Journal

Been There, Done That, Know-It-All

Spiritual Ego

There is, they say, no fool like an old fool. And there is no ego like a hardened old seeker ego. Encrusted within a prickly sense of having read the words, done the practice and glimpsed ‘the peace that passeth understanding’, the old seeker has absorbed it into a new-and-improved spiritual ego. Like a virus that becomes antidote-resistant with small doses of medicine, the spiritual ego becomes more sophisticated and subtle with ‘spiritual’ insights, knowledge and experiences.

On the surface the words are right – ‘love’, ‘light’, ‘oneness’ etc – the clothes are flowing and the lifestyle says there is a sincere seeker of Truth here. But inside a subtle arrogance has quietly crept in: a shrewd way of dismissing words of a teacher.

There are two ways to do this: one way is by proving the teacher wrong or inadequate and the other is by putting him on a pedestal – in either case, by making his words not applicable to one’s real, daily life. Maybe it’s a clever ‘You don’t really understand my life…’ or ‘What you say is true but not practical’ or even a ‘Yes, I read that in a book’. Do you see how deftly the mind can sweep a real insight under the carpet so hearing the Truth doesn’t upset one’s carefully manicured spiritual life anymore?

“That is the only path the ego-mind knows,” my mentor GD said to me on this subject. “It judges and discards everybody and everything, becoming more and more depressed and isolated. The ego-mind cannot know love or oneness.”

What was shocking was that this ‘ego-mind’ which GD was kindly referring to in third person was what I lived identified with ALL THE TIME. It was, for most part, what I called ‘me’. I felt shaken by his words but also felt softer, like something hard had been broken open. Like a truer ‘me’ had emerged, blinking, into the light.

“The more you ‘know’,” GD continued, “the deader you become. The more you ‘know’ about love, the less you will be able to experience it. Once we know that this particular flower is called a ‘rose’, we no longer bother to see it. The mystery is lost. Every word, every label, deadens us to the mystery that life is.

“Knowing spiritual concepts like ‘freedom’ and ‘oneness’ often make us dead to the actuality of it. Spirituality is a pure ‘I-don’t-know’ space. It is a wide-awake-openness. And it requires no knowledge or point of view.”

Never before in history have spiritual answers been so easily available to feed the ego-mind’s quest to protect itself by accumulating information and processes. It is easy to forget that the way to Truth/Love/Bliss has always been through this ‘wide-awake-openness’ and silence. And especially for those who have read much, heard much and known much, it is critical to pause once in a while and ask whether the words are windows or just new bricks in the walls of our prison?

Image used under creative commons via Alice Popkorn
Laughing Buddha

The Foolproof Guide To Becoming A Guru – Part 2

Fake Guru Guide
So you’ve amplified your little bathroom epiphany into a full-blown enlightenment orgasm, you’ve created an indecipherable teaching and convinced a few blokes that you are the Real Shree Sri McCoy-ji. You’ve painstakingly followed all the instructions in The Foolproof Guide To Becoming A  Guru – Part I, and you think it’s finally time to have your aching feet washed in rose-water… But wait! The critical phase is about to begin. Here’s the insider’s guide by GD and me to Livin’ La Vida Guru Loka!

1) Destroy the Competition:
Constantly discourse that all other teachings are superficial and all other teachers are caught in various degrees of self-deception. (Note: Dead teachers should be praised freely). Also, any student who leaves or wants to explore something else is an idiot.
In short, present yourself as the only broker for enlightenment on this planet. You are the only socket to plug them to the Source. You are the only real-true-capable master… the rest are all frauds, thieves and delusional monkeys!

2) Disciple of The Week Award:
Let your disciples compete for your attention and affection. Create situations where disciples compete for intangibles like a place in front of the podium or leftovers from your plate. Public reward and punishment is key to this. Remind students that he who has the microphone and the big flowing beard is always right! Keep them well-behaved by never letting them know exactly where they stand and how much they have evolved. And for your own job perks, remind every attractive student that “a true disciple never says no”.

