"How do you know I'm not a fake? Maybe I just have the gift of gab."
There's a guru in India whom I'm familiar with, Gurinder Singh, who used to frequently say this. Maybe he still does.
At the time I was associated with the organization Gurinder Singh leads, his disciples would look upon those statements as a sign of some sort of humility/ Zen'ish koan/ anti-mystical mystic utterance.
Which, interestingly, is almost exactly what students who flocked to a genuinely fake guru, Kumare, a.k.a. New Jersey-born Vikram Ghandi, felt when at every yoga class he taught he told them "The only guru you need is inside yourself" and "I'm not a guru."
In the Nightline video embedded below, Ghandi says that when he told his students this, people thought it was a riddle. Ghandi also says:
If we wake up on a desert island with no scripture, we still could live perfectly happy lives.
A non-religious Amen to that, brother.
A few nights ago my wife and I watched "Kumare," the documentary Ghandi made. We streamed it via Netflix. Clicking on the link will reveal quite a few other online places the film can be watched.
Do it. It's inspiring. And fascinating.
"Kumare" reveals the power of belief in a unique fashion. The movie shows real people being drawn to embrace a fake guru who also is a real person. What Kumare teaches in the movie is similarly both false and true. He makes up rather absurd yoga postures and practices, yet his students benefit a lot from them.
This short (about five minutes) Nightline piece about Kumare and Vikram Ghandi will give you a good feel for the movie. [After embedding a You Tube link, I discovered that ABC news demands that the video be watched on You Tube; so you'll be led there if you click on the "play" arrow. Or click here.]
Ghandi is a convincing guru. Naturally he speaks perfect English, being born in the United States. He used his grandmother's accent as the model for his Kumare-talk, which he pulls off flawlessly.
A New York Times review of the movie captures the philosophical spirit of Kumare.
“Faith begins as an experiment and ends as an experience.” That quotation from the Anglican priest William Ralph Inge, which begins the documentary “Kumaré: The True Story of a False Prophet,”evokes the film’s ambiguous exploration of religion, teaching and spiritual leadership.
...Initially, Mr. Gandhi recalls, “I wanted to see how far I could push it.” He is shown presiding at one gathering with a picture of himself between portraits of Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden. But his earnest followers, including a death-row lawyer, a recovering cocaine addict and a morbidly obese young woman, are sympathetic, highly stressed Americans who pour out their troubles.
As Mr. Gandhi warms to these people, who demonstrate an unalloyed faith in his wisdom, the film becomes a deeper, more problematic exploration of identity and the power of suggestion, and its initially sour taste turns to honey. The meditations, mantras and yoga moves he invents, however bogus, transform lives, as his followers discover their inner gurus and gain a self-mastery.
For all his deceptiveness, Mr. Gandhi is not an egomaniacal prankster but a benign teacher whose “mirror” philosophy involves uniting the everyday self with the ideal self. A goal of this practical program of discipline and reflection is to cultivate an inner guru so that you don’t need someone like Kumaré.
“Kumaré” builds up to the big reveal, in which Mr. Gandhi, with great trepidation, presents himself to his flock as himself, without mystical trappings and speaking in his regular voice.
The film’s message lies in a paradox expressed early in the film. His impersonation was the biggest lie he’s ever told and the greatest truth he’s ever experienced. It is a thought worth pondering.
Kumare..... I saw this film earlier this month on Tricycle's website. Every month they feature a new film. (Tricycle is a Buddhist online site for all sects of Buddhism.)
Watching the film, made me feel sympathy for those who were seeking answers to life's questions. Just goes to show how vulnerable, and naive we all can be. Wanting something or someone to point us in the right direction or tell us the purpose/ meaning of our existence. Or show us how to be happy in a world with so much suffering in it.
I received Kriya Yoga initiation (Kriya yoga is a tantric form of meditation) from an Indian born man who resides in California, USA. His name is Ashok Singh. He calls himself a guru too. However, we should keep in mind that the word guru refers to one who teaches and is not an exalted being that should be put on a pedestal.
It really isn't difficult to find followers or disciples. Just look at the many cults and organized religions that exist. As it appears everyone is seeking something in life.
Posted by: Nancy | March 27, 2013 at 05:29 PM
Nice post Brian. Derren Brown did a something of that vein with a sketch he labelled Messiah where he duped a bunch of church goers into believing that he is the Second Coming.
