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General Problems with Gurus
Posted by: swissalyst ()
Date: September 16, 2018 09:43PM

I am new here, so I do not know if threads have to be about individual "Cults," Sects, and "New Religious Movements", or if you welcome discussion about widespread general problems.

Assuming you do welcome general discussion, the recent post about Mooji by Sahara71 -- "people aren't becoming enlightened through this teaching" -- [] reminded me of some similar observations I once saw in a blog post about this "universal problem":


The criticism of teachers or gurus not being able to "deliver" is a universal problem. The factors of this are quite simple:

1. Teacher does not understand what awakening is or how it happens, even if he (or her) himself is awakened. Therefore,
2. He has no clarity and enough skillfulness in his ways to convey it through exact verbal descriptions and
3. The particular techniques aimed to generate awakening might be altogether irrelevant or only vaguely relevant.

So if the problem is in the teacher and his methods... and he blames the students for not getting awakened... What does it tell about the teacher? This is professional incompetence. In every other profession, they'd be kicked out for not being able to perform their job. Right?


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Re: General Problems with Gurus
Posted by: Sahara71 ()
Date: September 19, 2018 01:19PM

Hi Swissalyst,

I wonder if this is the article you are talking about? I found it fascinating too. I will have to re-read it.


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Re: General Problems with Gurus
Posted by: Sahara71 ()
Date: September 19, 2018 05:30PM

Sorry, I just realised that you had the link in your post. And I've just read the blog post from your link.

It's interesting. I really don't know if there is such a thing as enlightenment, anymore. I think people experience spirituality in different ways.

My understanding is that Buddhist monks can clock up tens of thousands of hours of meditation and still not experience "enlightenment". So it's got to be an elusive thing, right? If they can't get it, it's unlikely to be something that we can get by reading some new-age book, is it?

Or going to yoga classes or contemplating the nature of being through self-inquiry, non-dual philosophy or whatever. It just seems pretty unlikely that most people are ever going to become enlightened.

I don't see this as a bad thing, either. There is so much in life to enjoy.... Why focus on some elusive goal that might not even change your life all that much? Like the Zen Buddists say:

Before Zen, chop wood, carry water.
After Zen, chop wood, carry water.

In other words; same, same, but different. You might obtain enlightenment and find that everything remains more or less the same.

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Re: General Problems with Gurus
Posted by: swissalyst ()
Date: September 19, 2018 05:37PM

Yes, there is a link to the source article underneath the quote.

Interesting that, in the article you found, the author puts Mooji in the “nice guy” category, whereas the comments tell quite a different story.

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Re: General Problems with Gurus
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 19, 2018 10:06PM

Forty years ago, an Austrian born Hindu monk named Agehananda Bharati wrote
about the search for enlightenment in a book entitled Light at the Center: Context and Pretext of Modern Mysticism (1970s, Jossey Bass).

Bharati was both a Sanksrit scholar and an anthropologist as well as being
an ordained sanyassi in one of the Shankara Dasnami sects.
(Bharati wrote a memoir entitled The Ochre Robe - fascinating read.)

I caution the reader that Light at the Center is a difficult read, but well worth the effort. Bharati wrote responding to the issues of the 1960s and 1970s when 'mysticism' was the new thing. Bharati discussed several issues in Light at the Center:

* Defining "mysticism' and 'mystic" -- unless a word has descriptive precision, using it brings confusion.

* Who is a mystic

* What is the goal (target) of a mystic

* What is enlightenment. Bharati called it "zero state"; this may correspond to what others term non dual realization.

Bharati felt qualified to discuss this because he states he experienced zero state himself in several quite different situations. Two times, spontaneously, before he became a Hindu monk, and unconnected with any meditative or yoga practice whatsover, a third time, after (not during but after) he had participated in a tantric ritual and the fourth time after using LSD-25, supplied in pure form by Sandoz, while it was still legal.

Bharati for himself, found that all of these resembled orgasm. He suspected that
the real goal of realization is the ability to experience total ecstasy all by oneself, total autonomy.

