Bad Behavior: When People Try to Harm You

Losing your persona may mean losing your status as a person. It can be like having your citizenship revoked, only for the whole human race.

In a conversation I was having with a reader on the role the mind plays in what and when we eat, he recounted a story he read about an Indian guru named Neem Karloi Baba. NKB would ask his disciples if he had eaten his meal for the day, and they would intentionally lie and tell him yes, when he hadn’t. He was satisfied with their answer and didn’t eat that day. His disciples would do this for days and sometimes weeks on end and he wouldn’t eat. They would also reverse this deception (because, really, watching someone not eat is pretty boring after a while) and tell him he hadn’t eaten when he had, the result being that he would take several meals in a day, eating many times more than he intended to. They even put arsenic and other poisons in his food to see if it would affect him, and it did not.

Of course, the reader only focused on how amazing this guru was, how indifferent he was to physical conditions, to the point where poison did not affect him. And that’s what nearly all people focus on when they read stories like this. How amazing the guru is, with his superhuman mutant siddhi powers. While that is interesting, I’m stunned by the fact that no one seems to wonder at all about the psychopathic behavior of his disciples. When confronted with the direct presence of an enlightened person, this is the best they can do? “Let’s starve him and see what happens! Let’s force feed him and see what happens! Let’s poison him and see what happens!”

People are dangerous, in general. Spiritual seekers even more so. If you read this story and the detail of the victim being a guru was omitted, you would immediately wonder how it was that a group of people could conceive to do such things to a man who never lifted a finger to harm them. It would be shocking to hear that a single person was willing and capable of doing these things. You’d think that others would notice and stop him. Instead, remarkably, when someone proposed this plan, his fellow seekers responded, “Brilliant idea, John! When do we start?” And at some point someone suggested to up the ante by poisoning NKB, and that was somehow accepted as the obvious next step.

This is the companion post to What to do When People Start to Worship You. It is intended for the newly enlightened, to help you deal with the world of People Post Enlightenment. This is the yang to the previous article’s yin, both of them are extremes you need to navigate with care when they present themselves.

Obviously, this is an extreme case, but the fact that these stories are told and retold, and that otherwise normal people don’t even take notice of how shocking it is that people who purportedly loved, revered and followed this man in a quest for spiritual enlightenment would do these things, demonstrates how acceptable and natural this kind of behavior really is.


Enlightenment can bring with it a profound passivity. Things happen. Life happens. People happen. Without the concept of personhood at the center of your being, you can end up without much motivation to do anything about it, per se. You may find that people around you will take this passivity as license to treat you in ways that they, themselves would be shocked at, and deny if confronted. They become deeply unconscious, and do these things from that space.

On a mundane level, a person who is always punctual will be chronically late in keeping plans or appointments with you. A person who always repays loans will forget their debt to you entirely. A person who is normally discreet and keeps confidences as a matter of principle will feel completely at ease sharing personal details about you to others.

Why does this happen? Why do people behave so badly? I can’t say for sure, but my working theory is that they unconsciously sense your lack of personhood. Their good behavior only applies to people, and unconsciously they have put you into a separate category. If you are not a person, all bets are off.