Joe Kracht and Lavanya Muller (parody)

“She entered into doubt-parlor

Only to be tattooed by ignorance-ink.

He learned the jiu-jitsu of betrayal
Studying at university of no ethics.”

For further discussion, see “Paint It Black!”

(If the embedded video doesn’t play, watch on DailyMotion here.)

Explaining The Aphorisms

Sometimes aphorisms are like poetry — to get the full meaning we need to examine the language carefully in all its fine shades.

What does it mean to enter into “doubt-parlor”? Suppose you are a spiritual seeker, a person of faith. You have some friends who used to be spiritual seekers, but now their main focus is on doubt and speaking ill. You feel, “Oh, my faith is secure so of course I can mix freely with them and I will not suffer.” But doubt is like poison in the spiritual life. Just because you know it’s poison doesn’t mean you can drink it and not suffer.

You may also think, “Just because I’m not attacking anyone, therefore they won’t attack me.” But imagine you put your hand inside a snake’s cage. You may do so innocently, harmlessly, but still the nature of this snake is to bite.

In the same way, former spiritual seekers who now specialize in doubt instinctively attack the faith of any person who enters their environs. They feel your faith is an impediment to joining their social clique and want to make you faithless like them. So once you agree to go where they congregate, whether it’s a physical location or a place on the Internet, half the battle is already lost.

This battle may not take place openly, but may be more like a clandestine encounter with a pickpocket. The pickpocket embraces you warmly, but a few hours later you discover he has stolen all your money!

Never think that ignorance is not a strong force. Even one person’s ignorance may overpower your faith. How much more easily you can be overpowered when you are the only person of faith in a place where everyone else has become a black doubter. It is like one person fighting against a whole gang. (This is assuming you even bother to put up a fight. Some people go to a bad place because they secretly want to become bad people.)

So “doubt-parlor” is a place where doubters meet and congregate and advance their clever arguments. (“Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly.”) Now, what is “ignorance-ink”? If you have a cloth that is pure white, then if you get ink on it, it can never be made the same again. Still, there are different types of ink. Sometimes children are given finger paints which are water-soluble and wash off easily.

Ignorance is like ink because it spoils the pure-white tablet of faith so that it is smudged or dirty. Now what does it mean to be tattooed by ignorance-ink? The ink used in tattooing is extremely permanent and is etched into the skin. This comedy skit suggests that people get tattoos when they’re drunk and are then stuck with the results, unless they want to opt for laser surgery:

So to be tattooed by ignorance-ink means that ignorance puts its permanent mark on you and calls you its own, so that you are no longer fit for a spiritual purpose.

To take the meaning of the aphorism as a whole: You are invited to join in the festivities at a place where doubters congregate. You think, “Alright, I will go but I will maintain my faith.” However, once you enter into their parlor, then like others you become drunk with doubt and are tattooed by ignorance so that you cannot get rid of it. The stain is permanent, or you do not possess the means to wash it out. Will a simple spot remover remove a tattoo? No, because the ink is in too deep. That is the favor some so-called friends are doing you.

To come to the second aphorism, what is the connection between “jiu-jitsu” and “betrayal”? Here, jiu-jitsu signifies any type of tricky move or maneuver which must be learned. The heart and soul by their nature want to remain true, but the tricky mind and vital want to find a way to throw off the spiritual commitment and live a life based on ego, desire and ambition.

It is rare for a person of faith who loses their faith to simply admit “I have fallen. I have lost what I had previously attained.” First comes disobedience, then self-justification, then a guilty conscience comes. Finally, in order to escape their own guilty conscience the person will throw all the blame on their former spiritual teacher or path. For some people this develops into a kind of complex, so that even though they left their spiritual teacher 10, 20, even 35 years ago, they are still obsessed with trying to discredit him, in order to assuage their deep-down guilty conscience.

