Similarities between Guruism and Gerontolatry Part II

The second part of this study is based on a chapter in Dionysios Farasiotis’ book, The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios (Greek Edition). This chapter is called Karma Yoga: A Method of Enslaving People. It is only found in the Greek edition. For some reason, the translator Fr. Alexis Trader (who is also a spiritual child of Geronda Ephraim and is a monk at one of his Athonite monasteries, Karakallou) decided to omit this chapter from the English edition.

Fr. Alexis Trader, hieromonk of Karakallou Monastery. Before leaving for Greece, Fr. Alexis was a professor at St. Tikhon’s Seminary.
Fr. Alexis Trader, hieromonk of Karakallou Monastery. Before leaving for Greece, Fr. Alexis was a professor at St. Tikhon’s Seminary.

As in the first part, the following are excerpts from the photocopies that were distributed by St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY. The similarities are interpolated within the text in brackets […]:

The Greek edition contains many passages that are omitted in the English edition; passages that indirectly critique monastic blind obedience, etc.
The Greek edition contains many passages that are omitted in the English edition; passages that indirectly critique monastic blind obedience, etc.

Karma Yoga: A Method of Enslaving People

*After they first persuade people about the correctness of their views, they then can guide and command them more easily.

[In the monasteries here, the monks are encouraged to read Geronda Ephraim’s books and listen to his homilies during their free time. As well, the monastics hear the readings in the trapeza twice a day, during lunch and supper. Furthermore, there are the constant admonitions by the abbots and abbesses to their monastics. Also, the monks themselves are attempt to persuade themselves via various forms of rewiring their minds: beating oneself with a stick when they have thoughts against Geronda Ephraim, thoughts of self-justification, etc.]

Fr. Stefanos at St. Nektarios Monastery reading to the dining hall. Monks hear readings at both lunch and supper and have no blessing to talk during meals.
Fr. Stefanos at St. Nektarios Monastery reading to the dining hall. Monks hear readings at both lunch and supper and have no blessing to talk during meals.

*But what is the theory that is propounded by nearly all the New Ager organizations in order to subdue their followers and convert them to workers receiving no pay? It’s an ancient theory of Hinduism, the theory of Karma Yoga. [Karma is a concept totally foreign to Orthodox theology and is not taught in the monasteries. However, the teaching of blind obedience to an elder is what converts many monks into workers receiving no pay. Interestingly, one of Geronda Ephraim’s former nuns attempted to sue her monastery for 14 years of back pay. She lost her case].

Ivantchenko, et al. v. The Sisters of Saint Kosmas

http://www.yorku.ca/ddoorey/lawblog/?p=4399
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1105109–nun-took-a-vow-of-poverty-but-is-suing-for-pay
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1105701–nun-suing-monastery-says-sisters-harrassed-her-killed-her-cats
• Ivantchenko, et al. v. The Sisters of Saint Kosmas http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2011/2011onsc6481/2011onsc6481.pdf

Bells & Nuns at St. Kosmas Monastery, Bolton, Canada.
Bells & Nuns at St. Kosmas Monastery, Bolton, Canada.

*It is used with success in India and today they’re undertaking to impose it throughout the world in order to acquire power and money by means of it. Listen how. Karma Yoga is considered one of the most basic forms of Yoga. It is the Yoga of the selfless servants. Every person has their ‘karma’; that is the total of all the good and evil acts of all their ‘previous lives’. This determines the circumstance of their present-day life. A good karma means that the person will be born rich, comfortable, with many opportunities for spiritual progress. On the contrary, a bad karma can mean poverty, want, affliction, pain and ignorance. If your karma is really bad, this means that you could be born as an animal in the next life.[So far, there is not much similarity other than the selfless servant aspect].

Elderly Novice Monk Gardening at St. Nektarios Monastery, Roscoe, NY
Elderly Novice Monk Gardening at St. Nektarios Monastery, Roscoe, NY

*Generally, the Yogis try to be liberated from the iron law of karma which even oppresses their ‘gods’. Still, they try to completely destroy their karma in order to escape from the cycle of reincarnation. [All Christians struggle to be liberated from the passions; or rather transform them into the corresponding virtues; including the Abbot and Abbesses].

*The way for someone to destroy his karma, or at least to lighten its heavy load, is by selfless services to his fellow suffering man, to humanity and to God. Up to this point, we’re dealing with a polite, ideal display of love towards suffering neighbors. Rather yet, this is beautiful bait that will help us to catch the death-bearing fish hook. [Selfless service to their fellow man, humanity and God is a basic expectation for an Orthodox Christian].

