Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

Search over 5000 pages on Nonduality:


Click here to go to the next issue

Highlights Home Page | Receive the Nondual Highlights each day

#1738 - Tuesday, March 16, 2004 - Editor: michael  

  Bashing The Guru  

The theme for this issue is guru. In the West (US of A in particular) we know about preachers, priests, ministers, tv evangelists. We know what they are about. We have some idea who has feet of clay and who is sincere. When the gurus of India began arriving in the West a lot of us threw everything aside and gave our lives over to these self proclaimed holy people. And we did it without having the cultural understanding of the average Indian citizen.   As you peruse this edition you might form the opinion that I'm against gurus and the whole guru paradigm. I'm not. But I do think that consumer awareness is a good thing.   In this issue we offer some links to pages on gurus as seen from the Indian perspective. In India a guru must pass a test or tests. In India you can find gurus, swamis, and other holy folk on every street corner. Because the Indian folk know that some of these gurus are false and are really lonly ooking for a meal ticket, the Indian villagers and city dwellers don't simply accept a guru's word that the guru is a guru.   The tests can include everything from insults and mocking to starvation and burning! Yikes!   On that happy note - let's take a look.   as ever - be well,   michael  

  This edition is dedicated to Sarlo and his guru rating service.

Hey man, we sure could have used this back in the 1970's!  


shri sarloji himself  

Gurus, Saints, and Seekers:
Holy Men and Women in the Indian Tradition

This page is devoted to introducing westerners to teachers from different Indian religious traditions. It consists of pictures and short life-stories of charismatic seekers, saints, teachers, and gurus from the 19th and 20th centuries who trace their religious origins to India. In addition, references will be given to help the reader learn more about these individuals.


This is a brief essay on the meaning of the term guru in the Hindu Tradition. Guru in addition to its common meaning of teacher, also means "heavy" in Sanskrit. The role of the guru is therefore weighty or important because it is a crucial one for a disciple. Choosing the right guru can strongly affect a disciple's spiritual destiny.

The tradition of seeking, evaluating, accepting, and following a guru is deeply rooted in Hindu society from the time of the earliest Hindu writings. However, not all disciples maintain a close outer connection with their guru. While some disciples spend years with their guru, others meet the guru only once in their lifetime. Some see the guru only in visions and dreams. In other cases, the only contact is through written material or pictures of the guru.

In Hinduism, it is believed that certain individuals have developed spiritually to the point where they can lead others to liberation (moksha), or give them access to spiritual states either in this life, or after death. These teachers are believed to have special abilities, such as the capacity to give darshan (a transfer of blessings or spiritual power from guru to disciple via glance or mantra). In addition, some Gurus are said to be able to enter a disciple's dreams to give teachings or initiation. Sometimes the guru's gaze can cause a profound spiritual experience. Many students claim to sense a spiritual atmosphere around their teacher which affects their moods and perceptions in positive ways.   [ed. note] This is not and Indian site but, it offers some great insights.  


1.        What credentials does this teacher possess that qualifies him/her to give this instruction?

2.        How does this teacher maintain his/her authority in the group or in relationships? Does he/she claim to be the only teacher that gives this instruction?

3.        Can you challenge the teacher's instruction? Can you question his/her advice? What happens if you disagree with the teacher?

4.        Who does this teacher report to? If you were to complain about the teacher, to whom would you go? Is there a system of checks and balances within his/her line of authority?

5.        Within this organization who makes the rules? Who can change the rules? How often does this happen? What happens when someone breaks the rules?

6.        Within this organization who makes the rules? Who can change the rules? How often does this happen? What happens when someone breaks the rules?

7.        What will you be expected to 'give up' or 'sacrifice' to study with this teacher? Ask this question in advance and be as specific as possible.

8.        Are students free to leave this teacher/group? What happens to those who leave?

9.        When do you graduate from this instruction?

10.     How does the teacher talk about those who have left the group? Is contact with: them allowed, discouraged, or forbidden?

11.     What attitude does the teacher have toward maintaining relationships with friends, family, and others outside the group?

