The crucial John Hislop letters, Sathya Sai Baba, & Sathya's defender Joe Moreno
(c) Copyright 2007, by Timothy Conway, PhD
John "Jack" Hislop was one of the very most prominent figures in Sathya Sai Baba's worldwide movement in its expansion phase from 1970 onward. An influential spokesperson for Sathya Sai Baba in the USA, India and abroad, and a popular lecturer in SSB Organization centers in many countries, Hislop was the founder and acting head (in a lifetime appointment by Sathya Sai himself) of the entire Sathya Sai Baba movement in North America from 1969 until his own death in 1995. Dr. Hislop had a PhD in Education from UCLA, was an early top executive in Mahesh Yogi's TM movement in the 1960s, and was an ardent fan, along with his wife Victoria, of Burmese-style Buddhist vipassana meditation and the nondual spiritual teachings of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (d. 1981).
A series of crucial letters or memoranda written by John Hislop in early 1981, three of them to the Directors of the Sathya Sai Baba Council of America, and one of them addressed to "Terry and Mrs. Payne" (a male in his latter-teens and his mother), are among the very most important pieces of documentary evidence in the entire case of Sathya Sai Baba's purported longtime serial sexual molestation of male youth.
For in his first memo (dated Jan. 18, 1981), Dr. Hislop, who had already heard from devotee Mark Roche a first-person account from 1976 of alleged sexual molestation by Sathya Sai Baba (I learned only in 2003 about Roche's conversation with Hislop around 1980), refers to "these horrible stories about Sri Bhagavan [Sathya Sai]."
Hislop makes it clear that, if any such allegations were substantiated, then Sathya Sai would be "a hypocrite, a liar, and a criminal." Hislop goes on to elaborate the gravity of the situation: "(1) He would be a hypocrite because He pretends that His life is above the senses.... (2) He would be a liar because He told me, face to face, in the most serious way that the homosexual stories about Him were totally untrue. (3) He would be a criminal because the homosexual abuse of children under His care and protection is a criminal action and such people are punished by jail sentences." (Emphasis added.) This threefold serious attitude expressed by Dr. Hislop seems to have been entirely dismissed and forgotten in more recent times by the leaders of the SSB organization and Sathya Sai's defenders.
And whereas back in the early 1980s, such stories of impropriety by Sathya Sai were very few and far between, overwhelmed by the far, far greater number of stories of Sathya's paranormal powers, miracles, emotional and spiritual healings, uplifting teachings, good deeds, and service and educational projects, since the advent of the Internet in the late 1990s, such unsavory stories of misbehavior by SSB have grown to major proportions.
The "Hislop letters," therefore, are an important window onto how the topmost leaders of the SSB Org in the USA missed a major opportunity in 1981 to steer the movement in the right direction toward further exploring and enacting the professed values of the Sai movement: Satya-Dharma-Shanti-Prema-Ahimsa [Truth-Virtue-Peace-Love-Harmlessness].
At the time, Hislop simply could not believe the allegations of sexual molestation to be true. When Hislop confronted Sathya Sai on the matter in December 1980, Sathya Sai, speaking of himself in third person, had told Hislop: "Sai is millions of miles away from the devilish passion attributed to Him. As fire consumes all materials, these false stories and false allegations are reduced to ashes by My Divinity... Rest assured that Sai's fame can never be diminished by these false stories... good and pious people will never care for them."
At the time, and for many years afterwards, those of us who heard from Hislop this relayed quote from Sathya Sai tended to follow Hislop in believing what SSB stated. Even those of us who believed that some kind of touching of genital areas by SSB might have occurred were willing, in light of his apparent superhuman abilities, to give him the benefit of the doubt and rationalize that he had some good reason for engaging in this behavior with a very few male youth.
Anyway, the crucially relevant 1981 "Hislop letters" or "Hislop memos," copies of which I received in the mid-1980s, and then pretty much forgot until events of early 2001 brought them back to mind (and a long search finally uncovered the copies in my garage), have since late 2001 been variously posted on the Internet at such leading critical sites as www.exbaba.com, along with (since 2005) my notarized affidavit swearing to the authenticity of these Hislop letters.
Some Internet versions of these Hislop letters display my characteristically penned-in underlinings, bracketing marks, circles, question marks, margin notes, etc., made by me in early 2001 for highlighting emphasis and easier readability of salient points. While certain Internet sites have "cleaned up" these letters by removing all of my pen-markings, at least one internet site critical of Sathya Sai Baba does show my "pen-marked" version of the Hislop letters; that site is
and so i have NOT taken the time to scan the Hislop letters elsewhere here at this webpage.
Enter Joe Moreno...
Gerald "Joe" Moreno is one very outspoken person who has tried to challenge the legitimacy of the Hislop letters, adamantly and repeatedly charging that they are "forgeries." Joe is clearly a passionate and, yes, quite controversial figure, banned from any further meddling with the Wikipedia entry on Sathya Sai Baba because of his repeated violations of their rules of fairness and objectivity. He has one lovely personal website at www.geocities.com/www0db0www/index.html?20074 on spirituality, mandalas, affirmations, etc., including Joe's wonderful spiritual experiences with Sathya Sai (from age 18 onward), Amma Amritanandamayi, and Ramana Maharshi. Curiously, in the FAQ section of his other, extremely critical, nit-picking website, saisathyasai.com, Joe reports that he is a former longtime devotee of Sathya Sai Baba, that he left the SSB movement, and that he is no longer a devotee due to his agnosticism on the idea of "God" and "karma."
Despite being an ex-devotee, Joe has strangely, inexplicably written a huge (I mean HUGE) amount of Internet material vehemently defending and privileging his erstwhile guru Sathya Sai from critics' questions and charges by launching a series of rebuttals and also verbal attacks on these questioners and critics. Some of the rebuttals are worthwhile and "successful" on certain points. Some are deliberately misleading. His terribly uncivil and unfair character attacks on certain persons are not at all worthwhile.
Joe, in turn, has received from critics not only quite civil replies to his points, but also unfortunately has had to experience from certain other critics, like all of us in this matter, far too much name-calling, extravagant emotional reaction, threats of psychic harm, etc. As I recently told him in an email (of Dec. 1, 2007): "Joe, I wanted to say just HOW VERY SORRY I AM that you've had to put up with so much venom and name-calling and 'below the belt' punches and jabs from people who have become—at least some of the time—very disturbed individuals in this entire controversial matter of Sathya Sai. This is, in fact, one of the reasons why i've not wanted to spend much time in this entire affair. There is rank misbehavior on both sides of the issues. Many people are 'having their buttons pushed,' and most of them are then reacting very emotionally, hastily, and with much anger, sadness, exasperation, insecurity, and vengeance. Some of the involved people chronically act like this, and some people act like this only occasionally. In either case, there's a lot of hurt on all sides. I think many people are suffering to some extent from PTSD (post-traumatic-stress-disorder) in all of this controversy and contentiousness."
Joe himself often seems unwilling to significantly address the really substantial issues in the context of the "big picture" in this matter of former devotees' serious allegations against various improprieties by Sathya Sai Baba, except to claim that the fact that Sathya Sai has never been tried in a court case utterly exonerates him.
I would remark, too, that Joe tends to lump into one broad, undifferentiated group all critics of SSB as being "Anti-Sai," when in fact many of us are neither "anti-Sai" or "pro-Sai," but trying to stake out some kind of intelligent, compassionate middle ground which is pro-Truth and pro-Justice. Many of us only became "critics" of Sathya Sai Baba and the SSB organization because our initial serious questions about certain improprieties were ignored and/or rejoined by a furious, pathologically emotional and irrational campaign of name-calling, character assassination, threats, and all the classic Freudian defense mechanisms (e.g., pathological identification, denial, rationalization, projection, reaction formation) by immature "devotees" whose own cognitive dissonance prevents them from acknowledging unpleasant facts or relating to their interlocutors with any civility. Sathya Sai himself demonstrated a lot of this in his own Christmas 2000 discourse, wherein he aggrandized himself at length and literally demonized his critics with all manner of name-calling and threats of karmic punishment, using some of the same terminology already put forth a few months earlier by J. Jagadeesan of Malaysia.
