Karmageddon: Lord of the Vagina meets Mr. Nice Guy. {Exclusive, Film Review}

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 “An old soul with a nasty baby psyche.”

Or at least that is Jeff Brown’s assessment of kirtan star and yogi Bhagavan Das half way through Karmageddon, a two-hour documentary that chronicles one man’s disenchantment with the skirt-chasing antics of a guru who claims his most potent enlightenment began in 1998 with a talking vagina.

“I heard the talking yoni. The yoni spoke to me…I surrendered to her feet and I didn’t mount her…I didn’t use her yoni that night. I worshipped her. She’d already come two or three times that night. I’d been eating her out for an hour and a half already.”

To give Brown credit, his disillusionment with Bhagavan Das (Lord of the Yoni) begins early in the story when the teacher (who stays as a houseguest in three visits over two years) prances naked in front of Brown’s girlfriend, and later makes lewd conversation with her in front of him. Even before this, 60-something Bhagavan clearly demonstrates an obession with women young enough to be his grand daughters. But it’s not until the lusty old guy hits too close to home that Brown begins to really dig in and ask this question—

Can a guru be enlightened at one level and yet a complete f*cking mess at another?

To figure this out, Brown travels far and wide to interview yoga and kirtan colleagues of Bhagavan, from recording artists Robert Gass and Deva Premal, to yoga teacher and spiritual activist Seane Corn. The musicians are far more tolerant (live and let live) than Corn, who, while clearly fond of Babaji, also states it’s a misuse of power to prey on vulnerable young women. She even jokes that Bhagavan’s karma will probably get him in his next life when he comes back as an 18-year-old girl.

The most compelling assessment of Bhagavan comes from Be Here Now author Ram Dass (Servant of God), who knew Bhagavan in India in the 1960s when he was still named Michael Riggs. In fact Bhagavan introduced Ram Dass (then Richard Alpert) to holy man Neem Karoli Baba, who initiated both men and gave them their Sanskrit names.

The Ram Dass interview reveals the Servant of God is not impressed by his former friend, Lord of the Yoni. Ram Dass describes Bhagavan as “shackled by his own desire,” and “living out his karma.” When pressed by Brown to justify Bhagavan’s sexually predacious nature as a chaos bringer that shakes people up to wake them up, Ram Dass is not buying it.

Brown: “Does how he behaves in his personal life really matter?”

Ram Dass: “Yes it matters…you have to be able to justify your actions on every plane.”

Perhaps the most interesting action that needs justifying in this story is Jeff Brown’s attraction to Bhagavan despite his increasing distaste for the man’s behaviors, from juvenile humor to kleptomania to hitting on nearly underage girls.

In one scene we are introduced to the surprisingly sanguine parents of a young woman who Bhagavan asks to tour with him and provide sex—she turns him down and he has a temper tantrum. Brown listens to this rant but only later reflects on his own anger with Bhagavan and his inability to express anything other than passive-aggressive comments to his teacher.

As the film progresses the focus moves from the investigative approach of asking everyone else if they are okay with this guru, to Brown digging inward to ask himself why he is both “revolted by and completely drawn to him.”

Realizing that Bhagavan is a “depth charge” for some kind for an emotional healing, Brown finally connects the dots. The tall, charismatic, economically irresponsible, delusional guru who imagines himself a high spiritual being is a replica of Brown’s own abusive father, to the point they even smell alike.

This punch line would be a predictable groaner (oh no, not father-transference) that might kill the movie if it weren’t for the quality of the narration. Brown’s literary language as he describes his inner process is eloquent and captivating, and with the added irony of Bhagavan’s chanting as a background score, often times haunting.

Ultimately this film is less an expose of a capricious guru with a Pan complex as it is an inner exploration of Brown’s spiritual journey, one where he pleads guilty to confusing his own self avoidance with enlightenment. Brown realizes that repressed emotions, especially anger, are the “karmic field for my soul’s expansion.”

In the end, Karmageddon’s real message is about remembering that our humanness must walk hand in hand with our divinity. Bhagavan Das, a man of contradictions, shows us all that in our imperfection is the possibility for perfection. And in our messy mortal selves lies the grist for transformation.


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Lori Lothian

Lori Ann Lothian is a spiritual revolutionary, divine magic maker and all-purpose scribe. Her articles on love, relationships, enlightenment and sex have appeared at Huffington Post, Good Men Project, Yoganonymous, Origin magazine, Better After 50, XO Jane and on her hit personal blog The Awakened Dreamer. She is also the creator of The 40 Day Magic Challenge. a daily practice to create a masterpiece life of ease, flow, joy and prosperity. Lori Ann lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and daughter, where she has learned to transcend the rain and surrender to mega doses of vitamin D. Tweet her at Twitter

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anonymous Jan 17, 2014 9:06pm

Even if one commits the most abominable actions, if he is engaged in devotional service, he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated.
He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, Hari Om

anonymous Aug 30, 2013 3:18pm

What a bunch of hilarious spiritual babies. Bless their hearts, both JB and BD, for trying so hard. Both are trying to show how much they love the divine feminine, one by expression of obsessive desire and the other by expression of a need to protect and sanctify. Both are exerting willful practice and reaching for the pulpit rather than putting the object of their adoration first (the beloved). Just a little dirty ego in the ol monkey suits…well, everyone serves a purpose and perhaps they are both wounded healers providing a reflection for so many to relate to, for those who could not immediately relate to a more essential and simple message. They are human and that's ok. That is life. That is a good lesson too. They are both bringing many gifts, beautiful devotional prose and song. Ultimate truth is within each of us and relying on external gurus, leaders, writers, etc. to be your answer to all is the only err here.

anonymous Aug 18, 2013 7:49am

The only “enlightenment” I got from this film was to realise how special Ramdass is. Grace from their guru was bestowed on all, but Ramdass stayed true to his course where as Bhagwandass got trapped by his own desires.

Thank you Jeff brown for exposing thisexposing this fraud.

I do not agree with the author’s idea of accepting everyone, in case of Bhagwandass there is no social responibility on his part, and an immense betrayal of trust, abuse of power. And yes, mockery of a sacred name: Bhagwan das does not lord of the yoni; it has the same sacred humility as Ram das. Bhagwan das also means “servamt of God”. Although this is one servant I wish the lord would sack soon.

anonymous Jan 19, 2013 10:24am

I find Bhagavan das to be one of the few teachers of the Dharma to be authentic and clear ..I have deep deep respect for Bhagavan das…There is alot being taught about yoga , that is the soup of the soup watered down and non-traditional..Bhagavan Das is true to traditional yoga and is a clear channel for teachings that will change you from within…This man is indeed a great gift here in the west where yoga has become commercialized and lost it connection to traditional and mysical practices PRANAMS TO Bhagavan das and Kali

anonymous Oct 8, 2012 9:44pm

I agree. Kailash is a copycat. Jeff Brown is an idiot and Kalyani is a fool. Jai Ma!