12.     What is the teacher's attitude toward people outside the group in general? Are you encouraged to be tolerant and understanding, or judgmental and elite?

13.     Are secrets being kept from you? Are doors locked, access to telephones limited, or is information restricted in any way? Do you watch the news or read books of your choice?

14.     Does this teacher insist that the world is coming to an end in the near future? What proof does he/she have of this? Does the teacher use this prophecy to frighten or influence students?

15.     Does this teacher repeatedly remind you to listen to your heart and not your head? If so, why must you disconnect from rational thought to learn this teaching?

16.     Does the group use 'mind-altering' exercises, i.e. meditation/chanting/praying for long periods of time, sleep deprivation, constant busyness, protein deprivation, or the use of drugs? What scientific, documented proof does this teacher have that these practices will enable the student to reach higher states of consciousness?

17.     Ask the teacher about his/her attitudes about sex in the group. If celibacy is strongly advised for the student, ask if the same standard applies to the teacher. If the standards are different, ask why.

18.   Who pays for the leader's expenses and lifestyle? Is it dramatically different from the students: Will your financial responsibility continue to increase to maintain good standing? Is there an annual report for this group? Every bonafide church, charity, and non-profit organization has this information available for anyone who asks for it.

These questions are meant to provide areas of exploration. Many teachers will not respond directly to your inquiries. We encourage you to conduct your own research and scrutinize your teacher as closely as possible. Remember: avoidance to your questions should raise a red flag. A healthy spiritual community, church, or teacher, will encourage questions about their group. Attitudes of avoidance or secrecy may tell you something about what the future will be like in this group. 


Rosanne Henry   [ed. note] this is an Indian site.  

Choosing a Guru

This is a brief essay on the pitfalls of choosing a guru for a Westerner with little experience of India. There are a number of problems with gurus who come to the West but the primary problem is with the expectations of Western disciples. They do not usually understand much about pan-Indian values and culture, and therefore have a difficult time making informed judgments about gurus and their behavior in the West. One of the functions of the biographies at this site is to help disciples make such informed choices.

In order to understand how best to choose a guru in the Indian tradition, it is best to look at how it is done in India where people have been doing it for a long time. Let us discuss the expectations of Indian disciples.

From my experience in West Bengal (and to a lesser extent Kerala, Delhi, and Sikkim) I will generalize a bit about the rest of India. First a distinction must be drawn between village and urban India. India is mostly village but I will attempt to speak mostly from an educated and somewhat westernized urban Indian's perspective about gurus.

In Bengal, the first thing to be aware of is that it is assumed that the majority of gurus are false, and are trying to support themselves and gain social status by pretending to have knowledge they do not possess. This is in part because Indians expect the guru to be very far along the spiritual path, and it is assumed that only a very few unique souls can be true gurus.

Most urban Bengalis who are interested in finding a guru have seen so many false or questionable ones that they are very skeptical about gurus. They therefore examine any prospective guru very carefully before they even consider becoming a disciple. Such an example was Vivekananda, who went to see Ramakrishna a number of times and only after vigorous internal debate finally decided to accept him as his guru.

The criteria for choosing a guru are complex but a few qualities that are respected are celibacy (seven of the ten Indians mentioned at this site were celibate), lack of interest in money (some gurus like Prahlad Chandra even take a vow to refuse to ever touch money), ability to sit in meditation for hours (and even days) without any movement or disturbance. This criterion is especially important for yogic gurus such as those who are in a Shankaracharya lineage such as Paramahamsa Yogananda.

Other important elements are how the guru spends his or her time. Some bhakti or devotional gurus will spend long periods of time in puja or ritual worship of a deity (an empowered statue on an altar). Others will do homa (or fire) sacrifices in the typical Vedic fashion which last for hours. Still others will sit for long periods and tell religious stories from Indian classical literature (or local village myths) describing the adventures of the gods Krishna and Radha, or Ram and Sita. A classic example of devotional guru was Prabhupad who started the Hare Krishna movement in the West. He would sing Krishna's name (do kirtan) for hours on end and expected disciples to do the same.