For critical pages on Joe Moreno by authors Alan Kazlev, Kevin Shepherd, Brian Steel and Robert Priddy, and, in turn, Joe's critical pages on these respective persons, see the weblinks listed at the bottom of this long webpage.
In 2005, Joe wrote some essays for his critical saisathyasai.com website trying to destroy the validity of the important Hislop letters, and Joe recently came after me with a direct attack on my character and yet another attempt to discredit the reliability and importance of the Hislop letters. To once again set the record straight, I sent Joe a few emails with point-by-point clarifications and rejoinders to his many-pronged and often "nit-picking" attacks on the validity of the Hislop letters.
Here at this webpage I reproduce the relevant parts of my emails to Joe Moreno for the sake of truth and accuracy concerning the Hislop letters, which, to repeat, are prime documentary evidence from Hislop himself about the SERIOUSNESS of the allegations against Sathya Sai Baba, and also constitute evidence about the DISTORTION, COVER-UP and SUPPRESSION of these allegations by leading officers of the SSB Organization in the USA from at least 1981 to the present.
From: Timothy Conway
To: Joe [Joe Moreno, firstname.lastname@example.org]
Date: Wednesday 11-28-2007
Subject: Re: Happy Reading
[Some material deleted here on my response to other issues raised by Joe Moreno in his 11-26-2007 email to me sarcastically entitled “Happy Reading.”]
Joe, some time back I heard from Barry Pittard and others (with whom i am hardly ever in contact anymore, since i have largely put this matter of SSB [Sathya Sai Baba] and his movement behind me), that you have spent a lot of words and energy on trying to debunk the famous Hislop memos.
In that long webpage of yours that you sent me the other day, you again raised the question of the veracity of the Hislop memos of Jan.-March 1981 about a possible scandal involving Sathya Sai over molestation of a male minor [Terry, Jr.] from the USA, and you also expressly wonder why i waited so long to bring these memos to light. That's a rather long story: i had largely forgotten these memos when i first began to seriously read the internet reports in Feb. 2001 about SSB's behavior (e.g., Bailey's document "The Findings," along with the many letters of concern from ex-devotees, etc.). When it dawned on my overburdened memory that Hislop had written something back in the early 1980s, i looked for the memos but initially could not find them. Finally i did find them [in the latter part of year 2001] in some old files in an out-of-the-way place in my garage. And there in those memos was Jack Hislop himself clearly stating that, if any reports of Sathya Sai molesting male minors were factually true, then people would feel justified in calling SSB "a hypocrite, a liar, and a criminal," and Hislop went on to explain why SSB would be a hypocrite, liar, and criminal if these charges were true. It was at this point in time  that i shared copies of the Hislop memos with the late Glen Meloy [d.2005], who had my permission to share them with others.
Please be aware that when i first read these memos way back in 1983 or 1984, i was not aware [as almost all other persons were not aware] of any larger context, i.e., any other allegations, for evaluating Sathya Sai in this light. When i did read Tal Brooke's book (variously named, e.g., Lord of the Air, Avatar of Night) about SSB, Tal's own megalomania and newly-converted "fundamentalist Christian" identification made him a highly "suspicious source," and so the entire matter of Sathya Sai's sexual behavior toward [a few] male youth could only be put into my mental category of "Sathya Sai's enigmatic, not-well-understood behavior."
Now, I have sworn in a notarized document (written on August 18, 2005, notarized on Aug. 19, 2005) that these Hislop memos are exactly as they were given to me by the previous president of the SSB Center of San Francisco circa 1983-4. Both Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard have copies of this notarized document. Upon request from David Savill of the BBC, I furnished my original copies of the Hislop memos to the BBC (i still have the Fedex "International Air Waybill," dated 4-19-2004, with my note that the mailing contains a 3-page document [the Hislop memos]), for the research phase of their BBC television documentary, "Secret Swami." The BBC has unfortunately never returned these originals, finally claiming to have lost them after a few repeated requests from Glen, Barry, and myself to return them. Thank God i made xerox copies of what i sent to the BBC.
Joe, i swear to you now, on everything sacred, that these Hislop memos have not in any way been created, concocted or altered by myself. Note that my "original copies" from 1983-4 were at some point much later in time (circa 2001) underlined by me in pen, along with a few margin marks/notes. These marked copies of the Hislop memos that were then put up onto the internet a few years ago by critics of Sathya Sai were first "cleaned up" by someone (i don't know who) to remove my underlinings and other pen-marks, but in terms of the content, these memos have not been altered.
I also affirm and believe as utterly true the report by the prior president of the San Francisco SSB Center that these Hislop memos were in fact sent directly by Jack Hislop to this center president in question, who specifically had asked Hislop about circulating "rumors" concerning SSB's sexual activities with a certain male youth. From the salutation line ("Dear Directors:"), it is to be simply assumed that these Hislop memos were also sent, as per his usual policy, by Hislop to all the Directors of the SSB movement in the USA and perhaps abroad, as well.
Joe, i hope what i have directly written to you this morning addresses your concerns about these memos and certain other matters.
Wishing you all the very best,
Santa Barbara, CA USA
From: Timothy Conway
Date: Thursday 11-29-2007
Subject: PS—About the Hislop memos
I just took a moment out of this ridiculously busy schedule to look up your long webpage analysis of the authenticity of the Hislop memos at www.saisathyasai.com/baba/Ex-Baba.com/News/march-2005-hislop-comparison.html and related pages.
Gosh, Joe, i wish you had contacted me directly a few years ago, we could have saved you and other people a lot of time, energy and "concern" about the truth of these things. Please be aware that back in Spring 2002 my father was diagnosed with lung cancer (yes, it runs in the family from all those old smokers) and he passed on in 2003. So by 2002 my life had grown even more busy and complicated, and, except for that brief time of interacting with the Glen, David Savill and the BBC in 2004, i was largely out of any further involvement with Glen and the others in the movement to "expose Sathya Sai."
Again, i sure don't have any time these days to be involved [I had previously informed Joe that my mother is recuperating from lung cancer surgery and I have already for the last few years been working 80-90 hours weekly in teaching-researching-writing, etc.], but i did wish to pass along to you, Joe, a few more clarifications to help you out and everyone else on this matter of the Hislop memos:
The copy of the Hislop memos that i faxed to Alexandra Nagel (and, for further clarification, there's the date of the faxing: Oct. 20, 2001) is more accurate in each of the three points of [very slight] divergence from the www.exbaba.com
copies that you found on the Internet. And know that, at this point in time (Oct. 2001), these Hislop memos i faxed to A. Nagel are my "original copies," for i had not yet sent them off to the BBC in 2004 (never to see them again, due to the BBC's misplacing or losing them, leaving me with my additional xerox copies of these "original copies").
[NOTE: Alexandra Nagel clarifies that the Hislop memos faxed to her were actually faxed through the intermediary of Glen Meloy. In other words, I faxed them to Glen, who then faxed the memos on to Alexandra Nagel, whose fax number he had (I did not have it).]
That is to say, regarding your three points, my copies of the Hislop memos clearly show [as do the A. Nagel fax-copy] that the "Jan. 18" date is in fact followed by a comma, not a period. Concerning your second point in question, the sentence in that same Hislop memo reading "As far as he is concerned, such stories did not exist with the college students." is in fact followed by a period in my copy, as per the Nagel fax-copy. And third, the sentence reading "then the question arises as to what moves so many people to say these false stories." does in fact contain in my copy the very important word "so."
Please be aware, Joe, that scanning technology often makes these kinds of mistakes, mis-recognizing punctuation, garbling or knocking out entire words when there is penned-in underlining or "bracketing" marks around these words—since i bought a scanner a year ago and started scanning things, i find this happening quite frequently!
You made reference somewhere that the scanned copies of the Hislop memos show no signs of age, folds, creases, etc. Again, the xerox machines will often, as we all know, sometimes recognize and sometimes not recognize or at least not reproduce these folds, creases, etc., and the same is certainly with modern scanners, all depending on the original settings. In fact, i can set my low-end scanner to recognize or not recognize these kinds of superfluous, non-textual marks on a page.
