Homegrown Guru Freaks Out Edmonton
File under: The Siddhi of PR
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada-based nonduality teacher John de Ruiter is feeling the heat from the Edmonton Sun. They've just published a series of articles suggesting his satsang is little more than a cult.
A look at his website makes him out to be your standard Western nondualist. It's slick and not a stitch Hindu (de Ruiter's roots are Christian.) We've come to realize slick suggests nothing more than the use of a good designer, nor does the fact he admitted to cheating on his wife mean he's a fraud as a nonduality teacher. But doubts were raised after reading this:
"Critical thinking is the first thing to go, and the last thing one realizes has left," says [his ex-wife.] "Critical thinking was discouraged. Since most of the discussion is based on abstract theology and constructs, there really is hardly any way to disprove or prove any of it.That sounds like a grade A mindfuck to us. Cult expert and long time deRuiter critic Steven Kent sure thinks so:
"The silence enables the followers to attribute superhuman status to de Ruiter," he says. "They create their own illusion of him during these times. He says something esoteric and the silence gives them time to reinterpret it in ways specifically relevant to the particular needs that they have.Kent's prejudices notwithstanding, that's a great analysis of satsang psychodynamics. But it still doesn't mean de Ruiter is leading a destructive cult. It's just standard devotee-to-guru projection behavior, the devotee's power to have meaningful experience entirely out of a belief in the power of the guru's enlightenment.
"I also noticed it being used as a punitive function. Someone would challenge John or call him out on these esoteric things and say, 'Please explain this, I don't know what it means.'
"Then he would remain silent and he would glare. And if the person in the chair breaks down and starts pleading for answers, then it becomes a demonstration to everyone in the room that wow, this guy is amazing and powerful."
The important question is whether de Ruiter is taking advantage of this. Being a legal crankypants and one time adulterer means he's human. It's how much he believes in his own hype that would speak the loudest to us about his fitness as a guru.