Guru means ‘bringer of light’ in ancient Sanskrit. Gurus are supposed to bring us light, help us find the light in ourselves, maybe even help us to be better people. Gurus do not touch us inappropriately, demand servility, or take our inheritances. They do not take our money, or ride around in fleets of luxury cars, no matter how much their followers want them to. If they do any of these things, chances are they are not a guru, but a vampire in guru’s clothing. My grandma always told me ‘handsome is as handsome does.’ I’d like to make a corollary to this…guru is as guru does.
Of course, they will have really great (almost unassailable) reasons for their transgressions and greed. They are merely trying to teach you how little money means – by taking your money. They are simply trying to get us to drop the ego – by molesting us. Right. These pseudo-gurus (like all crooks) have really convincing reasons why you should just stand by and let them rip you off. Why, you are just grasping and attached to money, if you don’t want them to take yours. You are simply attached to the ego if you don’t want to let them use you as a sex object, or as free slave labor. It’s all your fault. And they will show you how to fix that – for a price.
No wonder we in America are so skeptical about gurus.
I once knew a woman who claimed she had met her guru. He was supposed to be some kind of enlightened guy, the kind I could never hope to be. I pointed out that taking her inheritance and blowing it, that leaving her and her girlfriend (the guru’s ‘wife’) alone and without word of his whereabouts for three years were not the acts of a guru…they were the acts of a disrespectful miscreant, the kind any unenlightened (but chivalrous) Montana cowboy would ride out of town on a rail – after tar and feathering them. In the Wild West, disrespect for ladies is not tolerated. You tip your hat to the ladies and the Rose of San Antone; you don’t fuck them against their will, abandon them, or take their money.
Those cowboys may not be enlightened, but they know a bit more about how to treat people than some (many?) gurus do.
(Boston citizens tar and feathering a tax collector back in The Bad Ole Days)
I knew this other guy who was so proud to be a ‘certified X master, the authorized lineage holder of Y, and the embodiment of Z’ (names withheld to protect the ignorant). In the Army, we used to call this type of guy a wienie-wagger. We were not too enlightened (we were in a killing machine called the Army, after all), but we could tell bullshit when we were smelling it, and knew enough not to go around treating people like this (or lauding ourselves like that).
I may keep this short, but I could go one forever and ever, about Osho and his fleet of 93 Rolls Royces, about Amma and the exorbitant prices she charges her followers for presents to be given to her (which are then recycled, sold, and again re-given). I could rant and rave about how Super Dooper Yoga Teacher X fucked his students (notice I did not say ‘made love to,’ for he surely fucked them – physically, mentally, and spiritually). I could go on and on about how these critically acclaimed Super-People seem to always be marketing themselves, grasping at money, charging people for the ‘enlightenment’ they are supposed to be bringing.
Hey, I’m cool with artha (with right livelihood), but they never seem to want just enough money to pay the rent and buy some more quinoa or dal. They always seem to charge enough to make a ‘profit margin,’ to dine at the best clubs and wear the best clothes. They always seem to be jet-setting idiots, only discerned from the other jet-setting idiots by their self-proclamations of enlightenment and guru-hood. Even the freaking Dalai Lama is a money-making operation like none other…a spiritual gold mine, mining the poor and afflicted for the price of yet another overpriced book or doo-dad to fill their coffers (and egos). I want to know how much he donated, not how much he made selling pithy books.
Yeah, they all have defenses and justifications and rationalizations for their greed…just like they do for their sexual misadventures or their blatant robbing of people. They have all the bases covered – as charlatans throughout history have.
So where is the Spanish Inquisition when you need it? Where are the stakes to burn these false idols on? Well, they have left us to our own devices which, thankfully, are not violence based. We can only deal with these gurus by clear, mindful observation of their shenanigans, by loving compassion and forgiveness. For there is no fate worse than that reserved for ‘people’ who use others’ desires for enlightenment to cash in on. Those who take advantage of the gullible and stupid have a special place in hell reserved for them…the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, which they have proven themselves to be by their grasping actions (grasping for fame as well as for money).
Where is Jesus when you need Him, to kick these freakin’ money-grubbers out of the temple? Guess he must be on vacation…
Show me a guru who wants nothing from you, yet offers everything. I might be open to that person. Show me a guru who lives what they preach, not fucks their students at the first possible opportunity. I might listen to that one. In fact, I listen to all of them charlatans and varmints and rascals, for each has something to teach me, in and from the depths of their all-too-human foibles.
Show me a guru who lives simply, who does not care about reaching the American/yoga market, who does not offer me a course in enlightenment over the internet for just three easy payments. I can’t seem to find that guru. So I look for him within – the Sat Guru, the one that speaks from within my soul, speaks the undeniable truth of ages. That’s the guru I want to follow.
So much is false and distorted in yoga these days…it has become an industry, a growth career, which of course attracts vultures and pretenders and posers of all colors. It is natural these people will appear, in counterpoint to the real sages. We learn from bad examples as well as good. Still the old adage caveat emptor (buyer beware) applies here, for they are selling, just like you are buying. Any guru who thinks these things can be sold or bought was obviously sleeping through that section of Guru 101 where they talked about this.
Yeah, gurus. Who need ’em, who wants ’em? Certainly not I. I’d rather remain an ignorant, unenlightened soul than to become “enlightened” and treat my fellow humans that way.
But that’s just me. sometimes the path to wisdom contains scary and unproductive detours. That’s okay – we typically learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. Sometimes you just gotta be a gullible idiot and get ripped off, before you can become a savvy and enlightened yogi. Sometimes you have to face the dark side of even the guru and respond with love, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness before we can move further along the Noble Path.
Thus saith one of the unenlightened ones, one who is not a guru, merely a simple draoicht…an Irish druid who will never fuck you or take your money. Is that enlightened enough?