31 October 2005

The Jiva Question (2)

An addendum to a previous blog.

Supposedly in response to my (scripturally correct) assertion that, according to the Vedic philosophy that Sai Baba claims to represent, souls are never created but have always existed, the same representative of Sai Baba promptly copy-pasted a selection of Biblical verses in support of her position regarding the creation of souls by God.

This representative was kind enough to produce a link that displays various translations of Genesis 1.27. For the sake of brevity, let us just post one of these here:

God created man in his own image. In God's image he created him; male and female he created them.

Whereas I have no fundamental problem with Christianity and it's ideas, this simply serves to illustrate one of the many quandaries into which SB devotees place themselves. Sai Baba, to his credit, does teach that one must have equal respect for all religions and faiths as well as how we should respect the differences as valid so long as they do not extinguish the flame of unity. In this vein SB also declares that one of the primary purposes of his "mission" is to foster the Vedas and Shastras and to protect Sanatana-dharma, and so it would naturally follow that carrying out this task predisposes him to be significantly biased towards the Vedic tradition.

Respecting other religions and their teachings is all very admirable, but what does it mean for his followers when they are faced with theological contradictions such as the one above. Did God create souls or didn't He? Sai Baba is philosophically biased towards the latter position and thus his Christian followers (or other types of followers who would significantly disagree) will have to find a way to reconcile the above contradiction. Simply picking a position and maintaining "respect" towards another conflicting position does not strengthen one's standing in a philosophical discussion or even in personal spiritual contemplation. The theological position relating to the origin of the soul is indeed a momentous issue and cannot be easily dismissed under the excuse of mutual respect.

That this issue constitutes a bona-fide doubt doesn't say much for Sai Baba's claims about the underlying unity of all religions, does it?

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

26 October 2005

Joy of Joys

Joe Moreno has suddenly decided that he is going to stop writing posts for my attention on certain Yahoo discussion boards. The reason is because he thinks it is unethical to continue his public debates with me after reading a post on another blog of mine that I wrote just over a month ago, where I spoke about some problems I have with depression and so on.

While I am not sure if his concern is feigned, patronising or, surprise surprise, actually genuine, it is clear that he still maintains an antagonistic attitude to me as well as all other anti-SB activists. What a shame.

I wonder why this is even an issue, given that I have been debating on the Yahoo forums since September 2000, both from pro and anti-SB sides, with perhaps just two or three prolonged absences due to offline responsibilities. In any case, I certainly haven't finished with him and his fallacious and ill-researched writings.

I'll of course appreciate his self-imposed break and give myself a chance to compose the response to his article that he has been begging for so long. What a shame I'm no longer an SB devotee, because this is the sort of thing I'd consider to be "Swami's miracle". :-)

At least I'll finally have some time to focus on issues that are strictly about Sai Baba and his philosophical/theological faults, instead of having to defend myself against idiotic accusations that always crop up from time to time when SB-followers don't have a genuine response to make to any reasonable argument.

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

25 October 2005

Talking To A Brick Wall

As well as the headlined sentiment, it also appears to me that talking to fanatical pro-SB people is really like trying to educate a group of chimps; all you should be doing is smearing bananas in their faces. Or, given the amount of repeating that they do, it is rather like feeding a handful of birdseed to parrots and waiting for them to choke on it.

I do wish that this blog does not become totally devoted to refuting the pathetic arguments of Moreno et al., but sometimes it is apparent that some of his writings will have to be dealt with at some point in the future. Given the pace of life that is mine, I can't really envision it being done by a certain deadline. It is a long and slow process that will also require the most incisive analysis. After all, given the fact that I used to argue on the pro-SB side against individuals such as Hari Sampath, Afshin Khorramshahgol, and others, it seems that I have never fully recovered from the exhaustion. Even arguing on the anti-SB side against individuals like Lisa De Witt, Sarfaraz Shamsi, and others, I'd say that it sapped my vitality having to repeat the same things over and over which becomes understandably frustrating.

