Mad monkey minds see, hear, speak no evil
Sathya Sai Baba likes to tell people in interviews that they have 'monkey minds'. It is not only often a way he had found he can raise a laugh at someone's expense (and get a reputation for a brilliant 'sense of humour') but it is a ploy to assert his dominance over the person in question and, indirectly, over the group. If an interviewee mentions that he or she has ' a monkey mind' he will often retort, 'No. You have a mad monkey mind! This is a handy retort to those who ask questions about things he finds unacceptable or simply cannot answer’. Most interviewees laugh willingly with glee at others' expense in such instances... imagining Sai Baba is spouting wisdom for he 'knows everything' about the person!
He enjoys greatly telling the worn out old story (which devotees repeat at conferences and in books etc. ad infinitum). It is not original, but a well-know Eastern analogy to the monkey trap: the monkey puts its hand into a jar with a narrow neck and grasps a nut inside making a fist. Unwilling to relase the nut, it holds on and can't get away so it is caught easily. What better reminds of this than most of those who go to Sathya Sai Baba in the hope of receiving something, be it a room at the ashram, a trinket, recognition, healing, success, money, psychic powers - including selfish desire for spiritual boons of the highest order? This is surely not so for all who go to Sathya Sai Baba , some are genuine seekers of truth and goodness, but many who started out that way also ended up entrapped by his psychic power, his flattery... backed up by dire warnings and generalised threats. It is obviously very hard to let go off the peanut! Sai Baba wants to argue that all worldly desires and attachments are the bane of mankind!
There is more to this 'guru trap'. The monkey trap is made into a lesson about ‘worldly attachments’, hanging on to things one does not need. The moral is, one must attach oneself only to Sai Baba’s teaching and preferably to the whole excessive personality cult around him. One's mind should not range about the world and jump from one thing to another as monkeys do but must remain concentrated totally on God (preferably in the form of Sathya Sai himself). Thiscan be a full entrapment of a person's entire being, mind, will and worldly attachments (i.e. possessions, money too)!
As the former Swedish follower, Åsa Samsioe, has pointed out, Sathya Sai Baba himself continually entraps people
to become his devotees by the famous monkey-catching method, which he often
recounts to illustrate how desires and attachments are the bane of mankind!
It is obviously very hard to let go off Sai peanuts! What better
reminds of this than most of those who go to Sathya Sai Baba in the hope of receiving something,
be it a room at the ashram, a trinket, recognition, healing, success, money,
psychic powers - including selfish desire for spiritual boons of the highest
order? This is surely not so for every single person who goes to Sathya Sai Baba , some are genuine seekers
of truth and goodness, but very many end up entrapped
by his psychic power, his flattery... backed up by his dire warnings in discourses and yet more dire ones in the privacy of interviews, according to various reports.
The 'monkey-minded' devotees cannot drop the belief that they have found the one who has THE ANSWERS to everything, and to their own often sorry lives. THAT is the trap, those who came t get from him reassurances about their own spiritual 'holiness' and chances of 'liberation' from life and the world cannot let go of these delusions they foster. Sathya Sai insists that all have to hold on extremely tight to their faith in him and what he teaches against all odds, whatever the cost, so they will be saved from all bad things and achieve the goal of life etc. etc. Many fall for this and are drawn in, hook, line and sinker.
Human 'monkey minds' can't understand "divine" secrets!
The aphorism of the three wise monkeys is - at its simplest "See, hear and speak no evil". This catch phrase, though vague and misleading, was popular as a rule to help curb slander, rumour and excessive negativity in gossip and the like. This is often represented as in the image above - three monkeys cover either eyes, ears, or mouth with their hands. At best, perhaps, it has some relevance to that part of the media concerned mainly with 'sensational' scandal, the so-called 'gutter press'. However, in a grand mixed metaphor, Sai Baba here would also present us with "the three wise monkeys" as if they were wise! At the same time, he holds that only by ridding oneself of this 'monkey mind' (i.e. lack of faith in God, such as he claims to be above all others) can we hope to get a glimpse of the "divine reality", the supposed eternal and infinite 'truth' behind all appearances. However, one never meets anyone there who has managed to fulfil his requirements to that extent, nor long-term followers who genuinely exhibit knowledge of anything of these unspeakable mysteries, if put to a simple test.
The call to speak only obligingly, softly etc. means, in actual practice, that when one thinks one thing, one must pretend otherwise and give the impression one does not. This is a deception and often hypocrisy. The thought of speaking ones mind openly when one disagrees or wants to take someone to task for a bad or evil act would eventually lead to the breakdown of social law and order. Think if no judge could pass a sentence that was not obliging and soft! This Pollyanna side of Sai Baba led him into his own duplicity, the divorce between what he said and what he actually did.