anonymous Sep 18, 2012 9:13am

Kailash Kurt Bruder? Now there is a credible source. This untenured university professor devoted his life to imitating Bhagavan Das and Bhagavan Das thinks he is an idiot. Pathetic.

    anonymous Sep 27, 2012 9:56am

    Greetings "Vin": when you describe as "pathetic" my status as a "credible source," may I ask if you're referring to Jeff Brown's choice when interviewing me for his film, or to my critical remarks about the finished documentary (see earlier in this thread)?
    As for my imitating Bhagavan Das, I understand that when one undertakes to learn from another (as in an apprenticeship), imitation is a crucial component of the learning process. Competence in any skill-area is a function of emulating a high-quality standard. Once one has developed sufficient competence with the "building blocks" of a given proficiency, creativity becomes possible. I believe that this process holds good in musical performance, sincere devotional activity, and many other admirable features that I recognized operating in Bhagavan Das' life when I met him. These are qualities that I aspired to develop in my own life way back when, and continue to practice earnestly a decade later.
    The only public pronouncement from Bhagavan Das about me that I'm aware of is his endorsement of my book, _Following Sound into Silence: Chanting Your Way Beyond Ego into Bliss_ (Hay House):
    "In Following Sound into Silence, Kailash will take you on a clear ride into the nature of the sound vibration. His devotion to his Guru is very strong, and he has received the blessings of Guru Yoga."

anonymous Aug 27, 2012 9:00am

I would like to correct a mistake that Lori made in her review of the movie concerning the early relationship between Bhagavan Das and Ram Dass. Contrary to what Lori said, when the two first met in India in the mid sixties, his name was NOT Michael Riggs. By that time, BD's Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, had long since since given him his spiritual name. In BD's book IT'S HERE NOW, ARE YOU? he had been living in India for some time as Bhagavan Das. So Dr. Alpert NEVER knew him as Michael Riggs. Ironically, according to BD, Maharaj-ji initially wanted to give him the name Ram Dass. But he turned it down and asked for another name. The rest is history.

anonymous Jul 20, 2012 9:36am

I have known Bhagavan Das for almost 40 years. And he has been stealing and chasing young girls for as long as I have known him. He has stolen from many altars, including Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's. And he has been banned by Esalen and Omega and many yoga studios because of his behavior with young girls. STOP MAKING EXCUSES. These are all well known to the community.

anonymous Jul 17, 2012 12:13pm

Bhagavan Das is merely a mirror of what is INSIDE us.

I agree with Kailash that the filmmaker "seeks to subvert what he cannot himself endure (and that of which he likely stands in greatest need). He resists submission to the Guru so vehemently that he must attempt to destroy the one person who was ALMOST big/good enough for him to surrender to."

I have not yet watched the film; I have read all of the comments and I watched the trailer. Upon hearing the voice of Bhagavan Das, I was moved to tears.

For me, it is that simple.

anonymous Jul 17, 2012 11:26am

people forget that this film was made in 2005 when both Jeff and Bhagavan were at different stages of their life. We have been following Jeff's writing on Facebook for two years and doubt very much that he would risk his writing career by being associated with Bhagavan Das unless he believed very strongly in the message of this film. To say that ambition motivates him is to assume that he needed this to expand in popularity. From what we can see, he is already far more popular than Bhagavan and he did not need this negative association to help him. Come on, folks, see it for what it is. Your precious chanter has been pulling these stunts for 40 years. Isn't it better that it is exposed?

    anonymous Jul 17, 2012 1:54pm

    This film was finished this year. Why wouldnt jeff mention at the end of the documentary where Bhagavan Das is now (like they do in normal documentaries about people)?..unless he didnt want them to know because it dosent support his story…i have to question that…its seems strange……im all for exposing……again i feel there is nothing to hide….but why sensationalize, edit and show only enough just to support your agenda…….and its NOT like jeff didnt know baba had been in therapy and been married and sober for the past 5 years, as he has been in contact with BD in the last year or so acting as his "friend" and helping him out with some things….there is just a sneaky vibe from jeff that is just not sitting well with those involved in this film….that is what people are irritated with…NOT that Bhagavan Das is "exposed"…i know that makes for good sensationalism to talk of uncovering something and everyone's "cages being rattled" by exposing our precious chanter….lol….but thats not the case….those who work with Bhagavan Das dont give a shit about saving face and reputations…even our guru's…..but if we want to take on the task of "exposing" lets do it with honesty and integrity and at least hold ourselves up to the same scrutiny we are holding the other person to. If we are just blaming Guru and Daddy (or even the big bad film maker- in our case) and fail to look in the mirror…REALLY LOOK IN THE MIRROR….then this whole thing is a waste of time….and isnt that what this whole trip is supposed to be about?

    PS-i personally had no idea who Jeff Brown was other than through this movie and his association with Bhagavan Das…im not saying that no one knew of him before….im just saying i didnt.

    anonymous Jul 17, 2012 2:16pm

    you are mistaken. the film was still being edited mere days b4 release; this info was posted on jeff's FB page. there is nothing to expose, baba didn't hide anything. and baba is not running a popularity contest with anyone, least of all jeff. yes, he needs the association so that people will feel that he is a poor, helpless victim and buy his latest book and so that he can add "film-maker" to his shoddy credentials. jeff lies. a lot. it's sad that so many people are fooled. nirakar, you obviously are enjoying the hot dog that jeff is feeding you too much to question how it was made.

    anonymous Jul 18, 2012 12:43am

    The thing about Bhagavan Das is that there is nothing to expose. He is utterly, painfully up front about his faults, and is practically incapable of putting up a front. It is no great trick to get Bhagavan Das to indict or impugn himself: he does so spontaneously and constantly. If you want to hear crazy stories about Bhagavan Das, read his memoir. It's no secret.

    That's what makes Jeff Brown's movie so pointless and his rationale about "transparency" a lie. Bhagavan Das isn't some starchfronted evangelical secret gay sex addict, or a sweet and revered yoga favorite with a federal cocaine felony nobody knows about. Unveiling Bhagavan Das is the biggest So What? imaginable. That's why nobody in the movie is as shocked as Brown pretends to be about Bhagavan Das, whose behavior is only exceptionable in the bluenosed world of yoga retreats anyway.

    The worst kind of bad faith is piling on the way Brown does and encourages others to do. Brown makes Bhagavan Das the projection for all his own bad feelings and resentments. Like a child he constructs a giant in order to slay it.

    Anyway what are the "stunts" that Bhagavan Das supposedly perpetrates? He likes pretty women (though he is now married). He "stole" a $2 picture of Amma off Jeff's shelf. He speaks frankly about sex and money, the dual obsessions of everyone you meet every day.

