Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Gurus, Helpful or Counterproductive


I have never made a blanket-condemnation of ALL "gurus." Never! Not a single time! This is the major misunderstanding to which you are objecting! But you are setting up, then attacking, a "straw man," for no such universal rejection of all "gurus" has ever taken place, in any of my teachings.

To do that, I would have to reject true teachers, the greatest of history, for the Sanskrit word guru simply means "teacher." But are most gurus genuine?

This is really the crux of our discussion. I do not believe that they are. Here, however, is where you make your most serious error: You assume that my rejection of gurus is "all or nothing." Only a fool would reject all "gurus."

Some design their entire lives, especially their economics, around self-styled "gurus." Some build into their lifeplan the actual worship of "gurus." Lifedesign is a personal matter. While we can, and are absolutely free to, seek help from anyone whom we choose, no one ever has the right, or the power, to design our lives, or our paths, for us. I have repeatedly made it crystal-clear that all my friends/students have this personal responsibility. Each chooses what she wants to believe about any particular teaching, or any particular guru. I have no interest in designing the lives of others. One life is plenty sufficient to keep anyone superbusy!

When it comes to cults, the depths of the personal wounds and agony go very deep. They have been inflicted on the self, and on many friends, by the disaster of cult-psychology. They are hideous and horrific. Every attempt is made to keep all my friends from making the most terrible mistake of their lives!

I have always been meticulously careful never to intrude, to be invasive, on the design of any person's spiritual path. In fact, many, many times, it has been said, "I will help you discover and design your spiritual path. But I promise not to try to design it for you." All those years in a harmful, destructive cult taught me, at a soulevel, that cult-psychology is explosively and karmically dangerous. Am I more sensitive than other teachers to this perilous and damaging path? You bet I am!

Cults are almost exclusively connected with the guru-phenomenon. Most gurus are frauds, fakes, and phonies. But that is lightyears from saying that "all gurus are bad, useless, fake, etc." It is a galaxy away from your claim that I've taught that ALL are illegitimate. I have never made this blanket-generalization, and never will. In fact, this universal rejection goes directly against all mystical teachings, for many of the great mystics were, in their day, "gurus."

I was also positively impressed by the Autobiography of a Yogi, which I read several times, several years ago. I agree with you that his followers have turned the fine spiritual teachings of Yogananda into a cult. I was positively impressed, and consider this man, for one out of many, to have been a true and genuine spiritual teacher. The Dalai Lama is another "guru" who is the real thing.

In my wide exposure to "channelers," gurus, cultists, and "new age" people, I've encountered a number of people who, through desperation, have fallen into acceptance of ideas that do not tally well with reason or Love. I've also met many phonies and fakes. That has been my experience, and my teaching reflects my personal experience, as well as cosmic principles. But I could never say that all gurus are phonies. Why? It's simple: I haven't met, or even read about, ALL GURUS!!

It is not necessarily a "mistake" to respond with silence when disagreeing with another. You can feel completely free to disagree with any statement by any teacher, as long as you do it with politeness, common courtesy, and kindness. For that is only decent, and promotes the peace that is so treasured by our hearts. At the Pneumarium, everyone has total freedom to say whatever she thinks, as she is also free to believe whatever she chooses.

My criticisms of "gurus" are not about all gurus. But a little reflection will prove that criticism for greed and power is absolutely applicable to MOST "gurus." That is both the intent and content of my teachings.

Is it possible for a "guru" to lead a life of honesty, nongreed, simplicity, compassion, and Love? Yes, of course it is, especially if we define "guru" in the way it is used in the ancient Indian mystical texts. All true gurus are supreme models and examples of living spirituality. And I have never denied this. What you have done is an error called "generalization."

You have generalized from my statements regarding dishonest, ego-driven "gurus" to ALL gurus.

You say, very wisely, and from the standpoint of history, "The definition of guru is not an ego-driven person who wants to be worshipped. The definition is a highly advanced spiritual teacher."

And you are absolutely correct. But this Sanskrit word, in American English, usually does not have such high and noble definitions. But this was the original, and probably still is the truest, literal meaning of that word. In common American English, however, the word ["guru"] very often has additional connotations of egotism, greed, and dishonesty. As noted, I have read Autobiography more than once, and consider its presentation of Kriya yoga excellent. It is a superb form of yoga. I have dozens of times spoken of yoga, in all its branches and forms, as a
true form of mysticism, and have given it high praise.

Your own letter proves that I have had the good sense to distinguish between "good" and true gurus and false. For you say, "I have heard you say you thought that Lahiri Mahasaya, who introduced this technique to the world, was a highly advanced soul,..."

If I did not think people capable of both minor and major breakthroughs, it would be a waste of timenergy to spend all my time in spiritual education.

Next, you write, "There are at least six web sites of people claiming to be 'Babaji'. All of them are frauds. If I claimed to be Jesus, people could rightfully call me a fraud." This is almost identical with what I have said about gurus. Yet you felt that you had a perfect right to express this opinion. Why, then, will you not grant me the exact same freedom of expression that you appropriate, and rightfully demand, for yourself? Would you like it if, on the basis of these words, I spread the false rumor that you disrespect, reject, or hate ALL gurus? If you can use discrimination and discernment to discover the "frauds" from the true "teachers," why can, why do, you not allow me that same right?

You have expressed the matrix of all my teachings in your next sentence: "As an adult, I can and will use whatever means available to grow spiritually." As long as those "means" are honest (non-fraudulent), I perfectly agree. You then say, "If that means availing myself to the the (sic) teaching of a guru, then so be it. You tell people to avoid gurus..." Yes, I do tell people to avoid gurus. But that is not because all gurus are antispiritual. Generally, avoiding "gurus" is very good advice. People have lost their entire savings, their lives, their best friends, their Love-partners, their sanity, their other friends, their virginity, their spirituality, and all hope, after having turned their wills over to gurus. The guru has ruined their lives. Are you seriously telling me that you would recommend that people generally follow gurus?

You next say, "As far as keeping a picture of a guru, I'm sure people do this out of love, just like keeping a picture of a spouse, a child, or a pet, for that matter." How can you possibly know this? Again, you have made the same mistake: I've never been fanatically anti-photo! I've never suggested that it was in any way "wrong" to keep pics-- of gurus or of anyone else. My objection was to the placement of the photo upon one's personal altar, as an object of adoration. So, you are objecting to something that I have never taught!

I agree with your next statement one hundred percent: "As an adult, I can also discriminate between a genuine teacher and a fraud. How? By the love I feel emanating from that person. I can also discriminate between cult-mentality, mind control, and genuine love. I will always choose genuine love. I won't waste my time on anything else." Bravo, my friend! In just a few words, you have summarized the essence of my teaching re a spiritual adult. And that is the fine goal towards which we should all, and always, be striving!

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