Thus, when you wrote: "it is to be concluded that one (or both) of the letters was forged." I can only reply that neither is the case. The Nagel faxcopy that you show is the more accurate copy from my original copy of the Hislop memos, but the second copy at ExBaba.com is certainly not "forged"—it simply contains a few digital scanning errors.
I would also mention that the underlinings, bracket marks and all other inserted pen marks are by myself, made sometime in 2001 [Clarification: it is Hislop who penned in the word "Confidential" on each of the letters he sent, and it is Hislop who penned in a particular double-looping vertical line in the left margin to add his own emphasis to the fourth paragraph of his memo "Dear Director" on 2-21-81.]. I might have even made a few of these marks way back in the 1980s when i first received and read these letters from the prior S.F. SSB Center president.
I also wanted to clarify that my original copy of the Hislop memos does contain, on the memo [or letter] dated 2-21-81 and addressed to Terry and Mrs. Payne (this is not the separate memo by Hislop to "Dear Director," also bearing the same date), an inexplicably faint Hislop signature [which Joe had singled out as a highly "suspicious" element]. It could simply be that Jack, in contrast to his two memos dated Jan. 18 and 3.25.81 used a pen of a certain color ink that did not reproduce well on the xerox machine (or was that a mimeograph!) that he used to make copies of his memos to people. Or perhaps (less likely) he used the same pen he was using in those early months of 1981, but on the day he xeroxed the 2-21-81 memo, he used a different xerox machine than he customarily used, and it didn't recognize nearly as well the ink from his penned signature.
[UPDATE NOTE: As i think further on this matter of the faint signature by Hislop on the copy of his 2-21-81 letter to the Paynes, it is obvious that Hislop had, of course, sent the original letter with his penned signature to the Paynes, while likely keeping a xerox copy for himself, and it is this xerox copy that he used to make further copies for sending out to the Directors. Whereas each of his three memos written to the Directors were xeroxed only once, not twice as with the Payne letter, and then sent out to the Directors. And Hislop may or may not have directly signed each of these memos to the dozen or so Directors. Note that Hislop's many directives sent to the dozens of center presidents over the years (numbering approx. 60-100 centers from 1981 to 1995) were NOT individually signed by Hislop, due to the much greater number of recipients involved. But he may have individually signed each of his memos sent out to the much smaller number of Directors.]
Here's a further clarification: all those quirky, differently formatted dates (e.g., involving hyphens, periods) are exactly as they appear on my original copies of the Hislop memos:
-- Jan. 18, 1981
-- 2-21-81 (this same "2-21-81" format is used for both memos [letters], the one to Terry and Mrs. Payne, the other addressed "Dear Director")
Go figure! I wish i still had my big file of Hislop memos from the 1980s when i was a center president at the San Francisco SSB Center and then a "Northern California regional liason" for the SSB Council of America. I was obliged to give that file to the incoming SSB Center president who succeeded me. (I saved only a very few things, including those "confidential" Hislop memos from early 1981 that the previous president had given me. I was willing to give those memos to anyone who had asked me about the Sathya Sai "rumors," but no one ever did until the time of Glen Meloy discussing the Payne case with me in 2001 and i mentioned [to Glen] that i vaguely recalled Hislop sending out some memos about that).
[CLARIFICATION: Because I cannot remember exactly when I first saw the 1981 Hislop memos (1983, 1984 or later), I cannot recall if I even had copies of these Hislop memos to give to the next S.F. Sai Center president when that president was elected to succeed me, which I believe was sometime in 1984. If I did already have copies of the Hislop memos at that time, I most likely would have made a xerox copy of them, keeping one copy for myself, while passing on the other copy to the next Center president. Obviously, even if I had copies of the memos and gave them to the next Center president, I would have kept copies for myself, not just for research purposes, but because I was still serving as a Northern Calif. "liason" to the SSB Council of America and felt that I should have these Hislop memos available to me for conferring with any other presidents of Centers in the region.]
My point here, Joe, is that there were all sorts of quirky changes of format by Hislop in the many, many things he sent out to us. It's a big mistake to think that Hislop had some rigid, slavish formatting system for what he typed up and sent out to those of us who were the recipients of his many memos and directives.
Joe, you have jumped on these idiosyncrasies to charge that these Hislop memos must be forgeries. But you are simply mistaken. We all make mistakes.
By the Grace of God may we all be awake to Divine Truth, beyond all delusion, idolatry and insanity.
Best wishes to you, Joe
From: Timothy Conway
Subject: Further clarifications and a final message
As i look further [at your webpages], i see the need to make yet more clarifications on this matter of the Hislop memos and your various comments posted at your relevant webpages.
I do hope, Joe, that you will have the decency and integrity to publicly, on the Internet, in a prominent "Update" notice or something equivalent, openly abandon or correct or recant (pick your preferred vocabulary term) your various mistaken conclusions heretofore stated about the Hislop memos. I am happy to put all three of my emails to you of today, and the relevant part about the Hislop memos i sent in an email to you yesterday, into one easily uploadable document for you to share with your readers (i include it with this email as an attachment file). I will also be sending just such a composite document to Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard and anyone else who requests it [as well as including it at this webpage, because these Hislop letters are so crucial in this case].
So, here are the further clarifications supplemental to what i've already sent you earlier today:
1) The Alexandra Nagel version of the Jan. 18, 1981 Hislop memo has the top line missing. The ExBaba version supplies the missing line, but omits the one word "also" that is clearly displayed in my original copy: "P.S. We are also contacting people we know who lived and worked in the" (end of topmost line written by Hislop). This word "also" does correctly appear in some internet versions of these memos, such as in the "sunrise/HislopLetters.htm" URL below.
2) You have wondered about the fact that at http://web.archive.org/web/20040315210354/users.snowcrest.net/sunrise/HislopLetters.htm only 3 memos, and not 4 memos or letters are displayed. The missing memo or letter (what you call Letter 4) is one of two written items dated "2-21-81" by Hislop, yet this particular item is addressed by him, not to the Directors, but to "Dear Terry and Mrs. Payne," and it was probably deleted for reasons that it was not addressed openly to the Directors (of the SSB Council of America) but privately to the Payne family. So when you write at your website:
>"Letter 4 surfaced only recently (April 24th 2005) when there was no mention made to it prior to February 2005, is very suspicious in itself. One can only assume that the letter was forged or purposely suppressed."
--here, Joe, you overstep yourself with more misleading assumptions and conclusions. This missing Letter 4 from 2-21-81, the only item not addressed to the Directors, was no doubt the last one to come into more public exposure because of this privacy issue AND ALSO because it was not addressed to those RELEVANT persons (i.e., the Directors) who bore the legal responsibility and power of access to further investigate and expose these matters of sexual impropriety by Sathya Sai Baba toward the male youth looking up to him.
3) You have also raised the question, Joe, of just who sent the faxed copy of the Hislop memo to Alexandra. In my first email to you this morning, i stated: "The copy of the Hislop memos that i faxed [emphasis here added] to Alexandra Nagel (and, for further clarification, there's the date of the faxing: Oct. 20, 2001) [...]"
Now, upon reflection, i'm not sure whether, in fact, it was i or Glen Meloy who actually faxed the Hislop memos to her. I was assuming today, because i saw the name of our small family press, The Wake Up Press, atop the copy that it came directly from me. But at this later point in time six years later, i cannot be so sure. Perhaps i faxed it to Glen Meloy and he faxed it to Alexandra, and her copy displays that fax registry line at the top which might have shown up on the fax printout off Glen's fax machine. It's a trivial point (or maybe you've found some angle to make it sound more profound than it is!).
The larger point is that Hislop wrote these memos and sent them to the Directors, and sent one additional copy to the prior S.F. SSB Center president upon hearing the latter express concerns about Sathya Sai and sexual activity with male youth, and this former center president then passed along copies of the Hislop memos at some point in time to me. How Alexandra got her faxed copy, whether directly from me or from me via Glen, is irrelevant.