In the monasteries it is taught that the most ideal way for someone to practice Orthodoxy is through blind obedience to a Geronda (or Gerondissa).
In the monasteries it is taught that the most ideal way for someone to practice Orthodoxy is through blind obedience to a Geronda (or Gerondissa).

*So, after we accept the theory of Karma (Karma-yoga) as something beneficial for our spiritual progress – and after we have ‘elevated to a higher spiritual level’ (that is when they ascertain that we are ready), then they tell us, “the most ideal way for someone to practice Karma-yoga is to serve the guru”. These services that we offer have great ‘spiritual returns’, since the guru, as the almighty and all compassionate ‘god’ that he is, is able to reciprocate and destroy all our previous karma, and thus, he liberates us spiritually after our death. [In the monasteries it is taught that the most ideal way for someone to practice Orthodoxy is through blind obedience to a Geronda (or Gerondissa). Blind obedience has great spiritual returns for the unquestioning subordinate: illumination, dispassion and theosis. The Geronda is an “icon of Christ” and whatever you do to him you do to God Himself: i.e. your respect, veneration, and obedience is as though doing it to God Himself, just as the opposite actions. If one has obedience, he has his Geronda’s prayers after death to make it through the toll-houses. If he doesn’t have obedience, he doesn’t have his Geronda’s prayers after death and loses his salvation].

ΚΑΛΟΓΕΡΟΣ.,.,
Of course, as an exchange, our present-day life is demanded to be dedicated to work without pay. In order for this reasoning to work, the person must have faith in two basic metaphysical and religious deceptions and delusions:

i) In the theory of reincarnation from which arises the theory of ‘the law of karma’
ii) That his guru is a superman with formidable spiritual powers; a living ‘god’
[In the monastery, the rest of the monk’s life will be work without pay—at least in this life. They are taught they are exchanging monetary pay for spiritual pay in the next life. The monks do not believe in reincarnation but rather the Resurrection of the Dead. The monks and nuns do believe Geronda Ephraim is a sort of superman with formidable spiritual powers: “He is the holiest saint in the history of our church;” “His gifts are immeasurable, after he dies there will be no other like him;” “He’s not omnipresent like God, but he’s almost. He sees and knows everything that goes on in his monasteries. He’s always watching us;” “He’s the closest thing to Christ on earth! If you want to imagine what Christ would be like when he was on earth, just look at Geronda Ephraim;” “He talks to the Father during his vigil;” “One rarely surpasses their teacher, he surpassed Pappou Joseph.” These are some of the numerous things Geronda Ephraim’s monks and nuns (including Abbots and Abbesses) have said over the years].

That his guru is a superman with formidable spiritual powers; a living ‘god’.
That his guru is a superman with formidable spiritual powers; a living ‘god’.

*Only after a person has accepted those two terrible deceptions deep inside, will they start to put him in deeper and they will slowly start to tell him about Karma-Yoga. For this reason, all of the Hindu and New Age organizations insist and project their leader or guru as a superhuman ‘god’ and they legislate his worship while he is still alive. A person more easily submits to a ‘god’ than to a human being. [Once an Orthodox Christian accepts the Resurrection of the Dead and begins to accept that Geronda Ephraim is the holiest man alive on earth and the greatest saint in the history of the Church, then Geronda’s disciples start accepting them more and revealing more to them about the gift of blind obedience and the miracles it works. All of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries in North America and Greece work in the same manner: from the superiors down to the last monk, they all vouchsafe and validate Geronda Ephraim as a super saint, beyond all other saints in the history of orthodoxy. It is very important, even if only once in a lifetime, for someone to meet him and get his blessing. Thus, many times before one even meets Geronda Ephraim, he or she has been exposed to the love bombing of the monastery, and all the hype about his miracle working powers].

All of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries in America and Greece work in the same manner: they all vouchsafe and validate Geronda Ephraim as a super saint, beyond all other saints in the history of orthodoxy.
All of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries in America and Greece work in the same manner: they all vouchsafe and validate Geronda Ephraim as a super saint, beyond all other saints in the history of orthodoxy.

