Before Jed McKenna's "Spiritual Enlightenment" is put away on a shelf, I wanted to add some positivity to my previous mostly negative post about the book -- which I finished today.
I still don't like how McKenna fictionalizes what is presented as reality: that he is an enlightened teacher who presides over a fawning group of non-dual truth seekers at his quasi-ashram in rural Iowa.
And I still doubt both that enlightenment exists, at least in the fashion McKenna describes it to be, or that he has achieved the state of all-knowing clarity which McKenna annoyingly claims on page after page of this paen to himself.
"Spiritual Enlightenment" is well written. Fiction or not, it presents a compelling, consistent philosophy, plus a believable portrait of a guy whose brand of enlightenment is considerably different from what most spiritual seekers consider self-realization to be.
I like McKenna's iconoclastic vibe. I just wish he had turned more of his iconoclasm back onto himself, rather than directing almost all of it toward the deluded fools who follow other belief systems.
Here's some quotes from his book that rang generally true to me. I only wish more of the book did.
The supposed mega-bliss of spiritual awakening is a carrot dangling from a stick no less than love or wealth or power.
We're all afloat in a boundless sea, and the way we cope is by massing together in groups and pretending in unison that the situation is other than it is.
Fear of the unknown is what keeps everyone busily treading water. All fear is fear of the unknown. If someone in such a group of water-treaders betrays the group by speaking the truth of their situation, that person is called a heretic and society reserves its most awful punishments for heretics. If someone decides to stop struggling and just sink or float away, every possible effort is made to stop him, not for the benefit of the individual, but for the benefit of the group. To deny at all costs the truth of the situation.
The truth of the situation is that eventually, there's nothing. Infinity. Eternity. The void. The abyss. Eventually, every water-treader has to deal with the fact that it's just him, the infinite ocean and nothing in-between.
Allegiance to any spiritual teaching or teacher, any outside authority, is the most treacherous beast in the jungle. The first thing we want to do when we begin our journey is find the companionship and validity that comes with an established group, and in so doing we effectively end the journey before it begins.
The power of our devotion to teachers and teachings is not a reflection of their value, but of ego's will to survive. It's ego, the false self, that exalts the guru and declares the teachings sacred, but nothing is exalted or sacred, only true or not true.
Think for yourself. That's the golden rule. Think for yourself. Make it your mantra. Tattoo it on the inside of your eyelids.
JAP posted this comment on Open Thread 2. Since it relates to this post, I'll copy it, along with my response.
Comment from JAP:
Re floating in a boundless sea
(posting here so that I dont get deleted should my comment not be deemed sufficiently relevant)
Good quotes, thought provoking quotes, but this one, a key one for me.
"The truth of the situation is that eventually, there's nothing. Infinity. Eternity. The void. The abyss. Eventually, every water-treader has to deal with the fact that it's just him, the infinite ocean and nothing in-between."
To me, the quote shares common ground with "There is a God, and He will save you at the time of death"
Is it true that neither of these statements share any scientific evidence to validate their claims?
Can we know that there is nothing, any more than we can know there is a god?
We used to think of space as being empty, a vacuum, but it seems it is likely that it is teaming with energy.
What scientific evidence exists for Jeds claim?
JAP, regarding Jed's book, the evidence for nothing standing between an individual and nothing is...death.
No one, no power, no God, no anything can prevent a person from dying. At the moment of death each of us is cast into an abyss that likely also is nothing -- meaning, no more existence, no more life, no more consciousness.
Since there is no convincing demonstrable evidence that death leads anywhere else than "nothing," I felt that Jed McKenna's characterization of the situation was pretty darn accurate.
Posted by: Brian | August 16, 2009 at 11:04 PM
Your comments are nice indeed.
Last week one of my close relatives expired because of illness. As customary in Hindus he was cremated and on the third day morning we had gone to collect his unburnt bones. These were collected while a pundit/priest was chanting matras. In fact, I have been earlier as well and every time I find however large be the body of the person his left over bones can be accomodated in a small sachel. The man was no more.
It occured to me the difference between a living and non-living was nothing but air.
I really fail to understand what goes out of a person is air (oxygen) or air (ego).
It is correct that "the evidence for nothing standing between an individual and nothing is...death."
"the evidence for nothing standing between an individual and nothing is...... stoppage of supply of air (oxygen/ego or both)leading to death."
Posted by: rakesh bhasin | August 17, 2009 at 01:31 AM
Not too sure who Jed Mckenna or his alter ego is, seems to be a splinter type offshoot consciousness of the Adi Da, Ken Wilbur stable, the raw edge affirmations that we who profess to be the warriors of consiousness and free enterprize psychology have taken up our cudgels of the warrior soul and are heading off into the sunset, six shooter frimly strapped in its holster, ready to die the death of a lonesome spiritual cowboy at the totem pole of individuality...
sounds like a great westernized comedy .. die the scorpion death.. negotiate the black hole inside of us, and declare enlightenment
such brave fable stories sell like hot cakes, especially in the land of the free where the eagles of free spirit spirituality seekers are a dime a dozen.
Posted by: jarendra | August 17, 2009 at 01:46 AM
You are one who I think would benefit from reading such books as Jed McKennas "Spiritual Enlightenment, the Damnedest Thing".
or maybe better try: "Awakening to the Dream" by Leo Hartong
I like this one: "The Myth of Enlightenment" by Karl Renz (which could be enlightening).