4) A very relevant point in all of this matter of the Hislop memos/letters is that, by the point in time when i received these Hislop documents from this former Sai center president, i.e., in 1983 or 1984, this former Sai center president was still quite fond of Sathya Sai, and, being a very close friend of mine, i was in a position to see whether he held any animosity or heavy suspicion toward Sathya Sai. Back in the 1980s, both of us were staunchly into Advaita Vedanta, and this former president was deeply studying, as i had been doing since the 1970s, the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, et al. Both of us appreciated the nondual advaita teachings of Sathya Sai at that time and for many years afterwards, even when my friend had largely stopped attending SSB Center functions (my friend had begun to spend more of his free time with a particular Advaita sage living in California).
The closely-related point here is that the former S.F. SSB Center president in question (he has always asked that his name be kept out of this matter and i do hope, Joe, that you will do the ethical thing and RESPECT HIS REQUEST FOR PRIVACY) was known to me to be eminently trustworthy, reliable, professional, ethically impeccable, and a very beautiful, loving human being. I just saw him recently again and i hold this exact same regard for his utmost integrity. I have never in the least suspected him of being a "concocter" or "forger" of these Hislop memos. Frankly, back then the digital technology was not easily or inexpensively available for folks like us to forge anything like this. And neither he nor i certainly ever had the motive to come up with the contents of these memos that Hislop wrote and sent out.
[UPDATE NOTE: Joe Moreno found on the Internet the name of this prior S.F. SSB Center president and promptly wrote him two query letters, the second filled with questions. I reproduce here, as one edited paragraph, part of Moreno's introduction and several of his questions (in parentheses and italics), along with the prior Center president's responses, all dated Dec. 1, 2007. Joe Moreno begins: ([...] As you may know, there is an online controversy regarding the alleged John Hislop Letters, which Conny Larsson claimed you obtained from John Hislop himself when you were the president for the San Francisco Sai Baba Center.[...] Since your name has only recently been mentioned by Conny Larsson, I am attempting to verify that you are the person who received these alleged letters. You are the only known person who (allegedly) originally obtained these letters. Therefore, what I need to know is: Did John Hislop specifically send you a copy of the letters in question, or did you obtain them via other means?) I did have the letters before passing them onto Timothy Conway. I don't recall whether they came to me directly from Jack Hislop or via Don Heath who was a national Director and resident [until 1980] at the SF Sai Baba Center where we both lived. They were originals signed in pen by Hislop. Don Heath died in the late 1980's. (JM: What is your personal opinion about the letters. Do you see them as evidence or proof of sexual impropriety?) I saw them as evidence of a crisis within the American Sai Organization. Terry Payne [Jr.]'s case was very troubling to me because I had met the family on several occasions. I took the letters as possible evidence of sexual impropriety. (JM: Are you a Sai Devotee or have you defected from the Sai Movement. If you defected, can you kindly tell me why?) I am no longer a Sai Devotee. I found myself increasingly drawn to the teachings of Advaita Vedanta and the path of self-inquiry. By the end of the 1980's I had aligned myself with another teacher and no longer attended Sai gatherings. (JM: Why did you keep the letters and turn them over to the next president of the Sai Center, Timothy Conway? Were the presidents supposed to pass these letters to their successors, or was it up to them to keep/discard them according to their desire?) The letters were kept in a file along with other center guidelines pertinent to the running of a local center that were passed on to each succeeding president. Since these were letters from the President of the American Organization, it seemed important to keep them. (Regarding the Paynes:) The parents and their son were occasional visitors to the SF Sai Baba Center, so I had met them before Terry [Jr.] lived in India. I did not see them thereafter. I was not and am not familiar with any of the details of the case. I don't know why he was expelled. (...) I have responded to your questions to the best of my knowledge and have no additional information to add. I am not interested in pursuing this matter any further. I hope this is satisfactory. Best wishes, — (name deleted at this webpage for privacy)."]
[Here continues Timothy's 11-29-2007 email to Joe Moreno:]
5) Joe, you have written,
>"Timothy Conway admitted that the scans were "cleaned up". Not even one Anti-Sai Activist had the honesty or decency to come forward and admit to "cleaning up" (i.e., tampering with) the scans."
As per one of my earlier emails to you this morning, the only "cleaning up" that was done by someone (i know not who) was to remove all my penned in underlinings, bracket or parentheses marks, margin notes (including rhetorical question marks, etc.). [—I.e., so that the Hislop memos could appear in their "original" form before i marked them up with my pen. UPDATE: I am recently told by Alexandra Nagel that it was Robert Priddy who removed my annotations and presented the "cleaned up" scans.]
In no way was the meaning or wording changed or altered —except for those two cases of the words "so" and "also", already clarified by me, and these two word-deletions most likely occurred due to digital scanning errors, not deliberate human "tampering."
6) You also write:
>The general public is perfectly entitled to view the original xeroxed copies along with the information that was erased from them.
The Alexandra Nagel copies are certainly "nearly perfect" enough (except for that disappeared top line in the Jan. 18 memo) to serve us all. And if we add the words "also" and "so" as previously indicated to the ExBaba.com copies, we have, word for word, everything in my xeroxes of my original copies (again, the BBC lost my "original copies" of the Hislop memos). Please don't make me take even further hours out of my ridiculously busy and burdened schedule to scan all 5 pages of the 4 memos and send them to you as very large jpg files.
[UPDATE NOTE: Joe thereupon emailed me on 11-30-2007, charging that, until i took the further time to send him my own scans of my xerox copies of the Hislop memos, "all of your emails, excuses and clarifications are worthless." I PROMPTLY TOOK THE TIME TO SEND HIM THE NEXT MORNING NEW SCANS OF MY XEROX COPIES OF THE HISLOP MEMOS (which are, of course, in all meaningful ways identical to the ones already on the Internet), along with a scan of the FedEx "international air waybill" record when i sent to David Savill and the BBC my original copies of the three 1981 Hislop memos to the Directors.]
[Here continues Timothy's 11-29-2007 email to Joe Moreno:]
7) Joe, you wrote toward the end of your webpage:
>Timothy Conway does not posses the original hard-copies to the alleged Hislop letters. He only has xeroxed copies.
Since the BBC lost my "original copies" sent by me to them in 2004, these xerox copies, after the original copies as scanned to Alexandra Nagel (already viewable at your website), are the very best copies of the Hislop memos that we have. One day other Directors (or their more honest descendants) may come forth with other copies of these memos.
8) Along this line, Joe, why don't you put just a fraction of the energy you've already put in on this matter and go after all those Directors (people like Richard Bayer, Bob Bozzani, Michael Goldstein and others) and make them find and publicly reveal their copies of the Hislop memos, if they haven't already surreptitiously destroyed them?? [as per Hislop's expressed instruction to Directors in his 2-21-81 memo: "Do not exhibit the letters (...) it would please me better if you would destroy them after reading and digesting the contents."]
9) You reach this erroneous conclusion at your webpage:
>these letters have the critical problems of tampering, forgery and/or suppression that undermine their basic premise.
Everything i have written you thus far Joe makes it quite clear that there are no "critical problems" whatsoever with the Hislop memos in terms of forgery, suppression or tampering (whatever so-called "tampering" was done was simply to take out my pen-written underlinings and margin marks).
10) You wrote on your webpage:
>Terry [full name omitted for privacy purposes] made his allegation against Sathya Sai Baba after being expelled "in disgrace" from the hostel.
You then go on to talk about this "disgraceful" expulsion as if it invalidates the larger point that Sathya Sai Baba may have been sexually molesting Terry in ways identical or quite similar to those molestations which so many other male youth have had the courage to openly discuss with parents, friends, center members, and, via the internet, the wider public. And this larger point is NOT in any way invalidated by your misdirection. After all, one of the ways to engage in character-assassination of conscientious whistle-blowers is to charge that they were expelled "in disgrace" from their job, their membership, or whatever. We know of many military cases and cases from the corporate business world where this was unjustly done to innocent persons trying to expose corruption, wrong-doing, etc.