Some people even openly admit to this without truly understanding it. They say, “Oh, I have found a wonderful new way of getting rid of guilt. I joined a support group for former spiritual seekers where we spend most days and nights publicly attacking our old teacher. Hate is a wonderful antidote to guilt.”

The only problem is that this is actually a symptom of the complex. It does not truly get rid of guilt, but only masks it temporarily. Those suffering from this complex tend to need bigger and bigger fixes of hate to mask their guilt, so they end up vilifying their former teacher to a mind-boggling extent, making up the wildest stories in order to keep the hate jag going. There is no true healing in this approach because it’s all based on lies and self-justification, not honest insight.

So “the jiu-jitsu of betrayal” is any tricky method someone learns as a way to throw off their soul’s deep spiritual commitment and betray the teacher who first gave them illumination, out of sheer compassion.

Modern science is ethically neutral. It is often not concerned with net effects on people, but only whether something is do-able. If making a bomb, can they make a bigger bomb? If making a biological weapon, can they produce a more deadly strain? That is how some destructive people think. Doubt is usually “slow poison,” but some people actually become connoisseurs of doubt. They try to refine it and make it more potent, more concentrated. Modern doubters have produced more virulent strains of doubt which are quick-acting.

When people develop an ugly and impure mind or vital, they can conjure up an ugly picture of things — things which are inherently beautiful in themselves. The impure imagination becomes a kind of demonic laboratory from which new, more virulent strains of doubt are culled. One should protect one’s aspiration by not visiting places where such people congregate — whether in real life, or on the Internet.

Some psychologists are dead set against the spiritual life, so they’ve developed powerful techniques or psyops for combating faith — comprehensive, systematized methods of injecting doubt and pressuring seekers to abandon their faith. This is known as deprogramming or exit counseling, but like tattooing or ear-piercing it’s practiced by amateurs as well as professionals. (See “Sock Puppet Theatre – A Tribute to Samuel Bradshaw.”)

Some anti-cult groups morph or change their tactics over time, renaming themselves and eventually coming to use a soft-sell rather than hard-sell approach. See Part 2 and Part 3 of my series on “The ACLU and Religious Freedom,” as well as “Doubt, Faith, and the Ethics of Apostasy.” People don’t know the history of these groups and don’t recognize the techniques being used to rob them of their faith — professional deprogramming techniques like employing apostates to circulate false “testimonials” vilifying the spiritual teacher or path.

If you look carefully, you’ll see that such euphemistically named “support groups” often have hard-core members who’ve undergone formal deprogramming, exit counseling, or anti-cult therapy, e.g. Samuel Bradshaw, Anne Carlton, et al. These people are then encouraged to practice the same techniques on others, sometimes in an informal setting where they conceal or deny their affiliation with anti-cult groups.

How does the soft-sell differ from the hard-sell? The hard-sell is all poison, poison, poison. The soft-sell is: “People are not drinking the poison because it is too bitter. Let us set up a fake spiritual site, something to do with yoga, with spiritual quotes and artwork. Then, once we sucker people in, let us give them just enough poison to kill them. Initially they won’t know that we are all apostates, so they will stupidly drink the poison if we sweeten it a little.”


Look to the methods, not the labels. Some sites may put up a spiritual veneer, but are actually ex-members groups where the main thrust is to get people to read highly negative material, and respond by abandoning their faith.

Like wife-beaters, some people are deeply troubled in their nature. They may claim they love their former spiritual master, but they torture him regularly. Stop the torture and I will believe that you love him. Otherwise, I will say you are a sick individual.

