It is Raymond’s Way – the Way of the Divine True Heart.
– Evelyn Disk
In The Mummery Book1 – by far the best drama I’ve read to date – the most evil, manipulative, and destructive character in the story eloquently expounds some truths and good intentions at one point, just when I least expect him to.
How can this be? I have to admit I was confused, offended, and a little angry when I noticed this, and part of me wanted to throw the book out. I guess on some level I thought that bad guys – whether in fiction or real life – should be 100% bad, easy to identify, with a clear “bad guy” label, and look and feel nothing like myself or my friends, in much the way that “Sauron the Deceiver” is obviously depicted as “bad” in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings film adaptations.
So the question remains, why would a “bad guy” in a story be depicted as human, apparently charismatic, and – at times – clearly devoted to truth? Why write it that way?
To help this feel more concrete, let’s look at one possible real-life Evelyn Disk, someone who might later be seen as harmful – with the aid of 20/20 hindsight – but who at the time, from within the Evelyn-cult, is considered not only not-so-bad, but an inspirational and dedicated leader…
Look closely at the faces and body-language:
It appears Hitler was popular with many people, believed in God, and even went on retreat regularly.
Who says I am not under the special protection of God?
– Adolph Hitler2
According to “The Mother” of Pondicherry, a woman said to be extremely clairvoyant, Hitler really was deluded and really did think he was serving a divine being of some sort.
Hitler used to retire into solitude and remain there as long as it was necessary to come into contact with his “guide” and receive from him inspirations which he later carried out very faithfully.
This being, which Hitler took for the Supreme, was quite plainly [an evil spirit]. He had a shining appearance, he could mislead anybody except one who really had occult knowledge and could see what was there behind the appearance. He would have deceived anybody; he was truly splendid. [He was] so dazzling that Hitler could hardly look at him…
Hitler was a very good medium, but he lacked intelligence and discrimination.3
You may be surprised to know that, early on, more than half the residents at Sri Aurobindo’s ashram were supporters of Hitler. Aurobindo said nothing about this openly, but in private he remarked that his students “have no idea about the world and talk like little children.”4
- How could devotees in a spiritual ashram be so deceived as to support someone like Hitler?
- If Hitler had devotion, discipline, and a strong “spiritual” orientation going for him… then what was he missing? Or what did he have too much of?
- If people like Hitler or Evelyn Disk convince themselves that all their actions are not only protected, but guided by God, could that be problematic? Is there any limit to what they might feel justified doing? Can you think of anyone who’s a little bit like this – not someone foreign & far away, but someone in your own sphere?
- In The Mummery Book (or, if you haven’t read it, think of a similar story), does the bad guy always see himself as 100% bad? Could his positive self-image and dedicated belief in the necessity of his actions be part of why he’s so popular, trusted, and loved?
- Do Evelyn’s followers have “good intentions”?
- What is it that’s so attractive about fake cult leaders?
- If you woke up one day and somehow found yourself in the scene depicted in the above photo – with everyone around you swept up in what they believe is harmless adoration – what would you say to the people, and how do you think they’d respond? Please, really consider this.
- In The Mummery Book the narrator says, The only method of the “followers” of Evelyn, at Saint-and-Ear, is – like children – to be “abstract”. So, to make this more concrete, we might ask ourselves: are there any leaders, teachers, TV personalities, or spiritual authorities in our lives, who appear good, inspiring, trustworthy? Think of people in positions of power or visibility who are not yet enlightened, and yet who you or your friends feel could do no wrong or ever have bad intentions, simply because of their love-soaked surroundings, their popularity, the important status or position they hold, the beauty, humor, & intelligence of their words, or just how good, validated, and “snug” they make you feel.
- How do you know what’s right in a situation, if there are no clear-cut “bad” or “good” labels given to you? To what extent do you depend on social cues (a.k.a. peer pressure, or to use a pejorative phrase, “herd mentality”) to distinguish right from wrong?
Please share any comments you may have.
- A new “radio” production of The Mummery Book is coming on May 12, 2012; stay tuned for details. For more info, check here. ↩
- Source: brainy quote. ↩
- Excerpted from The Hidden Forces of Life: Selections from the Works of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, compiled with an introduction by A.S. Dalal. As included in The Basket of Tolerance by Adi Da Samraj. Parentheticals added by BoT Student. ↩
- 5/17/1940 ↩