11) You write on your webpage about the first letter that was sent (perhaps in December 1980 or [at least sometime] before January 18, 1981) by Hislop to Mrs. Payne, and you wonder:
>where is this first letter that was allegedly sent to Diana Payne? Is it being suppressed as well? Considering that Hislop does not go into details about Terry Jr.'s disgraceful dismissal from the Hostel, chances are the details of his expulsion were given in the first letter sent to Diana Payne. That letter is noticeably absent. Why? Isn't it strange that no mention was made to Letter 4 in all these years and now it is being made public?
Again, Joe, you can simply refer to my earlier point #2 herein for the story on that "Letter 4," addressed to the Paynes, not to the Directors. [NOTE: when i received from the previous San Francisco SSB Center president the 3 Hislop memos to the Directors and the one letter from Hislop to "Terry and Mrs. Payne," there was no first Hislop letter to Diana Payne included in this group of papers. It may be that Hislop never even sent out copies of this first letter to anyone other than to Diana. I do not have a contact address for Diana Payne to contact her about this, nor, frankly, do i have the inclination. The three Hislop memos to Directors are quite sufficient evidence from Hislop himself as to his views about the gravity of these kinds of allegations of sexual impropriety.]
12) You also write:
>[Terry] has never spoken out about any alleged abuse.
Joe, as i heard it directly from Glen Meloy, this "silence" is because he serves in a sensitive and vulnerable public position and does not want this fact in his history to be widely known. The overly ardent "defenders" of Sathya Sai Baba (as i understand it from Glen) have had no qualms about running roughshod over people’s privacy issues in this matter [notably, Joe reports certain critics of SSB occasionally doing the same], and the fact that Terry's full name has gone public is an invasion of his privacy. So your point here is entirely irrelevant. Terry at some point in the future may in fact publicly speak out his allegations of abuse by Sathya Sai Baba, but we should NOT pressure him to do so until he is ready. Shame on anyone who continues to drag his name out in the open and upbraid him for not speaking out. I STRONGLY REQUEST THAT YOU IMMEDIATELY REMOVE HIS FULL CURRENT NAME FROM YOUR WEBSITE.
13) Joe, you have much further debased yourself and all of us by writing:
>Therefore, this entire debate about Hislop's alleged letters is based on xeroxed copies and not original ones (as claimed by Anti-Sai Activists). More lies from Anti-Sai's.
Joe, you can thank the BBC for the fact that we no longer have my "original copies" of the Hislop memos. As for your last line, "more lies from Anti-Sai's," this is simply wrong, a false conclusion, expressed in really adversarial, insulting language, for there are no "lies" about these Hislop documents. Your extensively erroneous "jumped conclusions" and adversarial attacks on the character and actions of those laboring to various extents of activity in the movement to bring truth to light (many of these persons, like myself, are clearly NOT "anti-Sai" but PRO-TRUTH, PRO-JUSTICE, PRO-DECENCY, PRO-DHARMA) are clearly indicative of your own lack of character and honest, fair-minded investigative spirit.
I will simply reiterate: the Hislop memos [or Hislop letters] stand as factual documents indicating that John (Jack) Hislop and all those persons to whom he sent out these three memos addressed to Directors (dated Jan. 25, 1981, 2-21-81, and 3.25.81) all clearly knew of at least one case (Terry Payne, Jr.), with additional mention of "so many people [who] say these false stories," involving (allegations of) Sathya Sai Baba and some kind of strange sexual activity with male youth.
To deny this is to unjustly deny the truth of the situation, an instance of telling lies about and obfuscating crucially important evidence in the ongoing movement to expose certain behaviors of Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
Again, i wish you all the very best, dear Joe.
By Divine Grace, may we all behave ourselves in the spirit of Satya-Dharma-Shanti-Prema-Ahimsa [Truth-Virtue-Peace-Love-Harmlessness]!
From: Timothy Conway
Subject: Scans of Hislop memos and letter
[This email was written in response to an email from Joe to me, dated 11-30-07, when i sent him scans of my xerox copies of the Hislop letters. I have included here the relevant excerpts about the letters and about the quality of Joe's and my relationship. Because my webhost only allows jpg files under 100 kb, and thus not the highest resolution needed to properly view these documents, I have NOT created here any sublinks to the scans of the Hislop memos to Directors and letter to the Payne family that I sent to Joe along with this email as jpg files. In any case, as mentioned above, these scans are in all meaningful ways identical to the scans of my "original copies" of Hislop letters already posted to the Internet in 2001 by Alexandra Nagel.]
Joe, [here are] the jpg files of the SCANS i just did this morning on the three Hislop memos to Directors (including the third, 2-page one), and the single letter we have that he sent to the Paynes (Terry Jr. and his mother). I never saw any "first letter" to the Paynes that Hislop alludes to and that you have asked about at your website. Maybe the Directors had/have a copy of that very first letter, but it was evidently never sent by Hislop to the former S.F. SSB Center president nor given to myself.
I have also included a copy of the FedEx waybill addressed to David Savill and the BBC from April 2004 when, upon their request, i sent to them my "original copies" of the Hislop letters to Savill, et al.
Incidentally, i always refer to these Hislop documents as my "original copies" because obviously it was Hislop who had typed up the "originals" and then he made xerox copies that he sent out to various recipients. So i distinguish between the "original copies" that were turned over to me, and then the subsequent "xerox copies of the original copies" that i made on a local xerox machine just before i sent off the "original copies" to the BBC.
David Savill, speaking on behalf of the BBC, promised that my original copies would be returned, but they never were returned, and a few repeated requests by myself, Glen Meloy and Barry Pittard proved unsuccessful in getting these original copies back. The BBC finally reported to each of us that they had been "misplaced" and/or "lost."
Thus, the scans that Alexandra Nagel posted to the web are scans of my "original copies" (though she's missing the line on the top of the page of the first Hislop memo), while the scans i provide you here today as jpgs are scans of my "xerox copies of my original copies" of the Hislop memos.
And i do hope, Joe, that you get the larger point about these Hislop memos: Jack Hislop himself believed that if any allegations of Sathya Sai molesting or sexually harassing male youth were ever to be substantiated, then, according to Hislop's own judgment (and he was, after all, the acting head of the entire SSB movement in north America), Sathya Sai would be "a hypocrite, a liar, and a criminal." This is a strong and clearcut assessment or judgment [and in stark contrast to the displayed attitudes of other high-ranking Sai organization figures who have commented upon or more often neglected this issue since Hislop's passing].
The fact that so many allegations have been made of Sathya Sai's molestation/harassment of male youth— and such allegations have NOT been made by the "crazies" in other large spiritual movements around charismatic figures (for instance, around Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Swami Shivananda or Sw. Chidananda, Anandamayi Ma, Mata Amritanandamayi, Bhagavan Nityananda, and many other figures) —all suggest that "where there's smoke, there's fire." I've talked to some psychological and social welfare personnel in the field sexual molestation, and, just as with the ongoing scandal in the RC Church, these professional personnel find many of the allegations of sexual impropriety by "victims" ("experiencers") of Sathya Sai Baba's lust (yes, lust; why is he so often reported to make soft "moaning" sounds and to essentially "beg" and "bribe" for sexual activity with these male youth?) indicative of the actions of a serial sexual predator. (And, incidentally, Joe, i'm in complete agreement with you that the term "pedophile" is the wrong term. I think i mis-used that term once or twice in a sloppy way years ago with correspondents, but i've always told Glen Meloy and Barry Pittard since 2001 that the word "pedophile" should be abandoned in favor of a more accurate term like "serial sexual predator," or "sexual offender," as authorities in this field use when speaking of this kind of situation.)
Well, that's it for now, Joe.
Wishing you everything wonderful, especially deep peace, joy and love.
