gurus charlatans Amma


I’m dealing with a lot of Bullshit right now. It’s coming at me from every angle like some kind of horrific splatter scene in a Coprophagiac’s porn flick.

It’s interesting actually, how many levels Bullshit can exist on.

Two of the situations in question deal with large-scale spiritual frauds, two are about the untrustworthiness of intimates. (There was another one in the latter category recently as well, but it pales in significance and so I won’t include it here. Amateur night, you know.)

All are about Bullshit.

Without getting into the devilish details, i.e. the specifics of each movement of the Bullshit Symphony I am currently trying to get out of the auditorium before the feces-flinging finale of, let’s just delve straight into the bog which begs the question: why do people misrepresent themselves?

Looking at these four very different instances from the sort of safe distance that allows pattern and design to emerge from the crap-sprayed mess, I find that it is helpful to assume the detached and objective stance of a forensics professional analyzing a crime scene.

The M.O. may be different, the repercussions varied, but people who present themselves and their lives with a high degree of “spin” are basically all operating from the same dead battery.


The user is ashamed of his need to exploit others; of the fact that s/he is so incapable of honest ascent. The poseur is ashamed of his/her inherent lack of cool, of the creeping certainty of mediocrity that gives rise to the uncontrollable urge to self-aggrandize. The hustler is ashamed of the truth, of the honesty that would make her/his scams less palatable to the gullible. The plastic shaman is ashamed – scornful actually – of humanity itself, and ashamed at being a piece of it; getting over on the fellow-fools is a way of soothing the shame.

Although it is not grammatically correct to use “they” in place of “he” or “she” if wishing to make a comment about a person without indicating “their” gender, I have done so anyway below because the English language is bastard stupid on this point, plus his/her s/he become clumsier with each repetition, and most crucially I am trying to protect myself from the guilty by being vague:

One of the four makes promises they cannot keep; cuts sweet deals that always turn sour.

One tells lies to hide how much they take from others; creates squabbles amongst their critics that they may divert attention.

One falsifies history in order to give themselves unique access to “ancient wisdom” which snake oil they then sell to the anxious seekers.

One uses psychotropic drugs to mesmerize the overly-earnest and then claims this ownerless force as their own (for which of course they charge a pretty penny).

Doesn’t it just suck?

Everywhere you look there are people making false claims, bigging themselves up, donning tin tiaras and getting drunk (and rich) on the illusion of being special.

I’m sicker of it even than I’m sick of the trouble I perpetually land in when my finicky nostrils detect the concealed pile of shit and, goddamn it Diana, go and communicate the sensitive information to my mouth which of course then vomits out the obvious question: what the fuck you trying to pull?

If you think I make a lot of friends this way, you’d be dead wrong. It’s not the kind of thing people generally thank you for, even the people you have just dragged half conscious from the pile of Bullshit, upon which they were about to choke.

And that is what I find even weirder:  the desire to swallow Bullshit: whole.

Logically, it would progress therefore, that both the purveyor and consumer of Bullshit are getting off on the exchange somehow.

Here’s a little example, not one of the Big 4 Bullshit Artists teasingly referred to above, but of some silly twat I’ll never see again, and who will most likely never see this.

I think I’ll even give her real name here, which if I remember correctly, was Venus (depends what you mean by “real” I guess) which makes it just that bit more amusing.

At a recent gig of “healing sounds” in Camden Town, in which I’m proud to say I was the only performer whose spiritual lyrics included the word FUCK, I met Venus out on the patio by the canal after I’d sung.

Gushy and wuvvy at first, she somehow managed to steer the conversation towards “living saint” Amma, (you know, the one that hugs) with whom she had clearly become recently infatuated.

I always bite my tongue at least one and a half times before saying what I really think, when someone is spewing Bullshit, in order to give them a chance to voluntarily emerge from the mental sewer and start either talking sense or about the weather. And so I did.