I have been procrastinating recently(a necessary evil perhaps).....thinking about why I sought the Guru in the first place....something fellow Gaz wrote in a separate blog which reminded me of myself in my younger years....he said something akin to wanting to be the ultimate athlete and that now he feels his possibilities are endless....in light of this; I thought to myself....maybe secretly we all yearn to be GOD more so than being revealed ultimate Truth. Perhaps the need for power and have dominance over our respective environment is the overwhelming factor in pursuit for God. Personally....my attachment to a God stemmed from my childhood via a broken relationship with my father...I was searching for a father Figure....when my search for the formless found a form,,,i.e. a living Guru...I thought Eureka. Once indoctrinated that primary motive waned and the allure of regions, the feeling that I was chosen took over and in moments of grand delusion I felt powerful and not so helpless...I felt that I could merge into the Shabd and effectively become God. Again...this is something I would rarely admit during my RSSB days as deemed too egotistical and even mentioning it now makes me feel like I am somehow a bad person.....The point I am trying to make (albeit badly) is....These fake Guru's....they want to be God and their spiritual currency is not the Shabd but the almighty dollar....perhaps we all want to be Guru's....perhaps it is an innate desire in all humans to have that level of perceived control over their respective lives....the Guru's who turn it into a business take it one step too far by having a congregation and sitting on an elevated platform both literally and metaphorically speaking....in contrast to mainstream celebrities that have to peacock their presence to get any air time on t.v....spiritual guru's wear the cloak of "humility" and seekers find this very attractive....it is the mascara of the Guru; the Loreal shine they put on to attract their masses. I don't know if you have any thoughts on this Brian....
I leave you with this short clip....I grew up watching this as a child and perhaps it is Frank Langella's performance....but there is something about this villain that feels natural to the human condition as opposed to the He-Man heroics:-
Posted by: the9thGate | March 28, 2013 at 06:52 AM
i myself found Shelter in music and in thought about God or maybe the thought was God i don't know.But what dragged me there was total down, total humiliation which now i am use to it, crazily beaten by friend who went mentally ill, alcoholic mom...but but...the hardest thing was to take everything on my shoulder cause waiting for some one to save me would kill me but it was time to stop crying and if there is God i must say He blessed me also with many priceless things which i am everyday trying to be focused on...., maybe it is the point in right focus,Peace,M
Posted by: Moongoes | March 28, 2013 at 10:09 AM
Thanks Tara...I liked your comments on "Attempt to Kill RSSB Guru"...You certainly are somebody who has been on a journey with many tales to tell....as seekers of truth it is natural to question everything; even are own sanity from time to time.
One can never underestimate the importance of ones childhood. My choices whether it be spiritual/ career/ preference of what genre of film I like is deeply intertwined with my early years. I am not saying this is the general rule for all and this may not apply to you but I don't think most children are taught true confidence i.e the ability to deal with life's reversal in a rational autonomic responsible manner...I certainly was not so I was easy prey to something like RSSB and I can't blame it...I was searching for peace and we found each other....I always envied people who were born RSSB...My parents kicked me out the house when they found out I was going Satsang...the parents of my RSSB friends seemed; well kind and spiritual and the households seemed to have this common bond holding them together....but again...I was wrong....RSSB families can be just as dysfunctional and the love of the Guru, a house where 2 hours of meditation, 40 hours of weekly cumulative seva is still not enough to create the ambience needed to live a confident lifestyle. Consequently....I don't envy RSSB families any more....I tend to envy Crocodiles these days....they are so instinctive, the perfect survivor...they rely on their limbic and reptilian brain.....I often spend my free time thinking how dangerous a crocodile could be with a human brain and then it occurs to me...the efficiency of the crocodile in its environment would decline drastically in it's environment had it a human neocortex...with a human brain it would doubt itself and not be the predator it needs to be...my point being (you can tell I am not good at being concise and ramble far too much...forgive me)....perhaps people like you and I have not found the environment conducive to build that state of mind we require to function without doubting our potential.
Posted by: the9thGate | March 28, 2013 at 10:18 AM
I saw Kumaré yesterday
and half a year ago also
Yes any person can try this and succeeed when some charme is there
Also in the very negative like
And this tendency and desire to believe
might be quite natural and even
The Order of Things ( Mauj )
BUT the factor "It ever grows" as often said by Charan
is missing when no real power is behind - call it Bliss, Grace whatever
Following a Guru ? - Only if you cannot resist - Like with a crush on a girl
Resistance is futile then
Think of Osho ( Raneesh )
The 64 Rolls Royces are perhaps still at the Oregon Jail Parking
btw I repeat
I was not very fond of Gurinder when I heard him saying
in Malaga :
"Satsangis, if they don't behave, . . their karma will be greater than normal people
I took that personal
because I'm not a gurmukh, never was
and did not meditate as many of my friends do - ( What a discipline ! )
But then in CH we both saw the same radiance coming from Him?
envelopping even the Car He was in,
like what we had seen physically from Charan
He is somewhat to practical
and God must have decided to be for once
a millionaire this time - :) - not to be crucified for once - - Why not and we don't know how he is using the moneys
and for the sons, perhaps they need to learn a lesson about what money does, !
But He really is Charan's successor
Cazn't help it
Posted by: 777 | June 11, 2013 at 06:43 AM