Bharati also found that there is no activity that reliably brings non dual realization.

Repeat, there is no activity or method that reliably brings non dual realization. Anyone who claims they can give it to you or can teach you a method that will enable you to produce it is a charlatan.

Bharati tells us that yoga and aestheticism are what professional religious in India were and are expected to do, period. One cannot produce experiences of realization, meanwhile one must fill out one's day and behave according to
society's expectation of how a sage should behave.

Bharati assured the reader that his experience of zero state was the same in all four instances. He stated that he used his opportunities as a monk to query others, both professional and non professional meditators, and their reports matched Bharati's own experience.

Bharati also tells us that having interviewed many who had had zero experience along with witnessing himself, he had to report that character and moral behavior were entirely separate from zero experience (or if you will, non dual realization or enlightenment.)

Bharati, in his years in India, travelled on foot as a monk, teaching in villages, later taught at Banaras Hindu University and met many gurus. He also met many lay practitioners and celebrated holy persons. He tells us a number of things.

* In India the term 'saint' does not denote holiness or virtue. It refers to someone who has dedicated his or her life to pursuit of non dual realization - liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

* Bharati as an anthropologist, warns us that India is a land of ascriptions. There is no official group that ordains or awards titles or certifies someone as genuine. A person gathers a reputation by others talking about him, treating her or him as a realized sage.

Bharati tells us that whether someone becomes a celebrated sage depends a great deal upon publicity. In the old days, it depended on how close the sages ashram was to bus or train transport; today internet and social media enable anyone
from any background to present as a sage.

** Bharati's big revelation (to me, anyway) was discovering that while in the midst of zero experience, it is almost impossible to DO anything or SAY anything -- it is no different from being in the midst of orgasm. To speak articulately
and describe one's non dual experience, to be able to speak articulately and charmingly to a satsang audience, one must be outside of the nondual experience.

You cannot describe or talk about orgasm while in its midst.

Bharati tells us that in India a convention developed for sprititual teachers to adopt a heightened special manner of speaking, because this was expected of anyone in the role of guru, sage, spiritual teaching. It as like the clothes one was expected to wear.

You speak as though you are in the midst of realization, gurus are expected to speak this way, so this has caused people to assume that one can be in nondual realization ALL THE TIME.

No, Bharati says, having experienced it himself. You cannot be in non dual realization all the time. The state is not permanent.

Years ago, there was an essay entitled The Strange Case of Paul Franklin Jones (aka Adi Da), through which I first learned about Light at the Center. Part of that essay mentioned the guru language issue.




'In my original essay, I entertained the suggestion of Agehananda Bharati that enlightenment, or the zero experience” as he calls it, is by definition temporary. It cannot be clung to, and anyone experiencing it is basically incapable of normal functioning, for as long as it lasts.

Doesn't this go against nearly everything enlightenment masters have claimed? Not exactly, at least not as Bharati explains it.

Bharati's most effective argument hinges on the distinction between emic and etic modes of speech. Though the nuances of these technical terms drawn from anthropology are not always clear in Bharati’s work, basically emic refers to the encoded private language of in-groups,; while etic refers to the language of the objective outside observer. Bharati contends that the emic speech of Indian sadhus is governed by complex, unspoken codes, codes that are rarely noticed, much less understood, by outsiders, no matter how clever or perceptive. One of the unwritten rules is that gurus must never acknowledge being in any state other than that of full realization.

"Master, how often do you enter that state of highest bliss and realization?"

"My child, I am in that state even now."

Bharatis claim is that because of the rules governing the speech of Indian mystics, the guru *has no choice but to assert that he is always enjoying satchitananda, even when he knows perfectly well that he is not*.

Further, according to Bharatis understanding, the very fact that the guru is exerting himself by speaking in public proves that he is not, in that moment, enjoying the state of enlightenment. If he were, there would be no motive to speak. Most importantly, from the emic perspective of insiders, there is no dishonesty in this claim to permanent enlightenment, despite the undeniable fact that it is objectively false.