*Thus, the practical indifference and carelessness at the first level and religious deceptions are converted into persuasive instruments of spiritual compulsion or necessity and submission of individuals with daily catastrophic consequences. Many followers of gurus work hard at their ashrams without having any demands for recompense, insurance, pharmaceuticals, nursing or even the least bit of pocket money. Indeed, they are made to feel that the guru makes them spiritual reprieves which they will receive if they serve him. [People are led to believe that it’s a huge gift from God just to be able to take Geronda Ephraim’s blessing, and an even greater gift if he accepts you as a spiritual child. Many of Geronda Ephraim’s followers—monastics and laymen—work hard at his monasteries doing whatever task they are asked or ordered to do. They do this believing they are offering it as alms to the saint of the monastery, alms to Geronda Ephraim as well as receiving a recompense of invisible golden crowns that they will be able to offer to the aerial demons when their soul has to pass through the toll-houses. They do have access to medical means when necessary because Geronda Ephraim wants his monastics to be healthy and strong so they can work (a sick and weak monastic who can’t help out tends to be a burden on the monastery, not to mention they take other able-bodied monastics away from their work when they need to be taken care of). Most of the monasteries have pilgrims who are doctors who agree to see the monastics pro bono].

...They do this believing they are receiving a recompense of invisible golden crowns that they will be able to offer to the aerial demons when their soul has to pass through the toll-houses.
…They do this believing they are receiving a recompense of invisible golden crowns that they will be able to offer to the aerial demons when their soul has to pass through the toll-houses.

*The Karma-Yogis are usually young people that go to some ashram in a foreign country in order to cut themselves off from friends and relatives that could help them at some crucial moment. [Many of the monks are young. Geronda Ephraim says it’s better to become a monk when you’re young because the passions haven’t had the years in the world to become rooted as second nature and the mind is easier to mould.]

Geronda Ephraim says it’s better to become a monk when you’re young because the passions haven’t had the years in the world to become rooted as second nature and the mind is easier to mould.
Geronda Ephraim says it’s better to become a monk when you’re young because the passions haven’t had the years in the world to become rooted as second nature and the mind is easier to mould.

*Of course, there are enough aged Karma-Yogis that have indeed given all their wealth to the guru and ashram in order to make quicker spiritual progress. [Most people joining the monasteries give the remainder of their possessions and money to the monastery as alms.].

*I know a few people like this. Thus, they are reduced to unsalaried workers, usually in foreign countries without friends, family, money or information (except the news censured by the ashram). [A monk is to become dead to the world, thus no relatives, friends, etc. Though in some cases, when relatives offer useful services to the monastery and are needed, there is some leeway given to interpersonal dynamics. In other cases, if the relatives prove to be annoyances and interfering with the monastic’s life at the monastery, they’ll be relocated to another monastery either within America or abroad in Greece (out of obedience, of course). They are unsalaried workers in a monetary sense, but believe they will be recompensed in the afterlife (only if they do perfect and complete obedience; all other works are rendered vain if they don’t do obedience). All news is censured by the monastery superior. There is no news of the outside world unless one is exposed during an excursion out of the monastery, or the superior decides to tell them. All information is disseminated exactly how the superior wants, and the disciples are expected to accept it the way it is delivered.]

*They are immediately dependent upon the ashram for food, shelter and clothes. [The monastics are dependent upon the monastery for everything (food, clothing, shelter, etc.) And the superior can decide to refuse any of these things].

Archimandrite Panteleimon  Metropoulos who was a member of Elder Joseph the Hesychast’s synodia. Geronda Ephraim calls him a spiritual brother in a homily.
Archimandrite Panteleimon Metropoulos who was a member of Elder Joseph the Hesychast’s synodia. Geronda Ephraim calls him a spiritual brother in a homily.

*I ask myself, ‘when a person is found in such a powerless position, is he not an easy victim of sexual (or whatever other kind of) exploitation? [Though there is no known recorded instances of a superior sexually abusing a subordinate in Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries, it is interesting to note that Fr. Panteleimon (who was a member of Elder Joseph the Hesychast’s synodia and whom Geronda Ephraim calls his spiritual brother in a homily) has been involved in numerous homosexual sex scandals with his subordinates over the years at his Brookline, MA monastery. As well, a few years back, allegations against Geronda Joseph of Vatopaidi, another spiritual brother of Geronda Ephraim, also surfaced but seem to have been repudiated].

Thus, don’t you think that it would be more correct to speak about ‘karma-slaves’ instead of karma-yogis?. Monasticism is recognized as voluntary slavery in the Patristic writings: “you who are hastening to sign a pledge that you are voluntarily surrendering yourself to slavery, and in return want freedom written to your account.” (Ladder 4:5)

The remainder of the article can be read here:

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