Or: "The Silence of the Heart" dialogues with Robert Adams (student of Ramana Maharshi)
Posted by: tucsoN | August 17, 2009 at 07:00 AM
Is blogger Brian and Brian the same?
Posted by: Roger | August 17, 2009 at 08:25 AM
tucson (or whoever lurks behind the name)
Does one seriously believe reading anything might 'enlighten' anyone?
I mean how 'enlightening' do you propose the experiences of Robert Adams, Karl Renz, Leo Hartong or Jed Mckenna (aka Ken Wilbur) or whoever it is milking the gullible American pseudo spiritual 'seeker' of their hard earned dollars could be to anyone, let alone those that drink their words of wisdom as potential concepts of hope towards 'enlightenment'.
Just as any supposed 'enlightenment' of Don Juan or Ramana Marhashi cannot alter your state of consciousness by one measly iota, similarly are all the fanciful syllables and constinants uttered by a fictitious illusionist in the name of 'enlightenment' unable to alter it to any degree whatsoever.
Those who 'think' that 'enlightenment' is achieved via reading or learning in the schools of thinking and reason have fooled themselves and so they go on into the wild west world of fools who fool others into deluding themselves.
Such ephemeral none real 'realities' are exactly that, unreal, as is this discussion right here, almost an exercise in futility, because unless it leads anyone to sincerely and seriously getting off the perch of thinking and reasoning, i.e. the 'assumption' of reading or talking or thinking = enlightenment, then we have not embarked or challenged the very notion of freedom or free thinking, still trapped in the illusion of duality, the illusion that this = reality, that thought or rhyme or reason = reality, or words on a page are a signpost to 'enlightenment'.
Its akin to the Nasa scientists studying the almanac of space travel, in depth, mulling over the if's, but's, why's and wherefore's of how to get the rockets boosted and the space craft off the ground into orbit, once all the theoretical discussion and consternating conceptualized reason and thinking and precluding has taken shape, the only possible means by which to get that space craft into the stratosphere and beyond, is to fire the damn rocket boosters and force the thing off its perch and into space, no amount of reading, discussing, procrastinating, theorizing or reasoning will get that thing airborn, none in the least. (Especially if the reasoner behind the reason is himself a fictitious fraud or a disciple (student) of a dead protagonist of truth)
Posted by: jarendra | August 17, 2009 at 08:30 AM
Roger, yes, in this case "Brian" and "Blogger Brian" are the same. I just forgot to use my new longer name on this comment.
Jarendra/Ashy, I deleted a couple of your repetitive rant comments because they didn't pertain to the subject of this post and you reverted to your previous habit of content-less ranting (the one I left up was on the edge). Please respect this blog's rules, and say something meaningful in a comment, if you don't want to be re-banned from commenting.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | August 17, 2009 at 08:56 AM
I used the word "enlightenment" as a pun in my post in relation to the title of one of the books "The Myth of Enlightenment".
Take it to mean enlightening in the more mundane meaning...informative.
But I can see that, as usual, you can see things only one way, the Ashy way.
However, others reading these posts may find the books I listed of interest, but I make no guarantees.
Posted by: Tucson | August 17, 2009 at 09:34 AM
ASHY / Jarendra,
Its quite obvious by your comment that you know basically nothing about the words or the teachings of Robert Adams, Karl Renz, Leo Hartong, or Jed Mckenna (who btw is not Ken Wilbur)... nor of Castaneda, and especially not of Ramana Maharshi.
Nor are any of those fellows trying to sell to "gullible American pseudo spiritual seeker" (with the exception of Jed McKenna)
I for one am tired of the same old ranting garbage and nonsense that you post here.
Posted by: tAo | August 17, 2009 at 11:59 AM
If you believe there is no point discussing and conceptualings things, then why get involved in a blog whose sole intention is the exchnage of ideas. I just do not understand that. Could it not be that these ideas are intesting in their own right, whether or not you agree with them?
On your NASA argument, that was the ultimate achievement of the intellectual conceptural ability of the human mind. It is the power of ideas and abstract thought that put man on the moon, those dodos onboard might as well have been dummies such was everything worked out with so much perfection before the event.
Those Apollo missions still amaze me, say what you want, but that was a phenomenal human achievement. The power of ideas is immsense, it has shaped our modern world and drives our actions.
Posted by: George | August 17, 2009 at 02:23 PM
Regarding this chap's idea that it is the fear of the void, which is so key, i'm not sure who he is speaking to but its not me.
In fact, i believe he has merely observed a physcholigically characterisic common to many spiritually-inclided people (that I have also noted), which is a morbid fascination and deep fear of their own death.
I don't deny that such questions on death are massively important and profound and mysterious, and any such experience of dying cannot be physically pleasant, but i don't think i have a terrifying fear of what happens after death and i certainly dont have a terrifying fear of some sort of void.
i merely believe death to be like going to sleep or any other state in which we lose consciousness. He seems to think that there is some deep void that is terrifying, but if you are not consciousness, there is nothing to be terrified of, there is simply nothing. i just don't get it.
If on the other hand one's consciousness somehow does survive death then the budhist or hindu beliefs in karmic reincarnation would seem as equally valid as some sort of errifying void-like recognition; since anything is plausible at this point.
In fact, the recollections of those who have had NDEs (Near Death Experiences) or those who practice shabd yoga trying to supposedly stimulate the act, appear to mostly be positive and kindling experiences. But this i know nothing of from personal experience.