It seems that unmoderated forums do not provide for polite and civilised discourse as the facility frequently allows people to spout anything they like, whether it be irrelevance, snidey comments, cheap shots or downright hostile abuse. A new set of ethics also seems to have been formed; no matter what side you are on, is it true that whatever is said by "your side" is automatically true, based in fact and thus irrefutable. Some people just don't bother to read properly, whereas others spend much of their time reading into things. Since many of the pro-SB folks exhibit intellectual dishonesty, it becomes almost impossible to solicit honest and truthful answers whenever genuine points are put forward.

We will be seeing more of such dishonesty in the future, doubtlessly.

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

Note of Caution

It's come to my attention that people are beginning to misuse the 'Comments' function that is provided under each posting. This blog acts like a journal that allows me to pen my thoughts on several aspects of the Sai Baba scenario, as well as post some insights and little bits of news that I discover.

The 'Comments' function is a privilege, not a right. Therefore any attempt by anyone to use this function in order to promote or give a link to their websites, or to make mocking and sarcastic remarks, is unacceptable and will be deleted. Therefore, Joe Moreno's comment and another comment by another SB devotee from UK named Simon has been deleted from the last two blog entries.

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

22 October 2005

Predictable Moreno Update (and hypocrisy issues)

When I made my point about Moreno's avoidance of the critical issues in favour of issues that are rendered obsolete due to the fact that they have been answered before and that Moreno is too lazy to find out for himself (asking me to find it for him!), which you can see by clicking on the headline of this blog, you'll find that even when directly faced with this scenario Moreno continues to wriggle away from directly confronting the matter and sticking to his own line.

In his reply, you can find him again asking his question and also asking me to "stop deleting his links", an issue which I will discuss later on in this blog. Judging from this one reply, it becomes obvious that Moreno simply has no regard for the truth at all despite his many claims and pretensions for doing so. He has continually ignored all of my points about his article (about me!) and how they contain factual errors and assumptions about me, and even when directly confronted with the fact that he is avoiding all of these many points in pursuit of a comparatively irrelevant direction, he still makes a habit of avoidance.

For me, this does not exemplify truthful, honest and sincere behaviour. It does not seem to me that Moreno and his ilk are actually interested in the truth. They have already made up their minds about ex-devotees, and anything that we say or do even in contrast with their expectations will not serve to change anything.

What can be done with such people? No fruitful discussion can be obtained, no benefit can be gained from such discussion, no insights to be understood and realised, nothing at all. It seems that for progress to be made, both sides must be at least willing to admit that yes, perhaps they have made a mistake. I see no such indication, because they have lumped us all in one category and that is that. Cut-and-dried. Open-and-shut cases.More about this some other time.

Moreno's interesting point about my "deleting his links" deserves some attention. It appears that his language is meant to register as a deliberate provocation: "And stop deleting my links. Do you have something to hide?" In response to this point, I retorted "Excuse me, who are you again?" Admittedly, there couldn't have been a more vague way of trying to convey the real intention behind my expression. What I actually meant to say was, "Excuse me, but who are you to tell me what I can or can't do when writing my posts?"
And after making yet aanother complaint about not answering his questions and about deleting his links, he proceeds to tell me that he will be writing about this on his site.

So over to his site we go, where I see yet another predictable "update". One of the things that Moreno is famous for is updating his site. Does that sound strange? Not at all, for a frequently-updated site is usually a good one. In Moreno's case, frequent updating does not seem to serve any serious purpose especially when he turns his attention to me. An example follows:
"Naturally, I informed Sanjay that if he supplied me with "direct evidence" (Sanjay's term), to refute the information on this page, I would update my article accordingly."
Unfortunately this is not quite what Moreno said. Before asking me for the direct evidence that would refute Moreno's disinformation, he first asked me to define what I meant with the term "direct evidence". I subsequently did so, making a note of the fact that since the context of the entire discussion was referring to the child-porn scenario, "direct evidence" would be exampled as:
'Direct evidence' in this regard to Lisa's *spurious* claims of my being acquainted with child/illegal pornography would constitute proof that:

a) I received such pictures
b) I sent pictures
c) Proof of them on my computer

And so on.
Moreno then proceeds to complain that my entire post was a "garrulous and indiscriminate attack" on him, as well as a "flippant diatribe". This is the type of behaviour that we have to deal with all the time, coming from people who you sit down and try to have reasonable discussion with. This is the problem that I have noticed with Moreno in much of his other writing; he seems to view everything as an attack. Every criticism, even if constructive, is an attack. Every challenge is an insult, an attack. Anything that you have to say that is even slightly negative is an unprovoked attack. There is definitely a problem with this fellow, and ostensibly this is the reason why he deliberately chose not to address any of the points about inaccuracy, inconsistency etc.

