Robert C. Priddy

Writings on diverse themes from philosophy, psychology to literature and criticism

  • Robert Priddy


    In this blog I post information and critical views concerning ideologies, belief systems and related scientific materials etc. I am a retired philosophy lecturer and researcher, born 1936.

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Archive for October, 2009

Critical reflections on Advaita Vedanta

Posted by robertpriddy on October 13, 2009

Advaita has many sub-variants, such as Nisagardatta’s unsystematic pontifications to much more strict presentations by theologically-minded advaitists in the tradition of Adi Shankara or even Ramana Maharshi. The best succinct explanation of how the abstract religious-theological ‘philosophy of Advaitism or Vedanta Advaita developed is surely that given by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstead in their seminal book ‘The Guru Papers, Masks of Authoritarian Powers’ (North Atlantic Books, Berkeley) . I quote briefly:

Oneness, the pinnacle of religious abstraction, is the aspect of Eastern thought the West is currently the most enamoured of. The early Vedism of the Ayran invaders that superimposed itself on indigenous forms was a combination of polytheism, ancestor worship, and ritual sacrifice similar to Greek and other Indo-European religions.

Then the authors point out how the more sophisticated non-duality of all being (advaitim) came to be, rising the level of abstraction (i.e. products of thought that may or may not refer to something other than thought) “The more abstract a symbol, the larger range of events it can include

There is power in being able to incorporate one symbol into another.  When the level of abstraction that people operate in is no longer satisfying or credible, for whatever reason (often because of advances in secular knowledge), the tendency is to look for a still higher level. The more abstract a symbol, the larger range of events it can include.” (p. 349)

It is easier to incorporate science into ideas of Oneness etc. and this appeals to both West and East.

The more abstract a concept is the more it generalizes; and at the same time, it leaves out particulars, sometimes even the particulars of life itself. By abstracting the sacred from nature, the different religions in their diverse ways made nature low on the hierarchy of importance.

Concepts of spirituality became more abstract, moving from individual “spirits” embedded in nature to abstract principles and powers beyond nature. Through manipulating belief in the sacred symbols that represented these new abstractions, greater control over larger areas of human behaviour was made possible. …. The hierarchies within the emerging systems of sacred symbols mirrored and justified the developing hierarchies of secular power

And so on, very illumining and showing that force in society which makes use of religion to control people. That what it’s all about and has always been about in most societies.

The above was written by me elsewhere, reproduced because it fits well into the series of blogs here. In conclusion, Advaita Vedanta is, at bottom, an empty ideology which entraps in a labyrinth of abstractions and confuses people about reality… like other forms of monotheism theology, it is a social power tool.

Vedanta is ultimately an empty ideology which entraps ‘aspirants’ in a labyrinth of abstractions and confuses people about reality… like other forms of monotheism theology, it is a social power tool. It is often extremely otherworldly in its orientation, due to its cardinal denial of the reality of matter, the self, the world and so on.
See also several of the preceding blogs her and also : Philosophical analysis of an eclectic collection of numinous Indian ‘spiritual’ ideas relating to Advaita Vedanta

Posted in Belief, Philosophy, Religion, religious faith, Science, Spiritual propaganda, Theology, Uncategorized, Understanding | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Internet harassment runs amok on global scale

Posted by robertpriddy on October 13, 2009

The Internet is increasingly used for harassment, libel, and unwarranted attacks on those with whom one disagrees. Bullying and mobbing of children by one another, and even by adults, is also on the increase. This is a subject which investigative journalist have hardly touched so far… but growing public pressure and outrage will surely probably make it a fruitful field for press coverage in the future.

Whistleblowers of a many honourable kinds, dissenters from religions, and especially sects and guru cults are frequently targeted for persecution by their zealous and fanatical adherents. At the present stage of regulation of the Internet, cyber attacks cannot be stopped. except by very expensive lawsuits in foreign countries. Further, despite Google’s claim that they respect copyright while they do not act on infringements and submitted to them and proven by independent Digital Millennium Copyright Act watchdogs (eg. by dmca@automattic.com). Though cyber stalking laws are being introduced increasingly in Europe and various States of the USA, these have not yet proved effective due to lack of test cases.

