Often you are in deep and emotionally invested before you are
allowed to do guru visualization exercises.
(Which means most of your social and perhaps business associations
are with the group. You may have become married to another group member.
Thus, even when your doubts pinch at you, you know you cannot leave without
incurring painful exit costs. Some groups push members to get married and
have children precisely for this reason -- though you will not be told so.
Private pain and doubt are are hidden behind a veil of smiles and roses.
From outside the emphasis on family values looks and feels cozy and wholesome. And photographs well. Photographs very well.)
So, until Management is sure you're in the right place and not likely to flee-- or laugh your ass off -- extreme guru pictures and the internalizing meditations are usually kept hidden.
Kept hidden as higher level practices and not revealed 'until one is ready'.
People already doing them are often told to keep this a secret.
Sooo if the friend who led you to join this group becomes distant and
secretive after you have joined the group, this may not be your fault.
It may be that your pal has been approved to do guru meditations that
he or she must conceal from you.
Or, for other reasons, Management may decide to split the two of you
up once this friend has recruited you into the group. You may be
conned into believing you did something to offend your buddy.
You may be ordered to avoid your buddy because he or she is 'having
a bad time and needs solitude'.
So long as you are an outsider or a low ranking initiate, you may see pictures of the guru, but these will be reassuring, with master or guru in normal
Only those members thoroughly indoctrinated will
be allowed to see such and own portraits of the guru or teacher
wearing clothing and jewelry that obscenely expensive -- and worse yet --
Great care must be taken to ensure that such portraits are seen
only by members who are thoroughly indoctrinated.
If someone who is 'half baked' were to see those pictures, it would
be a tip off that the group is unhealthily submissive to a monarchical
A monarchical leader who has bad taste.
Yet worse, a monarchical leader who not only has bad taste - but
bad taste that is expensive.
The great fear of an authoritarian, pseudo spiritual group is not
hostility or persecution.
Nope. The worst outcome for such a group and its leader
is to be revealed as.....ridiculous.
For members to encounter outside friends and co-workers who
would say, "Your leader dresses like THAT?? Bwaaahaaahaaa!"
How do freeborn citizens wind up in a predicament of groveling
in front of a ridiculously and expensively dressed Master?
A possible entry point is to invite people to meditate on an image of the titular deity venerated by the teacher or upon a picture of the teachers own guru.
(This is actually normative in various Hindu sects)
If someone shows any sign of being amused or made edgy by this exercise, those
persons will not be allowed to get a glimpse of the higher level practices --
and those who do the practices may be told they will suffer penalties
of they let out a peep. Later, if the leader suffers a hangnail
word may go out that a disciple's negative thinking caused this misfortune.
(Because most have silent doubts when living under authoritarian leaders,
this is an effective way to guilt trip practitioners. Any Pre Vatican II
Catholic can describe this.)
But to turn a living guru into one's monarch and turn oneself into the guru's slave -- that is what is hazardous.
Meanwhile, one may believe these exercises are empowering, rather than
enslaving. Any misgivings are shoved to one side.
These guru devotions, the rationalizations that they are empowering, one's
worries that they are enslaving -- all this may produce a split, a fracture, a schism in one's inner life.
This becomes something to be ashamed of, something the leaders will
guilt trip you about, if you confess this during any required
If guru devotion generates this type of split in one's inner life this will
be overlaid upon whatever inner fracturing brought you to this very same
guru for healing.
"..beliefs in illusions (whether theatrical religious or traditiona)l always rest on a delicate balance between faith and disavowal. Moreover even after such illusions have been exposed, a former believer retains some version of his old faith,a version expressed by in what Mannoni observed to be a common formulation
"Je sai bien, mai quand meme
That is, "I know very well that this illusion is only an illusion, but nevertheless some part of me still believes it." Wile Mannoni makes an
analogy between this diluted belief and superstition and fetishism, it also seems to approximate the double system of consciousness operating in
those moviegoers who "know very well" that onscreen events are not
"real" but become absorbed in them as though they were.A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema
, 1930-1980 By Robert Beverley Ray, page 36.
Though Ray does not say so, this might be applicable to guru generated
theatre, as well as movie going.