Unfortunately for Venus, she didn’t take the hint and kept talking about Amma. Finally, she shoved her watch in my face, which had Amma’s face on its face. This was too weird; a timeless divine being telling the time. Priceless. As I’m sure Venus would agree.

Pitying the lacerated sides of my tongue I ventured forth with the mild remark, “uh…I’m not really into gurus you see…” To which Venus, glowing from within, replied knowingly “…ah yes, that’s just how I used to feel! But then I met Amma and felt such divine love ..”

I couldn’t hear the rest because a humongous volcano of Bullshit erupted at that very moment, coating us all in a fine layer of putrid filth.

Politely ignoring the stench and inhaling deeply on my fag (part of the reason I smoke is for sensory survival in situations such as these) I decided to risk continuing. Maybe Venus was ready to hear the truth after all.

In my mind I flashed upon an exposé I had read of the whole Amma cult in which it was pretty well inarguably demonstrated that her image, hugging shtick, and Western presence had been skillfully stage-managed by PR professionals.  Having been to India and seen the enormous commerce in gurus that thrives there, this made sense to me. I also recalled a personal account of a horrific visit to her ashram in India by a well-trusted friend whose observations are on the level.

Maybe I should break it to Venus gently?


Best just spill it.

“..actually…” I countered, “..I believe that Amma’s mission is a carefully constructed example of the corporatization of Indian spiritual culture…”

I would have said more but to my surprise, 10,000 volts of electricity suddenly coursed through Venus’s slender frame, jettisoning her from a cross-legged position next to me to a warrior stance about 12 feet NE of her former situation.

“I’m NOT having this conversation!” she said with a holy defiance that owed a lot to popular representations of Jean D’arc.

Thanks to my terrible addiction to tobacco, I was still extremely calm, extremely cross-legged still, and still by the canal. I spoke quietly.

“It’s OK. You can close your mind any time you want.” (puff)

Venus/Joan, gripped her invisible sword in its scabbard and spoke with the conviction of a thousand martyrs.

“But my HEART is open!”

(Oscar nod.)


“..well, it’s not really an either/or you know. You could always go for both.”


I wish I could remember Venus’s exact words that follow but my chief recollection is of spontaneously diving into the canal, to wash off the thickly caked layers of Bullshit that were starting to congeal on my favorite pashmina, and all I could hear from beneath the water was this WHOMP WHOMP oscillating thrumming as her distorted face collapsed and kaleidoscoped, shape-shifting through the entire pantheon of Durgas.

The general gist though was that the mind couldn’t be trusted whereas the heart could.

I do not concur.

“…I think you’ll find,” I continued in what I hoped was a reasonable tone of voice, “..that actually the mind is a terribly useful tool, particularly when the heart gets confounded. Abandoning the intellect in order to have a ‘spiritual experience’ doesn’t seem like a smart move to me.”


Venus was still trembling with incandescent self-righteousness; she was the defender of the grail, the keeper of the key, she was the Cathars at Montségur, she was Sally Field in Not Without My Daughter!

I could only really see her out of the peripheral vision of my right eye at this point. Once the chapatti flour of her half-baked convictions had mingled with the peroxide of my skepticism and the resulting explosion had blasted her across the deck, I saw no reason to twist from the direction I’d originally been facing, with the result that she was holding court with my right shoulder, whilst I studiously addressed the barge hitching-post in the centre of my field of vision.

Remembering that she was a New Age Mamma Bearing Unconditional Love, I believe she then said something along the lines of: “Peace sister, we don’t have to agree.”

“I couldn’t agree with you more,” I affirmed to the hitching-post.


We smilingly avoided one another for the rest of the evening. (That is, Venus and I – the hitching-post cleverly stayed put.)

What have we learned from this object lesson?

Well, to me it’s simple: bullshitters peddle bullshit for various reasons, most to do with money, fame, prestige, sex, and the other popular void-stuffers that mask the gaping, aching, hole within.

