blogathon: guru shopping

canadian mental health associationthis 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: 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:

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 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.


  1. Monitor saying “Hello!”

    I have come by a few times already, but not had a chance to comment. As far a online gurus, just be careful not everyone is as they seem, even if they have a following, and even if they are Buddhist. (But I am sure you already knew that, it is just I have heard stories.)

    Take care and I will be back later.

    Jessica’s last blog post..(11) Audio

  2. I’ve never had much of a guru, but a few teachers along the way. My primary teacher in physical, mental and relational was Joel Kramer, along with Diana Alstad, mentioned in the quote on the downside of gurus. Joel was a superior thinker, innovator and teacher. Yet he did NOTHING to encourage continued interaction, nor try and get control of your life in some way, as many gurus often do. As far as whether gurus are what they seem, MANY big name gurus went for many YEARS, sometimes decades, being held in VERY high esteem, while saying and teaching one thing an doing another behind everyone’s backs. Sexual impropriety, stealing money, blackmail, eating to obesity, and on and on. As Joel says in his excellent book, The Passionate Mind, what we all do is find someone who is telling us what we want to hear, then follow them. The Great Religions tell us the Kingdom of God is within, then tell us a bunch of other places to look. So in the end, WE are the ones deciding, as individuals, on what is true anyway, we just don’t want to acknowledge that finding and ACTING on Truth is our own, personal responsibility. So we are the ultimate authority in our own lives, like it or not. Sure, we can get help, education and ideas along the way from knowledgeable and experienced people, but the whole idea of pursuing a guru probably misses the whole point of enlightenment — whatever that is — anyway. That’s how the late Krishnamurti freaked out all his followers many decades ago: at a very young age he was “discovered” and promoted as THE New World Teacher, gaining hundreds of thousands of followers. Yet at age 21 he renounced his position, told everyone that Truth is a Pathless Land, and that no guru could really and truly take you there anyway. But psychologically, many people love to be followers, wanting someone to tell them what to do.

    David Scott Lynn’s last blog post..Asheville & NCSAB

  3. Oh, one more thing. I started doing Buddhist meditations from their Bible, the Dhammapadha, when I was 14; that was 40 years ago. Though I did not last long as a Buddhist, I have studied much of this kind of stuff my whole life. And being a yoga teacher and bodyworker, I am around a LOT of people who are into such things. That said, I have no reason to believe that someone who claims to be Buddhist is any more likely to be a “good” person than anyone else. Though they claim not to be, they are very authoritarian and quite dogmatic, they are just subtle about it. Kramer/Alstad go into this in the Guru Papers, as well. The Oriental Buddhists also have a very dark side to their history , too. The point is they are all human, they have just chosen a particular way of acting out that attempts to suppress certain aspects of it. You can be sure their humanness, the negative or dark side, is acted out in some way, or internalized into some negative stuff. It’s just not politically correct to point it out or discuss it. It’s not to say they do not do good things. But I bet there are a great many of people who do good things who are not Buddhists. (Many Buddhists even argue a lot about what “true” Buddhism is. Wanna bet there’s some Ego coming into play there?)

    David Scott Lynn’s last blog post..Asheville & NCSAB

  4. thanks for your great comments, david!

    truth is a pathless land – now THERE’s someone whose teachings i like to heed: krishnamurti. partly BECAUSE he was so anti-guru.

    re “who’s REALLY a buddhist” – in the last buddhist carnival, we have a bit of a conversation about what is “really” zen – you might find it interesting

  5. Thanks for providing information and prices of different variety of shopping product. I need this info because i am using online shopping services.

  6. aaaah, some spam comments are just too precious to delete.

    good luck with your online shopping for a guru; hopefully you find one at just the right price


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