And, by the way, if you read that piece i linked for you (on the "3 Levels of Nondual Reality"—an elaboration of the old two-fold distinction between the Absolute-truth level and the "conventional-truth" level articulated by sages like the Buddha, Nagarjuna, Sankara, et al.), you'll see why i'm completely sincere about our relationship. And yes, i don't really mind whatever you say about me in public. By the grace of the Guru in the form of Nisargadatta and Annamalai Swami, et al., i know i'm not limited to being the personality, but am, like you, the infinite, open Awareness. (BTW, have you ever checked out the wonderful and really delightful "experiments" devised by that late genius, Douglas Harding, at the "experiments section" of David Lang's website on Harding at www.headless.org? —guaranteed to introduce you or anyone to their own open, empty-full, vast, "No-thing-like" transpersonal Awareness.)
Joe, I do wish we had met under different circumstances. I sense you are a tremendously passionate and bright guy, concerned in your own unique way about matters of justice and fairness. I confess to having felt "blindsided" the other day when you popped into my email life out of the blue, with no introduction of yourself, but only the message "Happy reading," a webpage link to a long negative piece you wrote about me, and then signed with just your nickname (I had heard a few years back from Barry of a "Gerald Moreno," but was far less familiar with your preferred name "Joe").
So, Joe, let's see if our relationship can be fruitful in resolving at least some of the problems in this entire matter of Sathya and the conventional and Absolute "truth/Truth," though, alas, as you've already heard from me, i have so VERY little time these days to spend on these matters due to work load and family health issues.
I hope that the several hours i've spent on these Hislop memos/letters helps....
Again, all best wishes to you!
There would be much further email from Joe Moreno to myself and my responses to his many questions and charges. Here are some more relevant excerpts regarding the crucial Hislop memos.
>You are confusing me about your alleged "originals" and the subsequent xeroxed copies. Were the "originals" you claimed you had signed by John Hislop in ink?
I simply can't remember, Joe. The BBC has whatever "originals" or "copies of originals" that i got from the prior S.F. Center president back in the 1980s. I made xeroxes of those "original copies" right before i sent them off to the BBC.
>Or, were they copies to the original hand-signed letters?
Jack would have xeroxed for each and all of the Directors a number of copies (approx. 10, one for each Director) of each of these 3 memos he wanted to send to the Directors. And then Jack would have sent these xeroxed copies to those Directors while keeping the truly "original" 3 typed memos for himself. Now, it is an uncertain matter whether Jack signed in ink each of these xeroxed copies sent to Directors or whether he just signed in ink his original typed memos before xeroxing them for the Directors. I am inclined to think that he may have personally signed each of his memos to the Directors, but he may not have done so. Certainly he did not personally sign each of the far greater number of xerox copies of his frequent "center directives" that he sent out to SSB Center presidents, for that number already i believe was somewhere over 60 centers (and presidents) by 1981. Jack would just sign his original typed-up "center directive" and then make and send xerox copies of that out to the 60+ center presidents and probably to each of the ten or so Directors as well.
>My statement about you possessing copies (and not the original hard-copies) has not been refuted by you. No one is in possession of the actual original letters with ink signatures. Are they?
Joe, the truly "original" memos and letters and SSB center directives that Jack himself typed up may all be somewhere in the estate of the late John S. Hislop in Mexico or somewhere in the USA. I have no idea if his wife Victoria is still alive or not. I have no way of contacting her, either. It's really hard to find any online information at all about J Hislop. Which is sad, because he had such a prominent role for so many years in the SSB Org (and before that with the Mahesh Yogi TM movement)!
[Incidentally, notice how Joe tries to make a big issue out of the fact that none of us have the original memos/letters typed up by John Hislop, when what really matters is that he sent out quite readable xerox copies to all the Directors, with substantial content that he considered highly important and crucial reading. Any of these xeroxed copies would be considered perfectly sufficient evidence in a court of law. Moreover, recall that Hislop preferred that the Directors read these copies and then "destroy them."]
>Weren't you supposed to pass the alleged Hislop Letters to the next president of the Sai Center?
No, Joe, there was no requirement that the 3 Hislop memos and the copy of his letter to the Paynes be passed on to the next SSB center president, for these were never originally sent out to all the center presidents anyway (as per Jack's explicit instruction in his memo to Directors of 2-21-81). These memos were intended only for the Directors to whom Jack addressed and sent these, and to certain other people who asked. Somehow the center president who preceeded me (and whose name you now know) was also given copies of the Hislop memos.
[NOTE: this aforegoing statement refutes Joe Moreno's frequent internet charge against me of "suppression," "secrecy and deceit" in somehow keeping the memos from other SSB Center presidents.]
>Why did you take them from the Sai Center if you originally saw no harm in them?
Joe, i did not "take them from the Sai Center," for they had never been in the "possession" of the S.F. Sai Center; they were in the possession of the former president, who did not give them to me until i had already been president for at least a year or two or more (circa 1983-4). I've emailed this former president this morning to ascertain whether he has a better memory than i as to when, exactly, he might have passed them along to me. But his memory may not be any better than mine.
>Why didn't you pass them on to the next president?
I'm not really sure that i even yet had them in my possession to be able to give them to the next president. This person succeeded me sometime in 1984 or possibly even 1985 (i can't recall. I served a total of somewhere around three years). I don't even have a clear memory of which person succeeded me as president of the S.F. SSB Center. I have a hunch it was one particular person, a current devotee whom i will email. If she is still alive, she may have a memory of this matter. At last check, she was already in her mid-80s and may not have a good memory about these things.
>If you saw harm in them, why did you maintain silence about them for 10+ years?
I saw concern, not harm. Moreover, I didn't maintain total silence about them, for i recall once in a while referring to that SSB quote reported by Hislop, "Sai is millions of miles away from the devilish passion attributed to Him...." For instance, I had included that quote in a favorable manuscript (never published) about SSB that i fancied i might one day have published; and i made use of it in my first open letter to the local Santa Barbara SSB Center when i resigned in early Feb. 2001. Back when i lived in S.Francisco, the quote came up from time to time in response to the fact that some of us read Tal Brooke's book about SSB at various times in the 1980s, and some folks in my large circle of acquaintances had also heard of the case of Terry Jr. I used to discuss with some devotees this entire topic of how SSB was such an "enigma," such a "mystery." We, like so many of the "SSB defenders" then and today, spent far more time rationalizing and trying to figure out SSB rather than look at other sides of the issue. It was only in the late 1990s that people began to uncover massive more evidence of "SSB touching the genitals of male youth"--the so-called "oiling procedure" and far worse behavior (actual masturbation, etc.), and also evidence of SSB having male youth touch, fondle, and suck his own genitals. It was at this time that the old 1981 Hislop letters became far more relevant. But by that point in time, i did NOT have those memos at ready access (they were out in my garage somewhere), and serious, ongoing family health crises with my wife from 1998-2001 left me simply no time for pursuing any of this.
[NOTE: The above statements clarify why, from the early 1980s up until 1999, I and the former S.F. SSSB Center president did NOT think there was any quality evidence, outside of the suspect stories told by the seemingly half-baked Tal Brooke and the inconclusive Terry Payne case, for charging that Sathya Sai Baba was engaged in serially molesting males in their mid-teens and older. And thus Joe Moreno's vehement charges at his websites that myself and the former S.S. SSB Center president are somehow guilty of failing to follow "mandated reporting" rules for exposing sexual molestation are irrelevant and off-base. The more cogent issue here, as with so many of Joe Moreno's charges, is why Joe has not investigated the persistent "secrecy," "suppression," "deceit" and "complicity" by the higher authorities in the SSSB movement in the USA, India and elsewhere--namely, J. Hislop and the official Directors of the SSB movement in America, India, etc., who were frequently flying to India to see Sathya Sai and flying to SSB centers in the Americas and Europe--in keeping all of this from public discussion. Instead, Joe only wants to attack certain persons like myself and the former S.F. SSB Center president, financially broke graduate students who had no ability to frequently travel and satisfactorily investigate these matters any further. This is just more evidence of Joe Moreno's complete one-sidedness and unfairness in debating this issue. He relentlessly attacks, with assorted "character assassination" techniques, those who have, in fact, spoken up about the issue, but never ONCE does he ever say anything derogatory about the unquestioning, pro-Sai camp of organizational leaders.]