Bullshittees swallow bullshit because they (think they) need to be fed things to believe in that not only don’t require proof, but which reject the very idea of proof at all. Why else would Islam be the fastest-growing religion in the world despite its obvious flaws? Why? – because it’s the mack daddy of all responsibility-abdicating faiths with its unshakeable tenets that govern practically every situation of life. If you wanna come on this ride folks, please leave that pesky brain at the door.

Maybe that’s what’s always bugged me about the word “believe” – it’s almost like an admission that you are putting your trust in something that’s as likely to be cubic zirconium as diamonds. You’re saying you don’t care; that the buzz you get from thinking you’re wearing real diamonds is worth being duped.

So, then maybe it’s not even worth bothering to enlighten the willing victims of a confidence trick, maybe there’s no point in busting people whose endless tangled lies and manipulations waste countless precious hours and generate fathomless tears.

But what else you gonna do?

Sit there covered in Bullshit? Lapping it up happily like pigs in…uh… shit?

I can’t tell you what to do, but in the immortal words of Hall and Oates I can definitively state that: I won’t go for that/no-wo-wo-oh/no can do

The bummer, of course, is that when you reject Bullshit, you can for sure expect one thing: for your trouble, you are going to get a lot of shit. 

As I once said, un-ironically, to myself, upon having a heavy bowel movement whilst high on ayahuasca and realizing that there was no toilet paper in the cubicle: 

oh shit!


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6 Responses to “BULLSHIT!”

  1. Paxus Calta Says:

    We talked about this a bit, but you did more justice to the story of the Amma tag along in this written version.

    The basic problem is people want to believe in something. Communism is dead, Dawkins is taking pot shots at god. You are not even letting the new agey spiritual types have their fun.

    It is not necessarily the case that you have to turn of your brain to believe in something, but reality is understandably depressing and people want something other than “The world is falling apart, the left is ineffective to stop it, you are going to suffer and your kids are going to suffer worse” as a core belief.

    So what are you going to offer ? Intentional Communities ? Sharing mechanisms ? Polyamory ? Mind expanding drugs ? We talked about some of these but there is a memetics issue here – what is going to take and hold and grow and spread.

    So if you are going to complain (which is understandable) about these discount belief systems, you cant (i believe) just offer the brilliance of the mind as the salvation – you need to offer up a replacement belief system which is inspiring and vast.

    hard work, good thing your so clever.

    • 66witches Says:

      Thanks Pax. Whilst I agree with your view that reality is “understandably depressing” I do not agree that therefore people need belief systems. If a belief system is some kind of salve to substitute for the pain of awareness, then that’s exactly why I think it should be rejected. I’d rather feel the pain of the real than live in what may accurately be called a fool’s paradise. The point of my article was not to propose the mind as salvation – you’ll notice that I told Venus it’s not a choice between having either an open mind or an open heart – it’s possible to cultivate both.

      I do not have a belief system nor an ideology, nor do I think I need one. Adopting one is like willingly putting on blinkers – you have to restrict your view or you will start to get little clues that your belief system doesn’t really encompass everything after all.
      Principles: now there’s something I can get behind. Principles such as forthrightness, truthfulness, integrity, courage, sharing, play, compassion. These are not abstractions; they are codes to live by. That’s all we need, whether working in politics, the arts, spirituality, the media or parapsychology, etc.

      Forming intentional communities is a great idea – but if they aren’t governed by principles, then they too will succumb to internal strife, jealousy, back-biting and power struggles. I’m sure you’ve seen a fair bit of all of this at Twin Oaks, valiant an experiment though it may be.

      NO, I stand by what I said: throw out all the belief systems. Get back/forwards to principles. I had a dialogue with a Santo Daime member a couple of years ago in which he lamented certain things that were going on, the usual stuff, yet still couldn’t seem to tear himself away from the group and the belongingness he felt to it. I told him that I felt the future of religion, if it had one, was that it become more like a jam session and less like a proscribed ritual, that it could be a constant process of invention, rather than an adherence to a restricting single vision, alterations to which were NOT ALLOWED.