The process of dying is no doubt a highly traumatic experience where one's reactions cannot really be contemplated until it occurs, but it seems to me this is inevitable, that there is nothing that can be done for it, that death is one of the few absolute facts of life. But why some people spend most of their lives aganoziing and obsessing over something that is inevitable is very hard to contemplate.
Posted by: George | August 17, 2009 at 04:18 PM
It is simply the ego's fear of eternal non-existence. Not for a day or a week, but after 800 trillion eons of trillions of 'years' it will be just the beginning. Can you see how for some the thought of that can be rather frightening? You may not fear death because you view it as something like deep sleep. No biggie for you, just a little ouchy as you pass away and then a rather long nap. Ho hum. But the possibility of being eternally dead is scary for lots of people. No more 'me' forever. Hence, the need to cling to irrational religions, etc. People are literally scared out of their wits and spend their lives distracting themselves from the inevitability of their ultimate mortality.
Posted by: Tucson | August 17, 2009 at 05:12 PM
I agree with George, and Tucson.
I don't see the sense in worrying or being troubled about what happens (if anything) at or following the moment of death. Whatever that is, whatever that will be... thats what it will be.
And if death is an absolute final end, a termination of one's consciousness, then when it happens, you won't even know that it happened, that your're dead. You won't know anything. You simply won't exist anymore to be able to know anything.
On the other hand, if one's existence or consciousness goes on in some form or other, either into another incarnation/life, or another plane, or some sort of heaven or hell etc etc etc... then you'll cross that bridge when you come to it.
Either way, there isn't anything one can do about it. Everyone that has ever lived has met the moment called death, whatever it is. So I don't see any reason or sense to obsess or fear or be concerned about it. It is whatever it is, and it will be whatever it will be.
The only thing I would suggest is perhaps to try as best you can to live as long as you can, by staying healthy and not taking unnecessary high risks and dangers... and also just try to live and enjoy each and every moment to its fullest, and don't count on tomorrow.
You know that song...
"Sha-la-la-la-la-la, Live for Today
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, Live for Today
And don't worry 'bout tomorrow, hey, hey, hey
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, Live for Today"
LET'S LIVE FOR TODAY
by the Grass Roots
Posted by: tAo | August 17, 2009 at 06:03 PM
"I'm just a soul whose intentions are good,
oh please don't let me be misunderstood."
Posted by: tAo | August 17, 2009 at 06:26 PM
Yes, I too agree with both George and Tucson. Emotionally I'm more with what Tucson said -- not existing forever, when you enjoy being alive, is a disturbing prospect for me.
But as George said, it's a prospect. A future event. Not now. It doesn't make sense to dilute my present joy of living with a fear of future non-existence.
Some people (like my wife) say, "It's not death I'm afraid of, but the pain of dying." I'm pretty much the opposite (though I might change my mind when the time comes). I find death scarier than suffering, because suffering means I'm still alive.
That said, I can easily envision pain near the end of life that is so extreme, death would seem preferable.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | August 17, 2009 at 08:20 PM
I take strength from the fact that death happens to all of us; it's natural; it's inevitable. Whatever it is, it's an adventure that doesn't need a qualification. Possibly, the way we conduct our thoughts and bodies while living, will affect what happens after death.
Posted by: Catherine | August 17, 2009 at 09:29 PM
The way inwhich dying occurs could be as important as the way birth occurs. Maybe it would affect what could be coming afterwards, if anything.
Posted by: Catherine | August 17, 2009 at 09:37 PM
The very thought of death is quite thrilling. It does not mean that it should scare us. Death is the only thing which is certain to happen. Rest of everything has an element of uncertainity to happen.
In fact, I believe one who dies has no worries but all those who are left behind have it.
My father had rehearsed death before he actually died and my mother rehearses it now she is living.............I observe it. She smiles only on my enquiry.
I have not been able to rehearse it till date.
I wonder if I would like to share it here if I rehearse it on any day.
Posted by: rakesh bhasin | August 18, 2009 at 12:09 AM
Rakesh quite profoundly points out that death is the one inevitable and answerable question, but what is not certain is when that time will come.
Catherine's brave view of it is as an adventure, but while i look forward to adventure, i can't say i look forward to death, it simply is unavoidable and i suppose the only positive thing is that one knows this.
It would be nice to think that in death one is re-united with the souls of the one's we loved most in life, or some higher unfathomable love which combines all of that, but we don't know any of that.
I agree with Tao and to an extent Tucson and Brian too, but i struggle to imagine this void-like terror, perhaps one would have had to have glimpsed this in some sort of dream or personal experience?
Without being 'englightened' in the non-dual Jed sense, the closest i can imagine such a void-like dread is probably watching the apollo missions and the pictures taken from the spacecraft as it travels into deep space and the earth shrinks to the size of a tiny blue marble left shimmering and floating in total blackness.
For such an human observer, I should imagine the recognition of our insignifance in the great cosmos and how life is so tentative, would probably be overpoweringly strong - especially standing on the surface of another lifeless sphere and looking back into the depths of space at our tiny blue earth floating unsuspended in an all-encompassing black void. But this would seem more awe than terror.
Actually one of the more thoughtful moon walkers, Alan Bean, was so affected by the trip that he has spent the rest of his life trying to express his experiences by paintings. James Irwin, was convined he had felt God's presence on the moon and on returning spent the next decade in search of noah's ark.
