therefor feels its not worth his investment in time to visit here.   The reason behind the lack of growth seems obvious — the group doesn’t cater to the preferences of Westerners and only attracts a small clicque of cliquish Indians who often leave others out of the picture. Behind the constant and deceptive use of the word “Brother” to address others when there is an acute absense of any semblence of brotherhood. Its clear, that SRCM or Sahaj Marg is a half cult, half spiritual group, and embraces a culture of excluding people.
Despite the superior spiritual offerings, culturally, this group is so opposite to what is acceptable to even the most accepting Westerner, that only a few hundred Westerners seem to stick to the practice on a national level.  The followers are too cowardly to confront the Master and let him understand that a policy of “Cultural condusiveness” is absolutely essential for the group to grow.  What I mean by cultural condisiveness is that you (1) don’t force Westerners to remove their shoes, (2)  you don’t harrass Westerners when they don’t follow Indian customs and habits, (3) you don’t force Westerners to sit in gender segregated meditation halls (at least during their first few years until they are well used to the group), (4) you don’t force Westerners to eat ONLY Indian dishes and the same dishes each time for the rest of their lives every single time they attend a function (BTW – when they cook American food, its so bad we beg them to cook Indian food again) (5) you don’t have the same set of talks again and again and again for the rest of our lives without offering some variety (6) you don’t play garbled videos that nobody can understand. (7) don’t harrass people taking a nap, (8) don’t harrass people who eat meat, (9) don’t give evasive answers to serious spiritual questions, (10) don’t have an inner circle which excludes everyone else.  The list of what not to do is endless.  It is because of these multitudes of sins, plus the lack of welcomingness and warmth in the environment that Westerners wouldn’t be caught dead at Sahaj Marg.
On a brighter note, if the Master really tuned in to these problems, and appointed managers and leaders who were devoted to solving these problems, then Sahaj Marg would be a valuable asset to the West.
The Ananda Mission
As a world traveler, I have come across the Ananda Mission.  Another spiritual mission who outsources its spiritual offerings from a lineage coming mainly from India.  They also acknowledge Jesus as one of their spiritual guides which is unique for an India-centric group. On the other hand, there are many records that show that Jesus spent themajority of his life in various parts of India, while only spending less than two non-consecutive decades in Israel, making Jesus — Indian!  Additionally, this group’s members are 90% caucasian, but they mostly have Indian names! The Ananda mission does everything right, that Sahaj Marg does wrong.
There are warm and caring people to greet you at their Nevada City Ashram.  The members are warm and caring and sweet too.  There is no fake brotherhood or fake “Universality”.  The food is high quality vegetarian food that is different every day and a treat to eat.  I don’t even like vegetarian food, but I love THEIR vegetarian food because of the care they put into it.  There is no monotonous culinary torture at the Ananda Mission.  Spiritually, meditation is perfect there, and my spiritual condition is positively altered long after I leave their venue.  To top it off, they have an endless variety of programs about everything from improving your health, and life, to understanding spirituality, one aspect at a time.  They have many events each day given by caring people who really try to give good answers to questions.  Although this group is very Indian in its spiritual philosophy, it is 200% acceptable to Westerners who are looking for a nice and informative spiritual group to belong to.
I feel stuck in the SRCM mission which is a constant source of grief, and I love the Ananda Mission which I am only a visitor too. Unfortunately the Ananda folks practice Kriya Yoga which is a very high quality of Yoga, but very different from the Raja Yoga that I have bee practicing for 20 years.  I guess my persional mission is to try to improve the mission that I belong too, even if it means pulling teeth (which it does).  We’ll see what happens…