      One of the chief things I learned from my relationship with John Michell, was that it’s terribly helpful to not get attached to ideas about things that cannot be proven. He wrote a brilliant book called “Who Wrote Shakespeare?” in which each chapter treats a different contender – Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, the “consortium” etc. John wrote so marvelously that you were totally convinced by the end of each chapter that THAT was the person who really wrote Shakespeare. But of course, by the end of the book, John makes no conclusions. This is the point of the book, which many reviewers didn’t get.

      Everyone gets down on the apostle Thomas for doubting the “resurrected” Christ and wanting to examine his wounds. Personally, I like Thomas a lot. He sounds like he’s not easily scammed!

      John Michell’s only certainties were about numbers, because they always behave exactly the same way when subjected to the same instruments. Maybe this is why the ancients used numerical systems, rather than the written word, to preserve their knowledge. Though it’s true that there’s an interpretative aspect to mathematics the numbers themselves never say “..and therefore…” Unfortunately, this does also mean that we can never be totally sure about what wisdom or message the ancients were trying to leave for us, if indeed that’s what they were doing.

      When I say John wasn’t dogmatic, I don’t mean to suggest that he did not arrive at interpretations. But his interpretations are based on the observation and measurements that he made, not just flights of fancy. In his book “Twelve Tribe Nations”, John proposed that ancient society – commonly referred to as the mythical “golden age” – was based around cosmological alignments, monuments and social structures that mirrored the perfection of the cosmos. This would have developed into various belief systems around the world, specific to those cultures, but all would have been based on the same unwavering principles. By echoing the harmony of the cosmos, human society reinforced it – through song primarily – and there was peace.

      So you see, harmony with nature does not depend on belief systems, it depends on living by certain principles.

  2. JC Says:

    Nice, Diana! In June I ended up on a plane from Seattle to Oaktown with none other than Amma Gi & her entourage. Seated next to me was a Dutch videographer for her biz. I had a Jack Daniel’s on the rocks & had fun talking to him…An ex had dragged me to one of her gigs in Marin County for a hug a few years back…Wisdom & power have to balance love (= open heart) and we need to be armed with discernment when navigating the seas of (false) prophets. Any way, I am glad you are my friend. I relish the absence of bullshit.

    • 66witches Says:

      I was really hoping you were going to tell me Amma was knocking back the JDs on the flight too, oh well, you can’t have everything! What class was she flying, though please do tell! I looked into some more expose material in the last few days on Amma and there is a lot of truly bizarro stuff! Do you know about these Amma dolls they sell (180 bucks) that you are supposed to carry around and talk to as your connection to Amma, who can of course read all her devotees thoughts simultaneously? This ex-cult member describes all these devotees slobbering over these dolls in a totally regressive state, whispering to them in rapture like a bunch of utter fruitcakes.
      Holy Infantilization!
      I’m surprised they don’t sell those plastic nipple pacifier things with Amma faces on them. Maybe they just haven’t thought of it yet!
      I seem to recall adult-sized plastic pacifiers on a neck-string being a late 1990s “candy raver” fashion item if I’m not mistaken? (They were the ones who dressed like overgrown children on their way to an acid-themed pajama party. Also seen sporting candy necklaces and eating lollipops. Actually everyone was eating was lollipops, strike that last bit.)
      So….I’m thinking…. maybe we could get a hold of some big pacifiers and print Amma face all over ’em and pitch a stall near her next gig, selling ’em for a fiver? I mean if people get away with selling unauthorized merch in the parking lot of a Metallica concert, I’m sure even Amma’s goon squad couldn’t stop us making a little dough on the side? If they busted us we could alway just say we were going to give the money to Tsunami victims on her behalf. We could even have an envelope and a cheque already made out to back up the story. Whaddaya think? ;-()

  3. jane (critter) Says:

    Bravo Diana!

    I also don’t believe in having religions. Not because I find fault in a person wanting or needing to feel they can lean on something higher than their self in difficult times, but because apparently it’s human nature to build and build onto it some conglomerate holy sanctimony.