3) ‘For Your Own Good’:
Let this phrase be the chorus line of all your songs. I am making you work for free… for your own good. I am taking all your money… for your own good. I am publicly humiliating you… for your own good. I am exploring tantric poses with your girlfriend… for your own good. And one day you will thank me for it! (Repeat 2x.) A superb variation of this strategy is: “This is what your soul is asking for.” Try arguing your way out of that!

4) Elevate the Sheep:
Reward the disciples who become more and more like sheep, or mindless robots – whichever comes first. If they show symptoms of independent thought, deal with it firmly because that obviously comes from their ego. But be a little devious about it: Tell disciples to trust their inner voice — but only after you translate it for them!

5) Spiritualize All Your Desires:
You may have a pertinent question here: how to maintain your specialness even after disciples see you blundering day after day? Here’s how this simple, fool-proof technique goes: “Since you are pure consciousness, everything you do is blameless. And since they are not yet awakened, everything they do comes from ego!”
There, now you have a license to be rude, angry, jealous, greedy, insecure and screw around while still being awakened. Enlightenment means never having to say you’re sorry… or wrong, or confused, or depressed, or horny!

6) Glamorize Suffering:
In time, some followers will get really stressed in their quest to appease your impossible standards. Some may begin to suspect their constant unhappiness is a sign that they are not on the right track. So do not – we repeat – do not make happiness or love or peace the yardsticks to measure progress! Instead, keep telling them that the more they suffer, the more they are evolving! Reframe all their dullness and depression as ‘dark night of the soul’ or ‘part of the ascension process’. Tell them stories of how much people in the past have suffered and cried for enlightenment, and keep them addicted to the struggle.

7) Be a “Non-Guru” Guru:
See, here’s a tricky point. If you run a business, you need to show results. So how do you keep people hooked for decades onto an enlightenment carrot with no proof of success? Simple — don’t ever call yourself a Guru! Demand respect and obedience like a guru, but insist that you are just a normal guy. Tell them: “You are my real gurus.” (Not too often, else they may start believing you.) Emphasize repeatedly that you don’t really want to be a guru – and that a true master suffers the power, worship, dollars and threesomes only for his devotees’ sake!

The Bottom Line:
One, make sure the students constantly realise they are spiritually inferior to you. Use large doses of judgement, criticism and complaint. Keep ‘em small, keep ‘em seeking, keep ‘em hooked.
Two, keep them scared for their future outside of your safe little chalk circle; in the name of freedom, teach them a new kind of bondage.
Three, anyone who leaves should instantly be demoted to the status of ‘lost soul trapped once again by worldly desires’.

So there, with a little help, becoming a guru can be as easy as one-two-three. And if all your disciples escape in any case, then announce with deep sadness: “Nobody wants the real thing. People are not ready for the truth.” With this simple declaration, you can still continue to be right… and superior to the rest of the human race. Then you can move to another country and start again from Step 1.  

In the meantime, just be careful that you don’t bump into a real master – one who may be lovingly and insightfully using some devices just like these to transform people’s lives.

[Coming Sometime Soon: The Foolproof Guide to Being A Fake Disciple – How to suck up to your spiritual teacher, dump all responsibility for your life on him and blame him when everything goes wrong!]

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Laughing Buddha

The Foolproof Guide To Becoming A Guru – Part 1

Fake Guru Becoming a spiritual Guru is a tricky business. One wrong move, and you could end up actually having to work for a living. But with a few time-tested tricks from GD and me, you can have a spiritual empire which spans far beyond your dog and driver. So here’s the hilarious first-class pass for all those on a guru-trip!

[Disclaimer: No real gurus were harmed during the writing of this article.]

1) Invent The Big Bang:
The first thing you must create is that truly cosmos-shattering enlightenment anecdote aka The Big Bang. This is important. But what is even more important is that your enlightenment story must always be preceded by a disclaimer like, “I don’t really like to talk about this…” or “I only share this for your understanding.” And then share it as freely as a visiting card. Next, dismiss everything pre-enlightenment as a meaningless dream and choose your grandiloquent new name. Again, insist your disciples conferred it upon you out of love and respect!

