Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Why We Don't Like Da (And The Kracki, Sri Sri, Etc.)

File under: Gurubusting

Lately it's been heated in the "Gurukripa" tribe at tribe.net, where we produced this statement before we bowed out and left the bliss bunnies to their cherished (and occluding) notions about their gurus:
I have found self-realization to be quite normal, ordinary and even somewhat mundane as a direct and experiential understanding. I know this because I've been lucky to meet more than several people online who live in that understanding, along with a number of folks in real life.

So, how to reconcile these lives with the life of a big-time, island-owning, self-proclaimed greatest-in-recent-history guru? It's like trying to reconcile a Muslim extremist with a West Bank-occupying Zionist.

The thing that separates a normal shlub who is self-realized from a big-time guru who may or may not be self-realized is the idea of spiritual power. Big-time gurus are imagined to contain vast amounts of this power in various forms. There is a litany of things people believe about their big-time gurus as a result of this belief in their power

I would not blame a soul alive for thinking I'm a complete poser (and loser for picking on their guru), but I'm convinced that all spiritual power lies inside each of us, and that it's the belief in the guru's power that tricks us to manifesting our own power. Maybe that's not such a bad thing, and I'd agree, if it weren't for the bugaboo I call occluding nonsense about self-realization.

According to Vedanta, we are all the Atman, and Atman is Brahman, making each of us the foundation of all existence and non-existence. It's not something we climb to, or descend to, or transport to or work toward, despite what we might think we're doing. It's something that is right here, right now, closer than our own breath, in every moment of our lives; the changeless and unborn Self.

So, half the world is running around jumping through so many different hoops, trying to climb, descend, transport and work toward becoming the changeless and unborn Self, which is right here, right now, closer than our own breath. What's the problem? Why aren't they finding such a completely immediate reality?

Simply because it's the most unassuming thing about yourself that you'll never be able to imagine. It's like a wallflower in your mind. It's always there, but goes completely unnoticed. Even when you are spending all your time, money and freedom following a big-time guru so you can find it, it's still just sitting there, right in plain view, waiting to be noticed.

From the mass-cultural angle, big-time gurus are held up as the example of what self-realization means to a life. Never mind how many of them fall far from the distinction. The ones who survive are all seen as paragons of virtue and base-stations of God-like powers that can bestow bliss with a gesture, read your thoughts, see your entire past-life history and supposedly bestow self-realization. But I guess they don't use that power very often, as the conversion rate is probably less than a millionth of one per cent.

It's especially curious that something that is right here, right now, closer than our own breath, is practically impossible for a divine being to bestow as a direct understanding. What's the problem? A: The guru doesn't have any power to bestow anything if you continue to believe in your own ignorance, and B: What you believe about self-realization is standing right in front of your wallflower like the group of popular kids you wanted to be accepted by.

The fact that the right here, right now... etc., is so right here, right now, leads one to conclude that it must be exceedingly subtle. It's awareness' awareness of awareness. We've never not known it, yet because it's always been there, we've never had the opportunity to notice it. If the light is on all the time, how will you ever know it is light?

The ideas that occlude self-realization are legion. Basically, anything you believe about self-realization can occlude. It's why Ramakrishna said that bhakti was the easiest path. Bhakti is not about self-realization when practiced in the spirit of surrender, freeing a mind from forming various ideas about realization based on what they've read, been told, or assumed by what they believe about their guru.

This is why I have such a problem with Adi Da. His is one of the most egregious examples alive. Kalki Bhagavan is up there as well, along with a few others. But Da seems the most extreme in his ideas about himself as a personality on the world stage. He appears to literally believe he is the number one, greatest spiritual being in the last couple hundred years... or more! And he expects his devotees to accept him as this. It's beyond the pale in my book.

However, I'm as sure as his most fervent devotee that he can function as a wonderful guru for some people, provided those people are fully convinced in his power. It's a ruse, like faith healing, one which some gurus are in on and some not. And there's nothing wrong with the ruse if it works, but there's big problems with the ideas people accept to join in on the ruse.

28 Comments:

At 9/28/2006 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, how to reconcile these lives with the life of a big-time, island-owning, self-proclaimed greatest-in-recent-history guru?

That is first problem. You are trying to reconcile. In a world with so much variety, you expect that all self-realized people should be the same? There is a flaw in your understanding self-realization. Even JeevanMuktas come in a lot of variety. The rishis of the past too had their own nature. Not everyone was same. Heard of Rishi Durvasa? He was so short-tempered, you would think he can't be self-realized if he can't control his anger! None, absolutely none of the real jnaanis and Gurus would fit into "your" expectations of a Real, True Guru. So there must be a problem with your understanding. Your understanding of self-realization is flawed.

 
At 9/28/2006 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big-time gurus are imagined to contain vast amounts of this power in various forms.

Most people believe that. And some of them wouldn't approve of someone who doesn't show miracles. If the Guru was too simple and introverted, people would go to a more Grand one. That's "public" for you...

Regarding the actual powers - I agree all powers lie inside everybody. Just that when ignorant, people identify themselves with the body and impose limitations on themselves. But all those powers which they want to see in the Guru are present in them too.
As people progress more in the spiritual path, as they meditate more and more, they start experiencing a glimpse of these powers. Some are able to see past and future, some are able to read minds, some overcome the limitations set by the body and can do apparently impossible activities etc etc. Most people fall in this trap. Their ego starts getting inflated thinking "I can do that, I can do this" etc. This is also a phase where some start the Guru Business. So if the Guru is trying to attract people with miracles, may be he is not fully realized.
Anyway, if the person really has desire of self-realization, he'll have to ignore all these siddhis and continue on the self inquiry until he attains self realization. So while the actual guru will have access to all those powers, he would not show it to people. Because in the path of spirituality, these powers mean nothing. Once you realize, brahman, you wouldn't have any use for these powers.

But it is also possible, that a guru does some miracle because people are attracted only by that. To attract them to the path of reality.

It doesn't matter whether the guru shows miracles or not. The disciple can attain self-realization even if Guru is not fully realized. Its not necessary for Guru to be genuine if the purpose in self realization for the disciple. Actually for some Gurus who have gone to jail, there disciples had become realized!

 
At 9/28/2006 8:05 AM, Anonymous durga said...

“The fact that the right here, right now... etc., is so right here, right now, leads one to conclude that it must be exceedingly subtle. It's awareness' awareness of awareness. We've never not known it, yet because it's always been there, we've never had the opportunity to notice it. If the light is on all the time, how will you ever know it is light?”

Jody, thanks you for posting your discussions on here. You have made it so i do not have to waste as much energy sifting through the BS.

I have one question for you, or any one else here: can you explain what the experience above is like for someone who has gone through it? What brings about this awareness? Intense meditation, reflection, psychotherapy? Having gone through a traumatic experience and realizing who one really is? All of the above? I have heard this idea many times and in different ways but have a hard time wrapping myself around it.

 
At 9/28/2006 9:10 AM, Blogger jody said...

That is first problem. You are trying to reconcile.

Actually, what I'm doing is discriminating.

In a world with so much variety, you expect that all self-realized people should be the same? There is a flaw in your understanding self-realization.

I would say the flaw lies with your characterization of what I'm doing.

Even JeevanMuktas come in a lot of variety. The rishis of the past too had their own nature. Not everyone was same. Heard of Rishi Durvasa? He was so short-tempered, you would think he can't be self-realized if he can't control his anger!

So? Was he a self-aggrandizing pig with his hands in other people's pants and pockets?

None, absolutely none of the real jnaanis and Gurus would fit into "your" expectations of a Real, True Guru.

The jnanis I know do, insofar as they're pretty much normal folks on the outside who are going about their life without a sycophancy addiction.

So there must be a problem with your understanding. Your understanding of self-realization is flawed.

Well, one of us has his head up his ass.

 
At 9/28/2006 9:13 AM, Blogger jody said...

Some are able to see past and future, some are able to read minds, some overcome the limitations set by the body and can do apparently impossible activities etc etc.

And most grossly overestimate the extent of these powers and their ability to wield them effectively.

The disciple can attain self-realization even if Guru is not fully realized. Its not necessary for Guru to be genuine if the purpose in self realization for the disciple.

We've got an opening for you on our editorial board if you're interested.

 
At 9/28/2006 9:15 AM, Blogger jody said...

can you explain what the experience above is like for someone who has gone through it?

How folks get there is perfectly idiosyncratic. It's going to different every time for every person, but when they come to it, they'll never be able to communicate what it's like. If believe they can, they don't got it.

 
At 9/28/2006 9:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are arguing over the taste of a pie we have not eaten. And we go to the extent that we are ready to challenge the person who has eaten it too!!!
Beats me...

May be this characteristic of man has caused all the wars in the name of religion. We are so strong-headed in our ignorance, and we try to preach (even force) our ignorance to others too...

A quote I remember -
A discussion is an exchange of knowledge. An argument is the exchange of ignorance.

I think you are more interested in argument than discussion!

 
At 9/28/2006 11:10 AM, Blogger jody said...

We are arguing over the taste of a pie we have not eaten

Speak for yourself.

we try to preach (even force) our ignorance to others too...

Or sometimes the pill is too bitter for the occlusion-bound ideologue to swallow.

I think you are more interested in argument than discussion!

I think you overestimate the value of what you are believing about gurus.

 
At 9/28/2006 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 35 years of being around big time and small time gurus, I have never seen a miracle or heard a believable story from someone I know and trust. These powers are mostly bullshit.

 
At 9/28/2006 4:54 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

durga said:
> can you explain what the
> experience above is like for
> someone who has gone through it?

Jody said he was talking about "something that is right here, right now, closer than our own breath, in every moment of our lives." Therefore, it's in THIS moment of YOUR life. You don't need any explanation of the experience, since it's already appeared, right in front of you, in this very moment.

jody said...
> How folks get there is perfectly
> idiosyncratic.

Now you're talking about "getting there." If you need to "get there," then you're no longer talking about what's right here in every moment of our lives.

http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/socalled.htm

 
At 9/28/2006 5:05 PM, Blogger jody said...

These powers are mostly bullshit.

Another candidate for the Guruphiliac editorial board.

 
At 9/28/2006 5:07 PM, Blogger jody said...

Now you're talking about "getting there." If you need to "get there," then you're no longer talking about what's right here in every moment of our lives.

If you need to "get there", what's right here, right now hasn't yet been noticed.

 
At 9/28/2006 6:36 PM, Anonymous durga said...

Stuart said: Now you're talking about "getting there." If you need to "get there," then you're no longer talking about what's right here in every moment of our lives.

So, basically, we should all just live our lives and forget about this guru bullshit and use our intuitive wisdom as a guide, and try to love each other as best we can as we go along in this mad world filled with violence and beauty (?).

 
At 9/28/2006 11:38 PM, Anonymous loveroftruth said...

Or sometimes the pill is too bitter for the occlusion-bound ideologue to swallow.

Or your crusade against the "occlusion" of other humans could very well be sadly misguided, because what experiences they are undergoing in their incarnation are perfect in the grand scheme of things. How can you declare with such firm conviction that it is they who are deluded and that your POV is the gold standard?


The jnanis I know do, insofar as they're pretty much normal folks on the outside who are going about their life without a sycophancy addiction.

So you and your psychologist buddies are all "jnanis". Hahahaha. Didn't you used to refer to yourself as a "jnani"? Have you withdrawn the self-appointed recognition?

At least your friends seem to be doing genuinely compassionate work as psychologists in alleviating the suffering of other human beings. Can't really say that about you. All you ever seem to do is speak condescendingly and perpetuate friction and divisiveness and anger in the online community.

I don't know of any universally recognized enlightened ones who did not/do not always embrace even the ugly and the profane with true compassion as their own Self. And I cannot think of a single truly enlightened one who has consistently and condescendingly bad-mouthed his/her contemporaries.

Please post this. I'm sure you will have something clever to say.

Thanks.

 
At 9/29/2006 7:24 AM, Blogger jody said...

Or your crusade against the "occlusion" of other humans could very well be sadly misguided, because what experiences they are undergoing in their incarnation are perfect in the grand scheme of things.

My rankled complaints are included in that same perfection.

How can you declare with such firm conviction that it is they who are deluded and that your POV is the gold standard?

Because it's my blog and they're my opinions.

So you and your psychologist buddies are all "jnanis".

They're not all psychologists, but it's interesting that you'd use the term to cast an aspersion on the value of their spiritual understanding.

Hahahaha. Didn't you used to refer to yourself as a "jnani"? Have you withdrawn the self-appointed recognition?

Yes. I'm just a know-it-all jerk now.

At least your friends seem to be doing genuinely compassionate work as psychologists in alleviating the suffering of other human beings. Can't really say that about you. All you ever seem to do is speak condescendingly and perpetuate friction and divisiveness and anger in the online community.

To those who cling to the notions I attack, I may grate. Others seems to like what I'm doing just fine.

I don't know of any universally recognized enlightened ones who did not/do not always embrace even the ugly and the profane with true compassion as their own Self. And I cannot think of a single truly enlightened one who has consistently and condescendingly bad-mouthed his/her contemporaries.

It takes a jerk with opinions to do that.

Please post this. I'm sure you will have something clever to say.

We aim to please.

 
At 9/29/2006 8:45 AM, Blogger falseguru said...

30 years ago I would have been angered and felt hurt by the light that Jody shines on the guru scene. I needed the stories of miracles and powers because I felt very much at risk in this world. Having meditated all these years and had many wonderful inner experiences and many wonderful outer experiences with a number of Saints and Yogis, I know now that the one who is at risk is doomed anyway and beyond the help of any imagined power. The stories and dramas are for inspiration and to keep us engaged.

I asked my own Guru about the reality of these siddhis and he said, "There is no such technology." At some point we have to go past the need for the stories whether they are bullshit or not. But suggesting that young seekers should not waste themselves believing in false gurus or miracle stories is like telling them not to fall in love. Most of us have to fall in love in order to get to the point where we know what lasting committed love is.

Thanks, Jody, for this blog. I don't agree with everything you say but I do appreciate you for saying it.

 
At 9/29/2006 7:51 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

loveroftruth said...
> Or your crusade against
> the "occlusion" of other humans
> could very well be sadly
> misguided, because what
> experiences they are undergoing
> in their incarnation are perfect
> in the grand scheme of things.

As Jody has already kind of hinted at... if we're going to see perfection, there's nothing that's stopping us from seeing it everywhere. In the blank-eyed empti-headed devotees; in the gurus who serve and exploit them; in Jody mocking them; in you mocking Jody; in me commenting on it all.

> I don't know of any universally
> recognized enlightened ones who
> did not/do not always embrace
> even the ugly and the profane
> with true compassion as their
> own Self.

Mistake! There's no such thing as a universally recognized enlightened one. In fact, there's no such thing as a universally recognized ANYTHING.

> And I cannot think of a single
> truly enlightened one who has
> consistently and condescendingly
> bad-mouthed his/her
> contemporaries.

This distinction between "truly enlightened" ones and ordinary Joes... why make that? OK, it's all perfect, so make whatever you want, by my question is perfect too.

Awareness and awakeness seems to be good medicine for fixing all sorts of suffering. If you divide the world into enlightened and unenlightened, how awake is that? And if you don't even acknowledge that it's your own thinking that creates this distinction, then that's REALLY being unaware.

http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/socalled.htm

 
At 9/29/2006 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They're not all psychologists, but it's interesting that you'd use the term to cast an aspersion on the value of their spiritual understanding.

Your understanding of jnanis certainly gives the impression they are nothing more.
Reading "everything is Brahman" in Upanishads and thinking it is true, doesn't make you self-realized! Nor does it become self-realization if the reader has humility.
Self-realization and humility do not always go together in fact.

 
At 9/29/2006 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've got an opening for you on our editorial board if you're interested.

Please reconsider! I think you are interested only in people who are against Gurus. I am neither for nor against them... I prefer looking at things objectively. If something is correct, it should not appear incorrect to me just because of my bias.

 
At 9/29/2006 9:06 PM, Blogger jody said...

I think you are interested only in people who are against Gurus.

I am interested in people who can see though gurudom and strip away the superstition and conjecture to reveal its very human heart.

 
At 9/29/2006 11:11 PM, Anonymous truthseeker said...

As Jody has already kind of hinted at... if we're going to see perfection, there's nothing that's stopping us from seeing it everywhere. In the blank-eyed empti-headed devotees; in the gurus who serve and exploit them; in Jody mocking them; in you mocking Jody; in me commenting on it all.

Sshhh... you're revealing the big secret ;-)


Mistake! There's no such thing as a universally recognized enlightened one. In fact, there's no such thing as a universally recognized ANYTHING.

I think everyone here knows what I meant. Perhaps I should have said "those teachers who have received near-universal recognition and respect in society as jnanis (knowers of Advaitic truths). The Ramanas, Buddhas and even the UGKs."


This distinction between "truly enlightened" ones and ordinary Joes... why make that? OK, it's all perfect, so make whatever you want, by my question is perfect too.


I was merely making that distinction to call Jody on his bluff.


Awareness and awakeness seems to be good medicine for fixing all sorts of suffering. If you divide the world into enlightened and unenlightened, how awake is that? And if you don't even acknowledge that it's your own thinking that creates this distinction, then that's REALLY being unaware.

Well, I personally find it useful to "recognize" that person "a" is enlightened and is speaking the Truth (or at least has something that is of real and lasting value for me), and person "b" is merely running his mouth because he just feels the need to do so. I would rather listen to person "a" even if person "b" thinks that person "a" is full of shit and that "a" is hindering my personal understanding of Truth.

I know you have a very Zen approach to everything Stuart, but I don't think in terms of all influences in my life being of equal value to me. Hence the distinction between the words of the "enlightened" and the "jerks with an opinion". Of course, the "jerk with an opinion" does speak some truths, which I recognize and even value, but these truths are usually buried under such a thick veneer of "lies" that few are privy to it.

 
At 9/30/2006 7:50 PM, Blogger jody said...

"b" is merely running his mouth because he just feels the need to do so.

Person "a" would be running his mouth for exactly the same reason, because he felt the need to do so. There is no other reason to run your mouth.

 
At 9/30/2006 7:59 PM, Blogger jody said...

Reading "everything is Brahman" in Upanishads and thinking it is true, doesn't make you self-realized!

No, seeing yourself as the Atman does.

Self-realization and humility do not always go together in fact.

Self-realization goes with whatever you've got at the time it dawns on you.

 
At 10/02/2006 5:07 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

Durga said:
> So, basically, we should all
> just live our lives and forget
> about this guru bullshit and use
> our intuitive wisdom as a guide,
> and try to love each other as
> best we can as we go along in
> this mad world filled with
> violence and beauty (?).

Hey, Durga, sounds like a pretty good life direction to me!

I've got no problem at all with anyone following the guru of their choice. Meeting teachers and listening to them is part of mad beauty of life.

I do, however, recommend filtering it all through our own intuitive wisdom. Those gurus who teach, "Follow me, because only I've got the highest truth" get a thumbs down from me.

 
At 10/02/2006 5:16 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

truthseeker wrote:
> Well, I personally find it
> useful to "recognize" that
> person "a" is enlightened and is
> speaking the Truth (or at least
> has something that is of real
> and lasting value for me), and
> person "b" is merely running his
> mouth because he just feels the
> need to do so.

Sure, it's great to distinguish between the things (words, ideas, actions) that we find helpful, vs those that we don't.

The same person can give wonderfully helpful teachings in some situations, and spout nonsense in others. That's why I'd recommend recognizing helpful teachings WHEREVER they come from, rather than making distinctions between the mouthpieces of the teachings ("he's enlightened, but he's not").

 
At 10/02/2006 7:22 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

Stuart:
> Mistake! There's no such thing
> as a universally recognized
> enlightened one. In fact,
> there's no such thing as a
> universally recognized ANYTHING.

truthseeker:
> I think everyone here knows what
> I meant. Perhaps I should have
> said "those teachers who have
> received near-universal
> recognition and respect in
> society as jnanis (knowers of
> Advaitic truths). The Ramanas,
> Buddhas and even the UGKs."

Actually, what I think you were saying is "those teachers who are respected by the people I choose to hang out with and listen to." It's kind of circular. If you chose to only associate with people who think "Mr Belevedere" was profound television, then it would APPEAR to you that this is a universally accepted opinion.

But reality checks have some use. The teacher who has by far the most respect is Jesus. We know that even that's hardly universal, and even the people who call themselves Christian are mostly just giving lip-service.

What to speak of Ramana (whom only a minority of people outside of India hold in any esteem), Buddha (whose followers are few), and what a tiny percentage of people care at all about any Krishnamurti?

There are 2 points here, both strong. (1) There's absolutely nothing like a consensus on what a good teacher or teaching is. The Golden Rule is as close as it gets. (2) Even if there were such a consensus, why bother with other people's opinions; why not think for ourselves?

Stuart
http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/socalled.htm

 
At 12/31/2006 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>I have one question for you, or any >one else here: can you explain what >the experience above is like for >someone who has gone through it?

Try 'Perfect Brilliant Stillness' by David Carse. Stuffy title but a kickass book.

 
At 2/15/2010 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In some traditions, the greatest 'power' or siddhi a guru can have is the ability to awaken others to their own state of consciousness. Adi Da is known for having no awakened followers. He even acknowledged this in a talk in which he blamed his followers for not practicing his teachings. Around true gurus, awakening just happens on its own.

 

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