Gurus can show they are serious about enlightenment or devotion if they seem to have no other interests but to perform religious ritual, and talk and sing about deities or religious ideas and stories. Such commitment is impressive to many Indian disciples. However since most Westerners are not that familiar with Indian religious ritual, the gurus in the West do not practice them that often and focus more on meditation . It is therefore more difficult to judge a guru's religious commitment based on the amount of external religious ritual he or she performs. Here the Western disciple is at a disadvantage since he or she cannot use this ritual behavior as an indicator of the commitment of the prospective guru.

The lineage of the guru is also sometimes given great importance. Is he or she initiated and by whom? Is the guru's guru known and respected? Is there evidence that the guru was actually given initiation by the person he claims to have initiated him? Many Indians are very suspicious of gurus who claim to "be the path" and are therefore not dependent on a tradition or in a lineage themselves. Westerners should ask questions about lineage and understand the guru's background before accepting any guru as do most Indians. and

The Good Guru Guide

Lotus - Feet of Clay A Reluctant Mystic Looks At Spiritual Movements by John Wren-Lewis


This was originally published in "Understanding Cults and Spiritual Movements" in the mid 1980s.

Some, if we believe what they tell us, are born with spiritual consciousness. Others appear to achieve it by prolonged practice of meditation and other disciplines or by attachment to a guru. I had spiritual consciousness thrust upon me in my sixtieth year without working for it, desiring it, or even believing in it. As a result, I have been presented, amongst other things, with a somewhat original perspective on understanding cults and spiritual movements, which is the occasion for this article.

The crucial event was a shattering, out-of-the-blue mystical experience in 1983 which, to the astonishment of everyone who knew me, and most of all myself, left me with a permanently changed consciousness, describable only in the kind of spiritual terms I had hitherto vehemently discounted as neurotic fantasy-language. Not that I would have called myself an atheist or materialist--indeed I had published extensively on the need for a religious world-view appropriate to this scientific age. But I was emphatic that such a faith would have to be essentially humanist in orientation, focused on creative action in the physical/social realm. [1]

[1] See my book, What Shall We Tell the Children? (London: Constable, 1971).
I regarded mystical experience and the whole idea of spiritual search as escape into unreality, fully justifying Freud's diagnosis of religion as humanity's universal neurosis. [2] Even when I collaborated in extensive psychological research on mind-altering drugs in the late 1960's, and shared many of the strange experiences that turned a whole generation on to the mystics, I remained quite unconvinced that such things were more than temporary aberrations of the brain. Psychologically interesting though they undoubtedly were, I found nothing that seemed to justify mystical expressions like God-consciousness or eternity or the pearl of great price, or for embarking on any kind of spiritual quest.

[2] See especially my essay Love's Coming-of-Age in Psychoanalysis Observed, edited by Charles Rycroft (Baltimore, MD: Penguin, 1966).
What happened in 1983 would nowdays be called a near death experience or NDE, though it differed in several notable ways from most of those I'd read about in the rapidly-growing literature on this topic (which I had, incidently, dismissed as yet another manifestation of the mind's capacity for fantasy.) In the first place, I had none of the dramatic visions which have hit the headlines in popular journalism and occupy a prominent place even in serious scholarly studies like Raymond Moody's LIFE after Life and Kenneth Ring's LIFE at Death. [3]
As I lay in the hospital bed in Thailand after eating a poisoned sweet given me by a would-be thief, I had no out-of-body awareness of the doctors wondering if I was beyond saving, no review of my life, no passsage down a dark tunnel to emerge into a heavenly light or landscape, and no encounter with angelic beings or deceased relatives telling me to go back because my work on earth wasn't yet finished.