    Finally this premise that somehow Brown is risking his good name and widespread fame by associating himself with Bhagavan Das is just absurd. Obviously Brown wanted to capitalize on BD's notoriety, how could anyone pretend otherwise? Did Jeff draw Bhagavan Das from obscurity, only to then "expose" him? It's backwards and asinine.

anonymous Jul 15, 2012 11:15am

Part 2/2

In my experience BD changes his actions depending on who he is with, almost as if saying to that person through his actions "look, its ok…see i can do it…so can you…come out of the closet". Those that have the most hang ups are usually those that BD acts out with the most….and when there is no more buttons to push…the game is over….there is no drama to be found in relation to BD…only love. This is just what i have experienced and seen with my own eyes. I found it hilarious that BD was laying it on that thick with Jeff….and how many buttons he actually pushed…to the point of jeff beating on a cushion….I know that feeling…been there, done that…lol…except the difference is I looked in the mirror …at myself, not at BD or even my parents… instead of pointing my finger at "other" …..and i ended up learning alot about myself and came out on the other side not feeling victimized or conned but unbelievably grateful, empowered and super strong in myself and my ability to love (myself and others) unconditionally, beyond judgment and through being triggered or not. This has helped me out immensely in my own personal relationships and in life.

Bhagavan Das never taught us to have faith in HIS perfection or wisdom (EVER) but to have faith in the wisdom and perfection of the moment (no matter what it is) and to have faith in our own heart's ability to meet that moment with courage and compassion. To use all of life (the beautiful moments as well as the ugly) as the Guru.

My favorite part of this movie, is to watch the spiritual community's reaction, esp those who don't actively work with their shadow….im seeing alot of judgment, hate, and "not me" mentality.

Its also interesting to watch the reactions of those who dont know BD and are just looking at BD through jeff's limited portrayal of him and taking everything as truth without stopping once to question the film maker's motives (who only had three visits with him and was obviously angry with him, even though he never expressed it to BD face to face…he played the role of "devotee" the last visits to capture more footage and stories while rolling his eyes and smirking at the camera behind BD's back)

…..AND its also interesting to watch the reactions of all those who work with BD personally and love him (including me) and our reaction of everyone's deeply critical opinion of our Guru…and how our lessons in unconditional love and bearing witness to the light in others as they reveal and work through their own shadow (even if its jeff's) is being challenged and stretched…..this is good stuff…this is the stank and stench of life that allows the flowers grow.

Im not here to fight with anyone….just sharing offering my two cents….for whatever its worth.

anonymous Jul 15, 2012 11:14am

Part 1/2

I am not fighting. Im just sharing my opinion here. Am i not allowed to do that? I am sharing my opinion not because i am upset that Bhagavan Das is being "revealed"….as there is nothing to reveal…how can you out someone who outs them self? I guess those who dont know Bhagavan Das or never read his book will be shocked by Jeff's movie…those who spend any time with Bhagavan Das are not shocked…there is nothing to reveal….Im sharing my personal experience here because I believe that this movie is full of sensationalism, half truths, and had an agenda to to show Bhagavan Das in a limited way that serves to support Jeff's personal story…consciously or unconsciously… Thats all.

As far as Jeff making a name for himself….yes i agree it wont make him popular to associate with BD (lol as i personally know this to be true), but it might, if he is seen as the hero who publicly outs a "guru gone bad"……and jeff might say, well if i wanted to do that i could have been a lot harsher as it would of been very easy ….and my answer is…i believe jeff enjoys being seen as kind, compassionate and fair….if he would of been too easy he wouldnt of been seen as the hero, if he would of went alot harder, he might be seen as angry, vindictive and cut throat…there is the perfect mix in this movie to be the "hero", while still maintaining his gentle persona……thats just my personal assessment. But only jeff knows his intentions. All im doing is giving my personal sense of things. I could be wrong.

I personally like Jeff…I just feel his movie is full of quite a bit of sensationalism and has a personal agenda….. this coming from someone who is NOT ashamed of Bhagavan Das in the least and feels there is nothing to hide…In fact, i was looking forward to a raw honest documentary from jeff…..show BD's lust…show his battle with adiction…show his ego mania…but why only edit and choose clips to focus on just that? There is more to the man than just that. Bhagavan Das was willing to "go there" with jeff….to show it all…Shadow and Light…thats the point…we ALL have this stuff inside us….we are not just "the good guy" or the "bad guy"….we are ALL of it…and we are here learning to love ourselves as we are so that we can begin to love others as they are.

….many who know BD do not feel that he is inconsistent or feel the need to hide who he is….in fact it is just the opposite…he is who he is…and we love him for that. We love him, not in spite of that, but BECAUSE of that. It is a great lesson in being an unashamed, perfectly imperfect human being learning to be honest and trying to love all parts of himself…even the not so pretty parts. I dont know about anyone else, but I have lots of those not so pretty parts in me, and working with someone who openly shares his experience of fumbling through the dark to retrieve the light is extremely helpful to me. BD has helped many accept who they are, by fiercely loving both our shadow and our light. In that love we feel safe to take off the mask…as he is willing to take off his….and in this space we feel free to bring our darkness out of hiding, into the light of awareness and love where it can truly heal.

anonymous Jul 13, 2012 11:03pm

You got to love this suggestion that Jeff and Paul made this movie this way to get Jeff a name for himself. He actually has a much bigger support base than Bhagavan Das for his writing and being associated with Bhagavan is not exactly going to get him more popular. Get real people!

anonymous Jul 12, 2012 2:25pm

I am with Mark. Wouldn't that be a great documentary? Doing a study of people who make up Sanskrit names in the illusion that it makes them someone more enlightened than they really are and then watching the whole house of cards crumble when their personal problems- which never went away when they tried to pretend they became someone else- take over again. Don't you see that this why people like this fight so hard when Bhagavan Das is revealed? They are fleeing their own issues so hard and need to believe they aren't where they came from.

anonymous Jul 12, 2012 1:04pm

I wonder who lives below 'Padma's' pretend name because it sure seems clear that there is nothing Padma about him. The real person- before the dissociative name change- is showing through.

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 5:30am

amazing what people are not willing to "see" and the ways in which they will defend in order protect their "story"

    anonymous Jul 15, 2012 12:08pm

    so true…..all of us, as human beings, have this tendancy….jeff included.

anonymous Jul 9, 2012 4:23pm

I didnt realize that Jeff and Paul had been chosen to speak for the population at large?? AND
that this film is about enlightenment? Interesting perspective. As long as you all huddle together
In your warm heaps of self denial and fragmentation try to remember that no amount of ass licking will
stop the urge to fuck even IF that is what "Guru Jeff" is teaching.
Oh, did I say a bad word?

anonymous Jul 9, 2012 3:58pm

Thankfully, the tiny web of cultists who follow Bhagavan Das do not speak for the population at large. If they did, we would all be in a whole lot of trouble. Kudos to Jeff and Paul for telling the truth and reminding us that enlightenment without integrity is just a shell game.

anonymous Jul 9, 2012 6:44am

Jaishree's review, Part 2/2

A documentary that doesn’t feature women would not be a documentary about Bhagavan Das. Baba has loved a number of women. He has never tried to hide this, as some other teachers have. While Jeff would have his audience focus on the younger objects of Baba’s affections, I want to tell you that women of all ages fell over themselves to get to Baba. Endlessly, women would fawn over him—and sometimes offer themselves to him. I have even seen grown men wanting to offer their girlfriends to him. That aside, while it’s nice to see David Newman in the documentary, I would have preferred to hear from Mira Newman, formerly Baba’s partner and now David’s wife. I would have liked to hear from Gayatri Bhagavan Dasi, or even Uma. Parashakti, the woman who was holding Baba’s hand in the film is shown, but given no voice. Why? All of these women are so unlike the girl that was featured in the film; they don’t fit Jeff’s profile of “victim” for the old lecher that he is trying to portray. And speaking of women without a voice, why is there absolutely no mention of Kali Dharma, Baba’s wife of 5 years? How is this responsible or ethical film-making? And why no interviews featuring people that have had a Guru-chela relationship with Bhagavan Das? (I know of many that Jeff interviewed.) Are they not better equipped to answer Jeff’s questions about Baba than are other people who happen to lead kirtan events?

I was sorry to see that Jeff was shocked that Baba disrobed while Jeff’s partner was in the room. Sorry, but not surprised. Anyone that has spent any time with Baba sees him nekkid! Like the pee-pee thingee, it has never been any big deal to many folks. Baba was simply unselfconscious about nudity.

Nevertheless, Baba liked to shock people and felt that part of his job was to teach by insult – this is an aspect of being Baba’s student that some people who have not been initiated will simply never understand; how you choose to deal with Baba’s teachings will either free you or tie you up tighter in bondage until you are ready to set yourself free. It appears that when it came to insulting Jeff, Baba was in top form. So much that Jeff felt the need to hit a piece of foam with Baba’s pic attached. I could tell that he was hurting and I was concerned for Jeff. He really loved Baba, and it’s those we love that drive us bonkers. And Baba is good at driving people bonkers; I know from experience. I also have a husband and two little boys that do this to me sometimes. But I can’t see myself pasting the pictures of those I love to something and smashing them in effigy. Is that what you do to someone you love? Even when they have misbehaved? Baba has always taught his students to love everything. Everything is Ma, so we do well to see and approach everything and everyone as the Divine Mother. Baba would advise his students to do japa and bring ourselves back; to pray. Jeff advises to smash and thinks that there is no real harm being done because the aggression is not being inflicted on flesh and bone. Is no internal damage done when we give vent to such rage?

I am sorry that Jeff had what is considers to be a bad guru trip; I know that he’s not alone. But there are countless people that do benefit; I’m one of those people. It seems that Jeff has painted all Gurus with a really broad brush and that’s unfortunate. I’m not writing this to convert anyone; I don’t care whether or not someone has a guru. What anyone does in pursuit of spiritual growth is their business. It’s my opinion that Karmageddon is meant to smear, not honestly share. Bhagavan Das is so much more than what is portrayed. Jai Ma!

    anonymous Jul 28, 2015 3:01pm

    Obviously you are primarily attracted to him for his sexual charisma, don't argue that it's anything more than that. And don't blame other "lesser" men who resent for exploiting that privilege.

anonymous Jul 9, 2012 6:43am

Jaishree's review, Part 1/2

Firstly, I’d like to state that Baba has been my guru for over 10 yrs. I have spent time with him privately and feel compelled to get a few a things out in the open due to the huge injustice that is Karmageddon.

As one of Baba’s chelas, Jeff Brown interviewed me for this documentary. The way that he presented it to me many years ago bears absolutely no resemblance to this finished product. I’m sad; I feel duped and I suspect that Baba might feel the same as well.

There is a great deal in the film that’s likely to leave the average viewer unsettled. But there is much more that is simply untold as well. I never imagined that material presented would be free of controversy, but neither did I imagine that it would be edited and presented so deceitfully.

Any one of Baba’s chelas will tell you that he has been the brightest light in their lives; consequently, he can also cast the biggest shadow. It is no walk in the park to be his student. Baba is so much more than Jeff allows the viewer to experience. In the most basic ways Baba has always been decent with me. He has been in my (Hindu/Indian) parents’ home and behaved respectfully and appropriately. When I was pregnant and attended his kirtans, he stopped midway to insist that I be brought a chair. When I would see him in other people’s homes, he would insist that I be brought food. At my wedding he made sure I was taken care of. Once I was with Baba and he was praying to a beautiful Hanuman murti. I asked him for it and he gave it to me that same instant and without hesitation. And he wouldn’t even allow me to thank him for it. Baba was quick to joke and throw his head back and laugh and when it came down to addressing spiritual concerns he listened without judgment and gave good advice, even if it was painful.

I couldn’t believe that Jeff was all out of sorts about his partner’s pic of Ammachi. My experience is that Baba gives so much, material and non-material. Maybe Baba had the same pic on his altar and absentmindedly packed it away with his things? I don’t know because Jeff didn’t let me see what happened next, nor how the conflict was addressed and resolved. Did this it warrant film time? Yawn.

On one occasion, my husband Kailash and I picked Baba up from the airport and dropped him off at Jeff’s home. (Jeff wasn’t in at the time). And I saw Baba take an empty bottle, hold it over Jeff’s kitchen sink and pee in it. I supposed that Baba’s hip was hurting really badly (as was often the case) and he was tired and couldn’t make it up the stairs. And then I thought of it no more – coz it’s just pee and pee is simply not a big deal. It’s not radioactive, after all.

anonymous Jul 3, 2012 3:01pm

I have a few things to say about this film, its accusations, implications and conclusions….
What nobody is realizing regarding the 13 year old prostitute is that BD was a virgin,
was drunk and on drugs that night and did not know she was 13 until the next day.
It was one of the worst and most painful experiences of his life.
So, why does everyone think he knew she was 13?
He was a victim too of the older foreign men that brought her to the house…. Just like the girl was."
Bhagavan Das DID NOT RAPE HER! He was high on hashish and couldn't
even think straight all the men bullied him into it……