One wonders if the bravery of the astronauts was based on an overhwelming sense of adventure or of an egotism born out of their purposefully selected fighter-pilot personalities or the belief that they would be coming home safely or whether a part of them prepared themselves for death in the pursuit of something they considered worthy of dying for.
Posted by: George | August 18, 2009 at 02:15 AM
Its also quite amazing imo that, so far as we know, man is the only animal that has evolved a consciousness that is able to overcome the instinct for self-preservation.
Man appears to be the only animal that commits suicide (lemming behavior is not).
Posted by: George | August 18, 2009 at 02:28 AM
George, you're right: as I wrote in my "death and the fear of non-existence" post a few years ago, I've had moments (mostly just on the verge of going to sleep) where I had a vision of what it means to non-exist forever.
Of course, I was still existing at the time, or I couldn't have had the vision. Which doesn't really do it justice, the word "vision." It was more like a panic attack, perhaps (have never had a full blown one, so can't be sure). Or maybe the feeling someone would have as the ground slides beneath them and they know they're about to fall to their death.
Just highly disconcerting. That's for sure. It wasn't an intellectual thought. Or even an emotional feeling. Just a stark realization of my place in the cosmos. Which was...zilch. Nada. Nothing.
Interestingly, that realization is along the lines of what Buddhists and other mystic types aspire to. But I experienced a fear of not existing as me, while enlightenment supposedly involves the bliss of not existing as "me."
Posted by: Blogger Brian | August 18, 2009 at 09:32 AM
Yes, i suppose that is a fairly disconcerting experience. i've had dreams of falling down a hillside, but your sort of identity-loss in a pre-dream state is something quite different.
quite interesting, it seems to be a heightened realisation of one's nothingness to the point of non-existence, but it implies there is still a personal conscioussnes awareness of one's nothingness, so there is a contradiction.
If one were to get speculative, i personally think there is either nothing at the end, or some sort of consciousness transferance karma. No-one said life is fair, but maybe death is, where perhaps some that are born into a life of great suffering and hardship are rewarded, while others who cruise and abuse are not.
Posted by: George | August 18, 2009 at 09:49 AM
After reading the above, I find no one who is a knower. A knower always knows. No one can train another to be a knower or enlighten you. Lao Zse was asked to write what he knew before he could leave his homeland China. He told his follwers that was asked to write something that was unwritable.
Buddah was also quoted as saying that he was asked to teach something that was unteachable.
The Christian bible shows Jesus and Paul unable to tell their follwers what it was to know. Both using the term "Meat".
In the duality in which this world was formed, there is no one that describe Jesus's other world. Two places in the Christian bible one in the old testament, one time in the new. Eyes have never seen or ears heard of what God is, or what he has planned for each one of us hear on earth.
A Eastern write expressed, "Seek, listen to and feel for the eternal Spirit. Something similar is in the bible.
Jesus stated two times, one time in the beginning and one time near the end of his ministry. Addressing his diciples and follwers, he stated. "You do not know". Again on the cross, "Forgive them Father, for they do not know".
Here is a small test for anyone seeking. Defind "Nothing" without the word "Something" or any other word that could be considered an oppisite of nothing. Good luck. You can be successful by listening and feeling. Good luck.
Posted by: Jay Brown | August 18, 2009 at 02:01 PM
You are full of it. You are the one who knows nothing. You just haven't got a clue.
You first need to walk the walk... and then you will have the understanding and the right to talk the talk.
Posted by: tAo | August 18, 2009 at 02:51 PM
All I know is life is short! So, enjoy what each moment can bring.
Honor the Sacred in the seemingly mundane affairs in life and surf each Sunday for as long as you can!!
Posted by: Bob | August 18, 2009 at 03:56 PM
To Church of the Churchless readers and commenters:
The following quotes are taken from Part One of the book The Guru Papers, and are deemed by ex-followers of spiritual guru cults to be strikingly accurate in describing the dynamics of these cult gurus.
I especially recommmend that the believers and guru cultists who frequent this blog to please give these excerpts some serious consideration:
Excerpts are from:
The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power
by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad
“If an authority not only expects to be obeyed without
question, but either punishes or refuses to deal with those who
do not, that authority is authoritarian.” (p.15)
“Gurus can arouse intense emotions as there is extraordinary
passion in surrendering to what one perceives as a living God.”
“In spiritual realms fear and desire can become
as extreme as they get.. When a living person becomes the focus
of such emotions, the possibility of manipulation is correspondingly
“In the East a guru is more than a teacher. He is a doorway
that supposedly allows one to enter into a more profound relationship
with the spiritual. A necessary step becomes acknowledging the
gurus specialness and mastery over that which one wishes
to attain. The message is that to be a really serious student,
spiritual realization must be the primary concern. Therefore,
one’s relationship with the guru must, in time, become one’s
prime emotional bond, with all others viewed as secondary. In
fact, typically other relationships are pejoratively referred
to as attachments.(p..49)
“So although most gurus preach detachment, disciples become
attached to having the guru as their center, whereas the guru
becomes attached to having the power of being others center.”
“The ways people deny and justify are similar: Since
supposedly no one who is not enlightened can truly understand
the motives of one who is, any criticism can be discounted as
a limited perspective. Also, any behavior on the part of the guru,
no matter how base, can be imputed to be some secret teaching
or message that needs deciphering.”
