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April 29, 2006

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As an former stupa venerator, I talk with others about their "reformations": ex-priests and nuns, ex-smokers, etc. One thing that is common to such renewal is the epistolic urge, somewhat just after the so-called "aha moment."

My wife has referred to this phase of growth as the Paul Revere cycle. We get the urge to jump out of bed and start yelling that the British are coming. This is an honorable urge, and should be respected.

One cannot however continue to give into the urge when the shots are finally being fired: we are all aware of the British position when we are being fired upon.
Paul Revere did not only ride and shout, he fought and built.

If in my life my bhakti is correct, your blasphemy will not budge me. On the other hand, if your good news is available to me, I probably already know that my bhakti is incomplete.

So, in the spirit of getting past the Red Coats and the unfair taxation they bring, what are the alternatives that are available to you beyond the sangha? You don't want to pay the wage of the intermediary, by having a "personal relationship" with your own Jesus. What will suffice? What will surpass?

Another important element for the reformer is not to pile on too much "new life." Bill W. advised one day at a time. You found a guru in a bike shop, but is there a stele you can see today? A graven image that catches your spiritual eye?

Not-knowing is the actual condition of this plane, as fascinating and necessary as the blinking reflex. Scepticism is a wonderful trait. Be aware of worshipping it - the British have come and gone.

A great book that many of you have probably read is The Guru Papers - Masks of Authoritarian Power.

In it the authors ask a pertinent question with regards to the guru system.

"Do disciples ever "graduate" and become self-defining adults, or do they remain obedient and tied to the gurus?"

In all of the guru groups I have ever encountered, (5 total, including 23 years in RSSB), I have observed a trend for disciples to remain as young children in relationship to the guru. There seems to be a lack of personal or grounded spiritual maturity because the whole spiritual trip rides on appeasing or gaining favor from the guru. The guru is the giver and the taker. Any spiritual progress one may achieve is at the mercy of the guru, and essentially does not belong to the disciple. It can be given or withheld at the guru's discretion.

How can a person take full ownership for their own personal spiritual development in such a system, when complete reliance and power are with the guru alone?

Brian, Bob and Edward
Some great points.
Bob, I've got a copy of the guru papers. I appreciate the general thrust of the book, but an overwhelming sensation that I got from it is that the authors themselves could so easily end up being guru figures themselves. People end up quoting them as an authority and saying, 'the authors of guru papers say...'
This is the problem with speaking and thinking from anything less than ones own deeply felt and experienced sense of gnosis and understanding. With that safeguard in place one can perform the spiritual experiment and explore the wares of guru's and their offerings.

Love this! I am a yoga teacher and so many (most) of my colleagues believe they need a guru to follow. I've never felt that. In fact I think it goes against the whole philosophy of yoga. No one else I know in my community seems to see it that way. Your words really resonated with me. Thank you.

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