Blog Archives

A Website that Rates Gurus!

Rating Your Favorite Guru

Help for Guru Shoppers or Even Guru Hoppers…

If you are shopping for a guru or simply want to check out your own guru’s “rating,” there is a website you may want to check out…It’s called GuruRatings and it called out to me when I saw lots of my favorite gurus featured. It’s a bit like People Magazine for New-Agers.

Some may find rating gurus offensive. But, is guru rating necessarily a bad thing? In today’s world, we are all obsessed with ratings. We rate everything from television shows, to movies, to cars, to toothbrushes. In fact, it’s hard to find anything that isn’t rated. So, why should gurus be exempt or off-limits to this kind of scrutiny?

We need to know the facts about who we are willing to put our faith in, take advice from, and in a many ways, surrender to.  Just because you get a mega-blast of darshan (a blessing from the guru), doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t red flags you should consider, such as:

  • Don’t you want to know if your prospective or current guru advocates celibacy or a more liberal attitude toward sex? You don’t to commit to a lifestyle you simple cannot live up to.
  • Don’t you want to “follow the money?” Does your guru live in a mansion while advocating others take a vow of poverty? If you are told you have to live in a cave, your guru better be walking his walk.
  • Does you guru have sex with his or her followers? I mean this should be cause for concern even if you aren’t a prude.

Of Course rating gurus is subjective and personal – perhaps we can’t actually quantify or measure a gurus value. And some people may become offended if their guru doesn’t measure up, if their guru isn’t even on the site, or if their guru is debunked.  But, if you keep your attachment to other people’s judgements out of it, it can be kind of fun pursuing this site. You may even find yourself tempted to make a switch, so it may be a good test of your level of devotion to your current guru. A testing of our faith can be a good thing.

The author of the site is positioning himself as the “Guru of Rating Gurus.” He does of course, offer us the chance to weigh in and cast our votes, so if you feel inclined to make yours count, give a thumbs up or down accordingly.

Here is a definition of “guru” from thefreedictionary.com website:

gu·ru  (gr, g-r)

n. pl. gu·rus

1. Hinduism & Tibetan Buddhism A personal spiritual teacher.
2.

a. A teacher and guide in spiritual and philosophical matters.
b. A trusted counselor and adviser; a mentor.
3.

a. A recognized leader in a field: the guru of high finance.
b. An acknowledged and influential advocate, as of a movement or idea: “In a culture that worships slimness, he was the Guru of Lean” (Erica Abeel).

Leave a comment

October 22, 2012 · 7:28 pm

Spirited Spiritual Pissing Contests

My Guru Is Better than Your Guru

Your guru sucks, I say – not exactly in those words, but you know what I mean. My face is all intense as I tell you what I think of your guru’s opinion on architecture. Of course, your guru happens to be my ex-guru and this somehow gives me permission to voice my opposition to your point of view without crossing over the line. “My guru has more important things to do than consider the pros and cons of whether my house, or any one’s house, faces east, west, north or south!”

And I start a mini-rant after you have joined us at our table in the coffee house where I sit with my friend blogging and processing the events of the past week. I wasn’t looking for a fight, but you started it and I intend to finish it (I had just finished a number of repetitions of my mantra that evidently had not taken effect).

I ‘m only going after you because you started it. You said my house would bring me poverty and lack of creativity because it is not proper vastu (according to your guru’s system called, Maharishi Sthapatya Veda (MSV). MSV is a set of architectural and planning principles  based on “ancient Sanskrit texts – kind of like Feng Shui, but Indian. Whatever…

Here’s the deal, Dude, when you take on my house, you take on ME, because I AM my house. No matter how long or how many years I’ve meditated, I’m ATTACHED to MY house and no one gets to disrespect it. I defend it and I really don’t care who your guru is, I believe my house faces the perfect direction.

So here we behaving like a couple of 16-year old boys flexing our muscles and insisting, “My dad can kick your dad’s ass….”

We have both meditated for about 80 years, collectively, and our ego’s are still on high alert ready to defend themselves and our turf with “fighting words.” In fact, all the meditation seems to have enhanced our reflexes.

Yet, I remember a previous generation of adults who had the good sense to never discuss spiritual matters or religion at the table which is what new-agers always do. We sit in cafes and talk about our latest visit to ashrams, or the latest strategy to  attain nirvana. I don’t remember our parent’s generation sitting at the dinner table with friends saying, “So, Marge, you’re Catholic, and I just want to ask you one question, how can Catholics believe all that crap about eating the flesh and blood of Jesus?”