By holding gurus as perfect and thus beyond ordinary explanations,
their presumed specialness can be used to justify anything. Some
deeper, occult reason can always be ascribed to anything a guru
does: The guru is said to take on the karma of others, and that
is why his body has whatever problems it has. The guru is obese
or unhealthy because he is too kind to turn down offerings: besides,
he gives so much that a little excess is understandable. He punishes
those who disobey him not out of anger but out of necessity, as
a good father would. He uses sex to teach about energy and detachment.
He lives an opulent life to break people’s simplistic preconceptions
of what ego-loss should look like; it also shows how detached
and unconcerned he is about what others think. For after all,
Once enlightened, one can do anything. Believing
this dictum makes any action justifiable.”
People justify and rationalize in gurus what in others would
be considered unacceptable because they have a huge emotional
investment in believing their guru is both pure and right.”
“That interest in one’s own salvation is totally
self-centered is a conundrum rarely explored.” (p.54)
“So disciples believe they are loved unconditionally, even
though this love is conditional on continued surrender. Disciples
in the throes of surrender feel they have given up their past,
and do not, consciously at least, fear the future. . . Feeling
totally cared for and accepted, at the universe’s center,
powerful, and seemingly unafraid of the future are all achieved
at the price of giving one’s power to another, thus remaining
essentially a child.” (p56)
“It is not at all unusual to be in an authoritarian relationship
and not know it. In fact, knowing it can interfere with surrender..
Any of the following are strong indications of belonging to an
1. No deviation from the party line is allowed. Anyone who has
thoughts or feelings contrary to the accepted perspective is made
to feel wrong or bad for having them.
2. Whatever the authority does is regarded as perfect or right.
Thus behaviors that would be questioned in others are made to
seem different and proper.
3. One trusts that the leader or others in the group know what’s
4. It is difficult to communicate with anyone not in the group..
5. One finds oneself defending actions of the leader (or other
members) without having firsthand knowledge of what occurred.
6. At times one is confused and fearful without knowing why. This
is a sign that doubts are being repressed.” (p.57)
“The power of conversion experiences lies in the psychological
shift from confusion to certainty.” (p.65)
“People whose power is based on the surrender of others
develop a repertoire of techniques for deflecting and undermining
anything that questions or challenges their status, behavior,
or beliefs. They ridicule or try to confuse people who ask challenging
“Is experiencing intense energy a sign of spirituality,
or is the experience in the same vein as young ladies who swoon
in the presence of rock stars?” (p.68)
“To be thought enlightened, one must appear not only certain
that one is, but certain about most everything else, too.”
“Gurus undercut reason as a path to understanding. When
they do allow discursive inquiry, they often place the highest
value on paradox. Paradox easily lends itself to mental manipulation.
No matter what position you take, you are always shown to be missing
the point; the point being that the guru knows something you do
“Their stance toward outsiders is of benign superiority.”
“As long as the guru still sees the possibility of realizing
his ambitions, the way he exercises power is through rewarding
the enthusiasms of his followers with praise and positions in
his hierarchy. He also whets and manipulates desire by offering
carrots,and promising that through him the disciples
desires will be realized, possibly even in this lifetime. The
group itself becomes an echo of the guru, with the members filling
each other’s needs. Within the community there is a sense
of both intimacy and potency, and a celebratory, party-like atmosphere
often reigns. Everything seems perfect; everyone is moving along
the appropriate spiritual path. The guru is relatively accessible,
charming, even fun. All dreams are realizable-even wonderful possibilities
beyond one’s ken.” (p.78)
“People are especially vulnerable to charismatic leaders
during times of crisis or major life change.” (p.87)
“People don’t want a second-rate guru; they want the
one who seems the best. Since purity is the standard measurement
of the gold or Greenwich meridian time of the guru world
each guru has to claim the most superlative traits. This
is naturally a breeding ground for hypocrisy, lies, and the cultivation
of false images of purity. Gurus are thus forced to assume the
role of the highest, best, the most enlightened, the most loving,
the most selfless, the purest representative of the most profound
truths; for if they did not, people would go to one who does.
Consequently, it is largely impossible for a guru to permit himself
real intimacy, which in adults requires a context of equality..
All his relationships must be hierarchical, since that is the
foundation of his attraction and power.” (p.88)
“Since adulation from any one person eventually becomes
boring, gurus do not need any specific disciple they need
lots of them. Gurus do give special attention to those with wealth
and power.” (p.89)
“Gurus likewise do many things to ensure that their disciples
prime emotional allegiance is toward them. In the realm of sexuality,
the two prevalent ways control is exerted are through promulgating
either celibacy or promiscuity. Although seemingly opposite, both
serve the same function: they minimize the possibilities of people
bonding deeply with each other, thus reducing factors that compete
with the guru for attention.” (p.92)
“Many gurus and spiritual authorities negate, make light
of, or even ridicule the use and value of Western psychotherapy
because its concepts of the unconscious undermine their authority
and power. To acknowledge that unconscious factors may be operative
in oneself means that one cannot be totally sure one is selfless.”
“A primary goal in therapy is to free clients from their
need to transfer unresolved issues onto others. This need makes
people particularly susceptible to authoritarian control. Good
therapists aim at being very conscious of how they deal with
Because of the nature of the relationship which demands total
surrender, gurus do exactly the opposite. They cultivate and reward
transference, for a parental type of authority is at the very
core of the gurus power over disciples. The power to name,
arrange marriages, and dictate duties and behavior are ultimates
in parental authority, especially in traditional societies like
the East. To give someone the power to name or marry you is to
profoundly accept their parental role in defining who you are.
