Gerald Joe Moreno Responds To PhD Timothy Conway About The Jack Hawley Letter
At enlightened-spirituality.org/Sathya_Sai_Baba_my_concerns.html, Timothy Conway published a particularly confrontational response to a letter that Jack Hawley wrote in December 2000 about the Sai Controversy. This webpage contains Gerald Joe Moreno’s response to Timothy Conway’s critique of Jack Hawley’s letter. Since this article is long, it has been divided into four pages (links for pages 1, 2, 3, 4 are located at the bottom of the page).
Letter From Jack Hawley Ph.D About The Sai Controversy:
WE DON’T KNOW!
“Unless you brighten your vision with Love, you cannot see the Truth.” – Sathya Sai Baba
Every decade or so negative rumors arise here in Prasanthi. It seems to be a Western thing. Indians just ignore them. Many things arise here that shake spiritual aspirants to their roots. This latest round of hearsay seems more virulent because e-mail now transmits gossipy rumors to the whole world in the blink of an eye. Hysteria rises with the rumors. People face a crisis of faith. Some of them leave, some stay. How one fares in this crisis depends on one’s “capacity” (an important spiritual term for the strength of one’s faith and love).
The big question, of course, is “is it true?” And the truth is that we (all of us) don’t know! Many think they know, but they don’t really know. But I do — at least I know some things (as I’m sure many others do also). I will not talk about all I know, but I can say this: It is NOT what some minds have leaped to.
It is the worldly function of the mind to reach conclusions. When the mind doesn’t know the answer to a question it becomes psychologically distressed. Then it grabs at answers and stretches for concepts that might help it feel better. It readily accepts simplistic analogies, buzz words, and labels — anything that alleviates its puzzled state. Most of the “answers” it comes up with are wrong, but the mind doesn’t care! Worse yet, once it latches onto an “answer,” the mind stops receiving new information. In effect it says, “Sorry, this issue is closed. I will no longer accept anything that could upset my tenuous equilibrium.”
Regarding the recent rumors:
- They are definitely not “the truth” as people so carelessly use the term truth (They may seem “true” to some, but they are not “The Truth.”)
- They are also not any of the other modern, quick-stick labels aimed at grabbing our attention, frightening us, and disgusting us.
- What is (or is not) happening at Prasanthi Nilayam is unrelated to current worldly level buzz words and ideas to which the mind so quickly leaps. This is not about a “character flaw” in a mere old man, for example; it has nothing to do with analysis or the so-called “medical model,” or with “scientific” thinking. (The mind sees, or even creates, what it looks for. In this sex and violence obsessed Kali Yuga [era] of today, the mind leaps to obsessive conclusions. Unable to truly understand, yet ever ready to leap, the mind shrouds Divinity with worldly illusions and comes up with wrong conclusions.)
- What is happening here in Prasanthi is beyond the meager human mind and its ability to “figure out.” It is beyond maya (mind-created illusion). Many things happen here that involve deep, mysterious energies, far beyond what our minds can grasp.
We do have some quite clear hints about what’s happening here:
- It has to do with Love so deep, so Divine that nothing can stand in its way — not even the threat of misunderstanding or calumny.
- It has to do with healing, not harming.
- It has to do with the Avatar’s mission here on earth (which, of course, has to fit this crazy Kali age).
- It has to do with the purity of our own minds, not someone else’s. The impurity is not in the Avatar, who is purity itself, it’s in the world, in our minds. Few of us can see Divinity, and fewer yet understand it.
Those who go into their hearts for answers during these crises of faith fare better. Those who go into their minds and seek answers outside, struggle the hardest and ache most.
12/2000, Jack Hawley, Prasanthi Nilayam
Moreno’s Comments About Timothy Conway’s Critique Of Dr. Jack Hawley’s Letter: Hawley’s comments are in blue, Conway’s are in light grey and Joe Moreno’s response follows.