(This knowledge is coming from someone close to him and who has heard him speak of the situation in person and with an open heart more than once)
Why BD spoke of it in the way that he did is open to much interpretation just as his relating to and working with Jeff is open
to interpretation. I think too that if all those who are judging and speculating and damning Bhagavan Das in the film
were open to inquiry much would be learned about the shadow they all seem to hide so well….until all of these people are
put under the magnifying glass little of anything that goes on in this film is of any credibility and honesty.
"Do not judge another until you have walked in their shoes" is a basic spiritual understanding that nobody seems to get.
Bhagavan Das has been married for five years now and is deeply committed to his relationship as anybody who actually knows him can see (Jeff doesn't want the world to know that though for some reason)
Furthermore, Jeff is not well known. He has used Bhagavan Das (as well as other well known names) to get people to buy the film so he can be more famous than he is, so that he can be the Guru.
Jeff was sexually abused by his father. He is punishing his father (and himself) through BD and trying to deal with his own
sexual deviance that the "dark sexual predator Baba" reveals to him…Jeff is so uptight he thinks peeing in a bottle is some shadowy taboo ???-now that is sad….his perception is warped. His sexuality is oppressed, suppressed and disowned. Baba is NOT dark, he is fun loving, warm hearted and open to any arena of experience. (plus he is quite a great actor)
Baba is being for Jeff who he cannot bear to see in himself, even if unconsciously. Baba has that ability and that talent
to pull out the poison and then become it so the other can know themselves more fully. I personally know that to be true. Because of Bhagavan Das's love for God and Guru (which is the most sincere and intense I have ever encountered) regardless of his imperfection, his healing effect on others is unparalleled even if it's messy and chaotic (like I said, I do not think BD is without vice) . Everyone wants to feel good but that isn't where we heal. We heal in finding courage to face the demons within, in exposing the infected wound and thus inevitably meeting our own pain and disowned selves. That being said, Jeff needs to deal with some things for sure. Rejecting Baba's influence only makes it worse for him…I mean really what kind of person has a hard time hugging a tree?..that's really sad and very creepy. That ,and the nasty pee pee cup…. Jeff considers these as spiritual triumphs for himself?…
There is clearly alot going on that the camera isn't hiding. Finally, Jeff's supposed conclusion about the "missing father" isn't what's missing at all….what's missing is that Jeff is afraid of fucking, but wants to REALLY bad.
Authentic spiritual integration doesn't start with a smile and crossed legs.

anonymous Jul 3, 2012 12:40pm

Kailash's review, Part 2/2

Brown was initially attracted to Baba–at least in part–precisely because Baba was so sex-oriented; so was I. Baba played with desire like a shaman plays with fire. In his element, the performance of longing for his Object of worship, Baba is positively magical. I imagine that Brown went into this relationship with his eyes aglow, but wide open to Baba's peccadilloes. I too witnessed, and heard Baba recount, many expressions of his lasciviousness in the years I've spent in his company (many far more shocking than those featured in the film). But as at least one of Brown's interviewees alluded to, Baba did little, if anything, to disguise his intentions toward women (especially young women). Many of us who were close to him called him on this, and urged him to adopt alternatives to his narcissistic treatment of others (again, especially of young women), ways of relating that would mitigate the unequal power dimension latent in the conflation of roles (in this case Spiritual Authority/Lover). As it turns out, we all got what we wanted (in part): Baba has long since completely abandoned his lecherous ways. Too bad it was at the cost of withdrawing entirely from ordinary social relationships.

With the most recent footage shot about 6 years ago, the "news" reported in this film is "cold product." Yet Brown does nothing to communicate Baba's utterly altered modus operandi for most of the period since. His is a most significant and thoroughgoing change of lifestyle, aided by his wife of 5+ years, someone capable of enforcing his wishes for (relative) seclusion. Because Brown doesn't offer so much as a text epilogue, he leaves the audience with a rather skewed and obsolete portrait. As far as I can tell, Baba has dramatically altered his behavior in precisely those domains around which Brown organized his most damning criticisms. Doesn't that merit a place in this story?

As Seth demonstrated in his review, Brown chose to deceive his audience with the obviously staged "discovery" of the alarm clock in Babas's NYC apartment as conclusive evidence of Baba's alleged kleptomania. I'm both appalled and amazed by this duplicity, not least because in the video record of the antics and avowals of the then oft-intoxicated Baba, Brown surely had no shortage of embarrassing materials from which to choose. Such a vile practice in a documentarian raises the question of Brown's integrity elsewhere in the film–and more globally.

In conclusion, as someone who actually enjoys the sort of relationship with Baba to which Brown, at first, aspired, I feel qualified to venture an opinion regarding the matter of Guru-devotion. Those of us fortunate to have connected with someone who fulfills this role for us will inevitably be required to navigate the rather challenging currents of disappointment, estrangement, ego-insult, and–perhaps most intense of all–deep, unfulfilled longing. The object of the exercise is to practice love to an extraordinary degree with one's Guru as the ultimate focus, cultivating and transcending attachment over and over again. And this despite whatever disincentives to emotional vulnerability may come one's way, including the way the Guru treats one and behaves more generally. The residue of this procedure is an increased capacity for sustained concentration and care. Within the wisdom traditions, purgative nature of this process is well-attested and upheld as the epitome of human relationships.

Once attracted to Baba, Brown wasn't able to maintain the perspective of the devotee. I think that this had less to do with Baba's evident faults (which were there all the time, for everyone to see) than with Brown's inability to digest the difficulties of entry-level discipleship. Brown doesn't seem to have a clue about loyalty, much less devotion (beyond the happiness-inducing aspect), or about remaining lovingly attached to a parent (natural or spiritual) despite his flaws and inaccessibility. He seeks to subvert what he cannot himself endure (and that of which he likely stands in greatest need). He resists submission to the Guru so vehemently that he must attempt to destroy the one person who was ALMOST big/good enough for him to surrender to.

anonymous Jul 3, 2012 12:39pm

Kailash's review, Part 1/2

Seth's critique is so incisive and insightful that I proudly associate myself with his review of this malicious pseudo-documentary dreck by Jeff Brown. Knowing the subject (Bhagavan Das), and being acquainted with the filmmaker (Brown) of this film, and having been interviewed by Brown for it (hence his acknowledgement of me in the film's credits), I have something of an insider's perspective.

My objections to the film are mostly organized around a handful of issues: the inconsistency between the film as promised and delivered; Brown's choice to make himself the focus of the narrative; the misleading character of Brown's representation of his realization of Bhagavan Das' (hereafter, Baba) moral failings; and Brown's choice not to bring the audience up-to-date on developments that have occurred in Baba's life since principal videography was completed. I elaborate on each of these in turn.

When Brown recruited our involvement with the film as interviewees, he represented a very different film than it finally became. There's plenty of evidence of this change of purpose within the film itself. For instance, in Brown's interview with Emily Horowitz (in whose home Baba lived when in NYC), it's clear that she imagined a finished product that would celebrate Baba's legacy to a much greater degree (as did I). In fact, apart from the initial biography, Baba comes across very unsympathetically, indeed. Very little of Baba's extraordinary radiance and brilliance shows through here, while his narcissism and megalomania appear in the spotlight. I'm okay with a portrait that includes "warts and all," but this feels closer to "mostly warts"–and in service of definite rhetorical agenda: vilifying Baba in order to promote Brown's own image as a sensitive spiritual seeker who triumphs over his own abuse-born victimization to transcend the need for any external spiritual guide/authority.

I understand that Brown's changing relationship to his subject may have created the felt need to produce the film in its present shape, but the total project has the feel of a "bait & switch." Brown sold Baba on the film because he thought Brown was going to portray him with a much less jaundiced eye. But as it turns out, it's Brown's story, and telling Brown's story requires that he selectively emphasize very different features of Baba than would otherwise be the case. The logic of the exposé demands this emphasis on misbehavior and madness. I, for one, didn't participate in the interview process with any sense of the perspective Brown would eventually take in the final film.