The ostensible motivation behind this has to do with an attempt
to break the ties of the past so the person can become new.
A deeper reason is that this aids the guru in becoming the center
of the persons emotional life, which facilitates surrender.”
“Successful gurus, rock stars, charismatic leaders of any
sort, experience the intensity of adulation amplified beyond most
peoples ken. This can make ordinary relationships pale
by comparison. Being the recipient of such adulation and devotion
is exceedingly addictive. Here addiction is used in its loose
sense to mean mechanically needing an on-going fix
of adulation to where it becomes the central focus of one’s
life. Adulation has powerful emotions for the sender as well,
and can be easily mistaken for love. It is likewise addicting
for the sender, as it is an easy route to feelings of passion.
Since adulation is totally a function of image, should the images
crack, adulation disappears, demonstrating that it is essentially
empty of real care.” (p.112)
Posted by: tAo | August 18, 2009 at 08:06 PM
The body of the guru or the disciple can not go beyond cremation ground/ graveyard. But their relationship can go beyond it.
Posted by: rakesh bhasin | August 18, 2009 at 11:02 PM
At last!: a most worthwhile contribution (above, at 8/18/09 @ 8:06 PM).
Robert Paul Howard
Posted by: Robert Paul Howard | August 19, 2009 at 01:33 AM
yes, that provides alot of food for thought to be fair.
i do not like this guru concept, never have. I appreciate and respect that others feel it is the only way to some sort of spiritual discovery, but imo its very dangerous and before ppl know it they are swept away.
However, the question remains that if there are profound spiritual teachings or experiences to be had is the best way not by a living teacher? Virtually all complex disciplines we learn involve having to learn from a master.
Posted by: George | August 19, 2009 at 03:10 AM
Posted by: tAo | August 17, 2009 at 11:59 AM
firstly to respond to this
It seems tucson understood my point and again as per usual your own self importance disallowed any understanding on your part whatsoever. If you would care to actually read what was said in my reply to tucson which was not to you btw, it said the following:
"Does one seriously believe reading anything might 'enlighten' anyone?
I mean how 'enlightening' do you propose the 'EXPERIENCES' of Robert Adams, Karl Renz, Leo Hartong or Jed Mckenna (aka Ken Wilbur)could be to anyone, let alone those that drink their words of wisdom as potential concepts of hope towards 'enlightenment'".
"Just as any supposed 'enlightenment' of Don Juan or Ramana Marhashi cannot alter your state of consciousness by one measly iota, similarly are all the fanciful syllables and constinants uttered in the name of 'enlightenment' unable to alter it to any degree whatsoever.
Those who 'think' that 'enlightenment' is achieved via reading or learning in the schools of thinking and reason have fooled themselves and so they go on into the world of fools who fool others into deluding themselves".
Bottom line is if you or anyone here profess to have any form of 'knowledge' or enlightenment from pouring over somebody elses thesis on enlightenment, rest assured you are no more enlightened than me, nor of the street sweeper who sweeps your streets outside your door, in fact there is one damn site more probability that your street sweeper is far more 'enlightened' than any one of you who sit here in abject learned superiority proclaiming the amount of learned intelligence as your ticket to enlightenment, I can almost say with conviction it is quite the reverse, less learned = more enlightenment, absolutely without any shadow of any doubt.
Now I get the reasoning that tucson actually understood to some extent what I was getting at, but true to debilitated arrogant style you were unable to understand even the beginning of true understanding, or true enlightenment for that matter. One who professes to 'know' and 'understand' the teachings of Ramana Maharshi has not even begun to acknowledge the very first corner stone of such teachings. So as I said above, what hope of 'enlightenment' is it to you by making yourself acquainted with any of those writings, whether by Robert Adams, Karl Renz, Leo Hartong or Jed Mckenna (aka whoever), or the handed down second hand teachings or 'experiences' of Ramana Maharshi or the second hand 'experiences' of Carlos Castanada or Don Juan?
Again I reiterate, absolutely none at all, because these experiences and such knowledge belongs to them and not to you, for you to 'know' or 'experience' any such 'enlightenment' any of these teachers or philosophers or psychic protagonists propose to offer, you would have to make the 'experience' your own. The words on the pages of such books rendered pretty much superflous in reality.
Posted by: jarendra | August 19, 2009 at 05:40 AM
And this above and below more or less answeres George at Posted by: George | August 17, 2009 at 02:23 PM as well.
Study and debate as much as you like, ponder and pose as much hypothetical questions seeking answers from those who profess knowledge yet have none, to your hearts content, it is like churning water and expecting butter, none will be forthcoming.
Until you get with the program, the one that Rakesh Bhasin's mother is on, she knows, and the poor learned fools in here don't, unfortunately, this is the actual gist of it all. Those that thrash around in abject disillusioned delusionment proclaiming 'knowledge' have none, and those that sit quietly in the quiet corner of blissful experience have it all, such is the quandary of the ravaged intellect, it will thrash and fret till deaths door, and know nothing, while those that go about the business of conquering death and rendering its sting superflous and inconsequential have 'knowledge' and 'understanding' far beyond the limits of the poor encrusted feeble learned protagonists of so called intelligence or intellectual 'knowledge'.
