Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Teaching For The Teachers

File under: The Art of Guruing

When we first came across this short article by John Kain about picking a guru, we were ready to pick it apart. It starts out a bit thin and twee, if you asked us. But then we got to the meat of it and were happily surprised:
Alexander Berzin, in his book about Tibetan practice, Relating to a Spiritual Teacher: Building a Healthy Relationship, describes six different attributes of the student-teacher relationship: (1) Almost all spiritual seekers progress through stages along the spiritual path. (2) Most practitioners study with several teachers during their lifetimes and build up different relationships with each. (3) Not every spiritual teacher has reached the same level of accomplishment. (4) The type of relationship appropriate between a specific seeker and a specific teacher depends upon the spiritual level of each. (5) People usually relate to their teachers in progressively deeper manners as they advance along the spiritual path. (6) Because the same teacher may play different roles in the spiritual life of each seeker, the most appropriate relationship each seeker has with that teacher may be different.

This list is filled with sober insights and common sense; it’s a good reference point. Yet for some mysterious reason students often check their common sense at the door, like an overcoat at a fancy restaurant, when entering spiritual practice. The best thing teachers can do for their students is to convince them that such notions are fantasy. If a teacher is sleeping with a student, nine times out of ten it’s a bad idea. If a teacher is an alcoholic, that teacher is an alcoholic. Some things are exactly as they appear. In the book How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery, an early work on spiritual practice (published in 1974), the author, Lawrence LeShan, gave some practical and sage advice about choosing a spiritual teacher—“Watch how they treat their spouse.” At the same time teachers do make mistakes, all of them, and if we think otherwise we’re on the wrong track.
Great stuff, especially the part about how students often "check their common sense at the door." The wrong kind of guru zeros in on this tendency like a vulture smelling carrion from 20 miles away. It is responsible for every big-time guru's satscam going today.

But there's nothing mysterious about it. People drop all logic and reason at a guru's feet because they want their space mommies and daddies to make everything ok for them. Peoples' infantilism is at the root of their wanting a guru and their expecting their gurus to magically solve all their life's problems for them.

It sounds like John Kain is someone worth listening to. He's got a book: A Rare and Precious Thing: The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Working with a Spiritual Teacher. Based on what he says in this short promo piece, it could be worth reading. If we ever get to reading it ourselves, we'll let you know what we think.

26 Comments:

At 9/06/2006 6:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is rather ironic that the reference is to Tibetan practice - ah, how short memory is! What about Chogyam Trungpa's exploits with the bottle and girls? Yet his books are still widely circulated.

Why does the "guru" exist? The issue is simple psychology and we know more than enough about such drives yet we aren't learning. The reason is cultural imprinting - we are conditioned to seek out such people and treat them as gods.

The really ironic part is that imprinting was deemed to be something that only happened to animals - it is beneath human abilities. And those tossing around the word "spirituality" are to blame since they proudly carry Descartes' error forward.

Of course, this doesn't stop the advertisers (and gurus) from exploiting your natural urges.

www.culturalimprint.com/emerging%20needs.pdf

"Spirituality" (whatever that word means) needs to be separated from the practice. You will learn all you need through practice.

 
At 9/06/2006 7:15 AM, Anonymous sadhvi said...

"But there's nothing mysterious about it. People drop all logic and reason at a guru's feet because they want their space mommies and daddies to make everything ok for them. Peoples' infantilism is at the root of their wanting a guru and their expecting their gurus to magically solve all their life's problems for them."

Hi Jody,
But...I think it's really important to mention that a "guru" and a "spiritual teacher" are two different things. The structure of the classic "guru/disciple" relationship, as outlined in texts such as Shiva-Samita and various Upanishads,demands a particular kind of "surrender" by the disiple to the guru, as well as the belief that "without the guru", there is "no hope" for liberation. I don't really think it's so much people looking for "mommies and daddies" (although that can sometimes be the case)as a real confusion that can occur when a tradition from one culture is poorly translated into another. Many students, wanting a classical "guru/disciple" relationship, wind up trying to conform to something that they cannot possibly understand. This, combined with manipulative and unethical "gurus" can result in some serious problems, as we have seen time and time again. The whole question of the efficacy of the "guru/disciple" system in the West is worth considering.
sadhvi

 
At 9/06/2006 8:12 AM, Blogger falseguru said...

