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 A Response to Sheila Lister's Letter about Satsang in the UK with Mikaire

I read Sheila Lister's letter with interest and would like to respond. My own qualification for doing so is that I spent about a year attending the satsangs and intensives of Mikaire in England. First of all, I have no quarrel whatsoever with this sannyas thing. It was perfectly obvious to me, and many others, that Mikaire's apparent attack on sannyasin names and all things sannyasin was to help people to dis-identify from their concepts, their own moribund attachment to a dead master.

Secondly, I wish to acknowledge that the year I spent in the company of Mikaire was one of the most spectacular years of my life (if not the most), a truly intense, profound, terrifying, ecstatic, joyful, absurd, completely and utterly enlightening. I loved it. I felt that no-one then giving satsang could compete with Mikaire and I was completely uninterested in any other teacher operating at that time. As far as I am aware, there were many sincere people attending the satsangs, absolutely devoted to Makaire's work and committed to their own spiritual growth. I really felt that an informal type of sangha was evolving. The whole scene felt vibrant and full of promise.

Unfortunately I was chucked out of satsang at this point and by the time I felt able to return, suddenly the whole situation had changed. A formal sangha had been started. People were told that they could not attend satsang unless they committed themselves to the sangha, that they were not allowed to attend the satsangs of other teachers, that they had to tithe, etc., etc.

I felt in a bind at this point. I wanted to continue to see Mikaire but I could not join the sangha. It was not a matter of resistance. (which could be levelled at me, albeit rather cheaply) but more that I just didn't have it in me anymore. I couldn't have joined the sangha, even if I had really wanted to. And I think this applied to many people at this point. Having been through Poona and Oregon, many just felt unable to join yet another sangha which had its own rules and regulations and demands. Just couldn't do it anymore. One just felt burnt out at that level. My own relationship to Mikaire was strongly individualistic, as I suspect it was for most people. It didn't depend on a community. And yet, ironically, a strong group had actually started to form around Mikaire. I felt that the institution of a formal sangha at that point was the death knell to Mikaire's work in England. It just killed it.

I think that Sheila is being nieve and superficial to blame the English "character" (and by the way, many of those who attended Mikaire's satsangs in England were actually non-English, just resident in England.) and thereby to infer that we are less committed to spiritual growth than our German cousins. In fact, let's not beat about the bush here. What Sheila is levelling at us in England is that we are a bunch of spiritual wankers. That is what she really is saying in her letter.

But I don't really want to get into some slanging match of the Germans versus the English here. That would be too easy and miss the point. After all, Shelia has asked a pertinent question, what happened to Mikaire in England? I fear that Mikaire misread the English character somewhat. There is a strong individualistic, rather anarchic strain in England, and we don't take kindly to being told what to do, nor to being structured. We do things in our own ways. This aspect of our character plus the apparent resurrection of a tired old paradigm (the sangha) seemed to spell the end for a lot of us.

The other point is that I think Mikaire's use of expulsion from satsang didn't go down too well over here. Maybe in Germany people just kept coming back after being rejected, but that didn't tend to happen over here. I felt he overplayed this card somewhat. Maybe it worked in Germany okay, but it sure didn't work over here. After all, many of us were mature adults, we'd been through marriages, children, careers, other gurus. Expulsions from satsang were beginning to feel like exclusion from school. It began to feel rather ridiculous.

This lead me on to the point about shame. I have thought about shame a lot over the past few years. Mikaire has clearly adopted many of the concepts of John Bradshaw who has written numerous books on 'toxic shame'. Anyway, the experiencing of one's shame was, and I presume still is, an important component of Mikaire's satsangs and I for one seemed to have an unending supply of this particular feeling-state. In fact, lack of self-worth and shame appeared to be the barriers between me and the experiencing of my true nature. However this experience of shame is not always a negative thing; something to be transcend. In my view, there are two types of shame. Pathological shame which is crippling to the being and a waste of time, and non-pathological shame which actually acts as a useful self-corrector. The experience of the latter shame is beneficial in that it actually helps us to stop the particular behaviour which is engendering the shame. Now in Makaire's satsangs there was always a helluva lot of shame going in the rooms. I, for one, had tremendous difficulty in distinguishing between the good and the bad and I don't think I ever heard Mikaire clarify this issue and make what I think is a very necessary distinction.

Personally after making numerous requests to attend Mikaire's satsangs again and always finding the door closed in my face, I decided that enough was enough. I wasn't willing to engender any more shame. And, together with this, was a question in me of whether the work with Mikaire had come to a natural conclusion. After all, after a year of intense involvement I was graced with a spiritual awakening. You can't ask for more than that., can you?! I interpreted the door in my face as an affirmative to the latter question.

Now I can't obviously talk about the experience of others in England. I have very little contact with many of those people whom I sat with in Mikaire's satsangs. However, I have a sense that there is something deeply unresolved here, incompletions, things unsaid. It is too facile to imply that the Germans are more committed to their own spiritual growth than the English. That doesn't feel like the truth to me. You can't blithely discount a whole nation in terms such as these. All I know is that many of the individuals I met in Mikaire's satsangs were of a high calibre, deeply sincere in their desire for the truth.

Having laid out all of the above, I am left with a mixture of feelings. Mikaire is a being who had perhaps one of the greatest influences on my growth (together with Osho, Gurdjieff and Master Da), and yet I feel unable to see him any more. The door does not feel open to me and I don't know where to go with this one. Perhaps I reflect the feelings of others in England? I don't know.


Kieran Linnane (an Irish woman.)

email: Kieranlinnane@yahoo.com