Recently I went to a birthday party for a roommate of a friend and by the time midnight rolled around we were deeply entangled in a web of arguement. Although I was proud of myself for not having brought up the discussion of why I don't believe in Flim-flammery, I did feel compelled to argue my point of view.
The topic that had come up was one of why I consider myself a Bright.
The hard part in any skeptical discussion is that when your faced off against a room of people you don't know at all it's very hard to have any support from anyone even if they may agree with you. One thing led to another and eventually I found out that this gentlemen was a follower (calling himself a disciple) of his Guru Sri Chinmoy.
Sri Chinmoy born Chinmoy Kumar Ghose, is a "Spiritualist" who claims spiritual enlightenment in the form of being able to meditate 24 hours a day even while acting, talking, sleeping because he states he is one with god and can also perform superhuman activities.
One of the activities that was repeatedly discussed was that this man of older age (80s) can lift thousands and thousands of pounds. Mostly shown via video with supposed "Scientists" present he will lift 7000+ lbs of free weights with the help of a machine. Excuse me? If your as confused as me why he needs a machine to lift this weight since he's capable of superhuman feats of strength then your as confused as I was. I was gladly reassured that he had nothing to gain by lying and therefore would have no reason to rig these demonstrations.
The problem I had with this is there is something to gain, and it's in the form of millions of dollars. Mr. Chinmoy has over 700 books possibly even closer to 1000. With an estimate of over 10,000 followers worldwide (from one of his books) at an estimated $10 USD per book you can easily see the gigantic possibility for major profit. But it does not stop there, he also has tapes, cds, videos, and he plays the flute which you can purchase recordings or have him brought in for a concert. He also paints so you can purchase his paintings. Although it's not on his website I wouldn't doubt that if the price was right you could purchase a sample of his urine and that if you put it under your pillow at night you could fly to distance universes in the form of dreams.
Now the major question most people would likely ask me is why would I care if someone follows this fruit-loop. The answer is quite simple. He exploits people and the consequences to people who leave this cult can be grave and very (scarily) similar to some of the stories related to scientology. Stories of past followers being harrased and threatened with violence seem to be very available on the web.
The following site seems to have a number of stories and articles about people who have left Sri Chinmoy's cult.Rick A. Ross Institue's information on Sri Chinmoy