Cheap morality as a way of stopping common sense, critical thinking and pursuing wrongdoing and crime
The saying of the three monkeys is expanded into a major moral commandment by Sathya Sai Baba. He preaches that one should "See, hear and speak only good" extending this to "See good, be good, do good", "Always speak softly and sweetly" "Always speak obligingly" and other variants on the same theme. This penny proverb type thinking is hundreds of years old (origin not known) and is a key to much of Sai Baba's 'teaching' on correct behavior. From Sathya Sai, however, this proverb is an oft-repeated warning clearly designed to stop any kind of natural curiosity about anything other than what Sathya Sai Baba teaches and tells one to do. Especially any curiosity to find out about his private affairs! The ashram has always been under the enforcement of muerta (silent collusion) as regards the tiniest sliver of questioning or doubt about anything to do with Sai Baba or his motives and works. He was an extremely secretive person who hid away and controlled his contacts through the ‘filters’ that many persons around him served as - a classic case of justified paranoia by someone who evidently had a great deal to hide. Followers used it regularly against anyone who raised even innocently put questions about Sai Baba claims and directives.
No one can avoid seeing people act in bad ways, immorally and criminally. If one calls anything 'evil' (as the aphorism names it), then it can only refer to actions of those kinds. The phrase is often said of people who don't want to be involved, which fits with Sai Baba's unrealistic teaching about avoiding attachment to friends or even family, and never criticizing others. Like so many such penny proverbs, is not only vague but also impossible in actual life.
Sai Baba also often lays down the law that no one has the right to criticise anyone. This is both misguided and outright dangerous! The law could not operate and either despotism or social anarchy would take over if all criticism and condemnation werebanned . Advances in scientific and other forms of knowledge - which often come through critical rejection of false ideas, or improvements in social and political life, would be excluded! This impossible demand is an extreme form of the famous 'Pollyanna principle'. Many news media focus on investigating and reporting on negative events, or bad, immoral and criminal affairs. This investigative function is essential to any democracy and the social function of the press as the fourth branch of government. So the three blind, deaf and dumb monkeys should be shut out completely!
The penny proverb ought therefore to be stamped out - firmly rejected in favour of a much more useful and practicable 'human value'. This can be expressed as "Hear, think and speak constructively". In contrast to the Sai monkey advice, this requires recognition of facts and the need of freedom of honest speech in frank comment and openness between people concerning social and other ills. However, Sathya Sai Baba and all who belong to his Sathya Sai Organisation avoid this principle systematically. The unexplained and draconian dismissal of office-bearers who try to correct ill treatment of foreigners by staff at Sai Baba ashrams, or who speak out about the many ills there,or who ask about inconsistencies between word and action, especially about the 1993 murders, many allegations of sexual abuse by young men and a compendium of other cover-ups, deceits, crimes and and ills.
Which actual 'evils' should one not see, hear or speak about?
The advice not to see, hear or speak 'evil' is taken by some to mean one should never criticise or condemn anything anyone does as wrong. Yet in the same breath it implicitly admits that evil occurs and is often unavoidably perceived... even though one should thereafter ignore it entirely. This attitude comes fully to expression in the hagiographic literature about Sathya Sai Baba by his devotees, where one finds lavish and excessive praise of him and his acts without a single honest word about his failings and faults like broken promises, proven lies, meretricious claims, or many criminal acts of which he stands accused. More insidious is the likelihood that, by following this self-styled 'divine, sublime advice', one will even come to view immoral and criminal acts as not being such at all, but as being blameless. Yet worse, on the same principle if really followed one may tend to see them as inherently good.
As a consequence of this central Sai Baba commandment, enforced as rigorously as possible at his ashrams, colleges and other Sai connections, anything that may be said against him or his works is ‘evil’... and evil enough to arouse his ire enough for him to lash out with threats and naming people as bad and even labeling them demons! This is seen by his strict and damning warning (Christmas Discourse 2000) to devotees not to go onto the Internet when it was humming with more and more new allegations of sexual abuse by Sathya Sai Baba. Meanwhile, he gives his blessing to official Sai Baba websites to spread his ‘eternal message’, particularly how surpassing wonderful he and his works are. So he evidently prefers people who are willing to be at least half-deaf, half-blind, half-dumb and completely mindless (this is the ultimate realisation, according to him!).