Joe Whalen responds to Erika
Andersen's suggestion that ex-premies filter out positive
information about Maharaji:-
ERIKA, YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FILTERING ME
Erika Andersen has a new article on her website entitled
Filtering out the Good (November 11, 2001). It is
very much in line with the themes of most of the other
things she has written, namely, that those "critics" of
Maharaji are focusing on "selected information," only
presenting part of the story, or giving false information
about Maharaji. Why do they do this? Well, Erika usually
says its because there is something wrong with them.
In earlier articles she said that they criticize
Maharajis obscene wealth because they are filled with
jealousy, in another, she says they criticize
Maharajis ashrams because they were too spiritually
immature and moved in for the wrong reasons. In this
article, her theory is that its because they have a
"filter" in their brains.
Erika says that critics of Maharaji have a
"hes-a-jerk-and-a-cult-leader filter" in their heads
and hence can see Maharaji only negatively. Erika never
addresses what might cause someone to get such an infirmity,
but she says the "filter" causes these critics to come
across as "rote, predictable and often self-righteous." But
as is the pattern in her other articles, Erika never gets
around to addressing, or responding to, any allegations that
ex-followers have actually made about Maharaji, as opposed
to those Erika fabricates herself. (See especially, her
article Myth Buster dated August 8, 2001 and my response
thereto for examples of Erikas propensity to make
things up). Because she will not deal with those specific
allegations, predictably, she is left with only the route of
attacking the people who make those "predictable and often
self-righteous" criticisms. And this she does.
That one could turn her hypocritically "self-righteous"
lecture on this subject back on Erika seems to have eluded
her. It would be quite logical to suggest that followers of
Maharaji are typical of other cult members and have
extremely skewed views of Maharaji because they "filter" out
all negative information about their cult leader. Further,
they then engage in "rote" responses like Erika does, with
self-righteous put-downs of critics as having some sort of
mental defect, like she also does. Isnt it ironic?
One also gets the impression after reading a number of
Erikas articles that she is talking to children and
not teenagers either, but really young children, like
seven-year-olds. She usually presents some simplistic
metaphor or illustration, like comparing her marriage to the
evolution of Maharaji, comparing the ashram to a tropical
plant, comparing the critics one-sided views of
Maharaji to views of her daughter as a truant and a thief,
and so on.
In this article, the simplistic metaphor involves a
fictional business executive named "John" whom Erika is
distressed to note "thinks that most of the other senior
people in his company are idiots." Because "John"
steadfastly holds on to this viewpoint, Erika says he
"filters" good things that those other people might do.
Similarly, and Im sure you can see this coming, Erika
says that Maharajis critics do the same thing; they
take all information about Maharaji and view it through
their pre-conceived "filter," not only failing to see the
positive, but also twisting it into the worst possible
What Erika never asks is why does "John" think those
associates are "idiots?" Did " John" just make that up for
no reason? Is "John" just mean, vindictive and wicked? Could
it possibly be that Johns associates really are
idiots? In any case, isnt it very important to ask
what interactions or experiences caused "John" to have that
viewpoint, since its logically unlikely that he just
pulled it out of thin air?
Maybe they walk into walls, or repeatedly stick their
fingers into the electric pencil sharpeners, or are just
very incompetent in their jobs. The point is, there are
experiences "John" has had with these people that have made
him have the opinions he does. Avoiding a close examination
of their validity and getting to the bottom of whether they
are indicative of the kind of co-workers "John" actually
has, would not seem to help the situation. Just telling
"John" that he has a "pre-conceived" viewpoint and to get
rid of it, without analyzing whether the viewpoint is valid,
would seem to be a major waste of time. Despite this obvious
flaw, Erika uses this same intellectual fallacy when she
talks about Maharajis critics. So, we get no analysis
of why they think the way they do about Maharaji, just that
the way they think about him is very messed up.
But regarding "John," one would also think that continued
and repeated evidence of the competency of his co-workers
would likely turn him around, either showing that he was
wrong, or that his co-workers had changed. On the other
hand, if such evidence does not arise, maybe "John" is right
after all. A person does not just start out with a
"pre-conceived" point of view. It takes a lot of evidence
and experiences to "conceive" the viewpoint. Presumably,
"John" has had a lot of experiences with his co-workers,
just like ex-followers of Maharaji have had lots of
experience interacting with, and observing, Maharaji, some
for as many as 25 or more years.
In fact, the only situation in which overwhelming contrary
information does not have this effect is, well, in cults.
Thats because people in cults do what Erika Andersen
does, they engage in mind control. They generalize,
obfuscate, attack the person providing the contrary
information, deflect, and to every extent possible, protect
the cult leader from criticism, even if it means blaming
themselves. Under no circumstances do they analyze the
validity of the criticisms of the cult-leader that the
So, Erika tells us that for some unstated reason some former
followers of Maharaji have developed this "filter." The more
"antagonistic" these opponents of Maharaji are, Erika
diagnoses, the more they have such a "filter" (an
"impermeable set of negative assumptions" no less), and the
less they are able to see Maharaji clearly. She provides two
examples of this phenomenon.
Example Number One: Erika says that the critics with these
filters" would view the fact that Maharaji hasnt been
involved with her website, as evidence that he is "a jerk
and a cult leader" for being so "heartless." If he were
involved with the site they would say he was "a jerk and a
cult leader" for using the site to his own advantage.