Each person is different. It may happen that a spiritual master advises a student: “Stay close to the spiritual community. Don’t go for a law degree or it will totally ruin your spiritual life.” The student disobeys, and lo and behold! Now that he’s a lawyer, instead of showing devotion to the spiritual master, he only wants to subject the master (now long-dead) to mock show trials on the Internet! Such displays of vigilantism are worthy of disbarment. Still:

Joe Kracht Lawton Law Firm Parody 1

Joe Kracht Lawton Law Firm Parody 1

Continuing on with my analysis, what is “university of no ethics”? To learn a systematized method of doing something, you go to a school which teaches that very thing. Universities originally emerged from a monastic tradition in which faith and ethics played a most significant role. Gradually over centuries, a “great divorce” occurred between religion, science, and the humanities. Today, it’s possible to receive a university degree without knowing anything about spirituality or ethics. Some former spiritual seekers will even go to the length of getting a degree in psychology which they then use to attack spirituality. (Of course, spirituality and psychology can get along well together. Here I’m only referring to a fringe group of psychologists who actively oppose spiritual practice, just as there’s a fringe group of psychologists who participate in military torture.)

As I discuss in “Paint It Black!” apostates often trash-talk their former friends, colleagues and mentors in a shameful and two-faced manner. They may learn such behavior through participation in institutions which impart secular knowledge divorced from ethics and spirituality. They have been processed by a college or university, or by the military, or by a school which emphasizes physical conditioning and self-defense, but teaches next to nothing about loyalty or ethics. This conspicuous spiritual vacuum makes it easy for people to engage in wanton acts of betrayal. They may be experts in their limited fields, but in the field of life they are nowhere because they’ve sacrificed the core values which imbue life with spiritual meaning. This is what it means to learn “the jiu-jitsu of betrayal/ studying at university of no ethics.”

Such faithless persons of no ethics often end up coaching others in the ways of betrayal, helping them achieve the “full Judas position” — a position of utter treachery. Sadly, such coaches may fail to provide the requisite thirty pieces of silver, or the noose to hang oneself when conscience dawns.

Attorney Joe Kracht drilling a new deprogrammee

Attorney Joe Kracht drilling a new deprogrammee (artist’s conception)

Michael Howard

The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization.

Items which may interest you:

Sarama — The Hound of Intuition
Self-Interest, Self-Giving, Low Ethics, and High Ethics

* * *


2 comments on “Joe Kracht and Lavanya Muller (parody)

  1. Thank you for your insight. They echo my experiences, sentiments exactly. I am also, like you a “former” member of the Sri Chinmoy Centre. I absolutely believe he was a real saint, like Sri Ramakrishna, fully in touch with God.

    Sri Chinmoy was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mikahil Gorbachev. Cult leaders don’t get nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by world leaders, including an archbishop of the Catholic Church. Sri Chinmoy gave meditations at the US Congress for 20 years or so and for 30 years or so at the UN. Cult leaders do not pass the scrutiny of the security forces at those major institutions.

    Sexual allegations against spiritual leaders are all too common. The Zen Master Hakuin was accused of fathering a child, until the lie fell apart about a year later. Paramahansa Yogananda was the subject of a paternity suit. Based on DNA evidence, this was finally disproven in the 90’s. St. Francis of Assisi was first considered to be a heretic by the pope of his era. St. John of the Cross has the same experience. People had such hatred for the Buddha and the Hindu saint Mirabai, that both were constant victims of attempts on their life. Sri Chinmoy being accused of sexual impropriety is just par for the course, as the fearful try to throw mud on something they can’t understand.

    I was there, nothing weird was going on…absolutely zero. The spiritual life can be hard and it can be frustrating. Also, ashrams and monasteries are not immune to being populated with jerks. So, people can quit and get disgruntled for various reasons. I guess it is human nature to sometimes surrender to anger and create lies out of a desire for revenge.

    I will say directly, that many of us who connected with Sri Chinmoy experienced absolutely, mind-boggling, supernatural events. I did. I know plenty of others who did as well. We really tend not to talk about those things because of the level of mindless doubt in the world. And also, for me at least, those experiences were rare and won at enormous cost. I would often have to meditate 10 – 15 hours per day for a month straight, just to have one tiny experience in that realm. And even then, it would often only last for 5 – 30 seconds. Not saying that peace, clarity, compassion and other experiences don’t come naturally with some nice daily meditation. But if folks want of touch of something beyond the regular human experience…well, for me at least, it took an Olympic effort.