[My correspondence with Joe Moreno continues:]
I would mention, too, that i had not been an officer in the SSB movement since i moved away from S.F. and re-located in 1987-8 to Santa Barbara in Southern California (my "position" as a Council liason for the Northern California region was necessarily terminated). Incidentally, to my best recollection, I never made or showed copies of these Hislop memos to any Santa Barbara SSB Center officers until after I left the SSB movement in early 2001. Even then, i think i only made reference to them to Glen Meloy when he raised the names of Diana and Terry Payne Jr..
>Timothy, kindly supply me with proof that Sathya Sai Baba has sexually abused "many people". Make me a list of names (from real people) who claimed they were sexually abused. You cannot cite names from the bogus Sai Petition because I have already shown how anyone can submit fake signatures under fake names and using fake emails there. Let us see if you can get more than a dozen names. Jed Geyerhahn, Greg Gerson, David Paul and Edwin Reurings claimed they were not sexually abused, although they are listed as sexual abuse victims on Anti-Sai websites.
Joe, regarding your points about the scale of numbers of male youth who were "abused"--first, let's re-word that and refer to male youth who either had SSB touching their genitals or else being verbally asked or bodily positioned to touch SSB's genitals--i.e., some form of legally inappropriate "sexual touching," what is generally called "molestation." Whether the experiencers themselves at this point in time refer to it as "abuse" or not is another question that i don't want to debate here. Yes, some of the male youth might have enjoyed or been neutral about the experience--after all, most of these lads had been led to believe by the mythology of the SSB movement that this was "God incarnate" touching them.
But we certainly know what worldwide laws state: any exposing or touching of anyone's genitals or exposing one's own genitals or constraining anyone in any way to touch one's own genitals without that person's permission is sexual harassment (certain emergency situations not included). Touching or exposing the genitals of any minors or engaging any minors in touching/seeing one's own genitals is an even more seriously criminal activity, except for actions by licensed physicians or in unusually dire emergency situations. This, in essence, is what all statutes in all civilized societies say about this matter.
Jack Hislop was certainly in agreement with this legal mindset when he stated in his Jan. 18, 1981 memo to Directors that Sathya Sai Baba would be a criminal if he was doing anything like this, even if SSB did have supernormal powers.
[See my main webpage, "My Concerns about Sathya Sai Baba," for the more than 30 persons whom we can clearly identify by name who allege that they were inappropriately sexually touched by Sathya Sai Baba, not to mention dozens of more that we only know by hearsay, many of whom most likely were also the recipients of SSB's sexual advances.]
[On Dec. 19, 2007, Joe wrote another email, part of which was about my linking readers to webpages on him by his critics. In response, i amended this webpage to include Joe's webpages on his critics (see links at very bottom of this present page). Joe also wrote:
>I noticed you purposely omitted my email responses to you (which would support my opinion that you have an agenda of suppression and secrecy, which does not argue well about your alleged openness about the Hislop letters). Thank you for showing your true colors. Unlike you, I will take the lead (in the spirit of full-disclosure) and provide our full email correspondence. Funny how those of us who are accused of not being honest must do the ethical thing while those of you who boast loudest about ethics and morality, miserably wallow in bias, denial and suppression of information. Have a good day!
I responded to Joe at some length, with some "metacommunication" and final summarizing of the issue of the Hislop letters and the issue of Joe's involvement in this ongoing controversy over SSB.
Bon jour, dear Joe,
>It is indeed amusing that for a person who waxes long-winded on dharma, truth and presenting both sides of the story, you did not include any of my links that respond to the critics you cited on your webpage. Why? Surely you have nothing to hide?
Joe, as you know, my very long webpage "My Concerns about Sathya Sai Baba" is one of the more balanced things out there on the Internet, with some positive material about him mixed in with the much greater amount of material that needs to be addressed concerning him and his followers.
I've promptly gone ahead an hour ago and given you something akin to the "very last word" at my Hislop letters webpage by specifically listing at the very end of that webpage your 4 webpages critical of Kazlev, Shepherd, Steel and Priddy for anyone who wishes to read your pages or their pages immediately listed above. I've done the same in the section of my "My Concerns..." webpage that acknowledges all parties pro and con. You say that these men have "viciously lied about you" and defamed you, but Joe, they appear to have the very same assessment of yourself. The fact that Kazlev and even Shepherd (beyond his book on Sai of Shirdi) were outsiders on this matter of SSB and came to take a position very different from the one you adhere to, and with expressed concern about the way you interacted with them and with other people, is quite revealing and instructional. I'd mention here, too, that Brian Steel is a very level-headed guy interested in facts--his long 3-part bibliography on all SSB materials, pro, con and mixed, is a real contribution to our knowledge-base on SSB. Like Robert Priddy, he was formerly a very staunch devotee of SSB. Can you at all empathize with these men as to why they changed their views about SSB and why they view you the way they do? I'm serious here, Joe, can you empathize at all with them? Do you know what this word 'empathy' means, and why it is so relevant in a situation like this of apparently dozens of male youth improperly sexually contacted by SSB, and concerned former devotees and outside researchers trying to discover the full truth?
>I noticed you purposely omitted my email responses to you (which would support my opinion that you have an agenda of suppression and secrecy, which does not argue well about your alleged openness about the Hislop letters).
Joe, let's cut to the chase: all my emails and webwritings indicate that i've never at all had "an agenda of suppression and secrecy." Rather, i had simply and almost completely forgotten about the existence and whereabouts of those Hislop letters from about 1987 to 2001. Recall that i was not an officer for all those years after moving to Santa Barbara in 1988 and i had many other research projects and teaching interests, in addition to family matters, fully occupying my time. Moreover, during the 1980s, as per John Hislop's own request to Directors (and because i was neither a Director nor an original recipient on Hislop's list for these letters), I did not make the Hislop letters an "open" matter for all and sundry to read at the San Francisco SSB Center or the Northern California vicinity.
Please recall, Joe, that Hislop himself, HEAD OF THE ENTIRE NORTH AMERICAN SSB ORG, wanted those letters that he wrote to be suppressed and kept secret! He explicitly stated: "Do not exhibit the letters (...) it would please me better if you would destroy them after reading and digesting the contents." [Memo to Directors of 2-21-81]
So Joe, why are you not even more vehemently accusing the late John Hislop of "an agenda of suppression and secrecy"?
You see, Joe, this is just another clearcut example of your very off-putting "one-sidedness." In your world, SSB and his devotees are allowed to lie, slander, defame, suppress evidence, act in secret, and so forth, but you've apparently never once mentioned any of this anywhere on your webpages on SSB. Joe, please correct me here if i'm wrong--Do you have any criticisms anywhere of SSB, John Hislop, Indulal Shah, Michael Goldstein and other directors in the USA, or directors in other countries like Jagadeesan, or others who have defended SSB? If not, then why not?
Meanwhile, you play incessant "got ya'!" games trying to trip up researchers and investigators who are trying to get to the bottom of this multi-faceted and quite sordid affair. So much of what you are doing, Joe, is not at all about working with these researchers and investigators in a team approach of problem-solving, but instead it only serves to nit-pick, distract from the bigger issues, and avoid the implications of what has quite evidently occurred. This is obviously why you've made so many "opponents" or "enemies" in your world, and why so many people have suspected you are an "instrument" or "tool" for the SSB organization to attack all its critics without having to explicitly say anything about these matters (the sex allegations, faked materializations, 1993 murders, plagiarism issues, financial improprieties, etc.). Just reflect back on how you first approached me with that blindsiding, fairly anonymous email and nasty webpage (much of which was Bon Giovanni's old attack from 2001) and you'll see what i mean. I've tried to have a fruitful and productive exchange in our interactions, but look how you started it and look at all your incessant demands of me over this brief period of time.
