Help!!!! Anyone have any info about Sri Chinmoy and his meditation courses?

I would like to tap the brains and experience of my fellow Dopers about something that is bothering me. Tonight I attended a free course at the local library about learning to meditate. Sponsored by Sri Chinmoy’s organization. He is a New-York based spiritual teacher. I will google him for more info, but right now I could use some one-on-one friendly advice from anyone who knows anything good or bad about this outfit.

It was interesting, fun and everything was free, even the cookies and juice at break. The speaker was a nice little man who seems very sincere. None of it came across like a cult or anything weird. The course goes on for three more Thursdsay nights, all FREE (???) They showed us meditation techniques and recommended we learn by practicing at home until next week. All they asked for was my name and phone number, which are in the phone book.

Is this too good to be true? Am I being set up? Do they try to fleece you later on? Does the pitch for money come later on? I feel like the sword of Damocles is hanging over my head.

I am not soooo cynical that I cannot believe any organization could exist to help people without trying to use them or fleece them. I know because I have attended AA since 1993. I know as certain as I am sitting here that AA is nothing more or less than it claims to be: a bunch of former drunks who help each other stay sober. They have no membership lists or dues or fees. They just take a collection at meetings to pay for coffee and the hall and pamphlets. You can give a nickel per meeting if you like and nobody even knows how much you gave. People just drop what they want in a bag.

If this organization I saw tonight genuinely helps people by teaching meditation, and just makes a few bucks on the side with voluntary donations, selling CDs of Sri Chinmoy, etc, to cover expenses, then I have no objection. I mean, Sri Chinmoy has to eat and needs a roof over his head like anyone else, spiritual or not.

But if there is a hook here somewhere I cannot see, please tell me before I swallow the worm!!!

Wikipedia has a decent article that might provide a nice starting point for research. Quackwatch doesn’t seem to have anything on him.

I took the course several years ago and attended some of the group meditations afterward. In my opinion, the is nothing cultish about them. Sri Chinmoy and his followers seem genuinely interested in obtaining enlightenment through meditation and living peaceful lives. They are happy to teach others to meditate but will never force anyone into learning (In other words, attempt to brainwash you.) They aren’t motivated by money and will never push or guilt you into giving any.

I quit because I was having some personal problems at the time and it made it hard for me to be around people. If I had learned these meditation techniques earlier and had been more experienced with them, I might have been able to work through my problems with a lot less stress. By the way, I never got any calls insisting or even hinting I should come back. Whether you stay or leave is totally up to you.

I believe I got a lot out of the meditation sessions, even though I didn’t continue with them. One of these days, I’d like to go back. Maybe take the class again. I believe Sri Chinmoy is one of the good guys in religion. We could use more like him.

I’ve never heard anything negative (or even questioning) about Sri Chinmoy.

twicks, a cult expert back in the day

Thank you all for your answers, because people who have personal experience and who have no reason to lie to me are obviously giving me very valuable advice. I DO think I will go back next week for the second evening. Generally speaking I got the feeling this was something good.

But this web site give me some reservations. OTOH, anyone can take out a web site to attack somone else. Even competing gurus. There is something bout these basically anonymous testimonials against Sri Chinmoy on that site that make me sceptical.

On the other hand, it bothers me that everything so far has been free, even the cookies and huice and free greeting cards.

Look, if you call a taxi you know how it works, right? Give the guy money and he takes you somewhere. That is how he makes his living. But what would you say if a stranger saw you trying to hail a cab and offered to drive you where you are going for free? Would you not draw back apprehensively? WQould you not wonder what his angle is? My apprehension is only natural.

An ex-boyfriend of mine attended several of these meditation workshops back when we were in college and he was trying to figure out stuff. I went to one just to see what it was all about, and the only really creepy part was the part where you had to meditate on Sri Chinmoy’s picture. I didn’t like that. He only went to a few more workshops and then stopped going.

A few months later, he ran into someone on the street who had been one of the leaders of the workshop. That person told him that he had left the organization because he realized it was turning into a cult and he didn’t want to be a part of it anymore.

I think if it is a cult, it takes a long time to get to the wacko stuff. This workshop leader had obviously been involved for months or years before his cult-dar pinged.