To move on, we find Moreno complaining again about how I "delete his links".
However what I found rather disturbing was how Sanjay felt the need to to edit my responses and remove the links I submitted to reference the points I made. If someone were to read Sanjay's post, without reading my original post, one would be under the impression that I am making unsubstantiated accusations ... After I requested Sanjay to stop deleting my links, Sanjay responded by saying, "Excuse me, who are you again?"
Oops, it seems that in referencing Moreno's point here I have again made an edit! Shock horror! What Moreno fails to understand is that I have a very good reason for doing so which I will explain here.

Well, in fact I have explained it many times before as well, which Moreno is apparently unaware of due to his lack of investigation and poor research! Funnily enough, when Moreno complains about this in the Yahoo forum, we hear Lisa De Witt chiming in that "[Sanjay] must have learnt it from Reinier". Since De Witt is unclear to what exactly she is referring to, I can only assume that she is saying that my habit of editing posts is something that I have learnt from Reinier van der Sandt, the webmaster of Exbaba.Com.

It has long been a habit of mine to respond directly to the point that I wish to respond to. I see no need to include all of the original text unless absolutely necessary. Anyone who is familiar with my posting history will know of this habit of mine. This is a convention that I employed even in the days when I was a devotee of SB in that same Yahoo forum. Indeed, it is a convention that I employed even back in the day when I was an SB devotee and used to post in SB devotional forums. What of it? What is the real problem about editing out unnecessary text and responding only to the specific point as needed? This is a perfectly normal convention that is employed by many people on many different forums. Some moderators even insist in their forum rules that replies to a post must delete excess quoted text, lest the post will not be accepted for publishing.

Include the full test of posts in your replies if you must, but I shall not and never do that unless absolutely necessary. There is no need for an excessive wastage of bandwidth.

Moreno's complaint is that by my supposedly deleting the links that he provided, I am giving people the impression that he makes unsubstantiated accusations. This is a most ridiculous and asinine line of argument. For a start, Moreno's original post(s) with intact links still exist on the forum archives for all and sundry to see and click on. If anybody wants to see what Moreno said in full, just click on his posts and read away. This is something that is blindlingly obvious for even a child to see and understand, so what is his problem?
I think that his problem is that deliberately wants to create the impression that I am some sort of a shifty person. He says as much: "... Stop deleting my links. Do you have something to hide?" Now considering that Moreno's full post with intact links is up there on the board archives for all and sundry to see, what could I possibly be hiding? Where is there even the possibility of hiding anything? It is also interesting to see the comment of Lisa De Witt regarding my learning this writing convention from Reinier. At least I can say that I have explained myself for Moreno's benefit, but the same cannot be said for Lisa De Witt. Whereas Moreno is still very green about these issues and suffers from a scandalous handicap of research, De Witt is another figure who has used similar "editing" arguments against me in the past and has invariably received the same sort of reply about my writing habits on several occasions, and thus when she claims that I have learnt it from Reinier she is caught in a lie. When you receive the same type of accusations from people who you have already explained to, what does this say about them and their understanding of simple English?

Supposing I sympathised with Moreno and started including the full texts in all of my replies, forever. What would happen in an ongoing discussion that takes place over weeks and months? Can you just imagine all of the text that one would have to read through in order to get to the latest response? It would make the whole exchange extremely difficult enough to read, as Moreno notes himself:
"Since I have pages that contain all of the relevant information, I prefer to provide a link (rather than posting voluminous amounts of information on the Yahoo page, which is difficult enough to read as it already is)."
So if Moreno thinks that the original Yahoo forum posts are difficult to read, it would be a reasonable proposal for him to understand and appreciate the convention of deleting unnecessary text in order to respond directly to specific points. I suspect that you cannot expect him to be reasonable about issues like this since his main objection is about my deletion of his links, which truthfully I didn't even notice until he brought the subject up. In other words, Moreno sees things that do not exist. Moreno projects and ascribes ideas onto people that are not there. Moreno fights phantoms.