Timothy Conway: Allow me here to critique Hawley’s fine-sounding essay on an extensive, point-by-point basis, because there are so many violations of logic and acceptable use of language, as well as problems with the specific content in what he states. I will identify his writing with “JH:” and italicize them, and preface my comments with “TC:” and use regular font, with occasional italicization and boldfacing for emphasis.
To begin with, Mr. Hawley’s opening quote from Baba implies that those who are authentically living in Divine Love will see the Truth as Hawley and Baba want people to see it. It is apparently inconceivable to Mr. Hawley that mature, longtime spiritual aspirants could be living in Love, aware of the Divine Truth (e.g., God is seated in the hearts of all beings; only God ultimately, nondually exists; etc.), and yet disagree with Hawley over the meaning and lawfulness of Baba’s sexual activities and other improprieties.
Moreno’s Response: Allow me to critique Timothy Conway’s extreme and unfounded responses to Jack Hawley’s letter on a point-by-point basis because there are many “violations of logic”, unacceptable use of language, as well as serious “problems with the specific content in what he states”.
To Date: Sathya Sai Baba has never (ever) been formally charged with any crime, sexual or otherwise. Ex-Devotees wage vicious smear and hate campaigns against Sai Baba on the internet because they have failed to make any leeway against him in a court of law in India. After 10+ years, not even one alleged victim has been able to obtain legal representation despite the offer of free “world-class legal resources” from ex-devotees and despite the lucrative prospect of a successful suit against Sai Baba in India (where the guru’s “empire” is alleged to be worth billions of dollars). Therefore, Timothy Conway’s accusations of “Baba’s sexual activities and other improprieties” are not supported with credible, verifiable or legal documentation.
JH: Every decade or so negative rumors arise here in Prasanthi.
TC: This is typical of the obfuscation (fog) technique that Mr. Hawley perpetrates throughout his essay. The truth is that rumors about sexual improprieties by Baba have been circulating among residents and visitors to the ashram since at least 1980, when I first got the most remote whiff of them. They began to come into clearer focus and wider distribution with the publication of Tal Brooke’s “Avatar of Night” book in 1982, reprinted in 1984. And the stories (“rumors”) have been circulating throughout the 1980s and 1990s, especially since 1995 with the widespread advent of the Internet. The stories undoubtedly go back in oral story-telling form and certain persons’ private notes to the early 1970s, when the alleged activities in Tal Brooke’s book are declared to have taken place.
Moreno’s Response: Robert Taliaferro Brooke (an extreme fundamentalist and evangelical Christian) was the first person to make accusations of sexual impropriety against Sai Baba. Tal Brooke published his first Anti-Sai book in 1976 under the title “Lord Of The Air”. It was republished in 1979 as “Sai Baba, Lord Of The Air”, renamed “Avatar of Night” in 1982 with a reprint in 1984, was renamed “Lord Of The Air: Tales of a Modern Antichrist” in 1990 and reprinted again as “Avatar of Night” in 1999. Timothy Conway was not aware that Tal Brooke originally published his Anti-Sai book in 1976 and displayed continued ignorance (in his email correspondence with me) about the book’s original publication date.
99% of the allegations and rumors circulating against Sathya Sai Baba can be directly traced to Tal Brooke and his religiously-fueled Anti-Sai propaganda, which started in 1976 and continues to the present day through expensive internet ad campaigns soliciting his Anti-Sai book.
Tal Brooke purposely exaggerated when he claimed he was Sai Baba’s number one Western follower (at best, a dubious and subjective claim). Those who met Tal Brooke in the early 70’s at Sai Baba’s ashram immediately recognized him as a fanatic Christian (contrary to his claim that he converted to Christianity post-Sai Baba). Tal Brooke wrote that Sai Baba is a hermaphrodite based on an alleged story related to him by an unidentified person named “Surya Das” who in turn related a story told to him by another unidentified man named “Patrick”. It was alleged that “Patrick” claimed he had coital (vaginal) sex with Sathya Sai Baba. Because of “Patrick’s” alleged story, Tal Brooke perpetuated the idea that Sathya Sai Baba is a hermaphrodite. The only problem with all of Tal Brooke’s tall-stories is that none of the alleged witnesses he cited (who have never been identified as real people) have ever come forward in 30+ years to corroborate his stories.
The scholar Lawrence A. Bapp wrote in his book “Redemptive Encounters – Three Modern Studies In The Hindu Tradition” (which was critical of Sai Baba), “The animus of Brooke’s book (1979) is too strong for one to have much confidence in its accuracy.”
It is also perplexing that Timothy Conway (a true-believer in Gurus, Enlightened Masters, Mystics, Hinduism and Eastern Philosophy) cited Tal Brooke as an authority and reference against Sai Baba. In Tal Brooke’s book “Riders Of The Cosmic Circuit, The Dark Side of Superconsciousness”, he attacked Hinduism, suggested that enlightenment is an evil path and that God-Men and Gurus are in a state of perfect demon-possession. Therefore, Timothy Conway’s reference to Tal Brooke has amusing repercussions against him, his beliefs and his advocacy of Gurus, Enlightened Masters, Mystics, Hinduism and Eastern Philosophy.
One could similarly cite Tal Brooke as an authority and reference against Timothy Conway’s promotion of demon-possessed God-Men and Gurus and the evil paths of enlightenment they promote through sinful Eastern Philosophies. Since Tal Brooke heavily relied on subjective, fanatic and religiously-based arguments to draw his conclusions that Gurus are in a state of perfect demon possession and that enlightenment is an evil path leading to Satan, what does this say about the integrity and objectivity of his claims against Sai Baba?
How all this information about Tal Brooke escaped Ph.D researcher Conway is unknown.
JH: It seems to be a Western thing. Indians just ignore them.
TC: This is patently untrue. Yes, Westerners have talked more openly about these things, because of our more psychologized culture, influenced in recent decades by “truth-telling” approach of the Recovery movement, the Oprah Winfrey show, the John Bradshaw work, and also the “tell-all” approach of the tabloid newspapers, sensationalist celebrity autobiographies, Jerry Springer show, and other brutally explicit venues.
But India is now openly talking about Baba’s improprieties: just read the 3-part series published in Dec. 2000 in the widely read India Today newspaper, and read the several articles exposing Sai and the organization in other Indian newspapers and magazines. (Note: many of these articles are available at the website www.exbaba.com.)
Evidently Baba’s improprieties around sexual activity and faked materializations have been an “open secret” discussed among his college boys for some time, as related in “SATHYA SAI BABA: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY,” posted to the Internet in 1993 on the discussion site soc.culture.tamil [see www.exbaba.com] by Meenakshi Srikanth, a former student at the Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Whitefield campus. (Meenakshi’s piece only became more widely known as part of “The Findings” compilation presented in July 2000 by David and Faye Bailey, posted at www.exbaba.com.)
Moreno’s Response: REGARDING INDIA TODAY: Did Timothy Conway read the India Today article? It appears he did not. For starters, India Today is not a “newspaper” (as erroneously stated by Conway). India Today is a news-weekly magazine. What Timothy Conway conveniently forgot to mention is that the India Today article was entirely slanted with an Anti-Sai viewpoint and was the direct result of unremitting propaganda from Ex-Devotees.
Hari Sampath (an Ex-Devotee) boasted:
bdsteel.tripod.com/More/evidence.htm“I had initiated and organized about 70 % of the major media stories on Sai Baba , including The Times, India Today, the Danish documentary, Salon.com and several others.”
Barry Pittard (an Ex-Devotee) boasted:
home.hetnet.nl/~ex_baba/engels/articles/saislurs8.html“In 2000, I was a member of a small international group of former devotees which ran a number of potent exposure operations. In one of these, we got a 10-page cover story (December 4, 2000) in the prestigious mass circulation weekly magazine India Today.”
Ex-Devotees have similarly boasted that they accomplished various negative media against Sai Baba by waging unremitting “e-bombing” campaigns (flooding various media agencies and organizations on a day-to-day basis with hundreds to thousands of emails containing Anti-Sai propaganda). Even India Today reported this behavior and said, “In the US, disillusioned devotees are ‘e-bombing’ Foreign Secretary Madeleine Albright’s office every day.”
REGARDING MEENAKSHI SRIKANTH: Shri Unni Krishnan was a student at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute Of Higher Learning and personally knew all the details regarding See: Meenakshi Srikanth. Meenakshisundaram Srikanth was expelled from the Institute in 1989 during the final year of his Bachelors degree. Several other students in Meenakshi’s circle of friends were permanently expelled for propagating defamatory rumors and gossip against Sathya Sai Baba (mostly taken from Tal Brooke and Basava Premanand). After Meenakshi Srikanth tearfully pleaded not be expelled, the Institute authorities allowed him to complete his degree (so that his career prospects would not be jeopardized and his parents would not be shamed) under the agreement that he would cease talking ill of Sathya Sai Baba. Meenakshi agreed. Meenakshi Srikanth was provided three years of quality education free of cost at Sai Baba’s College.
After Meenakshi Srikanth graduated from Sai Baba’s institute, he vengefully wrote his articles against Sai Baba and purposely withheld the fact that he had been expelled for spreading the very same rumors and gossip he decided to repeat on the internet. Meenakshi Srikanth now lives a prosperous life in Virginia with his family due to the free education and Bachelor’s degree he received at Sai Baba’s College (which opened the door for him to receive further studies in the USA). In a clarificatory post, Meenakshi Srikanth admitted that he was expelled from the Institute on Republic day 1989 and was taken back into the institute the next day. Meenakshi Srikanth withheld this information because he felt it was not his “motive” and “felt it was irrelevant to the discussion”.
All of Meenakshi Srikanth’s allegations against Sai Baba were based on rumor, gossip, hearsay and unsupported and unverifiable second-hand stories. Meenakshi was never sexually abused but he interpreted everything students said about their interviews with a perverse sexual slant (which Ex-Devotees are notorious for doing).
Although Meenakshi Srikanth originally made his posts on the soc.culture.tamil group in 1993, they were actually published on and referenced to rense.com in 2000 (because Said Afshin Khorramshahgol’s website was deleted for some unknown reason). David Bailey (author of The Findings) contacted Jeff Rense and had him post Meenakshi’s story on his rense.com website (Ref). Rense.com is a website that celebrates Ernst Zundel (calling him a “modern day Galileo”). Ernst Zundel had run Samisdat Publishers, one of the largest distributors of Nazi and neo-Nazi propaganda and memorabilia in the world. Why David Bailey would contact a purported Anti-Semite to push Anti-Sai material is unclear. Probably for the same reason why Tony O’Clery had David Icke post The Findings on his conspiracy and paranoia website. For those who do not know, David Icke believes in a secret society called the “Illuminati”, which is composed of shape-shifting reptilian-hominoid aliens from another planet that suck blood from babies. David Icke believes that George W. Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Queen Elizabeth II, Kris Kristofferson and Boxcar Willie (among others) are reptilian-hominoid shape-shifters from another planet. Call it coincidence, but white supremacists also posted their propaganda in a Sathya Sai Baba Yahoo Group (Ref).
Timothy Conway blindly believed Meenakshi Srikanth’s story without even properly researching it and used his hearsay “grudge” stories as “evidence” that many Sai Students secretly know about allegations of sexual impropriety and faked materializations (which was inadvertently refuted by Reinier Van Der Sandt, a caustic critic of Sai Baba). It is exactly this type of shabby research and gullibility that reflects so badly on Dr. Timothy Conway.
JH: Many things arise here that shake spiritual aspirants to their roots.
TC: Aspirants need to be shaken at their roots. It’s called radical (“at the root”) transformation. We need to be shaken up so much at our egoic roots that these ego tendencies fall off and we are free in God, our original Identity as Spirit. Yes, this news about Sathya Sai is shattering, but we need to be shattered to a certain extent.