[3] Moody, R.A. - Life after Life (N.Y.: Bantam, 1977) and Ring, K., Life at Death (N.Y.: Coward, McCann & Goeghegan, 1980) For an absolutely superb review of this whole field of study, including the best critical survey yet published of writings both ancient and modern, see Carol Zalesky's Otherworld Journeys (N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 1987).
I simply entered - or, rather, was - a timeless, spaceless void which in some indescribable way was total aliveness - an almost palpable blackness that was yet somehow radiant. Trying to find words for it afterwards, I recalled the mysterious line of Henry Vaughan's poem The Night: "There is in God (some say) a deep but dazzling darkness". Re-reading the NDE reports collected by Moody, Ring and others many months later, I found some accounts with echoes of my experience, but in nearly all the near-death literature even the most blissful darkness - experience seems to be regarded as a preliminary stage before transition (with or without the famous tunnel) into light. The condition I entered, on the other hand, seemed so complete in itself that light would have been quite superfluous.
An even more marked difference from the general run of near-death experiences, however, was that I had absolutely no sense of regret or loss in coming back from this joy- beyond-joy, this peace past understanding, into physical life. In fact my experience as the hospital's ministrations restored the body's vital signs was nothing like a return. It was more like an act of creation whereby the timeless, spaceless Dark budded out into manifestation, and what manifested was simlpy not the same me-experiencing-the-world that I'd known before: it was Everything that is, experiencing itself through the bodymind called John lying in a hospital bed. And the experience was indescribably wonderful. I now know exactly why the Book of Genesis says that God looked upon all that He had made, not just beautiful sunsets, but dreary hospital rooms and traumatized sixty-year-old bodies, and saw that it was very good.

What I am trying to describe (and have attempted to describe in fuller detail elsewhere [4]) is no vague feeling of "good to be alive." On the contrary, I no longer cared if John lived or ceased to be altogether, and the change of consciousness was so palpable that, to begin with, I repeatedly put my hand up to the back of my head, feeling exactly as if the doctors had removed the skull and exposed my brain somehow to the infinite blackness of space. Occasionally I still do so, for the new consciousness has remained with me ever since, which is the third and most significant difference from what happens in the general run of near-death experiences, and also from the altered states experienced with psychedelics.

[4] "The Darkness of God: An Account of Lasting Mystical Consciousness Resulting from an NDE," in Anabiosis:The Journal for Near-Death Studies, 5, No. 2, Fall 1985. A still fuller and more analytical account is due to appear in the Journal for Humanistic Psychology sometime in 1988, under the same title.
This is in no sense a high from which I can come down. The sense of awe-ful wonders has at the same time a feeling of utter obviousness and ordinariness, as if the marvel of everything-coming-into-being-continuously-from-the Great Dark was no more and no less than just the way things are.
From this perspective, the term altered state of consciousness would be a complete misnomer, for the state is one of simple normality. It seems, rather, as if my earlier state, so-called ordinary human consciousness, represents the real alteration, a deviation from the plain norm, a kind of artificially blinkered or clouded condition wherein the bodymind has the absurd illusion that it is somehow a separate individual entity over against everything else.
In fact, I now understand why mystics of all religions have likened the enlightenment-process to waking up from a dream, but even so I had no thought, to begin with, that the awakening could be other than a temporary glimpse of Reality, which would all be gone by morning. So powerful was this expectation that the next day I spent several hours packing up to leave the hospital and deciding where to go next in precisely the old way, as if I were an isolated individual coping with his environment (after a very interesting experience the night before). Only as I was walking in the hot sun to the police station to report the crime was I struck by the sense of loss that the Dark was missing, and my first thought then was, "Ah well, you've had the Vision - I suppose now you'll have to join the ranks of all those Seekers who spend their lives trying to attain Higher Consciousness." And then, to my amazement, I suddenly saw it was all still there just waiting, as it were, to be noticed, the Dark behind my eyes and behind everything else, bringing again the perception that of course everything exists by emerging fresh-minded from the Dark now! and now!, with a shout of joy yet also in absolute calm.

And still I thought it must all fade away soon; only after the whole cycle of drifting off and snapping back again had been repeated several times a day for some weeks did my mind start getting round to the fact that I might not be going to revert to the old permanemtly-clouded condition. The NDE had evidently jerked me out of the so-called normal human state of chronic illusion-of-separateness, into a basic wakefukness interrupted by spells of "dozing off," simply forgetting the Dark until the sense of something missing from life brings about instant re-awakening with no effort at all. I apparently wasn't destined to become a seeker in any ordinary sense--I'd been handed the pearl of great price on a plate. But my awakening had brought no instructions of the kind reported by some mystics (and by some near-death experiences [5]), about what it was all going to mean for the future conduct of my life. I had an overwhelming wish to pass on the awakening to others somehow, but had received no divine commission to be a guru, and indeed hadn't a clue what to suggest, since I could scarcely recommend taking a potentially fatal dose of poison.