Amazingly, Moreno tells us the following:
"This type of behavior once again goes to show how Sanjay resorts to sheepish acts of suppression and aggression to promote his smear and hate campaign against SSB and misrepresent viewpoints that clash with his own."
How ironic that this applies perfectly to the defenders of Sai Baba, as this behaviour of bringing up silly and inconsequential issues such as people's writing habits goes to show how they resort to sheepish acts of avoidance and negligence in order to promote their smear and hate campaign against ex-devotees of SSB, as well as completely misrepresent viewpoints that clash with tier own even when directly confronted with simple facts and scenarious that forces them to change their views. In fact, this is what this whole exchange has been about: Moreno's preconceived notions and his utter refusal to change them.

These types of silly distractions are typical of the pro-SB clan who seek to stir up these types of complete non-issues in order to create a smokescreen and an exhibition of their showmanship in order to distract people away from discussing the real topic at hand: Sai Baba and his activities!

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

A Bad Job Lot

Despite the ingrained polarity of differences, the direct clash of SB devotees and anti-SB ex-devotees is always a sight to see and an experience to, well, experience. I say clash, which in rare cases is not the norm and so may sound unduly harsh; debate, discussion and conversation are also forms of interaction that rarely occur in a peaceful and civilised manner. One would think that the subject of such interactions would be Sai Baba himself. Whether the subject refers to his positive works or to his negative and scandalous activities, it is reasonable to be assured that Sai Baba is right in the thick of things.

Unfortunately, some devotees still seem to be having trouble getting their heads around this simple point. For some queer reason they happen to believe that should anyone dare to point a finger of criticism at their beloved guru, that critic must be a perfect human being. Of course you will never catch them directly saying this since doing so would destroy their own credibility, but the unreasonable arguments that they bring forward, the dual standards that they apply, as well as the pathetic standard of trumped-up counter-attack, leave one in no doubt about the logic that seems to be at work; since Sai Baba is an embodiment of love, purity and perfection, his critics should also embody such qualities in their personalities and past histories. How this is practically applicable is beyond me since it is well-known that devotees of SB believe that he is verily God Himself, so to ask this of his critics is tantamount to suggesting that only God (or a godly person) is capable of criticising 'God'. It is beyond the capacity of mortal man to judge 'God' by his own pithy standards. Whereas this is a spiritual principle that resonates with truth, the fundamental problem with this line of argument is Sai Baba's divinity, or lack thereof. This argument is based on the fundamental premise that Sai Baba is God and is also the fundamental point of disagreement. Apart from that, how an obviously self-contradictory and self-defeating line of argument like this can ever be applied to reality and practical society is undetermined.

In this way, it becomes the norm to routinely attack ex-devotees for any and every "fault" that they may or may not have. Along with these attacks come spurious allegations relating to drug addiction, alcoholism, smoking, right up to the very extremes of child pornography. It is an issue of much regret that I have often been the candidate for accusation regading this last criticism. In other words, I am and have been routinely and falsely accused of having an association with child pornography and other illegal and/or deviant forms of pornography. I do not wish to get into the nitty-gritty of these accusations here as I have dealt with it many times in the past and thereby proving my innocence, and may even do so more exhaustively at some time in the future, but it is in the nature of these vindictive devotees never to let things drop. With the recent appearance of Joe Moreno on the discussion boards, this issue seems to have reared it's ugly head yet again. To be fair to Moreno, some other individuals routinely bring these issues up against various individuals in a desperate bid to deflect attantion away from the fact that they cannot answer direct questions relating to Sai Baba's philosophical and theological mistakes, divinity, or whatever. Nevertheless, this issue has come up again in perfect time to coincide with Moreno's appearance.

