There are two articles in this same thread that deal with concerns expressed earlier by solea:
“The nature of the 'spiritual teacher'/'disciple' dyad makes impossible to do any sort of scientific examination to see if the teacher's claims are true or actually help people.
John Wren-Lewis was a scientist and found himself in a state nondual realization as a result of a medical crisis.
W-L's His entire article is very interesting in that he found that that guru/spiritual teacher role created a pattern of social relationships that actually militated against any truly scientific inquiry into the nature of enlightenment itself or of what gurus themselves were supposed to be so expert about.
For in the atmosphere of reverence around spiritual teachers, their claims to be enlightened and whether enlightenment was permanent or an impermanent state, went unquestioned and uncorrected.”
These comments are from Agehananda Bharati, born in Austria, with a solid Western Humanist education, who became a Sanskrit scholar and a sadhu in India. He practiced within the major nondualist Hindu systems in India and reached sufficient proficiency that he taught philosophy at Delhi University and Benares Hindu University. And was intiated into a tantric tradition as well. Though he loved his Hindu tradition, Bharati stated that he found that it had limitations.
“U: You are an initiate of an advaitic school, but you don’t really care for advaitic philosophy, as you have said. Why?
Bharati: I think, first of all, it doesn’t really generate a sense of humor. It’s also very dry, and the trouble is, the great pieces of Indian art and music were composed in spite of monism, not because of it. But monism is a good, solid guideline for the kind of meditation I enjoy. But I think it’s drudgery, I think it’s very bad philosophy.
U: In what way?
**Bharati: For me, philosophy is to solve problems. In monism, there are no problems. The problems (that remain in monism) are of a linguistic sort.
U: Could you give us a one-sentence or one paragraph summary of your own summum bonum?
Bharati: My own personal philosophy? I think that the modern mind has to work on several levels. At one time I called it syncretistic parallelism. By that I mean that you live the religious life by whatever form of meditation, which is purely private and not communicable, and you lead whatever social and active life you choose. The two don’t meet, even schedule-wise, because you do them at different times of the day.
' I enjoy the meditation, but I think if you try to make a bridge between the meditation and the philosophy, you’re in great trouble, because it bars you from doing good philosophy.”
earlier in the interview, Bharati said this:
“I don’t think eastern mysticism is very attractive. But I think it’s of psycho-experimental importance, it’s one of those things that you can do to skim confidently over your problems, which I find very helpful.”
In his book, The light at The Center: Context and Pretext of Modern Mysticism, Bharati studied the anthropology of nondual experiences and the role expections embedded in the guru/devotee relationship.
Bharati found that devotees in India were socialized by the culture, as well as the guru, to behave in a particular way with gurus. Only certain kinds of questions could be asked. It was normal and appropriate to tell miracle stories that their guru could levitate, etc. These were part of the saint-making conventions of India, the language of holiness.
One guru told Bharati he most certainly could not levitate and it was nonsense that his disciples said he could. Bharati regretted he had not had the guts to tell the guru, 'So, why dont you use your teaching authority to forbid your followers to tell stories about you that are untrue and keep them childish in relation to you?' But Bharati stayed polite. In order to keep gathering his information he dared not make too many scenes.
Bharati himself wandered much of India on foot as a sadhu and in his biography, The Ochre Robe, describes the stereotypical kinds of questions asked him again and yet again in villages throughout India.
And..gurus were stuck in pre-formatted roles and very few tried to break out of those roles.
What Bharati would deplore is that this same restrictive student teacher relationship has now been translated to the US and people are just as effectively pre-socialized in the 'seeker's circuit' to only report certain experinces, keep mum about anything 'negative' and only relate with thier teachers in a particular way. Ditto for teachers.
Its not healthy in India and not good for us, either.