My relationship with the Guru principle deepened significantly when I began to feel I didn't absolutely need him. It is the same with marriage and other friendships. When we are standing on our own two feet, doing our best, a true Guru can come along. Then, if he/she is noble, we benefit from the association and inspiration provided.

 
At 9/06/2006 9:40 AM, Anonymous mistletoe said...

Most words in sanskrit cannot be translated into english and so are the possibilities of vedic concepts of guru-disciple relationships being justifiably
translated to convince the calculative western mind shaped in logic and reason !

For example-
It is a weird idea in india to drive left handed steering wheel as much it is weird in the america to drive with the right hand wheel.

To blurp and slurp while eating is agreeable in the east (unlike the west where it is agreeable only during sex) and to fart and make a joke out of it is a crude behaviour in india, which is apparently a agreeable fun in the west.

In india theres no groaning and moaning allowed ethically(ha ha!)
while having sex, because it is a behind-the-curtain affair. It is done quietly rather meditatively. Ofcourse the west taught the world what is anal sex and display it in a million websites unabashed !


Infact porn industry in america will be a thriving multi billion dollar industry soon and the rest of the industries there can comfortable shut down shop and buy new cameras and lighting to thrill and shrill the rest of the world..(boy oh boy!)ofcourse the nation's capital will be shifted to the florida beaches.

In certain middle eastern countries, the indian gurus cannot enter as happily as they do like in americaas ! They have to follow many clauses in their constitution
which restricts their movements
and force them to behave like underworld mafia while doing the most low profile satsangs in some undisclosed places. Thats islamic fanaticism which crushed the movement of these highflying gurus.
The sri sris and saibabas have to think really twice before say anything there ! Saudi Arabia, Bahrain,sudan, qatar and the col.gadaffi's are some of the countries. There, these gurus are subjected to certain dress code and speech censorship and geo graphical mobility. In malaysia
all the satsangs must declare
that it is 'FOR NON-MUSLIMS ONLY'

Perhaps america soon can come out with such amendments in their constitutional clauses for the visiting indian gurus about their style of functioning -how to walk,
eat and what to talk, how much to talk, when to poop and how much to poop and when to dip a stick etc. Jody will be my unanimous choice to head the advisory commitee to list out the do and dont's ! Ofcourse he will also tell how much wind to break, to the gurus !! Yo Yo !

John kaine is a gentleman but the fact that he comes from the bible belt of america (oregon) makes one suspect his churchianic backdrop and the age old hatred for gurus in that region since the incorrigible rajneesh
kicked up the salad bar dust!

John sounds very analytical but certainly not wise. His understanding of 'going beyond the logical mind' is very poor !

The consciousness can never be comprehended by following the gurus who were born in the assembly line production unit.
I mean, all the missionaries and the acharyas who underwent some training on how to recite and how to talk etc under some theologian cannot deliver !

The knower of the Truth can never be on a assembly line. The dos and donts never can be applied to him.
He/she is wild and unpredictable.
the seeker has to gamble and even pay a little price in the process of seeking. Thats perfectly ok for most indians but may be an american would want to claim insurance for being dumped or dipped with a stick !

jody ! aint this blog ! hmm...getting better and better day after day?

ha ha kidding !(dont take it serious..just some bafoonery as CHUCK suggested me)

Thankies !

 
At 9/06/2006 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

misletoe,

How you do rave on.........But I agree that the guru could be wild and beyond any 'normal' behaviors. I've seen several gurus in India and was most appreciative of the one who insisted, after tea and discussion in our hotel room, "now I will pay the bill for this room". We protested "but you didn't stay here, we did! How can the guru pay?" He said "When guru comes, he must pay. That is how it is. So many teachers say that the disciple must pay them. But in fact, when the Sadguru has come, he feels so much love, so much joy, he wants to and insists on paying for anything, everything...." This, after he made us take his car and driver wherever we wanted, and showering us with gifts! How strange. And he is wild and unpredictable and with most people a "guru type". Interesting experience.

BTW, mistletoe, I think you missed the temples in south india if you think the west taught the world "what is anal sex" as you put it. It's been on display for all to see for centuries on those temples. Nobody seems to mind much. It's not considered porn, but rather a natural sex act. But that has nothing to do with Gurus (does it?) Anyhow -- I saw it in your many paragraphs and so decided to respond to that odd comment you made.

 
At 9/06/2006 1:01 PM, Anonymous mistletoe said...

BTW, mistletoe, I think you missed the temples in south india if you think the west taught the world "what is anal sex" as you put it. It's been on display for all to see for centuries on those temples. Nobody seems to mind much. It's not considered porn, but rather a natural sex act.

~~~~~ True ! But you are wrong to say they are displayed in the south indian temples. These explicit sculptures are found only in few temples of central india (khajuraho etc). These temples were planned in the outskirts of a small town where the men and women who were sent just before their marriage to sit and meditate and observe the sculptures to understand sexuality.
It would be blind to say that all the temples have such sculptures. The 'Kama Sutra' was the first ever sex education in the world where the people were exposed to normal healthy sexual living from those temple towers. The very fact they are found in the temple tells you that even sexuality can be religious and meditative. Only they are not loud or lewd nor screaming of ecstacy !

-----------------------------------

But that has nothing to do with Gurus (does it?)

~~~~~ the Kama Sutra was composed by a famous indian guru called
vatsyayana! He was a much revered guru in his days !
Its surprising that the anal sex expertise of america still have to grumble and not accept the indian gurus sexuality ! I think if a guru is 90 percent fitting your 'philosophical scheme of a guru' then just take that 90 percent and kick the rest ! But if you choose to magnify the ten percent only, then you will missout on the 90 percent.

As you mentioned about some guru, there are endless number of freaked ones in india -good heavens, america and jody's blog does not know them yet-
They are beautiful people and erratic (jody might want to read it as erotic) people simultaneously !
They dont fit into the biblical descriptions of a guru anytime.
But on the other hand the latest jetset gurus make this mistake
of trying hard to
adapt to the universal'goodness'
or the coke culture of america
and lose their sight of the Truth.
Sri Sri, Ammachi etc who started
their sojorn plainly as a nice and sweet spiritual gurus now busy running schools and rebuilding shanties like the intolerable teresa who earned the saintlihood
by wiping the 'poor' men's ass clean and made them healthy in kolkata. Jody is right when he says these people now target the world stage to earn the peace awards and lost out on just plain spirituality.

But thats the price the guru pays when he is appealing to a universal mass of people !

But the usual indian guru has the freedom to interfere in any sphere of human lives -which usually he would not- and most of the gurus are trustworthy !

If a cheat pretends to be guru and was exposed someday, then he sh
ould not be called as a false guru because he aint a guru at all in th first place....!!!

By the way who is that sad guru you were talking about ? why he is sad ? (ha ha ! he must be called as happy guru? ) It is not sadguru
but satguru which is not a name but a title and may suit more than one particular guru !
No one can own such a title or copyright it !!!

Amen !

 
At 9/06/2006 1:06 PM, Blogger CHUCK said...

Toe Jam, you seem to know a lot about all kinds of shit and are very preoccupied with anal issues. Mixing your keen interest in these topics with you insights into gurus must be very tasty for you. It's great having you around! You're really smart!

 
At 9/06/2006 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes chuck! this mistletoe knows so much about everything!! I am really impressed, shall he become our next guru???
My God, I thought that I was in South India when I went to Mamallapuram last year to visit those famous temples... I shall study more geography... But thanks to this Mistletoe I am everyday inproving my knowledge!!! Thanks Mistletoe!
OM Mistletoe ki jai!!!

 
At 9/06/2006 3:46 PM, Anonymous mistletoe said...

Mahabalipuram does not have any sculptures displaying sex and even if tomorrow they build something, its ok you are welcome to see it and get sticky ! Your geography is good but your mixed up details are not so good ! unless you thought every stone in every temple make love all the time !

CHuck you should actually thank yourself for this. You have been a great source of inspiration to me.
Jody's weird lingo, vulgar interpretations despite his 'special brains', and his all knowing authoritative tone and you CHUCK and your licka$$ comments made me what I am in this blog today! eh SMART ! thanks $UCK !

and Anon if you choose me as the next Guru, surely you can have the deepest pleasure of having dipped my stick in you by which you get initiated and who knows you may get enlightened too!

Insha Allah !

 
At 9/06/2006 4:04 PM, Blogger jody said...

What about Chogyam Trungpa's exploits with the bottle and girls?

What about him? He was a boozer who liked to get laid. That doesn't mean he didn't know what he was talking about from an experiential regard.

That's one of the ideas this blog would like to get across. One can be a great guru in some ways and a lousy human being in others, but that has no bearing on one's experiential understanding of the nondual truth.

 
At 9/06/2006 4:10 PM, Blogger jody said...

I think it's really important to mention that a "guru" and a "spiritual teacher" are two different things.

For the purposes of this blog, a guru is any spiritual teacher who claims self-realization and/or enlightenment for themselves.

I don't really think it's so much people looking for "mommies and daddies"

I think you are wrong. Look at how many in India follow Sri Sri, the Kracki and the Babaster. They are all looking for God to fix their lives, not for anything that could be called true self-realization.

a real confusion that can occur when a tradition from one culture is poorly translated into another.

Absolutely, and this is a large part of the problem. But the "fix it for me, mommy" approach is the one which dominates. It's infantilism which originates with an unhappy childhood. Folks want to love themselves, but because they felt unloved as children, they're still looking for it as adults, hence the runaway success of the big-time satscammers.

 
At 9/06/2006 4:15 PM, Blogger jody said...

your licka$$ comments made me what I am in this blog today!

Yep. Just one more asshole with an opinion. Welcome to the club.

 
At 9/06/2006 4:27 PM, Blogger CHUCK said...

Jody,

Let me be the first to speculate wether mistletoe jam perhaps has two assholes to speak out of.

 
At 9/06/2006 4:48 PM, Anonymous sadhvi said...

Hey Mistletoe,
What an interesting pre-occupation with the "lower chakras"...lol. Just to let you know...the "Bible Belt" is not in Oregon;it's in the Southern USA (traditionally). Regarding the "end of the world, American style", don't believe everything you see on tv or surfing those porn sites.

sadhvi

 
At 9/06/2006 5:19 PM, Anonymous LLL&L said...

mistletoe:"unless you thought every stone in every temple make love all the time !"

you almost got it!

 
At 9/06/2006 5:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Varaha
Pallava, late 7th century AD
Varaha Cave Temple, Mamallapuram

Varaha lifts up the Earth Goddess, Bhu Devi, affectionately nuzzling her breast as he rescues her from the naga king.

 
At 9/07/2006 6:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the above anonymous idiot: Varaha is the boar incarnation of Vishnu. He lifted the Earth with his tusks from the flood waters according to the mythological story. It is not a depiction of sexuality between man and woman!

 
At 9/07/2006 7:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are all looking for God to fix their lives, not for anything that could be called true self-realization.

It is true that very few are genuinely looking for Self-realization, but the reason that so many throng around Sri Sri and Sai Baba, Ammachi etc (at least in India) is because of the sense of community and belonging, like you have in a church.

Folks want to love themselves, but because they felt unloved as children, they're still looking for it as adults, hence the runaway success of the big-time satscammers.

The basic "search" begins usually as a result of some painful experiences in life for most everyone. Whether or not the seeker strives to grow beyond this early stage or not is not the fault of the Guru. Even Ammachi has some very advanced core disciples who are Swamis. They don't look at her as a "mommy figure". It's the idiots in America who look at her as the mommy believing that a hug will cure their heartache and loneliness and give them never-ending bliss.

 
At 9/07/2006 8:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But the reason that so many throng around Sri Sri and Sai Baba, Ammachi etc (at least in India) is because of the sense of community and belonging, like you have in a church".

I think that's correct, anon. My experience is that here in the states, real community is a rare thing indeed. And the trend is getting even more pronounced as people work longer hours and limit their social lives to a spouse and 1 or 2 friends. There was an article about it in NYT recently. People crave community and it is definitely one of the reasons why they flock to space mommies and daddies. Actually, I see nothing wrong in that as long as the space mommies and daddies do not exalt themselves and set themselves up as avatars or some other bullshit thing that they are not.

and second thing you said: "It's the idiots in America who look at her as the mommy believing that a hug will cure their heartache and loneliness and give them never-ending bliss".
I have never been to see Amma but know people who have and they are pretty well adjusted people with good parental figures in their lives already. If they choose to relieve their existential angst through a hug from Amma once in awhile, so be it. It's better than becoming a suicide bomber.

 
At 9/07/2006 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BEloved Anonymous said"It is not a depiction of sexuality between man and woman! "

It is a sensuous, erotic image, since he is actually nuzzling her breast.

 
At 9/07/2006 10:56 AM, Anonymous Meir said...

Let me be the first to speculate wether mistletoe jam perhaps has two assholes to speak out of.

Chuck, you crack me up. Where do you come up with these comments? I will be the second to speculate that Mistletoe is speaking out of 2 assholes.

 
At 9/07/2006 11:33 AM, Blogger jody said...

Chuck, you crack me up. Where do you come up with these comments?

We call that being a smartass(hole) with opinions.

 
At 9/07/2006 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a sensuous, erotic image, since he is actually nuzzling her breast.

http://www.art-and-archaeology.com/india/mamallapuram/vct02.html
I would hardly call this "erotic". He's got a boar's head for cryin out loud! He is the rescuer, not the lover.

 
At 9/07/2006 1:38 PM, Anonymous LLL&L said...

hey, I am the third one to speculate about the second asshole activity of Mr. Mistletoe

 
At 9/08/2006 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mistletoe(jam)

You have (wrongly) assumed, I believe, that everyone posting here is American, that there is no one here posting from India. Please go to South India. Get back to me if you ever leave your desk.

Your declaration of wishes "God Willing", in your language (I'm assuming) gives away your preoccupation with "lower chakras" as someone so cleverly put it. It's well known that your culture forbids certain sexual acts and even punishes some with death. Hence the sneaking around porn sites for them to get what they need. (and it ain't women) haha

To 'anonymous' who thinks it's the idiot westerners or Americans who think Ammachi is their 'mommie'.....Just go check out one of her (enormous) gatherings in India, or talk to her sad, brainwashed Indian devotees. They don't just imagine that she is Divine Mother, they insist that she is Living Devi, blah blah blah blah. I don't buy it. My opinion is that no human being can be God. Unfortunately, this brainwashed foolishness is not at all limited to one culture, country or race of people. Everywhere she goes, people buy this BS.

 
At 9/08/2006 5:02 PM, Anonymous LLL&L said...

Anon said:"It's well known that your culture forbids certain sexual acts and even punishes some with death."

REALLY???? I am sorry, I am neither from USA nor from India, I am from Spain. I did not know such a thing!!!!!!!!forbiden????
Now I start to understand these folks.... maybe(!?)

 

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