Posted by: jarendra | August 19, 2009 at 05:58 AM
One last observation,
these learned psychologists who deem themselves the authority of guru/disciple relationships and the psychology of spiritual dependency do not 'know' anything more than their own limitations of study or discovery has taught them, and one Guru or teacher is not the sole example of all teachers, otherwsie you may as well lump Sai Baba along with Ramana Maharshi alongside Adi Da Samraj.
Such narrow expose of psychological reactionary treatise is fraught with the limitations of the projector of the fear, again, no two relationships, as are no two individual teachers or systems of learning alike, and hence a sweeping synopsis of such cult like paranoia is tantamount to disinformation and should be taken from where it emanates.
Dependency of any nature is regarded as taboo, yet all here are dependent on some teaching or other, else their level of learning would be nill, so whether you are a student of the teachings of Dogzchen or Sant Mat or Tai Chi or Taoism, it amounts to much the same, it simply depends at what level of realization does a particular 'teaching' take ones awareness, and where does its limitation begin or end.
Posted by: jarendra | August 19, 2009 at 06:09 AM
1. There are different forms of knowledge. Knowledge can be gained from direct or indirect experience (books, blogs, etc). The street sweeper you talk of, or anyone else, can be enraptured by an idea that he has not considered before which can transform the entire way he views the world and has sparked revolutions. Similarly, books allow ppl from different cultures to be transported away into a different world having experiences they never knew existed or dreamed possible.
2. A person's profession has no bearing on their knowledge. Many blue collar workers have self-educated themselves with a depth and beadth of knowledged matched by few others, for ex using public libraries or otherwise.
3. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with the pursuit of knowledge. It is one of man's most ignobling characteristics. You marvel at athletics, but the human body has nothing on the accomplishments of knowledge accumulated using the uniqely powerful human mind (be it god given or evolutionarily created).
4. You appear to look upon the intellect with disdain, and a slight chippines imo, yet seem interested in a blog which can only ever be about communicating experience indirectly. If you truly believe such knowledge and forums are futile, then you should rather stop paticipating since you have nothing to add or gain. That is your personal decision. However, what is incorrect imo is to lambaste everyone else who disagrees with you OR to decree your viewpoint without a shred of evidence to support it.
5. How do you know the quiet man knows more than the outspoken one? Why is the quiet wise man on a blog in the first place? How do you know the satguru know more than all? What is your evidence for any of this?
Posted by: George | August 19, 2009 at 08:00 AM
Jarendra wrote: "Bottom line is if you or anyone here profess to have any form of 'knowledge' or enlightenment from pouring over somebody elses thesis on enlightenment, rest assured you are no more enlightened than me, nor of the street sweeper who sweeps your streets outside your door.."
--How do you know this and why do you assume the street sweeper is not enlightened?
Posted by: tucson | August 19, 2009 at 10:32 AM
the problem i have with mysticism or alot of these traditions is that they seem to actually require a 'poor man' as it were, someone with a limited worldview or someone who does not question - in fact they seem to require a sort of parochial humbling exercise to get obedience.
I also don't know why these traditions require a stripping away or supression of the intellect, ego and self which makes us human. Indeed life itself only possible and interesting with variety and difference - Why would we all want to become one?
All this devotion and bowing and scraping and seeing how low one can go, but is such unquestioning devotion realistic, healthy or even desirable?
And just who are the arrogant one's, scientists who put forward evidence for all to inspect to support their very specific theory as to how something works OR these spiritual gurus who pop up making these broad proclamations such as knowing everything or being god (which no proper scientist has ever done) without a shred of evidence in support?
No, i'm sorry, but one can understand why the skeptic wants to question. What is the harm of questioning?
Posted by: George | August 19, 2009 at 11:01 AM
"I mean how 'enlightening' do you propose the 'EXPERIENCES' of Robert Adams, Karl Renz, Leo Hartong or Jed Mckenna (aka Ken Wilbur)could be to anyone, let alone those that drink their words of wisdom"
-- I didn't and I don't "propose" anything. But some people can and do derive knowledge, understanding, and inspiration from the communications, the insights, and the experiences of others.
"Just as any supposed 'enlightenment' of Don Juan or Ramana Marhashi cannot alter your state of consciousness by one measly iota"
-- You do not know that for sure. There are in fact many possibilities.
"Those who 'think' that 'enlightenment' is achieved via reading or learning in the schools of thinking and reason have fooled themselves"
-- I didn't see anyone here actually say that enlightenment "is achieved via reading or learning in the schools". So your arguement is with yourself.
"if you or anyone here profess to have any form of 'knowledge' or enlightenment from pouring over somebody elses thesis on enlightenment"
-- Knowledge can be obtained in many different ways, including reading and studying what others have to say. On the other hand, no one here actually said that enlightenment is achieved merely from reading. So again, you are argueing with a straw-man. But nevertheless, as far as "enlightenment" goes, anything is possible.
"rest assured you are no more enlightened than me, nor of the street sweeper who sweeps your streets outside your door"
-- Well you just don't know that. You don't know whether I am enlightened or not. You basically know nothing about me. You also don't know whether some lowly street sweeper is either. But I'd sure bet that the sweeper has far more common sense and rationality than some nut-case like you.
"I can almost say with conviction [...] less learned = more enlightenment, absolutely"
-- That is what the less-learned always like to say, but that doesn't make it so.
"true to debilitated arrogant style you were unable to understand even the beginning of true understanding, or true enlightenment for that matter."
