Gurus behaving badly

Another spiritual guru has been arrested in the US. This time, it's Swami Prakashanand Saraswait, a 79-year-old Hindu svengali, owner of a 200-acre ashram in Texas, and founder of 'the International Society of Divine Love'. He's been accused by US police of groping underage girls on several occasions in the mid-1990s.
He's the latest, but by no means the first, eastern guru to lose their celebrity status to scandals in the last few years. Others include:

  • Chogyam Rinpoche, founder of the Shambhala schools in the US and Europe, who died aged 48 from heavy alcohol abuse. He once, when drunk, crashed his car into a joke shop in Scotland, leaving him partially paralyzed, and was sometimes so drunk he had too be carried off stage during talks.
  • Sogyal Rinpoche, founder of the Rigpa schools in the West, and author of the best-selling Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying. In 1994, a $10 million civil law suit was brought against him by former students, claiming he had used his position as spiritual leader to sleep with his female students. The claim included charges of assault and battery. It was settled out of court.
  • Richard Baker-roshi, head of the San Francisco Zen Centre, which became a huge speculator in real estate under his leadership. Baker himself admitted to numerous sexual affairs with students.
  • Bikram Choudhury, founder of 'Hot Yoga', who told Business 2 magazine: 'Nobody does hatha yoga in America except me. My name is Guru of the Stars! I'm beyond Superman. I have balls like two atom bombs, two of them, 100 megatonnes each. Nobody fu*ks with me.'

And so on. Jack Kornfield, the eminent Buddhist author, once took a survey of around 50 Zen teachers in the West, and found that over a third of them had sex with students. It is everywhere in western spiritual traditions - I was interested in joining a meditation school in London, only to discover through the net it was infamous for its tantra sex scandals.
This is in large part a result of the naivete of westerners when it comes to visiting Asian gurus. People who are deeply suspicious of western organized religion suspend all scepticism when it comes to smiling brown-skinned men telling them to let go of their attachments as they slide their hand onto their knee.
People in the West are so desperate for spiritual salvation they are prepared to blind themselves to the rogues and charlatans making millions of dollars through the New Age industry in the last 30 years.
A basic code of ethics perhaps needs to be established for any type of healer, be it psychotherapist, priest or guru.