Love triangles with mystical angles

Love triangles have been a hot-button with editors, producers and the public these days yet one of the most provocative stories has remained MIA from national headlines. San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom’s or the NASA space-shuttle captain Lisa Nowak’s affairs have nothing in the “Jesus-H” department compared to this one.

Toni Roberson, who adopted the name Gangaji, is an American mystic based in Ashland, Oregon. She’s not a self-taught guru like Byron Katie, but she has a lofty pedigree as a protege of an Indian teacher who was the star pupil of Ramana Maharshi, perhaps the greatest sage of the last century. Hence, Gangaji’s/Roberson’s adopted name.

What we see in this video of her is 98 % hardcore teaching. Roberson has seen for miles and miles, viz. her searing epiphany: “Who you are really can never be taught. If it could be taught it would be a thing that could be extracted, objectified and learned. And by this time we would have all learned it . . . If you’re of a particular sub-group you’ve heard that ‘you’re radiant light,’ ‘you’re God’s child,’ ‘you’re free,’ ‘you’re safe.’ But to hear it . . . to memorize it, to hope it’s true, is not enough. It has to be discovered directly.”

But what her recent back-story illuminates is that while mystics may live in an elevated psychological state, they do not live in elevated circumstances. When it comes to problems in relationships, they’re like the rest of us. Whew, what a relief that is. Juxtapose the video above with this newspaper story and this thread on the blog Guruphiliac about the affair 3 year-long affair Roberson/Gangaji’s husband Eli Jaxon-Bear – a spiritual teacher in his own right — had with a disciple in their jointly-administered spiritual commune.

Eli’s narrative: A year ago Eli realized his delusion and communicated to Gangaji. Eli and Ganagji split for a time. Eli and Gangaji promised ‘the victim’ (on her request) they would not share it with the community. A year later, ‘the victim’ was planning to leave the sangha ( two weeks ago) and Eli encouraged her to share her truth with the sangha.

That’s how the news broke, and the above excerpt is from a blog post of a commune member who witnessed husband Eli’s public “confession”. News of the affair became public in 2006

So the mind goes, “Oh, I thought enlightened individuals live in full acceptance of everything that happens to them. Gangaji certainly didn’t accept her husband having an affair: they separated. I guess she’s not really enlightened after all.” But this thought may not reflect the reality of the situation.

If you want a taste of what Gangaji may think of her husband’s infidelity and carving out a secret compartment in their ostensibly shared life, check out this two-minute YouTube clip where she talks about her own emancipation from desire.

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