They simply left those matters alone, wisely understanding, such questions are a recipe for unpleasant disagreement, and that matters of spiritual belief are personal. The word discretion is, for our generation, sometimes equated with repression, denial, or an unhealthily rejection of transparency. Thus, our tendency to over-communicate sometimes leads to guru bashing. Guru bashing leads to pissing people off unnecessarily.

Perhaps, the coffee house is not the place for spirited spiritual pissing contests.

Leave a comment

October 22, 2012 · 2:59 am

Oprah Winfrey Visits Fairfield Iowa

Oprah meditated with the group of TM sidhas at the Golden Dome for women.

Oprah and Other Celebs Endorse TM

Oprah, who has long been closely associated with a number of famous TM’ers, such as Deepak Chopra, has finally joined the ranks and become an official TM initiate and advocate. She is now connected to this controversial movement and given its meditation the Oprah stamp of approval. Maharishi captured the hearts and minds of a generation of youthful seekers, including celebs such as, The Beatles, Donavon, and Mia Farrow. And his teaching continues to resonate with many rich and famous followers—Clint Eastwood, Deepak Chopra, and Dr. Oz—to name a few. David Lynch, who is a staunch supporter and practitioner of Transcendental Mediation (TM), continues to provide funding for the Maharishi Schools and a variety of programs that promote the teaching of TM worldwide. He continues to fund a program that makes TM available for soldiers recovering from PTSD; he has already committed to helping 10,000 Vets across the country.

I Learned TM in the 70’s

In the 70’s, I became one of Maharishi’s followers, and took to my mantra like a duck to water, became immersed in long meditations accompanied by yoga, and eventually became a TM Teacher. I remember the hours I spent listening to the guru’s lilting voice and giggles along with his promise that his meditation technique could enlighten the masses and create heaven on earth. He energized a generation that was disillusioned with organized religion, a world of war, and racial strife, and the paradigm of gross materialism.

So, where do I stand? Well, like many who have been avid followers and strayed from the straight and narrow teachings of any path, I feel I’ve saved the baby and thrown out the bathwater. I love doing a mantra meditation (not necessarily TM) and I still read all kinds of Eastern scriptures and teachings—not necessarily Maharishi’s—that’s how I’m wired. I guess I consider myself a reincarnated Indian. I’m grateful for the gifts and for the practice that helped me give up a wicked cigarette addiction, binge drinking, and drug usage. Maharishi opened me to a universe of concepts that have influenced me and enriched my life. The late 60’s and early 70’s were both exhilarating and dangerous times, and I emerged miraculously unscathed, in large part, due Maharishi’s influence.

But, I have long since dropped away from the TM movement or organization, preferring a more eclectic view of spirituality and preferring to think for myself (another blog altogether) than to follow the seemingly endless do’s and don’ts and should’s and shouldn’t(s) generously and frequently offered by the organization and its late founder. The TM movement has always claimed it is not a religion, but offers a simple meditation technique that can become a part of anyone’s daily practice. Yet I found that once you join the organization’s fold, the rules and regulations abound.

And, I predict that Oprah, who I respect very much, and who by nature seems to be an open-hearted and genuine seeker, will continue to embrace all the branches of that illusory Tree of Knowledge. Oprah has shown she likes variety—in shoes, in reading material, and in teachers. I think she will continue exploring and synthesizing the wisdom of the great teachers and teachings all over the world.

Leave a comment

October 21, 2012 · 12:49 am

Why Oprah Came to Meditate in Fairfield Iowa

Oprah Meditating in the Golden Dome

Now my little town of Fairfield, Iowa, has once more been put on the map – this summer Oprah Winfrey came to meditate with MUM’s yogic flyers in the Golden Dome for women.

Why in the world would Oprah Winfrey come to Fairfield, Iowa, a tiny Midwestern town in the middle of cornfields, which boasts approximately 9,464 people? Oprah can be anywhere at any time doing anything she pleases, her time is money, and her schedule grueling. In Fairfield, there is no spectacular scenery, no ocean front properties, no mountain views, or sandy beaches, and no redwood forests.

Okay, we have a cute town square, and she did show up at my favorite coffee shop on the square and chatted up the locals—the coffee is spectacular but not enough of a draw for Oprah. But, you know Oprah, she is not one to put on airs.