[5] See Kenneth Ring's second book, Heading Towards Omega (N.Y.: Morrow, 1984), and Return from Death by British researcher Margot Grey (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985).
So I began feverishly researching the once-despised world of mystical literature and spiritual movements in quest of understanding and guidance. Indeed as my research progressed I became irritated and concerned by the way most systems protect themselves in advance against any expectation of substantial success-rate, by representing enlightenment as a very high, difficult achievement requiring years or perhaps lifetimes of intense effort; the most articulate modern cartographer of the spiritual life, Ken Wilber, actually makes the comparison with becoming a master musician, scientist or athlete. [6] Such a model is totally at odds with the key feature of God-consciousness as I know it in my own firsthand experience, namely its quintessential ordinariness and obviousness - a feature actually emphasized by many mystics from whom Wilber himself quotes. While I wouldn't go as far as Krishnamurti by totally denying that mediation and other disciplines could ever help towards realizing God as "just the way things are," I know absolutely from my own case that such intensive training isn't necessary, and I see no evidence either from history or from modern movements that it's any kind of sure road to awakening.
[6] See for example Wilber's book Eye to Eye (Garden City, NY: Doubleday/Anchor, 1983) - but the point is common to all his books.
In fact, after four years' intensive research I've come to the conclusion that in ancient traditions and modern spiritual movements alike, theorizing about God-consciousness and enlightenment has totally outrun firsthand experience, often to the point where the oystershell gets mistaken for the pearl (or the finger for the moon, in the famous Buddhist proverb). And I do agree with Krishnamurti that probably the most pernicious theory in this regard is that of the guru as a Master requiring obedience and submis- sion.
Krishnamurti calls it pernicious because it enshrines what he believes to be a fundamental fallacy, namely that the act of submission is a way of transcending the illusion of separate selfhood, when in fact, he believes, it must inevitably confirm that illusion in an insidious way. On this point I wouldn't be quite so dogmatic; while I'm sure submission is indeed subtly ego-confirming in many cases ("I can surrender better than you can"), I'm prepared to believe that on occasion it really might move someone towards seeing through the illusion of separateness and hence awakening to only God as simply the way things are. My own reason for regarding the Master-concept as pernicious is that it imposes an almost irresistable temptation on guru and disciples alike to keep quiet about and/or rationalize away any experience that might detract from the guru's claim to infallible authority justifying surrender.

The classic illustration of this is the pathetic spectacle of spiritual movements insisting that reports of less-than-perfect behavior on the Master's part are either wicked lies put about by enemies or, if evidence cannot be denied, are explainable as the Master's deliberate attempts to shock followers out of uptightness with outrageous behavior, or test their capacity for total surrender. Before my NDE I used to seize eagerly upon such scandel-stories as evidence that gurus were either frauds or madmen or both. Now I know the explanation is more complicated; a few frauds and madmen there may be, but I'm quite sure now that some of the teachers who've been involved in scandals do have first- hand experience of God-consciousness. Things they say or write, often some of their little stories, carry the ring of a truth that couldn't have been culled from secondhand sources.

And for me as an outsider there is no conflict here. In the first place, I know from my own firsthand experience that God-consciousness doesn't abolish human appetites. When I'm in it I don't lose my taste for meat or wine or good company or humor or detective fiction - I actually enjoy them more than ever before. I don't cease to enjoy sexual feelings, nor do I see anything inherently dirty about money. What the consciousness does bring is the cheerful equanimity of knowing that satisfaction doesn't depend on any of these special preferences of John's bodymind being met; it is inherent simply in being, in the Great Dark which is (in G.K. Chesterton's marvellous phrase [7]) "joy without a cause." This, of course, does have a profound ethical effect, since it means that cravings have no power to run my life - but since it's so easy to drift out of the consciousness from time to time, I can and do also lapse from such detachment. (In my particular case, the commonest and nastiest lapses are into impatience, bad temper and argumentation when I drift into the soap-opera called "they're trying to push me around.")