    As for the world being too depressing, well, maybe if people stopped all this bullshit of waiting to be saved, by aliens or Jesus, or whoever, maybe if they WOKE UP and stopped these damn fictitious belief systems, then maybe we’d have a better chance at fixing what is so depressing about our world.

    Instead, it’s ‘God’s plan’ while millions of people suffer every day. Thanks God! Thank you so much for this terrific “PLAN”..

    The extent to which people get brainwashed from religions is horrific. It is often like a disease that is contagious and spreads. I have known people who were fairly normal, common sense people who hung around too long with the religions and got sucked in. Now they are walking around like zombie morons quoting scripture.

    As for the ‘new age’ of beliefs. Well, that is mostly just a con. Those who started this con, I don’t know who they are, or even if they are still alive.. but I see many many way too many people “believing” in everything that comes down the new age pump channel. Many don’t even know it’s a con, or that they are conning others.. because they believe it.

    It has been many many years now for the “idea” that dishing out bucks for spiritual services, or that you can pay to learn how to heal, or learn to astral, or learn to be ‘spiritual’ so that you can then go and set up shop and teach more… that IDEA has become acceptable. It is NOT. It is BULLSHIT. But people want it, so they believe it.

    Trying to tell these new agers that these things are hokey and not reliable, basically, FAKE they sully like children being told make-believe is not real.

    I have met more than one so called ‘light-worker’ who I wouldn’t let near me even if I was dying. And I’ve been attacked by many of them as well. So much for the precious light! LOL It’s absurd.. and I become nauseated in the presence of new age mish mash people walking around like they on bliss pills, but confronted with reality, or even just an opposing view, and they can’t deal with it. Have to ride out on a high horse while making sure to try and diminish you as a valuable being.

    IMO.. the “change” these new agers like to espouse will never happen as long as we have religions (including theirs) in the world.. because it is the religions that rule people.. and as long as people are being ruled by a belief instead of reality, our world will never ever change..

    I was not raised with religion, and I am offended every time I hear some Christian person espouse that “morals” come from religion. Hell, then why is it all these priests rape children? Oh, yeah.. I forgot.. they’ve been saved.. they can do whatever they want to anyone and it’s OK.. Jesus has absolved them. Well.. Fuck. Our world is doomed.

    A Quote: “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. ~ Buddha”

    That is the only thing I believe, and I think any religious/spiritual belief that begs more than that.. that begins to build and create some structural thought system of dogma, is a red flag and should be avoided like the plague.

    Unfortunately, new agers have left their reason and common sense out in the cold.. perhaps on some distant planet where they were doing some self created ritual to shake up the cosmos…

    • 66witches Says:

      What a wonderful comment, thanks so very much for writing! Yes of course morals don’t come from religion and the fact that so many people are able to get away with immoral acts because they are hiding behind the cloak of religion, is even more damning. It is indeed surprising, as you point out, that so many people still insist that without religion we are doomed. I don’t recall warring factions of atheists ever blowing each other up because of differing versions of the god they don’t believe in! Being facetious, but I’m sure you won’t hold it against me.
      I remember seeing a great bumpersticker back n California that went “I hate intolerant people!” which I thought was just the greatest spoof on the paradox of new age closed-mindedness. The same people that consider themselves discerning and not easily fooled for not believing a word out of George Bush Jr’s mouth, even if he said the sea was deep, will willingly enter into a state of suspended disbelief just cuz some guy with cool beads claims to have brought a message from some mystical tribe. I’ve lost track of how many of these guys claim they are the messenger of the “only people whose traditions survived the colonialisation”. Newsflash – there’s still at least 60 groups in South America who STILL aint never been contacted! Thanks again, I’ve got a follow-up piece about why people have “Real” experiences if Gurus aren’t real. Check back in a couple of days – or if you already subscribe you’ll get it when I put it up! Pleasure to have you aboard the Campaign for Clear Thinking! xDiana

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