All sacred mystical traditions speak of this need for ego death, for undergoing what St. John of the Cross (Juan de al Cruz) called the “Dark Night of the Soul,” wherein, as Juan puts it, one is completely un-made and re-made in God. Zen and Vajrayana [Buddhist] masters speak all the time about the need for this ego-death. And for the illustrious Advaita Vedanta [Hindu] masters, this is none other than the “manonasa” or death of the egoic mind that is called for so that the Atman [God-Self] can shine clearly, without egocentric delusion.
Having one’s exclusive, one-sided views about Sathya Sai exploded with revelations that his behavior is not so seemly can have a most liberating effect, if not resulting in perfect “death of the ego-mind.” Some have even thought that the revelations about Baba are specifically, divinely intended to shake people up, to wean them from their attachment to the name and form of Sathya Sai.
Moreno’s Response: Strange enough, it appears that Timothy Conway just made a strong argument why Sai Baba might act in ways that would disenfranchise and disillusion various individuals. As Paul William Roberts pointed out in his book “Empire Of The Soul” (which contained positive accounts with Sai Baba in the early 70’s), the perverse and baffling actions of many Zen masters and spiritual teachers tend to defy our expectations for them. They may act in ways that can be deliberately off-putting (the alcoholism of Chogyam Trungpa) or repugnantly antisocial (the cruel humor of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff). Roberts stated that our own expectations for spiritual teachers are yet more conditioned baggage from which their teachings and actions are designed to liberate us. Therefore, this particular response from Timothy Conway seems to hold validity among various thinkers and philosophers.
JH: This latest round of hearsay seems more virulent because e-mail now transmits gossipy rumors to the whole world in the blink of an eye.
TC: The use of the word “hearsay” is strategically used to minimize the authenticity of molested victims’ accounts of what Baba has done to them. We should realize that, strictly speaking, everything you have ever heard about Baba outside your own direct experience is also “hearsay,” that is, second-hand information. This includes the official 4-volume biography by [Prof. N.] Kasturi, everything that is published in Sanathana Sarathi [the official journal of the SSB organization], everything that your friends tell you at Sai Centers after they return from India, etc.
Obviously, some forms of hearsay are more reliable, some are not. Many of Baba’s victims have been willing to sign legal affidavits about their unsavory experiences, giving their accounts much more reliability than many of the “beautiful” stories you’ve heard about Sai.
Mr. Hawley also uses the phrase “gossipy rumors” — another tactic that, deliberately or not, marginalizes and minimizes the heart-wrenching accounts of Baba’s sexual abuse and deceitful manipulation told by victims or their anguished family members. Hawley is verging on the use of an ancient, sinister debate strategy employed by those of little integrity: attack the person, not the person’s legitimate viewpoint. Hence this low-level tactic is called “ad hominem” — attack the man (e.g., as a “gossip”) rather than address his legitimate concerns and grievances.
Moreno’s Response: It is completely true that most of the allegations against Sathya Sai Baba are based on hearsay, “gossipy rumors”, second-hand stories and anonymous accounts. Many sexual abuse allegations have obviously been faked by mentally unstable defamers of Sai Baba (such as UsedByBaba, Tony O’Clery, Sanjay Dadlani and Barbara Dent). It is also true that the allegations against Sathya Sai Baba are primarily disseminated by non-victims who were never sexually abused themselves and who never witnessed an incident of alleged molestation themselves. Therefore, the observations and arguments made by ex-devotees for alleged victims are entirely hearsay, speculative and could never be used in a court of law.
