"surrendering to and doing the will of a spiritual master is an essential ingredient of spiritual practice"?
Many people that participate on this message board find this statement very unsettling.
Many people have a spiritual practice without surrendering to a "spiritual master."
Yes, it is very unsettling and I hope that hoax108 did not mean that as a generalized statement. Within the many branches of Vaishnavism and Hinduism, having a family guru is traditional in India. The concept of surrender is very different in India than how it manifested in the west. That is a whole subject in inself. If hoax108 is referring to that ancient tradition and comparing it to how Chris Butler used it, took advantage of it, and exploited people with it, then it needs to be clarified.
We have heard on this forum how CB deviated from his host religion. Not that India is so pure and does not have a cult problem too. It does. And there are many abuses made in the name of religion, such as the sati rites banned by Ghandi (where wives were forced to throw themselves on their husbands funeral pyre), and the forcing of widows as young as 5 years old to an ashram life of poverty and loneliness, so well illustrated in the movie "Water".
But if you look at how traditional Vaishnavism is practiced in India compared to how it turned into a cult in the west, you would see a huge dichotomy. CB's cult has little in common with traditional Hindu or Vaishnava roots. He is a P.T Barnum in Hindu robes, a con man, a delusional narcissist living a cardboard, cut-out version of a guru.
Firstly, the concept of "surrender" is not taken so literally in India. Secondly, a traditional guru does not take advantage of followers as CB does. Thirdly, the traditional role of the guru in India is taken more as a teacher or guide and not as a dictator. Notice that CB does not have a following in India. There are very good reasons for that. He does not possess any of the qualities of a guru/ teacher that an Indian would respect.
Another point is that I have met many Hindus from India and they find the western fascination with the east laughable and strange. They may have pictures of their guru in their homes, and have their rituals and services, but they have no interest in proselytizing or converting westerners. It seems that all the gurus who have come to the west to convert people, mostly created destructive cults.
At any rate, I hope hoax108, that you would clarify your statement.