Before I start to discuss the issue that I wanted to be the subject of this blog. I'd just like to point out that attempting to tarnish the character of a critic or attempt to diminish his credibility in other ways is well known in some cicles to be a point of deflection. It is very easy to dismiss an argument with a cheap pot-shot about any what-have-you, and this is classically known as 'argumentem ad hominem'. In other words if you are stumped and cannot come up with a clear, logical, reasonable and accurate reply to a point that has been made, just avoid doing so by launching a personal attack against the person who made the point. I would trust that any reasonable person would agree that this is a backhanded way of carrying out a debate or a discussion, and that this practice is not only morally dishonest but intellectually dishonest too. And whenever I see a character-attack launched by anyone against anyone, I do personally regard the launcher as being intellectually dishonest if not ouright immoral. For me, it seems that it is a typical trait of Sai Baba's devotees to attack and attack frequently, no matter how ridiculous and false such accusations may be, and thereby directly disobeying SB's order not to do so.

If anyone would like to see my reply to Moreno's post, you simply need to click on the heading of this blog as it is enabled as a direct link. Therein you will see many points that I make in order to answer Moreno's question as to why I have never responded to his tabloid article about me. The basic cut-and-thrust of my argument revolves around how Moreno's article was so full of inaccuracies, poor research, assumptions and sheer lack of truth, I felt that it wasn't worthy of a reply from me much less a rebuttal. And since this took place within the context of the spurious child-porn allegations, a large part of my post was naturally devoted to explaining and presenting inconsistencies (as well as some anecdotes) in the child-porn argument and how any reasonable person should find it extremely difficult to believe that I was guilty of such an association. If I may quote from it:
"Why, when I KNOW that I am wholly innocent of the "charges" brought against me by a pack of screaming banshees, should I bother to respond to such balderdash? ... Having repeatedly denied these allegations as well as reposting my direct analysis of the posts involved repeatedly, there is nothing much I can do further when the same individuals pay no attention whatsoever to my refutations but proceed to scream louder. Disingenuous indeed."
Reading through my post again it strikes me as stunning that, considering the number of times I made points about inaccuracies, poor research, lack of investigation and so on, Moreno does not seem disturbed or in any concerned that his article has been labelled as more or less untruthful. However, it is definitely unrepresentative of me and my views on many subjects. This does not seem to bother Moreno at all, as we can see from his responses to my post. If anyone actually cares to view Moreno's website, the one outstanding impression that is gained is that he has a habit of leaving no stone unturned in his quest to seek information. Whether he possesses the necessary discrimination to judge the truth and veracity of such information is really a matter of opinion, but there is no denying that his analyses are often exhaustive if not pedantry extraordinaire. Therefore I was extremely surprised to see Moreno blatantly ignore all or most of the important points that I had made, only to seek my answer to a question of his regarding the spurious child-porn scenario.

As far as I am concerned, I was just extremely disappointed at the disingenuous nature of such a reply. It seems that his question is rendered irrelevant since I have answered such points on multiple occasions, the records of which still exist. It also occurred to me that Moreno's investigative ability was nothing special after all. This was obvious from the type of question(s) he asked; had he done the necessary investigation and research he would have known about the multiple answers I had submitted on that point, the records of which still exist. It seems that Moreno was directly proving one of the points that I had made: "[he has] jumped on the bandwagon and have proceeded to repeat the very same untruthful allegations and showing that [he has] done no independent little "investigation" of [his] own."

Oh well, what can you do? Moreno made his own position ridiculous after I informed him that I felt no need to answer the question again and since his question was made in the context of child-porn accusations, the burden of proof was on him and other accusers to prove that I am guilty of the same. He subsequently retorted:
"I have not been able to find any reply where you answered this question directly. So why don't you tell me under which post you gave your reply?"
Funnily enough, I do not have the time nor the inclination to trawl through hundreds , if not thousands, of posts authored by myself in order to show where I have said something on whatever subject. Again, if anyone wants to accuse me of something then the burden of proof is on them to show that I am guilty of it. In other words, despite Moreno's obvious flair for reportage and investigation, it is a wonder why he is suddenly so reluctant to find a post (rather than the multiple ons that exist) where I have de facto answered his question.