-- Unfortunately for you, I understand far more about a great many things (including enlightenment), than an ignorant fool like you ever will. You are wasting your time babbling such ill-informed nonsense. You'd be better off doing some real sadhana, than shooting your puny little arrows at the sun.
"One who professes to 'know' and 'understand' the teachings of Ramana Maharshi has not even begun to acknowledge the very first corner stone of such teachings."
-- And how do you conclude that? How do you propose to know what I know or don't know? Please tell us what that is... what is this "very first corner stone" that you say that I supposedly have "not even begun to acknowledge"?? I'd like to hear what you think that is? And why you assume that I do not "acknowledge" whatever you believe that is?
"what hope of 'enlightenment' is it to you by making yourself acquainted with any of those writings"
-- Fyi, I have no such "hope of enlightenment"... nor do I need any such "hope".
"whether by [...] or the handed down second hand teachings or 'experiences' of Ramana Maharshi"
- Fyi, and because you seem to be so ignorant and ill-informed, Sri Ramana's teachings and experience were NOT "handed down second hand teachings or experiences".
"these experiences and such knowledge belongs to them and not to you"
-- You simply don't know that. You don't know anything about my experience and my knowledge. So when you talk and pretend as if you do, as you have here, then you are only showing how ignorant you actually are.
"for you to 'know' or 'experience' any such 'enlightenment' any of these teachers or philosophers [...] propose to offer, you would have to make the 'experience' your own."
-- Again, you simply do not know
anything about my "own" experience.
"Until you get with the program, the one that Rakesh Bhasin's mother is on, she knows, and the poor learned fools in here don't"
-- I absolutely doubt that Rakesh's mother's "program" (no offence Rakesh), namely Santmat, has any advantage over the folks in this blog. Nor does Rakesh's mother have any greater knowledge than the rest of us here... in fact, far far from it. So therefore, the only real "fool" around here, has got to be YOU Jarendra. Yo are pretty much the onl;y one who is making such absurd and unfounded claims and assumptions.
"Those that thrash around in abject disillusioned delusionment proclaiming 'knowledge' have none"
-- No one here "proclaimed" any such thing. You are the one who is making all the claims.
"all here are dependent on some teaching or other, else their level of learning would be nill"
-- The problem with that is, its simply not true. Not eveyone here is "dependent" upon "some teaching". I for one am not, and neither are some other folks here. So Jarendra/Ashy, you just don't have any idea or a clue what you are talking about.
Posted by: tAo | August 19, 2009 at 03:26 PM
All doubts will sublimate if some one meets my 80 years old mother. She may not talk much with you.
She is as mundane as anybody else. She is as humble as grass on the ground.
Posted by: rakesh bhasin | August 20, 2009 at 02:14 AM
Well I don't need to meet your mother Rakesh. Your mother doesn't understand or know anymore than I do already. I don't have doubts that need to be sublimated (as you say). Your mother is probably a nice person, but then so what. I don't even know why you are mentioning your aged mother. It's actually rather absurd. What nonsense. I think you're stuck in spiritual fantasy-land Rakesh. Wake up to reality.
Posted by: tAo | August 21, 2009 at 12:56 PM
This post was not for you alone.
Kindly keep your emotions under contol. It is not must to repond absurd things.
Posted by: rakesh bhasin | August 21, 2009 at 07:23 PM
Rakesh, your comment was not directed to anyone in particular, so it is fair game for me or anyone to respond to. This is a public forum, and anyone can respond. You did not diorect your comment to any individual in particular. If you don't like how people may respond, then don't post comments.
Also, there were no "emotions" involved in my comment whatsoever. I simply expressed my opinion and critique about what I felt to be the irrelevant nature of your comment about your mother. You don;t have to agree with me, but insinuating that my "emotions" are somehow not "under control", is outright bullshit.
And lastly Rakesh, it is YOU who should kindly keep YOUR (unfounded) PERSONAL INSINUATIONS towards other people (like myself) out of YOUR comments.
Posted by: tAo | August 21, 2009 at 10:52 PM
If you put all my three responses together, you will find they are inter-connected. To use the words like "absurd" and “nonsense" by you is nothing else but an emotional outburst.
You said, "PERSONAL INSINUATIONS towards other people (like myself)....." embarrasses me.
I am the last person to insinuate personal remarks against YOU or anybody else. In case, it has conveyed the same, I AM EXTREMELY SORRY.
Posted by: rakesh bhasin | August 22, 2009 at 01:25 AM
"To use the words like "absurd" and “nonsense" by you is nothing else but an emotional outburst."
-- That is not correct Rakesh. You are in error. The terms "absurd" and "nonsense" have nothing to do with emotion. And are certainly not an "emotional outburst".
I regarded an aspect of your comment to be "absurd" in my opinion. The same goes for "nonsense". An opinion, is my thougts, not my emotions. There was no such emotion expressed here.
You seem to have some rather odd notions and interpretations. And I think you are projecting your own feelings and emotions onto others.
Don't jump to conclusions without reasonable evidence. There was no evidence of any emotion expressed in my comment. My use of the words "absurd" and "nonsense" did not depict emotion at all.
Next time, think more careflly before you respond with such unfounded conclusions.
Posted by: tAo | August 22, 2009 at 02:51 AM
I bow my head before a great infallible thinker like you.
with kindest regards,
Posted by: rakesh bhasin | August 22, 2009 at 07:05 AM