[7] See my article "Joy without a Cause" in The Chesterton Review, XII, No. 1, February 1986.
This was of course another issue on which I initially hoped for some help from mystical writings or a spiritual movement: was there anything I could do, like meditation or diet, to reduce the frequency of drifting out? I was extremely puzzled when my research turned up almost no reference to any such possibility. Krishnamurti is the only spiritual teacher I know whose writings hint at experiences similiar to mine in this respect; everywhere else, it's taken for granted that one is either a disciple on the path, practising meditation or guru-darshan or whatever to reach God-consciousness, or else a Master who is supposed to be in it permanently. Now while I'm quite prepared to believe there may be Masters who enjoy the consciousness uninterruptedly, the total silence about the drifting-out which I experience daily seemed highly suspicious. I was therefore very interested to come upon Agehananda Bharati's important book The Light at the Center [8], in which he asserts quite categorically that "permanent enlightenment" is only a conventional fiction of the guru-system, possibly never actually realized, but maintained in order to foster the total surrender which is believed essential for the system to work.
[8] Agehananda Bharati, The Light at the Center (Santa Barbara, CA: Ross-Erikson, 1976).
The trouble is that once such a system is swallowed, the guru cannot admit to lapses without completely discrediting his claim to have any enlightenment to pass on. So from the highest possible motive, a sincere desire to share his God-consciousness, he is tempted to rationalize, probably even to himself. Sexual advances toward attractive disciples become tantric exercises or studies of the chakras, a beer-belly is due to the descent of shakti-power, outbursts of temper are to weaken disciples egos or to test their devotion, collection of money is needed for spreading the Word, gifts are accepted because the disciples wish to show their devotion, and so on through the whole hackneyed catalog. Even worse, there is a tendency for the wish to spread the Word to pass over into the most insidious of all power-trips, with the Master thinking of himself as God rather than vice-versa, the phenomenon Jung called inflation. I know about this from personal experience; some of my worst lapses into impatience come when I'm wanting to get on with writing about God-consciousness! But because I'm not claiming to be a Master, no-one gets sucked in and I'm soon forced to come off it. When the Master-disciple relationship has been established, disciples have to go along with the Master's rationalizations or abandon the hope they've placed in him.
And from the wider human point of view, I believe the closed, self-confirming guru-system has an even more important defect, even with Masters who manage to avoid such temptations, namely that there is little or no opportunity for theories and techniques to be evaluated against their experiential results and exchanged for better ones. For example, Maharishi Maresh Yogi has given his authority to a scheme of seven ascending stages of consciousness through which disciples are supposed to pass. In my experience the first of his stages, readily attained during meditation, has nothing much to do with God-consciousness at all, and I recognize no others except the two highest, the sixth, which is characterized by worshipful gratitude to the divine, and the seventh, the totally obvious recognition of Unity, of "I am That." Moreover, for me these are not two stages in a process at all, but simply opposite sides of the God-consciousness coin, not withstanding the paradox that by conventional logic gratitude would seem to require someone to be grateful to, and who is there, if I am That? I have no idea what this discrepancy between my experience and Maharishi's theory means, since I've yet to find any of his disciples who've "gotten that far," and he himself remains hidden behind the Master-role, unavailable for discussion. Is he reporting firsthand experience in some way different from mine (maybe more advanced), or has he adapted his God-experience (which I'm sure he's had) to fit traditional yogic theory? The Master-system prevents such questions from being investigated.