Personally, I was just very surprised that through all of these further exchanges, he was continually avoiding the other important points that I had made in regards to the changing nature of the child-porn argument against me, as well as objective and undeniable facts and even the lack of direct evidence (as Moreno kindly asked me to define).

Judging by the poor standard of respnses so far, I immediately began to regret spending a large amount of time writing posts that were hardly read properly, never mind appreciated. Regarding the subject of truth and lies, this important point about Moreno's avoidance of important criticism of his articles suggests that he still believes that his writings are truthful and factual enough to remain published as the same no matter how many faces there are in the crowd who laugh at him, boo, hiss, and throw rotten eggs and tomatoes.

For all the guff we constantly hear about what a crazy bunch of liars and crooks we ex-devotees are, it seems very much obvious that the vindictive devotees who make this criticism are not all that better. It becomes illogical to dispaly a self-righteous and sanctimonious attitude when there is a huge amount of inconsistency, disingenuity, and outright lies in their "analyses". Those devotees are a bad job lot.

And despite the guff of Joe Moreno, his own personal situation becomes the target for even more ridicule when all of his efforts are discounted by the overriding fact that he is not a devotee of Sai Baba at all!

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!

09 October 2005

Disturbing attitudes to philosophical treatment

Continuing with the views about SB devotees' attitudes to philosophy as a whole as well as their subjective and relative disregard for scripture, it becomes disturbing to note that even SB himself regularly quotes scriptures (albeit randomly) in his discourses! Considering this fact, one has to wonder why his followers maintain a healthy disregard for scripture on matters of spiritual philosophy and generally only show token respect and lip-service.

This is a disturbing trend that sometimes surfaces amid forum discussions whenever philosophical points come up for discussion. The discussion and it's pursuance is usually a waste of time given the lack of knowledge exhibited by most devotees, but the attitude towards scriptural authority itself is a concern. One should do well to remember that even SB includes it in his "mission statement" to re-establish the authority of the Vedas and Shastras as his mission and educate humanity about them.

Besides that, the excuse is often made that since SB was born and raised in India it would naturally be the case that he affords importance to the Vedic body of scripture. As far as I know, this sentiment first openly appeared in David Bailey's book that he wrote when he was a devotee. I disagreed with it then just as I do now. To be devoted to an "avatar" such as Sai Baba means that you are affirming your belief that he is an incarnation of God. As such, would it be proper for any so-called devotee to subject the words of "God" to his own myopic and narrow relative standards? In other words, as far as the devotee is concerned, the word of his master is law and if Sai Baba makes it a priority in his mission to re-establish and affirm the authority of the Vedas and Shastras as he says, then the matter is final.

In this way, some SB devotees appear to have the impression that, upon reaching an "advanced" stage in their spiritual life, they have no further need for scriptural guidance and that it becomes obsolete or even irrelevant. They claim that this is the position of Vedanta also. This is a factual error for Vedanta says no such thing. In some circles it would even be considered a blasphemy to say such things.

What the Vedanta does say, however, is zAstra-yonitvAt (shaastra-yonitvaat). This is the third sutra of Vedanta, and it roughly means that God is the source of the scriptures and thus there are no other means of knowledge to seek God apart from them. Rather interesting, I'd say. And considering that this is the actual Vedantic position, I'd say that you'd be hard-pressed to find a scholar who'd agree that scriptural guidance becomes irrelevant at some point in time. For a start, this would render meaningless the claims to eternal guidance, as well as the fact that even fully-realised gurus who factually have no need of scripture (as they have attained realisation) would still follow scriptural rules for the purposes of setting an example for the populace to follow. As the Bhagavad-gita (3.21) says:

yad yad Acarati zreSThas
tat tad evetaro janaH
sa yat pramANaM kurute
lokas tad anuvartate

Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow.
And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.

Since you rarely find a saint disobeying scriptural regulations, the conclusion is clear.

Copyright © Sai Baba EXPOSED! 2005-2007. Discuss this post!