    But, people should make no mistake, some folks there absolutely had deep and powerful experiences, the kind of experiences that you read about in the spiritual and mystical literature.

    The thing about frauds and charlatans in the spiritual world…and yes, there are many…is that folks are either attracted to the spiritual or the material. If you do make some contact with a supernatural event, what folks don’t really understand, is that nude Raquel Welch, beckoning you to her bedroom is exactly zero competition for those experiences. No one who has tasted them is tempted by what amounts to utterly juvenile nonsense. So, if even a schmuck like me had that experience sometimes….it is utterly easy to see how a real spiritual Master is just beyond temptation.

    It would be like thinking that someone who has access to the best gourmet chef in the world would be attracted to a stale piece of white bread that had been marinating in sewage. The contrast is that stark.

    So, no, if Abraham Lincoln were in the middle of making some important decision regarding a Civil War battle, no “lady of the night” would have power to make him drop saving 20,000 lives in order to grab a little whoopie. Ultimately, it is really a childish line of argumentation.

    I am sorry if people had bad experiences with the Sri Chinmoy Centre. Those really have nothing to do with Sri Chinmoy himself. That is the nature of human beings and ego and all the rest. That occurs in spiritual communities also. I know no one had bad experiences with Sri Chinmoy himself.

    If the spiritual life there did not fulfill you, then find something that does and don’t trash what others find to be a refuge. You know you are lying. Find that better angel of your nature that is ashamed of lying and just move on to something good and decent. It is beneath you. You know this. Go volunteer in a soup kitchen. Write about how wonderful that experience is. Study ikebana, make something beautiful. Don’t spread lies about a spiritual man, because life didn’t turn out how you wanted it and you want some petty revenge. That is for the junior high school cafeteria crowd, not for adults.


  2. Thanks for your comments, Jonn. I agree with many of your points. You express yourself strongly, but then so do I. I’d just like to clarify one or two things…

    I agree that hard work is necessary in the spiritual life, but in order to drive that point home, you may have taken things a bit far. Sri Chinmoy generally discouraged people from forcing themselves to meditate for long hours at a time. Even two hours is a long time if one is really meditating the whole time.

    If someone’s trying to meditate, but meditation is just not happening, he recommended they leave meditation and not force it. There are other spiritual activities such as singing spiritual songs, reading spiritual books, or doing selfless service which can also be quite beneficial, especially if they’re done with joy and sweetness.

    While hard work is necessary, without meaning to you may have made it sound like God is a mean boss who makes you work for hours and hours and then only gives you a nickel! I believe it’s just the opposite: We try in our human way to do a few finite things to please God, and He gives us something Infinite in return.

    Plus, as an old friend recently wrote, people forget how much time disciples of a spiritual master spend going for food or drinking tea! Sri Chinmoy himself knew that hard work must be balanced with some leisure. Otherwise, the pressures of the spiritual life can become too intense for the disciples. So he himself would often cut jokes, and the disciples would put on comedic skits.

    I’d also like to clarify I don’t think it’s impossible that a person who’s considered spiritual might still have some desires. (Alan Watts, for example.) But with respect to Sri Chinmoy, that simply wasn’t the case. He had transformed his lower nature. See this comment from a “Question For The Women” discussion thread which states the case far more eloquently than I can:

    As I’ve said elsewhere, some people are trying to sell a stereotype of Sri Chinmoy which has nothing do with the reality. Thank you for weighing in on the side of reality. I do think it’s important to keep an honest set of books. And yes, Sri Chinmoy radiated intense peace, light, and joy. Simply being in his presence engendered countless spiritual experiences which he gave freely and unreservedly to countless seekers who approached him for help and guidance. His inner kindness can never be overstated.

    — Michael


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