Home > serious posts > “Anonymous Devotee” replies to David Hutchinson

“Anonymous Devotee” replies to David Hutchinson

January 22, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Dear David – and others –

Thank you for the reply. First of all I’d like to apologize for disclosing the recipient list in my first mailing, and thus exposing the people on the list to receiving follow-up correspondence. This was an inadvertent error on my part and not deliberate. My subsequent mailings of the same letter have all been ‘bcc’s.

I am on the same page as you for many of the things you say. I could discuss some of the issues you raise by simply re-quoting myself and elaborating, but I think everyone is smart enough to figure those things out for themselves. Instead I’ll dwell in brief on a few new points, and would prefer to stay silent after that.

First of all, what I call the ‘Right’ is not just about people wanting to ‘take over the Ashram’. That, I think, is a bit of a generalization. Those who are predisposed against the Ashram and were just waiting for an excuse to go after the trustees do not, in my opinion, constitute the vast majority of Right-leaning elements. Many inclined to the Right have read or heard about passages from the book and felt disturbed by Peter’s words. Whether the hurt was justified or not is another question altogether that I have already discussed in my letter. But I cannot believe these moderate people do not have the good of the Ashram at heart. The existence of an undercurrent of dissatisfaction, admittedly in some quarters and not all, is not something to be brushed aside simply because it might conceivably have no raison d’être. This section of devotees exists – a question of fact, not opinion. It has unwittingly propped up the extreme Right, provided it sustenance. Suggesting that these people are just playthings in the hands of a few sinister masterminds, that they have no discretion of their own whatsoever, cannot be the whole truth, and takes too dim a view of human intelligence. Nor can one, in a matter of months, even years, ‘educate’ the masses to be as liberal, enlightened and open-minded as the more intellectually inclined amongst us might like them to be. Sure, Peter was quoted out of context at the outset of this controversy, but this doesn’t explain everything away. I do believe these elements on the Right can be reconciled with. Perhaps they should have tried to rein in the more shrill and radical voices behind them, the really dangerous ones, but that’s not the point here.

The ‘foolishness’ I spoke of is more to do with discernment than pure intellectual ability, and its manifestation or expression as seen in the book is magnified by the bluntness and slightly excessive self-confidence of the author. I felt it necessary to bring this in in my letter as it explains much of what the Right is feeling, and yet does not contradict most of the arguments of the Left either. Once this idea gains a foothold, the radical elements are forced to either sober down, to isolate themselves, or to disappear altogether. I have pondered much over this – it is not just an artificial political pose designed to somehow manufacture a ‘centre’ where there is none. That is what I liked the most about Manoj Das Gupta’s Reflections: it honestly embraces both sides of the issue, doesn’t allow its own free-flowing arguments on either side to be weighed down by the pressure exerted by its own opposite flank, by the burden of trying to appear consistent to very superficial readers – in short it is characterized by openness and depth and transparency and not by exigency. If only the disaffected take the time and trouble to digest what he has to say, they would realize that the allegation that his views are one-sided, that he does not acknowledge the ground reality of the situation, is purely an assumption and a false one. And his actions flow from, and are consistent with, the sum of these views.

I would say the call now is for the moderate on the Right as well as the silent majority to take a long and hard look at the most radical on the Right, and gauge their intentions: if they seem genuine, try to tone down the hysteria; if not, disown and ignore them.

There is little doubt that the Left has played a commendable role in balancing this issue. It has always been ready to call a spade a spade and ready to be proved wrong if at all anyone bothered to question their conclusions in the details rather than just mouthing spiritual-sounding sermons characterized more by opportunism than reason. That the Left’s arguments were for the most part flawless when it came to breaking down Peter’s actual words and intent is another matter – more important has been the genuine willingness to engage in debate.

These are all of course my very personal views – I operate solo, write at nobody’s behest, and represent no establishment or entrenched interests.

Thanks again and all the best in your good work. It is appreciated!


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