> 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:
> 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.