Only when public prosecutions and the apparatus required for such processes are in place is the situation likely to improve appreciably, because ordinary citizens cannot afford fees for private legal processes (eg. from $50,000.- upwards, in the USA). That the authorities will no doubt eventually have to become directly engaged is predictably unavoidable since internet mobbing and similar attacks are estimated buy some experts to affect up to one third of all users in various countries! The global nature of the world wide web is far from being regulated on any international level. There are serious shortfalls in protection of citizens from unwarranted and potentially serious reputation-damaging attacks even at the national level in most countries. The situation is best, perhaps, in northern European countries, where there are also shortcomings due to the shortage of personnel assigned to protection of the public from cyber abuse, especially in police authorities.

Only the most serious cases involving forceful and credible death threats have a chance of being accorded due process due to lack of manpower, IT expertise (and presumably funding) in this area. Even then the police in most countries are almost helpless against attacks which originate from abroad, especially from countries which are very poorly regulated in respect of data protection. In the future, the Internet will face a major challenge from this ever-growing phenomenon whereby persons who have never met or had any connection whatever with those they target can rampage unhindered and set about destruction of another person’s life through cyber stalking their relatives, friends, employers and so on.

Since such attacks are often spread across a wide variety of web sites, blogs, discussion boards, footer comments where available, social news networks, press release sites, on Wikipedia discussion pages and yet elsewhere, it is not immediately evident who is a cyber vandal or the like, and who not without an overview of single individuals’ manifold activities.

The general profile of the persons who take to this kind of web vandal activity is hard to fix, but one notices a low level of rationality, an inflexible agenda – often religious or some kind of cultism – which is also indicated by the type of persons who are their usual targets. They have their counterparts on Wikipedia where they are very active in edit-warring against reasonable editors who are open to dialogue and documentations, which facts they ignore, often abusively.

Here I use one particular example of such a campaign of smears, untruths and personal attacks in order better to illustrate this concretely and to highlight the extent and spread of this new form of organised cyber vandalism. Sustained libel and defamation, copyright infringement, cyber stalking and demonization have for years been spread on a massive scale against at least a score of former members of the Sathya Sai Baba sect, with lesser attacks on hundreds of other dissidents. The Sathya Sai Organization has, since very damaging revelations took place from 1999 onwards, contracted into a defensive cult closed to all public dialogue and which is defended almost only by attacking the critics of the Indian guru.

That disinformation and vilification campaign has been pursued for several years on the Internet by apologists for Sathya Sai Baba, directed primarily against those who have testified to all manner of abuse by this self-proclaimed God Incarnate, and Holy Father who Sent Jesus (!) Such published and signed testimonies by numerous young men around the world claim sexual molestation and outright abuses. Further, and outright character assassination and demonization agenda is followed by some against critics who point out the facts about the cold-blooded murders by the local police of four young men who intruded into the guru’s own apartment and the cardinal fact that it was covered up by supporters of this guru in the Indian Government and Judiciary – right to the very top.
(see http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/HOME/j%27accuse.htm)

The full-time point man for cyber attacks on scores of outspoken critics of Sathya Sai Baba and his largely clandestine and extremely authoritarian top-down Organization, Gerald Moreno, uses pseudonyms including joe108, vishvarupa108, GM108, JM108, SSS108. Equalizer and so forth. (These pseudonyms are searchable on Google). He denies he is a follower of Sathya Sai Baba or has any connection with his Organization, which – in view of his tremendous and totally uncritical output in favour of the guru and all connected to him – is simply not a credible claim. Self-contradictorily he even states he has met some of the top office-bearers in India. [His main supporter goes under the title CO2000]. These slanders take place on uncounted hundreds of web pages and blogs, multiplied to the maximum through careful keyword selection across and on all internet media which offer back-links (such as the present site) so as to increase their prominence on all search engines. Strong circumstantial evidence – including his own occasional statements – make it obvious that this cyber-terrorist is in close touch with Sathya Sai Organization leaders in India and the USA. This organization has flaunted its neglect of duty of care and mandatory reporting and ignores all applications from concerned parties while being complicit in the attacks on critics made by their front-line defenders because they are themselves restricted from making them by their guru’s precepts, which at least reject all criticism of others in favour of the promotion of love and service.

Only one top official has – after many years of silence – publicly broken ranks and maligned critics. Otherwise the revelations that emerged across the Internet about Sathya Sai Baba from 2000 onwards have been totally ignored by all office-bearers and about 99% of members on forceful instructions from the guru and his minions. Documentation of these assertions can be found at Sathya Sai Baba in Word and Action and at robertpriddy.wordpress.com

The problems of persecution, bullying, cyber stalking etc. on the www web are already very common and are increasing. World authorities need to pass laws & make public prosecution easy, for most victims can’t afford very costly cases – often abroad – even if they have the time and energy to respond effectively.

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