A chronic process of inner disavowal of one's emotions may develop -- to
suppress dissent within ones self.
The stress of splitting off large portions of ones inner life may
lead to dissociation, which in turn may be mistaken for spiritual progress.
You may become harsh in cracking down on doubts expressed by others in the
group -- precisely because these threaten to validate misgivings you
already harbor within yourself.
And..you may reject or drop contact with skeptical friends outside of the
By contrast, the dervish Sufis made --and make-- no secret of being ridiculous and outrageous.
They do not behave respectably while hiding weirdness behind closed doors.
Most important of all -- each dervish bears the consequences. Outsiders
know the risks attendant upon living as a dervish. In today's Pakistan,
Sufis risk death from Islamic militant killjoys.
The vulnerable dervishes make easy targets.
Around the 11th century CE, just at the time when Sufism had become respectable and even prestigious,was when the dervishes stepped
forth in groups of their own to make their claim that this success
was a sell out.In God's Unruly Friends
, Karamustafa informs us that by the 12th century, Sufism lost its strangeness, lost its liminal frontier quality
Some context. By the 10th century, culminating in the 13th century, Sufism
had become a stable social catagory, an identity.
It had lost its radical strangeness by becoming a means to social success.
This process toward Sufism as a social identity, rather than a private
devotional stance began in Khurasan in the 9th to 10th centuries.
This process toward a stable social identity began when when various Sufi authors wrote How To manuals.
These took the forms of books, many books.
All this took place in an Islamic context.
Islam is the religion of the book.
To gain respect, the 9th century Sufis began to the beginning of an entire Sufi literature.
But this required a command of language sophisticated enough to provide
a vocabulary that could be used to name and describe the stages of spiritual practice and identify the inner states the aspirant might encounter.
Before one can write a guide book, one needs a language. A terminology
must be developed.
The earlier Sufi authors gained a command of Arabic and of Persian literature through writing treatises reflecting on the esoteric
dimensions of the Koranic texts, the traditions (Hadith) and Islamic law (Shariat). This provided the vocabulary and the metaphors that made possible
the creation of the first Sufi literature.
The practice manuals lwere part of a process that gave Sufism a reassuring social identity -- made them part of the Establishment.
Newly organized brotherhoods (11th to 12th century) served to disperse Sunni Islam.
So -- Sufi literature and the Sufi culture did not begin with Rumi. It did not begin with Hafiz.
Later, we see the development of Sufi pirs and murshids as "accessible grandees" giving reassurance to poorer visitors - not initiated disciples,
but persons seeking reassurance, advice, talismans.
In some cases this accessibility could lead to a sufi group taking on so many features of local praxis that it became an 'independent religion' and ceased to be muslim.
Nile Green does not pursue the topic.
We readers can ask whther in such a case of extreme hybridisation, the result, after some centuries of drift, could be called Sufi.
Names matter. A name that applies to everything means nothing.
So the late 11th century, Sufism was Sufism was no longer a fringe movement but had become socially respectable and in some areas Sufis were part of the social elite.
Many pirs, murshids and sheikhs were given subsidies and land grants by rulers, became leaders of important political factions.
When Rumi's father fled with his family to escape the Mongols in Persia and
arrived in Konya Turkey, the family benefitted from protection of the local
It is in this context that the complaint was made that sufism had been a reality withouta name, but was now (12th century CE - onwards)
a name with no reality.
Respectable lodges had become high status institutions. Many had splendid
buildings, endowed by rulers.
To protest the comforts and prestige enjoyed by the formalized tariqas, radical renunciates emerged in the 12th to 13th centuries.
These dervishes became so numerous that some formed into large bands, taking to the roads, swarming into towns. They begged, sang, danced, wore bizarre clothing - and sometimes no clothing at all.
Some respectable scholars become maverick dervishes. Poets celebrated the dervishes in Persian poetry and dervishes appear in Persian paintings.
The dervish message: there was more
to being Sufi than upward
social mobility. There was more to seeking God than being sweet, clean
Dervishes were the frontier in human form.
To this day, many Sufi renunciates do all they can to look crazy
Edited 7 time(s). Last edit at 05/27/2015 08:59PM by corboy.