According to Erika, poor Maharaji is "damned if he does,
damned if he doesnt" by such filter-infested
Not to be as dramatic as Erika, but this is insane. I
dont think critics of Maharaji care whether Maharaji
has commented on Erikas website, and I havent
seen any comments, even on the Forum, one way or the other.
Its kind of a non-issue. It certainly isnt
something thats on the high priority list of
criticisms of Maharaji. One thing I will say is that I would
bet hard-earned money that if Maharaji didnt want her
website up, or wanted it changed, it would be gone or
changed, no doubt about it. He wouldnt need to make a
public statement either. Just a communication over "first
class" or through the proper communication channels and it
would be done.
Similarly, if Maharaji wanted the CAC and the other websites
that members of his cult have set up to criminally attack
his "critics" to be gone, they would be as well. There have
been seven separate websites so far; one website remains as
of the date of this writing. That site accuses me and others
of committing felonies, and it includes the names of our
employers. We have heard nothing whatsoever from Maharaji
about this. What are we to conclude?
I think there are three possibilities: 1) He doesnt
know about them; 2) He doesnt care one way or the
other about them; or 3) He approves of them. Since I find
item "1" utterly implausible, that leaves the other two,
either of which reflects very negatively on Maharaji. Is
this just my filter working, making it impossible for me to
see the positive side of Maharajis inaction or tacit
approval of those attack websites, or is this a legitimate
conclusion? What do you think Erika? More importanly, what
would an "innocent bystander" think?
Erikas Example Number Two: Maharaji has made some
changes in how he presents himself since the 70s (like
closing the ashrams, dropping "Guru," no longer wearing
Krishna outfits and crowns, etc.). Erika thinks Maharaji
made those changes for entirely positive and altruistic
reasons -- so knowledge would be more available to people.
But Erika laments that the "filter-critics" see those
changes as "deception" and a way to "keep people under his
control" and "to make money."
Okay, fair enough, there are always two sides to any story.
But we are talking about motivations and because of
Maharajis failure to explain any of this we dont
know for sure. I tell my students that when they dont
know the full story about something they should focus on
what you do know -- focus on the evidence that is available.
Anyone who does that will see that its Erika who is
doing the filtering, not Maharajis critics.
For example, we have the testimony of at least two former
high-level people who were assistants to Maharaji at the
time he closed ashrams saying that he did so for financial
reasons, because the ashram premies were getting older and
were more a liability than an asset. Maybe they were also an
obstacle to propagation, and that was a reason as well. But
Erika doesnt seem to grasp that by "filtering" out the
evidence of the other motivations, it makes it impossible
for her to see why in relation to the ashrams, people
criticize Maharaji as being uncaring towards his followers.
Obviously, people who do not think Maharaji is worthy of
being their master do not think there should still be
ashrams. No, the "critics" do not criticize Maharaji for
closing the ashrams; it was his motivations for doing so,
and the uncaring way he did it, especially in light of how
he browbeat us for years prior into being terrified of ever
leaving the ashram that is the criticism.
What about getting rid of the Hindu trappings, and how the
"filter-critics" view that as "cynical?" I dont
consider those changes cynical as much as I consider them
superficial, because I dont think all that much has
changed. Darshan and ARTI are still happening. I watched a
video of Long Beach 1997 and watched Daya and the Pwks sing
"please, please, please teach me devotion" to Maharaji as he
sat on stage, and how Maharaji is "pure and his love is
deeper than the ocean," etc. I saw the Pwks go ape-shit when
he got up and danced just like in the bad old 70s. And I can
see how some would find it cynical when Maharaji, Elan Vital
and Erika make it sound like those changes were deep and
profound. "Devotion" is now "gratitude." "Service" is now
"participation," "Word Technique" is now "Technique Number
3." So what? The basic belief system of the cult is just as
intact as it was in 1973, just with some new buzzwords. Yes,
the ashrams are closed and that is a positive change,
because it means fewer people can be exploited and abused in
that forlorn institution.
Most critics of Maharaji dont really care that he made
those changes. The criticism is that Maharaji has never
taken the responsibility that one would think a "master"
should, to explain, counsel, admit errors and address the
real human damage he caused. Instead, he ignores, covers-up,
blames others, and lies. For example, for years Maharaji
claimed to be the incarnation of God, as can be
substantiated in numerous quotes, and now he lies and claims
he never did it.
Maharaji and Elan Vital must have the worlds worst PR
people, because on the Elan Vital website there is an actual
video clip of Maharaji in which he outright lies about this.
The text on the Elan Vital website is also a lie. This
isnt about changing Hindu trappings. Its very
basic. Its that Maharaji seems to have a real problem
with telling the truth. A lie is a lie and no "filters" can
change that one way or the other. This, in addition to his
incapability of admitting he has ever committed errors, much
less taking responsibility for such errors, or doing
anything to correct the damage they caused, is dispositive
in my view of his ever being my master. Of course, this
would be important information for any "innocent bystander"
also to know, and they are unlikely to get it from either
Maharaji or Erika. Thank God for the critics.
To be fair, maybe partly because of our criticism, Erika
courageously tries in her article to make a lunge towards a
very tiny criticism of Maharaji. One can almost see
Erikas teeth clench as she says the following: