Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ruby Tuesday

File under: Gurubusting

Today the googles gave us Ruby Lilaowala, a columnist published in India's Cybernoon.com. Ruby's latest screed attempts to instruct us as to exactly what a "real guru" is... from about 600 years ago:
A real guru shuns our type of hectic, rush-rush, noisy world and mostly lives in seclusion either in a forest or a mountain-top.
Over here in the States, they'd have to be quite financially well-off to live in places like that. It would be a problem for any guru in the West to live up to Ruby's ridiculous conventions.

It's your standard Hindu puritanism, the heaviest fetter laying siege to the wisdom of the Vedas. But it's a not surprising reaction to the Westernization of Hinduism in India. It's as if Hinduism mutated in America and has bounced back to its motherland, supplanting the native species in what amounts to an ecological disaster.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Kalki Bhagavan, Swami Ramdev and a few more are all symptomatic of this problem. It's Bollywood in the ashram, and a tremendously long way from the ashrams of old.

But reciting worn-out superstitions about the nature of self-realization isn't going to bring back the good old days. Let's face it, the guru-as-pop-star is here to stay.

And sadly enough, anyone with a twinkle in their eye and some skill massaging egos – as well as a productive PR department – can reach the ranks of those men and women making millions with the ruse that they are more God than you and I, essentially stuffing their faces with a lusty, gluttonous glee right in front of us.

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7 Comments:

At 2/27/2007 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jody,

The real problem starts when in our pinhead minds (yes that's what we just stop at the mind and seldom cross it :)) we start building concepts of what a Guru should be..oh should live in the hermit...oh how come this Guru is OK with mass crowds adoring...hmm something wrong..self aggrandization..cry false Guru, false Guru..read a few articles in newspapers, hear stories ands from one or two persons who've been with a Guru who because of their own limited concepts of a Guru start displaying discomfort more than any real knowldedge....and aha then just completely I mean in consummate entirety put a blanket on many other diametrically opposite experiences/stories/opinions. Why ? because the former is good to fuel our own tiny idea and concept of what a Sadguru is. There is tremendous pleasure in it isn't it ? Who cares to know more about that guru...I have labelled him/her as self-aggrandizing, why bother to go a bit deeper. It doesn't fuel one's hobby !!

Yes, there are the charlatans but it is not always and armchair endeavor to perceive them ..little more effort on the field is necessary. Even Swami Vivekananda had major issue about Guru's and traditional customs ...it was finally his direct experience in the presence of the Paramhansa that cleared the vision. If he would have read of Ramakrishna only papers and from a few convenient people there were good chances he would have called him a crazy false Guru...

Experience of the self, self-less service and some direct contact with a Master hmm...what's that!...oh yes judgements, opinions and words about the Self and Guru.. a BIG flood of those !

Enjoy :)

 
At 2/27/2007 9:47 PM, Blogger jody said...

I have labelled him/her as self-aggrandizing, why bother to go a bit deeper.

The self-aggrandizement is trouble enough. Don't get me started on all the ridiculous, superstitious nonsense these "gurus" spew, essentially occluding the Self in their devotees with the ludicrous notions about self-realization they use to keep their satsangs fat and flush with cash.

Also, please note that Vivekananda never spoke about Ramakrishna to his Western audiences. He knew RK was a crazy and queer man, and he also knew that being somewhat crazy and queer wasn't incompatible with self-realization and gurudom, but he was smart enough to know that it wouldn't go over too well in the West, hence his silence.

 
At 2/27/2007 11:05 PM, Blogger jody said...

it is not always an armchair endeavor to perceive them

But one can get a good idea about where a guru is coming from by the quality and character of their content in the media.

 
At 2/28/2007 6:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jody,

Your critiques of gurus are funny, enjoyable, sometimes enlightening. In at least one case, you are doing a public service by publishing accounts by people who've been burned by a liar calling himself "Guru". However.......

Sometimes I wonder at your blanket rejection of all things remotely Eastern. You label all customs from India as "superstitions" or "occluding nonsense". Much of what you are criticising probably is one or both of the above, true enough. But.......

If you have a kid, and the kid is 3 years old and asks you "what is sex?" do you show them an explicit film on sex? Or do you tell them some fairy tale, some oblique nonsense, until they are old enough to even understand what they are asking about, much less the answer to the question? (That's just one example of how you might not tell a small child the truth of a subject -- there are many such subjects that kids can't understand until they are older.)

In the same way, most of the planet is spiritually around 3 years old, imo. If you give them the raw, unvarnished truth, they will go screaming, running away, pulling out their hair, and be no better off (the extreme reaction); or they will look at you like you are a donkey, and wonder "what happened to this guy's brain?" because they simply wouldn't believe you, no matter what you said; or they would lable you an enemy of their religion and shoot you (another extreme, but possible reaction).

Face it Jody, many and most people really don't want the Truth. They want a fairy tale, and are actually benefitted by sitting around in groups singing bhajans. It is a far better use of their time than sitting at home torturing some relative with gossip, or fighting with each other. For a few hours, these people are relieved of their ugliness, through chanting the names of God. What is the harm in this? They can't understand more than this, so why bother them?

Even the worst Gurus, if they are offering satsang of this type, are doing at least some public service, keeping people off the streets and out of trouble for a few hours, focussed on something a little less base than "how can I rob my brother of his house...." (a common pass time in India, haha).

Even the Great Nisargadatta Maharaj went, occasionally, to satsangs, remarking first to his close disciples that it was ignorance, yes, but it was what these people were capable of understanding and helped them somewhat.

Why try to make a dog into a bird? People don't want the Truth. They want to feel better. So if mantras and superstitions and advice like "treat each other with love and affection, don't hurt one another....." makes them better human beings, why try to change them? They are not ready to listen to anything else. They are not interested.

 
At 2/28/2007 11:26 AM, Blogger jody said...

Sometimes I wonder at your blanket rejection of all things remotely Eastern

And I wonder at your blanket assumption that I reject all things Eastern.

I am a Vedantin and tantric shakta in the tradition of Ramakrishna/Vivekananda. However, I know that superstition is not an essential component of any of these, despite what the hagiography of Ramakrishna suggests.

Furthermore, I've become aware of the fact that ideas, conjectures and speculations about the nature of self-realization – which many of these big-time gurus use as recruitment devices – do absolutely nothing except to occlude the ever-living truth of the Self as it exists in each and every one of us.

People don't want the Truth. They want to feel better.

Then they should find another blog to read.

My aim is to remove occluding ideas about self-realization from spiritual culture. It's a Quixotic quest and a battle I am sure to lose, but I am compelled from deep within to do so.

Believing in Santa Claus may be fun for kids, but it doesn't work for adults. My message to the superstition-bound masses of seekers in the world: grow up, dummies!

 
At 2/28/2007 4:02 PM, Blogger CHUCK said...

anonymoose said Why try to make a dog into a bird? People don't want the Truth.

..........

Words spoken like pigeon shit from the ivory tower! Of course people want the truth but they're scared of it. Let them take their sad and pimpled asses forthwith! Why try to make a dog into a bird when you can make them into a bird dog or a coon hound. Then they will at least be useful!

 
At 3/06/2007 5:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous said:

>>>It is a far better use of their time than sitting at home torturing some relative with gossip, or fighting with each other>>>

This reminds me of the Bhgavatha Sapthagam (Srimad Bhagavatham Savoured in 7 days) that took place in SriRangam several years ago.
When M.Rajagopala Saastrigal was about to leave a young woman implored Him to continue for one more week thus betraying the fact she knew nothing/or had not attended. When quizzed she blurted out that there was peace in the house as her inlaws were kept preoccupied for 7 days.

It is His Reply that is full of dry and wry humour. He said:

" Now I realize, that, even those who do not listen to Bhagavatham are immensely benefitted "

 

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