2) Create ‘The Chosen Ones’:
To convert potential disciples, you need to privately say this to each one: “You have such great spiritual potential.” It does two things: one, it supports the poor bugger’s secret belief that he is a highly evolved soul. More importantly, it shows him that only you have the penetrating insight to see this, and guide him to his glorious destiny!

3) The Mystical Touch:
Tell your students what you want to give them cannot be contained in words. To add that special kundalini mystique, every once in a while during deep meditation, flap your arms like an albatross and channel moaning sounds from a galaxy far, far away. If you can’t burp up holy ash, at least wear enough crystal jewelry to make Elizabeth Taylor look like a nun.

4) Copyright Your Own Technique:
Next, copyright any ordinary technique in your name by adding the word ‘quantum’ to it. For example ‘quantum relationship yoga’, or ‘quantum argle-bargle technique’ or ‘quantum of solace method’. Explain it by randomly combining words like “fifth dimensional attunement”, “pure being” and “Archangel Zigzagel”. Finally, create a pseudo-Sanskrit Ritual Mantra ‘Oppa Ganga-namah Stile-Om’ (Translation: Oppa Gangnam Style)

5) Spread The Good Word:
Like every brand, you need a strong marketing & PR team, except you will call them ‘gullible-disciples-willing-to-work-for-free’. Virtual followers on social media are more important than real followers these days so give up-to-the-minute updates of your gloriously happy, perfect life. Since everything is part of one consciousness, feel free to recycle others’ ideas as your own (but remember to copyright your words and sell them for $13.95 in paperback).

6) Answer Every Question With ‘Absolute’ Confidence:
So what if your attempts at discourses are as shallow as monsoon puddles? Just paraphrase everything by saying things like “Don’t pay attention to my words. Listen to the silence between my words.” Remind students that even Lao Tzu admitted that the Truth cannot be spoken.

A few tips on dealing with smart-ass questioners. If you don’t know how to answer a difficult question, the first option is to shoot back: “Who is asking this question? Who wants to know?” If that doesn’t work, dive straight into the Absolute (as in the state of Being, not the Vodka). Remember this: “Pure Consciousness” is the correct answer for every question ever asked! For example:

Q: Master, my wife has left me, and I am about to shoot myself. What should I do?
A: Everything is happening in Pure Consciousness. Nothing happens outside Pure Consciousness. Pure Consciousness is all there is.
Q: Oh thank you, Master! I didn’t see that perspective! I am so small and petty.
A: Yes, you are.

If someone persists, then say with a deep sigh: “I am ready to give you enlightenment right now, but are you ready to receive it?” (If he persists in saying ‘yes’ that’s obviously ego speaking.) And if all else fails, dismiss the student as ‘too intellectual’. And recommend a month of kitchen duty to cure him of this disease.

7) Set Impossible Standards:
If anyone demands to know where they are heading, reply ‘the day you are able to surrender FULLY, you will be enlightened’. The trick is to use words like ‘completely’, ‘totally’ or ‘fully’. Because hey! What ‘fully’ actually looks like is so totally in your hands! So keep the herd running after goals like trusting fully, loving fully, serving fully and you can keep them busy for a decade at least.

If you do have occasional pangs of conscience, remember that sheep need a shepherd. If it’s gonna be somebody, might as well be you! And if the CEO of Goldman Sachs can get paid millions, why shouldn’t you? Chances are, you might actually help someone!

These tips should get your little spiritual movement off the ground. But the difficult part is yet to come – how to keep your new flock from bleating too loudly, grazing on greener pastures or jumping the fence completely. More about resolving these issues in: The Foolproof Guide To Becoming A Guru – Part 2.

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Gyandev

Gyandev

Got back to watercolors after ages with a little portrait of GD – my light-house of love. The one who tolerates all my darkness so the world can see the light…