Bharati asserts that a dispassionate look at the evidence will suggest, though not prove, that enlightened states are by their very nature temporary. The great mystics are those who frequently enter transcendent states and make the cultivation of the zero experience the dominant focus of their lives, but no one is permanently in the state of highest illumination. The very idea that one can experience enlightenment twenty-four hours a day is the product of a too literal etic understanding of the emic speech of professional mystics, *who not incidentally benefit from this linguistic confusion.*

Back to mysticism and character.

Bharati stated that if you are a stinker before you have zero experience, you will remain a stinker after you have non dual experience.

Bharati likened non dual realization/zero experience with an aesthetic experience and said, you do not learn to love your neighbor by playing the cello beautifully. To become a better and kinder and moral human person, you need to do character training, and that is entirely different from mysticism.

Thus, Bharati resolves the anguished question so many of us have: how can a realized sage behave immorally, unethically, have terrible political beliefs?

Easily. Great writers and great musicians have been and are addicts who keep lawyers busy, keep police departments busy.

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Re: General Problems with Gurus
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 19, 2018 11:42PM

Games played during satsangs


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Re: General Problems with Gurus
Posted by: swissalyst ()
Date: September 19, 2018 11:56PM

I can vaguely remember reading Arthur Koestler’s The Lotus and the Robot. As I remember it, his conclusion was that the real goal of the practices in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras was to gain powers of various sorts. Needless to say, these powers would enable one to benefit at other people’s expense. All this stuff about yoga being noble or “spiritual” was just part of the smokescreen. Caveat emptor.

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Re: General Problems with Gurus
Posted by: Sahara71 ()
Date: September 20, 2018 06:17AM

Cowboy and Swissalyst,

That's interesting what Bharati describes, that finding enlightenment doesn't change your character at all. So you would have to wonder what the point of enlightenment actually is? If it doesn't help society in any way, it doesn't make you a better person or anything? Why even bother with it?

Bharati says that if you were a stinker before realising the truth, you will be a stinker after realising the truth.

I will put these new findings into a new Zen saying:

Before Zen, you are a Stinker
After Zen, you are a Stinker

It has a bit of a ring to it, no? :)
In the case of some gurus (Mooji does come to mind, interestingly) could you become even more of a stinker, on being realised, than you already were? I think we could make a case for this, as power does certainly corrupt, in some instances.

I guess that in the past, enlightenment was sought after within religious traditions that upheld moral standards. It wasn't something that an ordinary person could go after, in the absence of any kind of moral framework.

Just using the example of Zen Buddhists, they had a lot of rules for how to live their lives. It wasn't all about meditating all day. You had to respect and honour all sentient beings. You had to practice compassion.

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Re: General Problems with Gurus
Posted by: swissalyst ()
Date: September 20, 2018 06:37AM

Sahara71 Wrote:
> could you become even more of
> a stinker, on being realised, than you already
> were?

Some of these practices that dissolve the conditioned personality will, in the course of time. also dissolve the superego (i.e., your introjected social values).

When this happens, there is then nothing to prevent the id from acting out its sexual, hostile, and aggressive urges ad libitum.

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Re: General Problems with Gurus
Posted by: Sahara71 ()
Date: September 20, 2018 07:24AM


Do you think enlightenment could make you into a psychopath???

Maybe that is what is going on!

But I think also that people with sociopathic traits are attracted to obtaining enlightenment, because they feel it can gain them some kind of power. I'm no psychologist, of course.

But I've poked around some online non-dual communities and what I have noticed is a complete lack of compassion is many of the participants. They are not friendly at all. They are hostile towards you if you ask questions. It's like they are more egotistical than the average person, not less so. They are a little bit over-analytical and devoid of emotion.

That is just my experience. I haven't really been on heaps of Internet forums, so maybe the Internet is just a hostile, unfriendly place? That could explain it!

But when it comes to Mooji followers.... they were just mindless and absent. Quoting the same 'Mooji-isms' over and over again. They fall back on the same lines all the time. You aren't really welcome to ask questions there, either, but they will at least pray for you!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/20/2018 07:29AM by Sahara71.

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