The real centerpiece of the narrative is Brown: his growing angst with a disappointing hero; his increasing display of righteous indignation while struggling to process his deeply conflicted (if never solemnized) Guru/chela relationship; his failed attempt to obtain a satisfactory surrogate father. It culminates in what seems to me to be a rather masturbatory (i.e., fruitless) orgasm of Oedipal hatred (and with a baseball bat, at that!). Brown plays out fantasy-aggression in Baba's absence, while exhibiting eye-rolling disdain at his remarks (for the camera, but unknown to Baba) in his presence. This feels craven to me.

anonymous Jul 2, 2012 8:13pm

As a featured participant in "Karmageddon" I would like to correct a few items that the film misrepresents.

Bhagavan Das used to live with me and my family. My then-wife and I managed him, and I toured with him on numerous occasions. I know quite well the good and bad about Bhagavan Das as a man, and I can unreservedly say that the movie goes well out of its way to smear and vilify him.

For instance, there is a scene in the film when Jeff Brown is interviewing my ex-wife Emily in the room in our apartment where Bhagavan Das lived. There is a clock placed within the frame, for no ostensible reason. At the end of the interview Jeff picks up the clock and announces that it is his clock and that it was stolen by Bhagavan Das. Emily contradicts him and states that it is our clock, but Jeff cuts her off with a manic laugh, "No! It is mine, and he took it!"

Emily mentioned this to me after the interview, and I didn't think much of it until last week when I saw "Karmageddon." Not only is Jeff's assertion about the clock central to the scene, but he ends the scene by focussing on the clock, and then connects the theft of the clock to a wild slander that Bhagavan Das is a notorious thief who views all property as his, based on a photograph that Bhagavan Das supposedly took from Jeff's girlfriend.

The thing is, Jeff is lying. The clock was not his: it was mine and I had put it in the room for Bhagavan Das to use. I'd had the clock for years before I met Bhagavan Das. Jeff placed the clock in the frame as a prop, a contrivance to support his thesis that Bhagavan Das is a lying thieving maniac.

The film revolves around the supposedly wicked character of Bhagavan Das as an abuser of young women, but there is not one woman in the movie who gives personal testimony to such. It is just gossip and hearsay.

The one supposedly damning moment of the film, which Brown offers as conclusive evidence that Bhagavan Das is a fiend, comes when BD himself talks about an incident with a prostitute that took place in 1963, when he was 18, in Egypt. Yes, certainly it is not acceptable to have sex with underage girls. But Brown's gleeful presentation of this "evidence" of a 50-year old deed itself basks in the reflected glory in the lurid nature of the claim. "See, see what I would never do!" is Brown's stance: it is always the hypocrite who points first and barks loudest.

The rest of the movie is a bore, and embarrassing as a documentary: it is like "The Eternal Jew" of spiritual documentaries. Any worthwhile documentary must maintain respect for its subject, even if the documentarian does not sympathize with him or her. Otherwise the film collapses, as "Karmageddon" certainly does, into self-serving propaganda. You can't make a worthwhile and serious film about someone if you constantly mug and leer at the camera when the subject says something you don't like or find controversial. Brown interposes himself between us and Bhagavan Das, never allowing the viewer the space to form a judgment. Jeff Brown wants so badly to be liked that he must make us dislike Bhagavan Das.

Finally, on a personal note, I would like to add that in the years when Bhagavan Das lived with me, my wife and my two young daughters, he was never anything less than respectful and caring. He is an artist, and as such gets carried away in the flow of his own language and says things that are meant to shock us and make us question our own presuppositions about our attitudes towards spirit, sex, money and daily life.

Too bad Jeff Brown is too invested in his own pretty self-representation as a gentle healer– albeit one who also acts out violent revenge fantasies–to honestly confront his own shadow, instead projecting all his inner ugliness onto the figure of Bhagavan Das.

    anonymous Jun 17, 2014 2:49am

    Good point seth… always remember that a lot of these documented mysteries seem to all be manipulated taking all the parts out of there docu. that they don't want in there — an leaving all the parts that they want in the film they made to get ppl's attention an most of all "to make money" like everyone's doing today — by making there own documented films that we can all do — but i choose not to because it starts to many wars, problems, nervous breakdowns an extremely worrying about bullshit that nobody needs and/or deserves in real-life."

    It's hard to believe that Michael Riggs would actually come out in open public in front of the whole world an say that he had forced himself on some 14 year old girl when he was18 an if that's the case then why didn't she go to the authorities about it at that time. ' Remember that the ppl who make these manipulating films taking frames out an putting words in there mouths making it look like there really saying it when there really not

    like the old Kung Fu movies in a very professional way with all the technology we have today along with using expensive camcorder's, lenses & knowing how to play those cameras in a very deceitful slick way like a lot of ppl are doing today an putting them on youtube after they finally realized they were taken for there money an fooled!'. 'Always remember that nobody's perfect an that we all have are stories an we all have done foolish things that weren't right back when we were young adults , but that's also what made a lot of us better ppl today an that ppl change to.'

    Amen an thanks for sharing your own personal view of das.' He seems to be one hell of a salesmen from reading it's here now who went off to be a very successful car salesmen working for dodge dealership selling cars that were new & used along with being a sales manager selling 40 or more new & used cars a month wearing a suit & tie looking & playing the part as a professional spit polished salesmen with real short hair that looked like a respectful citizen from the photos but since i wasn't there then it's hard to tell if that was true or not'?

anonymous Jun 21, 2012 2:27pm

The most courageous spiritual documentary I have ever seen. I wouldn't focus on Bhagavan Das. He is just a jumping off point. Focus on what Jeff says about spirituality in his final narrative and in the talk after his interviews with Ram Dass. We should be studying those writings in primary school.

anonymous Jun 20, 2012 4:28pm

it would have been one thing if he had told that story with compassion for the young girl, but he didn't. he laughed about it, now almost 50 years later. Wowza.

    anonymous Jul 3, 2012 8:29am

    maybe had there been recent footage or footage that wasn't so amateurishly edited, maybe you would have gotten a fuller sense of his compassion/reflection. in context and sandwiched btwn the full conversation that actually occurred, you might have seen that he was laughing about the whole absurdity of the situation. we've all done things that we are ashamed of when we were younger; some of them we laugh at in sheer embarrassment. brown took 6 yrs of his life to cobble together the biased rantings of an old man who might have probably been drunk at the time. (what are u like when you're drunk? would you like it if some opportunist like brown, betrayed your trust and put a camera on you?) but i can see how those who are not media savvy or are simply National Enquirer-reading mindless sheep would enjoy viewing such utter rubbish.

anonymous Jun 20, 2012 1:30pm

Yes, Bhagavan Das is honest in the film Shakti. He laughingly admits in the film that he committed statutory rape at 18, with "a 13 year old Egyptian whore" that "we passed around like a pizza slice- eat it fast while its hot". Honest indeed. Is he still your guru?

    anonymous Jun 20, 2012 2:56pm

    Ew I want to take a shower after reading that quote.

