this is an entry for my participation in the 2008 blogathon, a 24-hour marathon of blogging. please support the cause and donate – however much, however little – to the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch).
to donate, email me or use this URL: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. you should be able to get there by clicking the link;if not, just copy and paste the link into your browser. it will take you to the appropriate location at canada helps. thank you!
and here’s a guest post from my friend jael:
today, i thought i would go guru shopping. i thought it might be fun, and i might learn something. plus, even though i am such a quirky person, maybe there is a guru out there somewhere who would suit me. maybe even teach me. i’m not very teachable about spirituality, though. i think i know what’s best for me, and i won’t be bullied into changing my mind. so any guru trying to teach me is not in for a picnic.
a reiki master and yoga teacher i know has a picture of a guru in her space. in the picture, a head shot really, he is smiling all the way to his eyes, and he has a white beard. when i saw all the love in that picture, i thought, “even if i am stubborn, i can probably find a guru that would suit me on the internet, if any of them are anything like this guy. this guy whose name i don’t know. maybe i can even find him in one of the guru images on the net.”
first stop: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/guru
no pictures of any gurus in this entry. however, the article includes a long list of gurus dating back to the 1400s and even further. a section on gurus in the west has a list of at least 20 people, some of whom were born in the mid-to-late twentieth century.
there is one who has trained in homeopathy, reiki and naturopathy. that would really suit me. we already speak some of the same language. this fellow http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/rudrabhayananda came from an affluent background, if we are to believe the information in the wikipedia article. wikipedia itself states that the article does not have enough third party references in order to be verifiable as accurate. also, additionally, the website quoted in the article was down at the time of writing. oddly enough, i am disappointed. we have lots of similar interests, but the broken webpage is a dealbreaker.
i searched through all of the other western gurus in the list, and didn’t find an image of the guy from my local reiki master’s office. there’s one man who died a few years ago who looks a bit like the picture i’m looking for, but none of his pictures are nearly as good, i mean joyful, soulful, loving.
if i want to find that picture, i need to ask my friendly neighbourhood reiki master.
the tradition of recognizing gurus crosses many cultures, mostly hindu, buddhist and sikh. wikipedia does a good job of summarizing the role of gurus in these contexts.
there are also citations from articles criticizing the whole idea of a guru. one in particular from the same wikipedia article on gurus:
in their 1993 book, the guru papers, authors diana alstadt and joel kramer reject the guru-disciple tradition because of what they see as its structural defects. these defects include the authoritarian control of the guru over the disciple, which is in their view increased by the guru’s encouragement of surrender to him. alstadt and kramer assert that gurus are likely to be hypocrites because, in order to attract and maintain followers, gurus must present themselves as purer than and superior to ordinary people and other gurus.
and how do you tell the difference between a hypocrite and the real thing on the internet? you can’t. you have to be there. the best i can hope for, guru shopping on the internet, is a link to someone in my city who is a true spiritual seeker, or “wanderer” as i like to think of us. i know many people in my immediate circle who fit that description. plus they’re accessible, free, and innocent. they have no idea that they are spiritual inspiration for me.