"The Guru Papers"
Posted by: goneinawhistle ()
Date: August 23, 2017 08:32PM

Very interesting book I've just come across called the "The Guru Papers" which takes apart the Eastern guru/disciple relationship.

I'm working my way through it, but I'm looking forward to the section called "Healing crippled self-trust".

I'm not receiving anything for this recommendation by the way! I did a lot of online research as the reviews are a bit mixed and their website design seemed a bit new-agey and put me off. But enjoying the book so far, and since I have been doing a lot of research and only just came across it, I thought I would share.

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Re: "The Guru Papers"
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 24, 2017 03:12AM

The Alstads did a service when they published Guru Papers. That became
the earliest self help guide for people who were grievously wounded in
Guru led groups.

Here are some earlier articles on this message board that may be
helpful.

I highly recommend obtaining the book by interlibrary loan so you can read
the entire chapter and see if other gurus you know are mentioned.

In a later chapter, Kakar describes a visit he made to a female guru named Nirmala Devi. H

This is a brief quotation from a chapter entitled "The Way of the Saints"
from Shamans, Mystics and Doctors:A Psychological
Inquiry into India and Its Healing Tradition
s, 1982 .

Here Kakar describes the way any guru can fall into delusions of grandeur.

[forum.culteducation.com]

Powerful emotional states are generated within the highly charged communities
that condense around a guru. Any rock star will tell you what a charge
they feel from the concert audience. Imagine what the possibilities are
when a crowd of devotees have shared hopes, shared devotional exercises
where they visualize the guru, chant the same litanies, then all gather
together for darshan with the guru. Except for some infamous politicians
few secular settings come close to this.

[forum.culteducation.com]

Distortions of Gratitude

[forum.culteducation.com]

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Re: "The Guru Papers"
Posted by: goneinawhistle ()
Date: August 24, 2017 03:41AM

It's a really good read, I've been glued to it all day. I wish I could transcribe the whole thing here!

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Re: "The Guru Papers"
Posted by: Misstyk ()
Date: September 02, 2017 03:27AM

I just took a look at the book on Amazon. This looks very valuable, full of psychological insights about why people fall for cults, the different dynamics at work, etc. OP, if you could provide a detailed book review when you're done with the book, maybe summarizing each chapter, it would be very helpful to any future readers, here.

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Re: "The Guru Papers"
Posted by: goneinawhistle ()
Date: September 14, 2017 03:35PM

I'm still reading it at the moment. It feels spot on in some places, and in others I'm put off by what seem to completely unsupported, general and manifesto-like statements about how the world is or should be. It is written by two people in the form of separate essays, which might explain why it changes tone intermittently. I've downgraded my initial excitement as I entered the second half of the book (I read the first half in one day and I'm still on the second half one month later), but it makes some really valuable points about authoritarian control and Gurus that I haven't read anywhere else.

Also, perhaps my academic background is interfering, but I'm put off by the lack of any references to any other work or any examples of any kind. It is entirely theoretical. As I sat there reading page after page of polemic against authoritarianism, I was enjoying it but I became aware of my confirmation bias towards anything that puts down cults. I'm not supporting cults, I'm just saying that 'The Guru Papers'rarely shows how it reached its (nonetheless interesting) conclusions. They make it clear at the start of the book that they don't intend to. So that's worth something.

The section on healing crippled self-trust is excellent and helpful as expected. There's a long treatise on addiction as a battle of (equally fragmented) good self vs bad self, that 'made sense' to me intellectually but is perhaps not much use to someone in the grips of addiction. Some of it feels a little dated (social and psychological ideas from the 70s I would say?) and some of it occasionally approaches dogmatism.

They make a great point that has stuck with me about the masochistic euphoria and pleasure of childlike submission that cults engage in and label as 'surrender'.

After reading it I (perhaps masochistically) was scanning this 'Mooji satsang' and I thought this was a perfect example:

[youtu.be]

In this book they describe this cycle of submission and euphoria as never-ending and always in need of renewal.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/14/2017 03:43PM by goneinawhistle.

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Re: "The Guru Papers"
Posted by: goneinawhistle ()
Date: September 14, 2017 03:49PM

I've just realised I've perhaps done the same thing as the authors and made statements about the book without giving any evidence to back up my opinion! I may go back and try to find some examples of why I felt what I did.

I don't want to focus on the negative too much though, it is a really good read in places, especially when there is such a lack of available reading resources on the subject.

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Re: "The Guru Papers"
Posted by: goneinawhistle ()
Date: September 15, 2017 03:37AM

OK after my earlier comments today I had another look. I think really there are just two sections, one about addiction, and another about defining unconditional love which were interesting but too theoretical for me and seemed to go on for ever. They made good points, but in the end I skipped ahead.

I'm now onto reading about an analysis of how Gurus use the concepts of oneness, awakening experiences and enlightenment to control people. It's fascinating again. I think they just didn't mention Gurus enough in the previous two sections!

Another great key point repeated a few times through the book is how by claiming selflessness, a Guru's motivations inevitably 'go underground'and become shadows that the group agree not to see.

This last section has included the odd anecdote and example. I think the difference is that the stories in most cult analysis books are so personal, whereas this doesn't delve into the authors own motivations or background, for whatever reason I don't know. And there are no case studies or anything like that (so far- about 80 pages left to go)

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Re: "The Guru Papers"
Posted by: Misstyk ()
Date: September 23, 2017 08:57AM

goneinawhistle Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'm still reading it at the moment. It feels spot
> on in some places, and in others I'm put off by
> what seem to completely unsupported, general and
> manifesto-like statements about how the world is
> or should be. It is written by two people in the
> form of separate essays, which might explain why
> it changes tone intermittently. I've downgraded my
> initial excitement as I entered the second half of
> the book (I read the first half in one day and I'm
> still on the second half one month later), but it
> makes some really valuable points about
> authoritarian control and Gurus that I haven't
> read anywhere else.
>
> Also, perhaps my academic background is
> interfering, but I'm put off by the lack of any
> references to any other work or any examples of
> any kind. It is entirely theoretical. As I sat
> there reading page after page of polemic against
> authoritarianism, I was enjoying it but I became
> aware of my confirmation bias towards anything
> that puts down cults. I'm not supporting cults,
> I'm just saying that 'The Guru Papers'rarely shows
> how it reached its (nonetheless interesting)
> conclusions. They make it clear at the start of
> the book that they don't intend to. So that's
> worth something.
>
> The section on healing crippled self-trust is
> excellent and helpful as expected. There's a long
> treatise on addiction as a battle of (equally
> fragmented) good self vs bad self, that 'made
> sense' to me intellectually but is perhaps not
> much use to someone in the grips of addiction.
> Some of it feels a little dated (social and
> psychological ideas from the 70s I would say?) and
> some of it occasionally approaches dogmatism.
>
> They make a great point that has stuck with me
> about the masochistic euphoria and pleasure of
> childlike submission that cults engage in and
> label as 'surrender'
.
>
> After reading it I (perhaps masochistically) was
> scanning this 'Mooji satsang' and I thought this
> was a perfect example:
>
> [youtu.be]
>
> In this book they describe this cycle of
> submission and euphoria as never-ending and always
> in need of renewal.

The bolded is huge. I see a LOT of that play out in various "spiritual movements" in Russia. (They don't call them cults.) I'm not sure what to make of it all. It seems that some people--not sure if this is a human need/tendency, or an indication of some kind of dysfunction--do have a need for, or a longing for, spiritual surrender or devotion. The problem with that is that it involves a complete suspension of any critical thinking, so it really opens people up to manipulation and potentially--abuse.

I'm having trouble sorting out the difference between what might be "cultural" vs. our modern way of perceiving it as "psychological". In certain cultural contexts, it seems like a medieval mindset that hasn't fully matured or modernized. In the West, we analyze it as needy people looking for an idealized parent, and that sort of thing.

In any case, it sounds like the book has some helpful chapters, and offers plenty of food for thought.

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Re: "The Guru Papers"
Posted by: goneinawhistle ()
Date: September 23, 2017 05:27PM

"In any case, it sounds like the book has some helpful chapters, and offers plenty of food for thought."

Or if anyone has already 'spiritually bypassed' thought, let's hope it's food for their gut :)

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