Timothy Conway attempted to con readers into thinking that there are “signed legal affidavits” against Sathya Sai Baba. This claim is wholly unsubstantiated and based (ironically) on “gossipy rumors” that Conway blindly believed. As a matter of fact, Timothy Conway fully acknowledged to me (via e-mail) that he never saw an alleged affidavit for himself but blindly believed the “affidavits” claim based on information relayed to him by the late Glen Meloy. Then (in a subsequent email) Timothy Conway flip-flopped, changed his story and said he based his “affidavits” claim on the India Today article (which stated that Jens Sethi and Hans de Kraker submitted “signed affidavits” to them).
India Today’s relevant extract from Jens & Gurprit Sethi’s account was duplicated (verbatim) from their signed letter to David Bailey (who, since the year 2000, never referred to Sethi’s story as an “affidavit”). Jens & Gurprit Sethi’s signed letter to David Bailey was deceptively called a “signed affidavit” by India Today even though no Anti-Sai Activist ever specifically referred to Sethi’s story as an “affidavit”. India Today’s relevant extract from Hans de Kraker’s account was actually taken (verbatim) from a private letter he wrote to the French journalist Virginie Saurel. Hans de Kraker told me (via e-mail) that much of his private correspondence was made public without his permission. Hans de Kraker’s signed letter to Virginie Saurel was deceptively called a “signed affidavit” by India Today even though no Anti-Sai Activist ever specifically referred to Kraker’s letter as an “affidavit”. Even Michelle Goldberg (who cited the same letter in her salon.com article) did not refer to the letter as an “affidavit”. Therefore, Jens & Gurprit Sethi and Hans de Kraker’s signed letters were not actual “signed affidavits” sworn before a notary as fraudulently claimed by India Today (who were working exclusively in collaboration with critics and Ex-Devotees). Furthermore, Jens Sethi and Hans de Kraker were both adults (not minors) when they had their first alleged encounters with Sai Baba.
Ex-Devotees have revealed that they cannot distinguish between affidavits (which are sworn before a notary or other officer authorized to administer an oath) and stories that were never sworn before a notary or other authorized officer (Ref). Even Robert Priddy said that abuse stories were “recorded in various of the affidavits on the internet” (totally confusing online stories with affidavits). Timothy Conway never saw the alleged affidavits (with a stamp from a notary or signature from an authorized officer) for himself even though he had the audacity to claim the alleged “affidavits” were signed, legal and in existence.
It is very perplexing why Ex-Devotees would continually make reference to “affidavits” when they and alleged victims have never initiated any kind of legal action against Sathya Sai Baba in the past 10+ years. It appears that Ex-Devotees are attempting to legitimize their smear-campaigns with disinformation in a brazen attempt to deceive the general public.
After several years of silence, Hari Sampath (using his known Yahoo name of “delta_108”) came out of hiding on August 2nd 2007 and I was able to directly question him about the alleged “affidavit” claims, which originated from him (Reference). Although Hari Sampath expressed a willingness to answer my questions in “half an hour” (Reference), he instead chose to flee the group and went back into hiding. It is important to note that all of these “affidavit” claims against Sathya Sai Baba originated with Hari Sampath and were later passed to Ojvind Kyro, Glen Meloy, Robert Priddy, et al. Despite this fact, Mr. Sampath could not answer basic questions about the alleged affidavits he worked so hard to obtain and chose instead to hide rather than give answers. These are the types of deceivers that have misled so many people about Sai Baba and the Sai Controversy for so many years.
Despite six non-anonymous and alleged victims being very vocal on the internet and though various media, all of them never filed a basic police complaint against Sai Baba in India and all of them refused Barry Pittard’s offer of free “world-class legal resources”. Alleged victims can no longer file a court case against Sathya Sai Baba because the Indian statute of limitations has expired for them (the allegations are many years old). Alleged victim’s highly questionable tactics and defenses are very unusual and their unique approach to addressing their alleged abuse (through selective and one-way venues rather than legal venues) is highly indicative of deceit.
Although Timothy Conway hypocritically castigated Jack Hawley for ad hominem attacks, he fully engaged in them with bitter, deep-seated ill will. Timothy Conway, with his holier-than-thou facade, miserably fails to practice the precept he can often be seen advising others to follow.