I came home today to find a letter inviting me to come along to the Sri Chinmoy centre in Bristol for one of its meditation classes. I’d mentioned that I’d be missing the regular Friday class because of the hen party. The fact that they took the trouble to write to my home address (collected during the first class) actually worried me a little. It worried me enough to do something I’d been planning on getting around to for quite some time, which was to do a little web.digging on Sri Chinmoy.
And what I found wasn’t exactly good. Sure, you’ve got to consider the source, but the fact that a Google search for ‘”Sri Chinmoy” cult brainwash’ brings back the best part of a thousand results is a little disturbing.
Now, I’m quite a trusting person. And so far everyone has seemed very genuine; in fact one woman who talked about meditation in last Friday’s class positively seemed to radiate wisdom. But while nobody’s been asking for any money, and there have been no actions whatever that seem dodgy, I’ve still been made slightly uncomfortable by a few things here and there, like the picture of Sri Chinmoy that stands at the front of every class, and the occasional reverent mentions of his name which evoke the possibility of a personality cult.
So, I’m in two minds as to whether to carry on with the classes, especially as I’ve already had practical doubts about the chanting side of things… On the one hand, I personally have no evidence whatever that they’re anything but what they claim to be, a group who are interested in meditation and teach classes for free because they want to spread the word. On the other hand, if Sri Chinmoy is a dubious as he’s painted by quite a lot of people — allegations including sexual and financial exploitation in papers as respected as the New York Post — I don’t want to run the risk of supporting them in any way, even if it’s just by turning up and eating their biscuits at the end of a silent meditation session.
Heh. Here’s a thought: I’ll meditate on it for a week :) Then I’ll decide on Friday.