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Shyam Interviews: the Scandal

A Letter from Jean

Message # 1 from the Shyamtruth email group Aug 18, 2000
"Transmission of the Flame" by Jean Bouchard d'Orval

Dear friends,

Thanks to Pramod for setting up this forum of discussion.

I don't know how it will go, or even if it will go, but I think it is a good idea, especially with him as a moderator. We all play different roles on different occasions in life and I guess mine is not that of a moderator this time, rather it is the role of an accelerator. If at all something has become obvious, it is that we are all quite the same, i.e., there is one way for the mind to work.

So, we may take and receive some shots at and from each other, but in my mind these should not be shots at anybody but rather shots at the one and only mind of humanity. It is fair to take shots at each other in that spirit. Those who can't stand the heat should leave the kitchen. When I express something, it is an occasion for me to check if I act with an intention or if it is free, and when I am at the receiving end, it is an occasion to check if and how it touches some element of contraction in me. I think that's the way.

What we express cannot be separated from what is felt inside. As far as I am concerned, this episode (the revelations about Swami's behaviour) has been an occasion to see once again that making big claims of the kind Swami Shyam and so many others before him made about himself is a rather risky undertaking for the one who makes them, because then one has to make sure he can walk the talk for the rest of his life.

What makes all these gurus claim to be something they know very well they are not ? I think it is a form of insecurity in them: their need to be listened to, to be admired, to be the object of unconditional devotion. It is also the insecurity of the disciples who want it. It is exactly like the problem of drugs: there are dealers simply because there are people who want the stuff. It is obvious that there is still a huge market for these old fashion gurus who herald daily the necessity of their presence and guidance for their disciples to "realize the Self".

I see the usefulness and the beauty of meeting someone who has been touched deeply by freedom, but why this insistence on the guru's story and other decorative elements ? Because of insecurity, in the guru and in his disciples. That explains the power games (which leads to the humiliation of very sensitive people for no good reason), the incapacity to deal with any form of criticism without anger, the seduction games (which leads to the usual sex scandals), the confusion carefully maintained around the word "guru" (the slip from the divine to the human), the assaults on reason, the special treatment of the riches and the famous, the infantilization of the weak ones, the whole jumbo mambo we have witnessed for so long, thinking it was for our evolution and that doubts and criticism are signs of our ego.

It has been the traditional gambit of Indian gurus to teach that doubts should be cast away if one were to attain freedom, but I maintain, on the contrary, that doubts are very essential : it distinguishes a human being endowed with life and consciousness from a mere tape recorder. History shows that the absence of doubts usually leads either to disaster or, in the best case, to life long stagnation.

One absolutely doesn't need the presence of a charismatic leader and a great speaker in order to realize his freedom. There are human beings that live their freedom and they don’t need any circus around them. They are not great speakers, nor are they peddling any technique or ideal. They don’t need money, approval, recognition or admiration. They don’t want to liberate us at all cost, they don’t need disciples. They don’t even want to “create masters”. They don’t embark on any program but freedom, and that is not a program : it is not a thing that one can put in his pocket or boast to have. They want nothing. They are just tranquil and shining. That is their efficiency.

Now is the time for maturity and real autonomy. If at all something should be clear, it is that nothing can replace it. There is no substitute for autonomy. By constantly delegating our freedom to one person, under the cover of universal guru, we completely lose ourselves. Nobody can be clear at our place. For God sake, when are people going to stop waiting for some teacher to show them how to go where they already are ?

We all know this intellectually, but if people would live it in any way, there wouldn't be hundreds of people checking, for the last thirty years, if Swami is out. What about what we really know for ourselves, what we really feel first hand, without intermediaries ? Is freedom always going to be for tomorrow ? Experience shows that nothing has ever happened to us tomorrow. For so long people around charismatic leaders have been waiting to “become realized” and it has never happened ; it never even came close to happening, because the very way they approach it denies it.

All the time one is trying to practice some technique to attain freedom one day, he keeps pretending he is not that freedom right now. Waiting for anything is the complete denial of freedom and a symptom of confusion. People are actually spending their whole life waiting for life! They are actually suffering, calling themselves to be freer and freer every day… for three decades.

One makes bold claims about freedom, can quote Patanjali, can sing long strings of Gita verses, is a clever speaker, but inside one has enormous problems. “Meditation” is used as a postponement, as little sugar cube, or as a sleeping pill, so one doesn't have to face clearly what is. When one comes back to the waking state, nothing has changed. We may reach some tranquility in “meditation”, but clearly tranquility and freedom does not reach us in our life. Yet, hardly any one has been able to seriously question that approach, because the one who introduced it is “guru” and everything guru does is perfect. That has to change soon or later and now is the time!

To agglutinate in flocks around a “guru” for decades is a serious symptom of profound insecurity in the “disciple” and in the “guru”. It is a total lack of confidence in Life. Under these circumstances, grace is unable to reach us. The question of honesty is central in spiritual life. Pretension is what keeps a human being from living free.

So, spiritual practice is 100 % honesty : seeing things as they are. Not 99 %, but 100 %. One has to see clearly all forms of hypocrisy in oneself, otherwise he remains unworthy of grace, which is the only thing that “works”. The tactics of sitting in the corner to “meditate” when one feels agitated, depressed, bored, fearful, angry, lustful or doubtful is a lack of perspective. It is violence, it is fascism. But mostly, it doesn’t work.

Anything that comes up in one’s life is the object of meditation, the ishta deveta. Whatever comes up, especially when it disturbs us, is total grace : it is the greatest door to freedom, provided we stop trying to look in the other direction every time our images of ourselves are challenged by reality. Because one never goes all the way into the truth behind fear, boredom, lust etc., he is reduced to repeat these again and again for his entire life. In the end, he considers his life and wonders where all these years have gone and where is the promised Paradise for “meditators”.

I see the earthquake rocking Shyam Space as a tremendous occasion to break through something very old. Something has been sticking to the bottom of the pan for too long. As many may have noticed, the whole issue and the ongoing hypocrisy in Kullu made me very fiery. Why not? It is called transmission of the flame. We should all be grateful for this grace, because it is grace. What is happening is very beautiful, provided we stop pretending.

Thank you very much,

Jean Bouchard d'Orval

The Dark Side of Swami Shyam

Swami Shyam's Web Site

"Sex and the Celibate Swami", an article written by John Stackhouse on Swami Shyam, featured in Canada's Globe and Mail in March, 2001.

Open Letter to All Shyams

Gisele's letter Aug. 25, 2000

Jean Bouchard's letter

Marut's synopsis on the Shyam scandal


Resumé / CV


Student's Prints


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