      anonymous Jun 20, 2012 2:56pm

      The "pizza slice" comment *shudder*

    anonymous Jun 21, 2012 3:19pm

    Whatever Bhagavan Das is, or was, doesn't negate the fact that Jeff Brown is a hack, a liar-for-profit and just as fake as anyone else out there. There are many more well-done, less-biased spiritual docs out there; for those out there whose wallets are tight these days, I also suggest spending your $20 elsewhere.

      anonymous Jun 21, 2012 5:56pm

      Do you have e any evidence or facts that would substantiate your argument or is this purely a personal attack on jeff Brown.

        anonymous Jul 1, 2012 7:49am

        In a word, yes. I believe it will all come to light soon enough and many people will be intensely hurt and disappointed at being so fooled. All is not as it seems.

      anonymous Jun 21, 2012 10:38pm

      brown spent more than half of the movie defending bhagavan das and giving him the benefit of a doubt. even at the end, he owned his own piece in it all. nothing about the film seemed biased to me. it felt very responsible.

anonymous Jun 20, 2012 10:57am

Loved this film. Such a deep exploration of the real question of why we attract the teachers we do. And on the question of whether Bhagavan Das has changed in the last years. Has he changed or is he just working a new strategy after burning so many bridges and hurting so many kind people who backed him?

anonymous Jun 19, 2012 9:25pm

Don't waste your money on this movie. How unfortunate and irresponsible — and unkind — to not offer viewers more current and relevant insight. (Why is this?) The footage is outdated and sensationalized. Some of it is taken out of context and not completely true. This is not a doc about Bhagavan Das, it's a platform for Brown to promote himself. At least Bhagavan Das is honest, which is more than I can say about Brown, aka, Mr. Nice Guy. How is it nice to exploit someone for personal gain…or, lol, roll your eyes at someone behind their back while both of you are being filmed…no, not Mr. Nice Guy, but perhaps, Mr. Junior High. Save your money and your time.

    anonymous Jul 19, 2012 10:31pm

    Those are some serious allegations! I don't see how you are backing any of them up. If Mr. Brown was doing this for his own capitalistic interests, perhaps he would be promoting and profiting from it in a more mainstream manner. It seems to me that you have been seduced by Baba's charm (and he has a great deal of it), but lets be real. The man is openly lascivious, dishonest, and takes things that do not belong to him. Kudos to Mr. Brown for exposing his vulnerability in sharing his false sense of exalting the man and feeling foolish and disappointed when some truth ensued. Baba openly admits to his demonic ways – not just in the film – but to those that know him. While I agree Baba has some intriguing qualities that can help break through some people's armor, the "man" clearly abuses his power over others, particularly young women. It is appalling to think that someone would defend the actions of someone who is conscious of his powers of persuasion, but still uses them for his own sexual or dark fantasies. I really hope you don't have a daughter!

    anonymous Oct 23, 2015 8:34pm

    I completely agree with you shakti. Yes, indeed. And not only that…. I called Mr. Brown on this very issue and he became extremely nasty and aggressive with me. This was not a face-to-face confrontation. But somewhere along the line, he had become a facebook "friend". So I communicated with him via the facebook messaging thing. I could not believe how mean and terrible he was when I expressed my feelings to him about his film. He responded with a lot of super aggressive stuff and then blocked me and deleted me as a "friend" and so forth. He is a complete phony. He writes all this so-called spiritual stuff about consciousness, growth, etc. But he's a total fake. I would love to share some of the bizarre things he said to me…. but I think I'll leave it at that. He is a creep that Mr. Brown. He is NOT Mr. Nice Guy. Not even close.

    anonymous Oct 23, 2015 8:37pm

    PS: And this is coming from someone (me) who cannot STAND Bhagavan Das. I find his behavior to be revolting, if not downright insane. So….my comments regarding Mr. Brown are not in defense of Bhagavan Das. No way. But Mr. Brown is a total jerk!!!!!

anonymous Jun 19, 2012 6:37pm

Maybe the man is really Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh living on…?… Yikes!

anonymous Jun 19, 2012 8:33am

Instead of spending 10 years of judging Bhagavan Das, I have spent 10 years (and counting) of loving this deeply human man. Taking the path of love ….i can honestly say i have not been disappointed. I was surprised to see none of these "vulnerable female students" were actually interviewed in the movie. Just famous people who are not really involved with Bhagavan Das. Do these female voices and experiences not matter? I personally dont like when a man speaks for me and tells me what my experience is. Ask me yourself and I will gladly tell you. [email protected].

The movie is filled with truths and untruths and editing to sensationalize, but other than that, i still had fun watching it. I love listening to others stories and watching them come into their own personal truth. I love that. Very inspiring….everyone's story is. Thats why i liked the movie. I just though it would of been a more well rounded and honest documentary if there were actual female voices speaking on their own behalf.

Also, when the film maker said he didnt speak to Bhagavan Das for 8 months it was because Bhagavan Das was in retreat that year and doing some serious work on his self…none of us had contact with him during that time. Today Bhagavan Das is blessed with an amazing strong woman, as his wife, who puts up with zero bullshit. They have been together for 5 years. For those curious to see where Bhagavan Das is at today, here are a series of more up to date interviews with Bhagavan Das from 2010 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-x_zxgrw02E or go see Bhagavan Das and Kali at their kirtans… i personally learn alot from those who know both the road to heaven AND hell….and are brave enough to keep putting themselves out there to share their experience with anyone who wants to hear it.

    anonymous Jul 3, 2012 9:13am

    ….I do appreciate Emily, Seth and David Newman being interviewed. I would of loved to hear from Mira (David’s wife and BD’s ex partner), or the two women that Emily asked if he talked to, or the girl holding hands and offering arati in the movie….these are all super strong amazing intelligent women…Let the women speak for themselves instead of just using gossip and their silent image to sell a point (because they just so happen to be young and pretty) …Thats kind of offensive….

    Famous yogis and chanters who share the same stage at bhakti fest are a little different than those who actually are in relation to BD.…yes, include them…but i wondered why they are the MAIN people interviewed?…was it because they are famous and that helps him sell his movie? ….and Ram Das… im glad he was interviewed… i really liked hearing what he had to say….but i dont think BD and him have hung out or anything for like 20 years or so….

    ….i dont want to be disrespectful to jeff and his trip…its his….and he is free to say and do what he likes…. but i do deeply feel the need to share my opinion and raise some questions as to why certain things were left out….and just offer a few questions for jeff to ask himself… like, why DID you leave out up dated info (like the past 7 years of BD being clean, sober and happily married)…at least in words on the screen at the end of the movie…that’s a normal thing to do in documentaries isn’t it?…and why leave out interviews with women in actual relation to BD, esp if you claim that he is mistreating them?….Wouldn’t their voices be important? Did you have an agenda?…..Was this just another way of you wanting to "punch" or "smash" bhagavan das like you said in the movie?…and did that feeling tone find its outlet through this movie?

    I dont think it was wrong or bad to talk of BD's "dark side" openly…in fact, I feel just the opposite……I think its healthy to be open and honest…..but the truth is there IS quite a bit of sensationalism, exploitation, half truths and self promoting in this movie…and what concerns me most is dishonesty on Jeff's part about that, a kind of self denial that those things could be involved in his project.

anonymous Jun 19, 2012 6:58am

So who proclaims the guy is guru? He himself, or are people cleared of ignorance, misery and suffering by this man? He sounds like a monkey to me.

anonymous Jun 18, 2012 9:54pm

once a used car salesman always a used car salesman.

anonymous Jun 17, 2012 9:55am

God is a hard on … really?? lol! shock tactics to sell the book the movie the oh what next can we con you with …

anonymous Jun 17, 2012 8:17am

Are we talking about the porky man with the beard? Good grief! I don't know whether to laugh or have a jelly doughnut!

    anonymous Jul 14, 2012 10:25pm

    Ya, Edward. Me too.
    I encountered Bhagavan Das many years ago. He was silly then, and he's still silly. I was bedding in the next room and had to hear him quarreling in a whiny, annoying way with some woman all night through the walls, after having endured his rather dumb, histrionic "teachings" all afternoon.
    There are controversial and outrageous gurus who possess enormous dignity, profound intelligence, wild and fascinating contradiction and most likely some degree of genuine enlightenment (Chogyam Trungpa comes to mind), and then there are the Goofus Gurus like Bhagavan. He's still got that narcissistic drama queen thing going. He makes my eyelids twitch.
    I can't imagine allowing those hyperbolic moustaches within 20 yards of my Sacred Simmering Yoni. (Chogyam either, though I truly loved him. Guru horniness, ethical issues aside, is just so hopelessly unsexy.) If he came near my daughter, I'd thrash him half to death with the nearest heavy object, if she didn't beat me to it, which she would. Yeesh.
    Have a doughnut.

anonymous Jun 16, 2012 9:23am

glad to find out about this documentary through your well written review, lori. thanks!

but your second to last sentence stands out as quite odd to me given the rest of the review…

"Bhagavan Das, a man of contradictions, shows us all that in our imperfection is the possibility for perfection. "

your account of the movie sounds like it basically exposes das for being a predatory, infantile parody of a spirituality teacher who is just acting out his issues under the rationalization of enlightenment. the film maker then realizes that it is his own unconscious issues with his father that draw him into a dysfunctional desire to be around someone who disgusts him morally.

if there is a psychological/spiritual take away it might be that it matters deeply that our spirituality be integrated, honest and psychologically self-aware. das is clearly none of these things and highlights the propensity for self-delusion and manipulation of others in the holy man schtick.

yet you try and end on this neat and tidy "up" note and it does the rest of your piece a dis-service.

this would of course not be the case if das was actually coming to some kind of authentic healing, self-awareness, remorse and so his "imperfection" was truly a vehicle for some kind of integrated awakening, but clearly he isn't!

he doesn't "show us" any thing about our imperfection containing perfection, he shows us the vulnerability of spiritual seekers and young women to a manipulative faux out of control teacher who seems a bit sociopathic.

the kinds of questions this raises for deep consideration should not be reduced to a pat denoument that seeks to make everything ok/"perfect."

i highlight this, because having touched upon such important issues i think you run the risk of perpetuating the mistaken meme that we should all be non-judgmental relativists who in the end see this as the perfect divine play of lila and see das as someone who holds a mirror up to our own flawed idealizations and inability to accept imperfection, instead of having a sober realization about the deep problems with our guru fixation and the kind of people who are willing to exploit it.

this would in my opinion be a tragic failure to use an example with potent power to actually wake us up!

    anonymous Jun 16, 2012 3:33pm

    You make a very good point and to some exttuent I agree. However, I do see the leela (play of god) in all things and so for this one reviewer, the flaws in character (whether guru or everyday joe) do not necessarily overshadow the light a person brings to the world. This culture (western) is really built on a victim-victimizer axis, which is why we have litigation lawyers and malpractice suits and everyone ready to BLAME the next guy or guru for whatever ails them. I am NOT saying it is okay for a teacher to prey on young girls who might be vulnerable to the power imbalance. Yet it is NOT okay for president clintion to do the same, or any man for that matter. But even so, in the as you say, Leela (play of god0 there is no real right and wrong, not really. Just more action creating karma, or not. I did not leave the film feeling that Bhagvan was a monster–but a giddy, silly, childlike man-boy with a pan complex and a huge heart, spilling a lot of light around him. And yes, some dark.

      anonymous Jun 16, 2012 10:02pm

      i want to very kindly suggest that it is this kind of rationalization that allows genuine victimizers to continue doing what they do and actual victims to continue to be hurt. it is precisely this rationalization that has allowed everyone from das to rajneesh to adi da to andrew cohen and the long list of abusive gurus to go on doing what they do… and hurting the most vulnerable child-like wounded seekers.

      this is not to paint them as evil, but to paint the paradigm as highly problematic and prone to being exploited by sociopaths.

      i am not saying he is evil or dark – rather that the paradigm in which he gets to perform as the holy man in order to act out his dysfunction is badly flawed.

      the rationalization that allows us to paint this as "lila" or "crazy wisdom" or worse that he is enlightened so we cannot judge him by conventional standards is a further step of dissociation from spiritual honesty, health and integration.

      and the whole schtick of "seeing god" in it…. oy, don't get me started! 😉 some things are just really fucked up and we do well not to make excuses or try and candy coat them.

      there IS a powerful lesson to be learned here, and it has to do with psychological awareness and learning to think more critically about spirituality.

anonymous Jun 14, 2012 8:26am

Jeff Brown addresses an important truth prevalent throughout history and especially within spiritual communities.
I find his work in Karmageddon a powerful study of the human psyche and the seduction of power often used against vulnerable souls seeking a spiritual connection.The fact that so many project divine perfection upon so many spiritual teachers and give personal power away to these teachers is something that needs to be known,looked at and addressed.To shroud the human psyche behind a veil serves no truth, and no soul.Lift the veils so truth shines .

anonymous Jun 13, 2012 8:57pm

sorry about that….maybe this link will work better http://www.tricycle.com/feature/no-right-no-wrong

anonymous Jun 13, 2012 8:55pm

This review and movie reminds me of a beautiful interview pema chodron gave with Tricycle magazine a few years back about her beloved yet controversial teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche called "No right, No Wrong"….. .http://www.tricycle.com/feature/no-right-no-wrong

Bonnie Stewart Oct 3, 2018 9:26pm

Lori, would you be willing to do a follow-up on this? BD has changed a lot. He was born in a time where there was not consciousness and awareness surrounding women's issues. He is coming into the Now and is learning how to walk in this new paradigm as the Divine Masculine, not in the shadow. He feels remorse and he is accountable and is atoning for his actions as best he can. The way I see it, let him help set the example of what men should be doing. Almost all men I'm sure at some point have done something that in some way has hurt women. Kavanaugh and the like do not show any sympathy or any accountability, how about hearing from someone who does?