And, there is Maharishi University of Management (MUM), formerly Maharishi International University, founded in 1973, by the late world-famous, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. There is the largest population of TM meditators in the world. And, there are the Golden Domes of Pure Knowledge (yes, these are literally golden dome-shaped structures) where advanced TM meditators can come together to FLY (up for debate) and meditate in a group for world peace and personal enlightenment.

And, Oprah, a new meditator, who would normally not be allowed to meditate with the yogic flyers, was invited to join the hundreds of women who do their meditation “program” together morning and evening—Super Radiance—in the dome designated for women. Oprah claims to have found kindred spirits among the spiritual seekers in Fairfield and elsewhere who have chosen this form of meditation as a path to enlightenment and development of consciousness. She has described meditating in the dome as a, “powerfully energizing yet calming experience” of deep inner stillness and “didn’t want it to end.” When it did, she “walked away feeling fuller than when I’d come in…full of hope, a sense of contentment, and deep joy.”

Do you mediate? I do.

Leave a comment

October 19, 2012 · 6:17 pm

Women Do Not Understand Art – “From a Young Man’s Perspective”

Tree Deva from Kartika’s Art Jounal

What do you think? As you can see, perspective is not my forte.

This guy thinks women are clueless about art. Take a look – Women Do Not Understand Art – “From a Young Man’s Perspective.

What is your perspective on perspective? I used to be terrified to draw because I thought I had to make a woman holding a jar look like a woman holding a jar.  I thought first I had to understand perspective and be able to draw realistic images before I could create art. But now I’m free to enjoy myself. Why? Because my art mentor gave me permission to reject perspective. I can now love my “Girl with a Jar.”

She teaches me something every time I look at her – she teaches me I can trust myself, trust my instincts, and follow the muse. She teaches me it’s okay to play and not take art making so seriously. She teaches me sometimes the best things happen when we just loosen up and let go.

But the perspective of this young man reminds me of those critics out there who just don’t appreciate the abstract or irrational. He reminds me of those antiquated teachers who admonished us for not drawing in the lines or making a tree look like a tree. He reminds me of another guy I was with who thought of himself as a “real artist,” who had mastered the craft of perspective.

I say, don’t buy it and keep drawing outside of the lines and making trees look like dinosaurs.

Leave a comment

October 19, 2012 · 1:55 am

What is your perspective on perspective?

One of the pages from my art journal is a piece called, Girl with Jar.Image

What is your perspective on perspective?

Leave a comment

October 19, 2012 · 12:00 am

Ashram Politics…

Returning from the Ashram

It has been my experience it is possible to be in Nirvana one moment, and in the very the next moment, descend into the depths of that all too familiar, confining, egoistic hell. Just because you have spent hours sitting at the feet of some enlightened being, who may even be recognized throughout the world as at least on par with Mother Teresa, when you return home from a two-day retreat with your guru, you will probably find you are still living there. You will probably still turn on the television to watch Court TV if that is your habit. You will still desire the coffee that comes from the cappuccino machine at the BP gas station, where you will continue to stop each morning before work, and, putting your $1.25 on the counter, walk out with that sugary concoction of the total bastardization of coffee, and guilt-trip yourself on your way to work. Had you chosen the freshly-brewed, organic blend from the container on the counter, you would be sipping it throughout the hour, it would have been the conscious choice – it is of course, a Fairly Traded brand. However, the first thing you do when you return to town after having spent two days with your guru, is stop at the BP and fill up your cup with that sweet, foamy, liquid blend of chemicals, sugar, and artificial flavoring. At least, you rationalize, you did not pick up the glazed doughnut.
Your beloved guru may kiss you and take you in her arms, whispering sweet nothings in your ear, the promises of bliss, and for a moment you are able to simply be. You are able to taste a moment’s freedom from the world you have been battling with every day of your life. You are, after all, at war. You are in constant battle with what is. It starts when you open your eyes in the morning and wish you could close them and go back into the void, a tendency you have fought against since childhood. It continues as you wish you did not have to go to work, but would rather read your novel. You resent having to face, once again, the call of duty—the bills to pay, the dishes to wash, the demands of your job. If only you could see the face of your guru in the dishwater, see the face of God in the garbage. But, for about 10 seconds, while you rest in your guru’s arms, you are simply loved. So, for 30 seconds a year (the equivalent of three hugs), you have this blessing, this gift—she enfolds you in her embrace and presses you to her; you feel like Neo being unplugged from the matrix, as she releases you from mortality.

Leave a comment

June 8, 2012 · 9:39 pm