I have a similiar, though different, problem with the system of Da Free John, who claims to experience sahaj samadhi, the simple consciousness of only God in everyday life, and then speaks of having gone beyond it into the ultimate mystery of bhava samadhi, the eternal Preluminous Void prior to all manifestation. In my experience these again are not stages on an ascending path, but simply he two sides of That. The world-process of manifestation is the continuous outpouring of the Great Dark in self-giving love, and the Great Dark is not the ultimate Home to which we aspire to return, for none of us ever left it; when we are prodigal sons and daughters we don't really go into any far country, because there can't be such a place--we just forget the Home we never left and can't possibly leave. Now is there some deep difference of experience involved here from which I could learn, or is Da Free John merely interpreting his experience into the traditional upward path framework as a way out of the folly of seeking enlightenment (he says seeking merely confirms the self-sense, which he calls Narcissus), in practice his whole movement seems locked into climbing the rungs of a ladder, while his statements about his own experience, at times refreshingly frank, at others show the same old reticence of the Master-role.

I believe the world desperately needs a new, totally experimental mysticism that will set all the traditional theories on one side and try to find out, more in the spirit of science than of religion, what factors really bring about awakening, which can only happen if those who've experienced awakening eschew the Master-role and discuss their firsthand knowledge openly, lapses and all. That, at any rate, is the cause to which I've decided to devote whatever years remain to me before My FDE (Final Death Experience). If any readers of this article are to help, by writing honestly about their experiences (for instance, if anyone really has made it through Maharishi's seven stages), I'd be delighted to hear from them. For myself, I have to report that over the past four years the Consciousness seems in some strange way to have taken over more of my life quite of its own accord, so that I now drift out much less - and there have been some remarkable side-effects, which I've described elsewhere. [9] Meanwhile, since an essential part of this whole exercise is the ruthless exposure of the fact that Masters have lotus feet of clay, I salute from across the world the work done by this admirable journal.

A pull no punches guru bash - not for the squeamish.

You may find your favorite guru bashed here, heck - even  the Dalai Lama gets bashed here.

On the lighter side

Barry Smith's

"Bad Guru Letters"

Dear Bad Guru,

Does my breathing pattern affect my chances of enlightenment?

Respiratory in Reseda

Dear Res,

Yes, a few months of long, deep, conscious, cleansing breaths - in through the nose, out through the mouth - will virtually guarantee enlightenment. But are you sure enlightenment is for you? Does sitting on top of a mountain wearing a diaper really sound like a sound career option? True, you are your own boss, but there’s little room for advancement.

Bad Guru recommends a lifetime of hasty, shallow breaths with your mouth hanging slightly open and a job where you can drink during lunch.

Enlightenment is highly overrated, in my opinion. Think of all the people you know who really think that they are more enlightened than you. Is there anyone you can think of who is more annoying? This question is one which each of us can only answer for ourselves.


In [email protected]

From:  "olodumare_4all"
Date:  Tue Mar 16, 2004  11:31 am

[ed. note] this is an extract from a longer post. i've included it for it's lyrical aspects

      Below is an explanation of Olodumare
which is interesting in it's similarities with all the first
and most basic and intuitive understandings of all people and
the various religeons built up around them.

"Within the spiritual system of Ifa there is the firmly held belief
that there is one Supreme Essence, generally referred to as God,
that controls the very destiny of the universe and the things
therein. There is no reality higher than Olodumare and it is to this
Essence that we must submit our beings; for it is Olodumare that
lays out the destiny (ayanmo) of all human beings. Thus, alignment
with Olodumare's original intentions for us is the ultimate
spiritual balance. The Yoruba do not believe that Olodumare is some
entity to be "feared" as is taught in Judeo-Christian thought, but
It is to be harmonized within our very beings and manifested for the
good of the world as sanctioned in Odu Ifa. So, Ifa teaches us to
experience God and live the righteousness which is the result of
this divine drama. There is nothing higher than Olodumare. There is
no thing outside of Olodumare. All things good originate with
Olodumare, and thus, all things must so return. "  

From:  "skiplaurel" Date:  Tue Mar 16, 2004  7:49 am
Subject:  What Matters

What Matters

Below is part of an email I received from my friend Peter,

it is my experience that there is such a lovely sweetness in this
little quiet moment, here on the grass with a smiling little cat. This sweetness
is always present, always available, always here. Even in the midst of this pain
and illness, and the screaming and carrying on, ho ho... there is a sweetness
at the center of it all that burns so brightly nothing else matters. Nothing
else is left...

Vicki Woodyard

top of page

Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

Search over 5000 pages on Nonduality: