The Guru is Greater Than God
Worshipping the feet of the Guru is the ultimate of all worships
- Sri Guru Pranam
"There is no deity superior to the Guru, no gain better than the Guru's grace ... no state higher than meditation on the Guru."
Of all the ideas we get from Asia in general and India in particular, one that seems the most bizarre when seen from the vantage point of Western civilization is the archetype of the guru. The word, guru, has entered English as a term for any expert. But in the context of Hinduism, the Guru is sometimes defined as greater than God. Also Wikipedia on Guru.
Here we have spent centuries getting rid of slavery, and the oppressive totalitarian nature of the feudal system, and along comes a man from a village in India (and a new one arrives every couple of weeks) and he claims that he is the Lord of the Universe or Or the One True Master of the Age. And by the way, since he is the Master, you are his slave. The greatest possible thing you could do with your life is to serve Him. The worst thing you could ever do with your life is to displease Him.
And once you get the idea of a guru in your head, you start to feel that even the Kingdom of Heaven is owned by him, and you have to be aligned with him to travel to visit your soul. He is cop, priest, pope, Jesus, God, The Holy Spirit, all in one. People get the feeling that the guru says, "Oh, by the way, you know that inner life thing? Well, I OWN IT. Also, I OWN YOU. If you want to have one glimmer of inner peace, YOU MUST OBEY ME." Gurus from Asia can believe this utterly, with no ironic distance, in a way that would be impossible for a sane American.
A guru is a Godfather of the inner world. If you want to travel in your own inner space, you have to pay him homage. If you want to think a different thought, you have to ask him for permission. If you want to get married, you have to get his blessing. Whether you are coming or going, you owe them something – money, service, devotion.
Personally, I enjoy gurus. They are the rock stars, the Rap stars, of the meditation world – they drive around in white limos, with adoring followers gushing devotion, covered in bling. They have groupies, and as much group sex as they can get it up for. They all have millions upon millions stashed away.
I myself have never had a bad experience with a guru. On the contrary, I love the whole phenomenon. When I talk realistically about gurus, I am drawing on the experiences of the meditators who have come to see me and tell me their stories, as part of recovering from the abuse and deception they were around. And I am in a guru tradition – I feel very connected to several traditions of wisdom teachers that had their home base in India until recently.
It is necessary to look at the dark side of gurus, because something that casts so much light makes for big shadows. To put things in perspective, considering the absolute power gurus have over their disciples, by and large they don't seem very corrupt.
I started meditating on my own, with no teacher at first, in 1968. I had intense experiences for several months, and then, by chance, I read a version of the vijnana bhairava tantra, and it spoke in total clarity to what I had been experiencing. Awhile later, I went to see a nice little old lady - Beulah Smith, a Navy widow from Coronado Island in San Diego harbor. She was a courageous woman, who a few years earlier went alone, at age 60 or so, to India to study with Maharishi in Rishikesh. Sat in a cave with Tat Wala Baba and his cobras. She taught me transcendental meditation, and it was a pure and simple way to access that inner wellspring. I got it. You just BE THERE and witness everything.
I didn't do drugs in the 60's. A few weeks after beginning meditation, my senses opened, and I could SEE what drugs were doing to my friends. I could tell, from 100 feet away, what drug they were on (LSD, mushroorms, marijuana, speed) and whether it was just "coming on" or they were "crashing." To me, they usually looked weak, strained or horrible. The effect of drugs on their energy fields was shattering and disintegrative. I did not believe a word anyone said about the insights they were having. I went surfing at dawn 6 days out of 7, and I was totally uninterested in anything that weakens a person. And I worked for a living. And I wanted to get as close to straight A's as I could without studying very much, like more than two hours a day. So I was only interested in things that led to clarity and energy. As far as I could tell, drugs were for people who had money from home and had a couple of years to waste, pretending to have a good time.
So I was seeing energies – I could visually see the energy fields around my friends, and also feel the impact of what they were doing, and had no interest in drugs. But I was really alert to gurus, because some of them were quite radiant. without drugs.
Most the gurus I have been around or seen in action are having fun, just absolute fun like a rock star at the height of his fame, being worshipped as the Next Coming, the Supreme Master of the Age, with all the limos, helicopters, 5-star hotels and restaurants, and slaves they can figure out how to employ. I don't envy them, though.
Most gurus are guys, and whether they are from India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Japan, or Burma, their eyes are glinting with delight: "I grew up in a village where the average income was $30 a year. An American just gave me a check for $30,000! I really must be God Incarnate, or at least, His Special Entitled Son. Who knew!!!!!"" And their second glance is, "OH MY GOD YOUR WOMEN!! THE PUSSY IN YOUR COUNTRY!!!!" What makes a guru is that he is able to accept this as his rightful duet. We Americans sometimes mistake entitlement for enlightenment.
The guru idea is that there's this one guy who is HE WHO MUST BE OBEYED. Actually, worshipped AND obeyed.
The archetype of the guru is from way, way in the past, where an uber-male dominated everyone totally, and everyone had to grovel before him. There was a time in human civilization when the organizing principle was that the King was Divine. The Emperor was the Son of God. Everyone bowed down and groveled at the feet of the Emperor. The very concept of a guru is totally alien to Western culture. Western culture is what ii is because it has evolved away from the guru model. And because of this, we have a kind of a hole in our psyches where we can revert to the past, and fall under the power of a guru, the King of Heaven.
Ask anyone who has had the experience of worshipping a King – there is a peacefulness and a joy to it. Here is one person, here in the flesh, who actually IS God Most High, or the one person I must obey.. It is so simple. And I am right next to Him! Or, I know someone who knows someone who knows Him. You can become blissed-out. "I am directly connected to the Intelligence that rules the Universe!"
There is a whole web of ideas that gurus teach which are designed to weaken your sense of self, so that you will want to merge with the guru and become his slave. Detachment, reincarnation, karma, devotion, guru worship, and on an on. These ideas are often presented in an extremely sophisticated way.
Don't think you can be immune to gurus, any more than if someone tied you to a chair and injected you with heroin for a week, that you could not get addicted.
And it is very strange that meditation and gurus are thought of as terms that go together. Meditation is about self-reliance, learning to be attuned to your inner life, learning to trust your instincts. Gurus are the exact opposite – becoming dependent upon an external authority to the greatest extreme possible, surrendering your will to the guru, surrendering your body to the guru.
Gurus tend to give people the wrong kind of meditation to do – perhaps because they don't want people to get too strong and self-sufficient, as they would if they did the right kind of meditation for their type.
I just found this link, Our Favorite Guru Stories, thanks to Jodi at Guruphiliac. Thanks, Jodi.
"You Are God – Actually, Greater than God"
Imagine that you have been raised to believe you are God. You were born into a little village in India and your mother had a dream when you were in the womb, that a cow jumped over the moon. A wandering naked sadhu walked by, stoned out of his mind, and interpreted the dream as meaning that the child is the Lord of the Universe. More importantly, the sadhu said, some day this child will send millions of rupees back to the village. The village loaded the sadhu up with as much ganga and mangoes as he could carry and sent him on his way before he changed his mind.
The entire village of 80 people, none of whom can read or have ever heard of the United States, and who believe that the jets flying overheard are gods, sign on to this enterprise. You the child are raised to believe he is Lord of the Universe. They put you on a throne and worship you once a week, offering rice, coconuts and beetel leaf and praising you as the Incarnation
When the child is 15, the village scrapes together every rupee they can and send you to a religious festival. An American hippie wakes up from a coma resulting from a bad LSD trip, dysentery, and dengue fever. As he comes to, he sees a group of people genuflecting at you and he catches your eye. He interprets your empty-headed gaze of mild curiosity as Divine Love. He feels better. Then this hippie, who is actually the son of the head of one of the biggest media corporations in the United States, adopts you as his guru and arranges for you to tour the US. Soon you have thousands of devoted followers, then hundreds of thousands. All the Americans, almost, bow down to you, as is your natural status. Soon you have tens of millions of American dollars in your many offshore accounts, and you generously pay to have a pump installed in the village well back home.
But there are a few troubling signs. Not everyone bows down to you in absolute submission, as they did in your village. Also, you hear that people are actually daring to doubt your divinity, and even - gasp - criticize you. You find this very disturbing. "How dare these low-caste Americans, who are not worthy to even kiss my lotus feet, think such thoughts of me?" Most of these you can brush off like mosquitoes in the monsoon season, but some of them come up again and again. Sometimes you frown in irritation.
One day one of your devoted henchmen, of whom there seem to be a dozen, always jockeying for position, says, "Is something troubling you, Lord?"
You mention, "Such and such a person is causing me grief."
"I'll take care of it," the henchman says.
You never want to know the details, but the henchmen hire lawyers, spend millions of your hundreds of millions persecuting all your ex-followers that want to talk about their experiences with you, hire private detectives to create dossiers on all your critics, and create their own GOD'S PLUMBERS group to put the hurt on anyone who does not cave in when the subtle threats are given.
Years later, subpoenas are issued for some of your henchmen because they are murder suspects, but they get word in advance and escape to India, where they go on "spiritual retreat."
You deny all knowledge.