Maybe everything would have been different, Joe, had you not come so late to all this discussion (late 2004) instead of when it first heated up in 2000-1. By the time you entered the fray, the questioners and critics of SSB on the one hand and SSB's defenders on the other hand were already quite polarized because of so much that had already happened (again, for many of the questioners and critics, a really decisive moment was reading SSB's irrational, duplicitous, angry, self-serving and extremely condemnatory attack on his critics in the Christmas 2000 discourse in the Spring 2001 issue of Sanathana Sarathi, which echoed Jagadeesan's silly rantings, name-calling and ad hominems a few months earlier). Joe, when you jumped in with your heavily adversarial approach and further ad hominem attacks in late 2004, not dealing with the biggest issues in a completely straight-on manner, it is no wonder that you alienated lots of people and did not find any friends on the side of the questioners and critics of SSB. To then lump them all together as "anti-Sais" and keep furiously blasting away at them, always looking for their mistakes and apparently almost never admitting your own mistakes or the mistakes of SSB and his defenders, is no way to meaningfully contribute to this very, very important matter of answering the legitimate questions that critics have of SSB and his organization.
Now, i will say here, because i have nothing to hide and no position to cling to, that i DO APPRECIATE your challenging me to clarify distinctions at my main webpage on SSB about this matter of how many "formally sworn legal affidavits" we have, and how many "informally sworn signed first-person statements" we have. I'm also glad that you goaded me into putting in one public place a list of all those who've identified themselves as having been sexually molested in some way (and to speak further of other sets of anonymous, fully-identified or partially-identified individual molestees, numbering around 50 or more). I'm also glad that you drew me out further on clarifying the history and importance of the Hislop letters, though I found at your website and in your emails to me so many misleading statements and distraction strategies that i had to spend many hours and far more space at a separate webpage dealing with all these charges than would normally be necessary. Furthermore, at such a webpage, i am not going to make it needlessly three times longer than it needs to be by reproducing all of our emails, as you've suggested in your email in talking about reproducing "our full email correspondence." [NOTE: Joe Moreno has evidently posted to a very long webpage all of our back-and-forth emails since late Nov. 2007.] Unlike you, i don't feel the need to subject readers to every single word of all our interactions. It's simply pointless and irrelevant in regard to the larger issues of what the Hislop letters signify....
It would be very easy to turn the tables on you, Joe, and subject you to dozens and dozens of relevant questions (not to mention scores of irrelevant questions) and demand that you answer all of them to my complete satisfaction in the interest of honesty, ethics, morality, etc (e.g., questions about SSB's behavior, the behavior of Hislop, Goldstein, Jagadeesan and other Directors, inaccuracies within Sai literature, certain financial matters at the ashrams, etc. etc. ad nauseam). I'm NOT going to go that route, Joe, and most of your interlocutors have apparently not done this either. And so we let you play the aggressive, Grand Inquisitor role, while biting our tongues (or suppressing our fingers on our computer keyboards).
Again, Joe, as i suggested a few emails ago, i respect and appreciate (to a certain extent!) your passion, tenacity and intelligence, and your concern for a certain kind of justice and truth, but i don't think you are looking fully and fairly at all the really meaningful aspects of this very complicated, tragic situation with SSB and his followers and ex-followers. And this is what strikes so many of your readers as "irrational" and "not fair-minded," not to mention here the specific charges of "defamatory," "slanderous," etc. in a number of cases (e.g., what's with that badly-distorted photo of Reinier that you purposely uploaded to the Internet, of which i read about somewhere?)
In signing off, let me again say "Thank you, Joe," for helping me to see a bit more clearly and now i invite you to do the same!
Best wishes to you, now and always
FINAL NOTE: Joe Moreno had at one point during this time had written to me: "The alleged Hislop Letters are not proof or evidence of sexual abuse. If anything, they are proof that someone made allegations against Sai Baba. That's it."
And I reply that the Hislop Letters do constitute a very early piece of circumstantial evidence which, taken in combination with many other allegations against SSB later put forth into print by various male youth (especially from year 2000 onward), in formally sworn affidavits, informally sworn first-person statements, testimonials printed in magazine and newspaper articles, books and Internet websites—all support the reasonable view that "where there's smoke, there's fire" and the argument that too many young men are reporting details too similar for anyone to seriously doubt that something inappropriate, invasive and criminal has occurred. This argument has been used in other famous cases (such as the case of sexual molestation of youth by a small number of Roman Catholic Church clergymen) to legally adjudicate that crimes have been committed. For various reasons (discussed at my main page critical of SSB and the SSB organization), it is most unlikely that plaintiffs will ever get their day in court against SSB or the SSB organization(s).
But this in no way undermines the fact that there are many serious questions concerning Sathya Sai Baba's behavior, and the behavior of the SSB organization, and NONE of these questions have even begun to be addressed by SSB or the SSB org, let alone satisfactorily resolved.
For those readers who are interested, Joe Moreno’s main website on the Hislop letters is:
www.saisathyasai.com/baba/Ex-Baba.com/News/march-2005-hislop-letters.html, with numerous sub-links therein to other critical pages of his own and others. As mentioned earlier, a remarkably more sweet and humane side of Joe is his website at www.geocities.com/www0db0www/index.html?20074 on spirituality, mandalas, affirmations, and more, including Joe's beautiful spiritual experiences with Sathya Sai (from age 18 onward), Ammachi, and Ramana Maharshi.
Joe Moreno is a very controversial figure, and has been banned from any further contributions to Wikipedia on this topic of SSB for his one-sidedness and frequent underhanded tactics, as have some of SSB's critics for the same reason.
By contrast, Brian Steel, Alan Kazlev and Kevin Shepherd, the latter two gentlemen originally being outsiders on the SSB phenomenon (i.e., they were never devotees or ex-devotees) have all written relatively even-handed assessments and critiques of Moreno's strangely vituperative pro-Sai activity, their essays available on the Internet at various sites:
--See Kevin R.D. Shepherd (a very long essay, including much discussion of the politics over the Wikipedia entry on SSB; Shepherd concludes, sadly, that Joe Moreno is indeed "an obsessive internet 'hit man'"): www.citizeninitiative.com/sathya_sai_and_wikipedia.htm
--See Alan Kazlev (initially a supporter of Moreno's efforts and one of Joe's frequent correspondents, this major Wikipedia scholar and creator of an extensive website on spirituality became a concerned critic of Moreno's overkill style of attacking and slandering people who disagree with him):
--See Brian Steel (in the Endnote on Moreno toward the close of the third part of his huge online bibliography on all available print, video, and online materials about SSB, pro and con and mixed):
--For those interested in Robert Priddy's critical view of things (to mention just one other person involved in this controversy), see his websites at http://home.no.net/anir/Sai/ and also http://home.chello.no/~reirob/
Note that Priddy, a former longtime Sai devotee (from 1983-2000) of very high organizational "rank," a retired academic (longtime lecturer in philosophy and sociology at the Univ. of Oslo from 1968-85) who in 1983 co-founded and later for some time led the Sathya Sai movement in Norway, and who also wrote a very positive initial book on Baba (Source of the Dream: My Way to Sathya Sai Baba, 1994/1998), has turned into one of the most indefatigable critics of Sathya's many unsavory aspects (not just the sexual activities but also an array of other improprieties). These are detailed in Priddy's nearly 600-page book End of the Dream: The Fall of Sathya Sai Baba (Podanur, Tamil Nadu, INDIA: B. Premanand, 2004). By writing so much so rapidly on this controversial topic, Priddy has made himself vulnerable to numerous challenges by Moreno, some of them to my mind quite successful in clearing up mis-statements, faulty logic, questions of sources (e.g., in the case of the 1993 murders at Prashanthi Nilayama). But Moreno, as Shepherd has observed, has also resorted to overkill and slander in attacking Priddy. Priddy recently emailed me, "Barry Pittard [another leading Sai critic, a former instructor in SSB's schools in India] and I have refrained from any direct interchange with him [Joe Moreno] as we know that it will only lead to three times as many web-pages high on Google rankings libelling us and ranting on with side issues, bogus claims, argumentum ad hominem [attacking the person, not dealing with the issues], character assassination and so on." To which i can also testify from my own experience.
For his part, Joe Moreno, of course, has long and unfavorable assessments of each of these individuals, all perusable at different pages of his website: