I went to my local shop to eat some Dosa (south Indian dish) and on the wall was a picture of Sai Baba - a Guru ('Spiritual' leader) in India that is beloved by many thousands (or even millions) around the world. His picture is posted everywhere (in homes, shops, taxi cabs, busses, etc.) like he is some God.
I was wondering what he was all about, so later I went to YouTube to see if there were any lectures or speeches of his.
I find this:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yblhsr1O4IQ
It is clear, especially in the BBC video clip at 6:43 that his mouth does not open large enough to extract this golden Lingam.
This person was clearly a con man. I was shocked and appalled.
Here is this guy talking about God and 'Love', and meanwhile taking everyone's money. Some people really have no conscience it seems.
I was really amazed that he could pull this off to such a large mass of people, and that anyone would even venture to try it. I mean why?
So from this I conclude:
1) Can a person be a con man if he is followed by hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people all over the world, and speak true, wise and compassionate teachings?
2) Can a person still be a con man if he gave relief (from suffering) to hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people all over the world?
I am sure about this.
In regards to the Buddha: Some spoke of the Buddha, during his times, as a person who was homeless, yet still lived like a king.
After he was renown, he was treated with very special treatment: served well prepared dishes, given parks, land and dwellings, etc.
Whenever I read a Sutta that emphasized giving Dana, explicitly emphasizing the fact that by giving Dana to the righteous, that a person earns much merit in the afterlife (or even a higher rebirth), I could not help but to have this very familiar feeling. The same feeling I might get if a catholic priest told me that I would earn much merit with God if I donated to his church.
In the past, I've asked myself, is it possible? Could there be some secret agenda? Would the Buddha, (or can the Buddha,) create some elaborate cosmology (along with rebirth/reincarnation, supernatural phenomena and powers), combined with reasonable teachings that contained some real insight, however, had some hidden agenda, such as setting himself up for a renowned and praised, comfortable life of a Guru? Indeed many guru's during his time was doing just that.
(Actually he was against precisely this..)
Could his enlightenment actually have been this great and elaborate con scheme? In fact maybe the greatest con scheme in all of history?!
Is it possible?
I feel almost ashamed to have even considered these thoughts given the things I have learned from him, but I cannot say I have never considered such possibilities..
I really don't thinks so, but I cannot say that I can answer this question for sure. But if there were some sort of a con, he would still have to be some great genius. Imagine that!, if it were.
As agreeable, the teachings seem, I still cannot rule out the possibility.
Sometimes I wonder if it were possible for him to believe he was enlightened, but then not really be, in which case he conned himself.
I am sure I am pissing many people off at this point.
I don't really think these were the cases, but I cannot help myself from exploring the possibilities. I am just expressing some thoughts I may have had in the past, though I do not really have them anymore. If I thought he were a phoney, I would not have given so much time and effort into his teachings.
He has much on his side:
1) He was already a wealthy prince (supposedly), so does not have the more common ulterior motive of gaining wealth.
2) His teachings speak for themselves. I have learned many things that have helped me in many ways, (but simultaneously took away much of the temporal enjoyment from my life, which may be the reason for some of my doubts). However, much of the teaching can be confirmed, in the here and now, to be true (in most perspectives). The core aspect of his practice does not require you to believe in anything. It is a 'come try and see for yourself, and do it only if you like', practice; which for me, proves itself more true as time goes on, though I am not free from all doubt.
I only question a few fundamental concepts: like, whether we should venture to eliminate suffering once and for all (with all it's seemingly harsh consequences due to the attempt), or on the other hand, accept it as an inevitable part of life. (amongst other issues..)
My apologies for expressing my doubts, but sometimes I have mixed feelings due to my ignorance.
Thoughts are welcome.