flightfoxcomIn the course of a fiery discussion on how so-called gurus milk unwary disciples of their money as well as precious intangibles, a friend mentioned that Papaji (a devotee of Ramana Maharshi who later became a guru in his own right) had bluntly prophesied that in the not-so-distant future, a lot of money would be made out of drugs, guns and satsangh.

Now drugs and guns have always been money-spinners for unscrupulous individuals who worship Mammon—but making money out of satsangh? And what does the word mean in the first place? Etymologically satsangh derives from two Sanskrit words: sat (ultimate truth) and sangha (the company of spiritual friends). It means a gathering of seekers whose primary interest is to awaken the divine within themselves—and who seek strength and support as they tread the tortuous yet amazing journey into inner space. Often gurus hold satsanghs for their followers, and today’s so-called gurus are known to charge big bucks for the privilege of meeting them in such a forum.

SHIVA IN RED AND YELLOWHow did things get to such a sorry state? Well, according to some, mankind is right now mired in the evil of what eastern philosophy calls Kali Yuga. Some claim we have left this evil age behind, while others say we are in either the thick, or at the tail end of it. Since Kali Yuga is characterized by a ghastly deterioration in human ethics, I personally believe we are still in this age.

So it is not hard for me to believe that the once pure guru committed to freely spreading the living truth is now capable of being a deceiver. Look around and you will see many who are motivated not by the spreading of light, but in attracting adulation, power, sex, and money from the gullible and the desperate who flock to them.

During my intense study of Mahayana Buddhism, I came across eighteen points given to a student who wishes to find the right guru. Computer crashes and several international moves have led to my losing this information, but, as I recall, the points were unflinching and clear and pointed to how important it is to locate the right teacher if we are genuinely interested in becoming completely free of desire and fear.

Today I see many seekers who, unable to find what they want in their own religious paradigms, come east in quest of a higher truth. But despite finely honed minds and higher education, they do not take the trouble to gain a solid foundation in eastern philosophy—one that can help them discern the sheep from the wolf, and the shepherd from the predator. Watching this confusion has led me to mull over this critical subject and to come up with my own two bits to offer those who care to listen.

PURPLE BLUE LOTUSThe seeker has first to determine whether she wishes merely to learn effective ways to lick wounds, or whether she is interested in the ultimate goal of permanent liberation from the twin drives of desire and fear, which sages say cause all our suffering. If it is final freedom one desires, then only a satguru will do for the final leg of our inward journey.

Now gurus come in many guises—a parent, friend, colleague, teacher, partner, enemy, even an animal or a thorny situation. When one is finally prepared for the great leap into the spiritual heart, one hopefully encounters a satguru—a being who has watched you being marinated by the myriad sufferings and joys of life and decides to give you a final teaching to completely erase your egoic suffering.

In the old days in India, the relationship between guru and disciple was a long one. The disciple served the guru and sometimes observed him for up to a dozen years before deciding whether he was the right teacher to lead her to moksha. Today, given that lots of folks barely have time to breathe, how can a human easily differentiate between a true and a false teacher?

Here is one way: First simplify the meaning of enlightenment—one who has transcended desire and fear by merging into his true nature or sat-chit-ananda. (Sat: Being, I-Am-ness, Aliveness. Chit: Consciousness, Awareness, Intelligence, Gnosis. Ananda: Fusion of Bliss and Peace.)

COLORS GRAPHICIf a guru claims to be enlightened, it would mean his inner fountain of bliss is suffusing him with a peace and joy impossible for ordinary humans to fathom. Dwell deeply on this aspect before you commit to any spiritual teacher: for instance, would an enlightened being be inclined to organize events designed to attract needy followers willing to pour money into his coffers, adore him, and spread his fame? The answer would have to be a resounding no.

If you find yourself attracted to one who implies he is enlightened, make sure you do your homework before you sign on for what could be a disappointing ride. Carefully observe whether this person’s talk matches his walk, whether his ego is running the show, whether he is growing materially rich via his disciples, whether he has random sexual liaisons, et cetera, et cetera.

This is not to say that the pursuit of ordinary human happiness is wrong; it is to say that if a so-called guru is engaged in these kinds of activities on the sly, one must beware. The liberation teachings are so precious that no true teacher would ask you for money or sex or adulation in exchange for pure teachings. If you can’t find a guru you can commit to, be patient, continue with your inner work, and ask for help, for it will surely come.

The culmination of my own search came in the form of Ramana Maharshi, the great south Indian sage who teaches Atma-Vichara or the investigation into the Self that we truly are, immortal, blissful, loving, wise, fearless and connected to all beings.

SHIVA GRAPHICGreetings from Arunachala, the sacred mountain believed to be Shiva the Destroyer, and who promises to destroy the egoic-mind so we can experience ourselves as immortal bliss!

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14 thoughts on “DRUGS, GUNS & SATSANGH

  1. Yes, Satsang, drugs and crime have become the biggest money rakers, especially in India. The first one, Satsanga, has become the hottest business in India, the gullible followers are rampantly fleeced by sadhus and fake gurus. The likes of Ramdev, and now-sigh!- Sri Sri Ravishankar , have been running this business with a turnover of billions of rupees. India and this fleecing industry are earning bad name among the the otherwise sincere seekers of truth and spirituality from foreign countries! Alas, the golden trove is turning into a nightmare of delusions in our country!

  2. Yes, Mira, there have been many permutations of the guru through the ages, but your title invokes the memory of Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh, who came to the United States back in the early 1980s. He had already established himself as a “guru” in his native India before arriving on American shores. He settled into a large ranch property in Oregon that would become known as Rajneeshpuram. He became famous in the U.S. mainly for the excess he surrounded himself with. At one time, he had 83 Rolls Royce automobiles which made him the largest single owner of that brand in the world. The compound was also infamous for having armed guards at its entrance(s). Obviously, this guy had a lot of charisma, or none of this would have happened, but his life was always clouded by controversy. First in India, and then, in the U.S. He was known to be a very persuasive speaker. Hmmm… who else in the early 20th Century had that gift? This made him quite attractive to those who were vulnerable to his message. Enough said on this matter.
    There were many other teachers that arrived in the West during the 1970s because of the great interest in Eastern spirituality among young people; such as myself. These gurus had a variety of approaches that appealed to many at the time. Fundamentally, there was nothing wrong with this “movement,” if you like. I personally found the practice of yoga to be very beneficial. However, as I continued to evolve in my own spiritual search, I began to realize that nothing external to us… not even a guru… can bring the Light to us from outside ourselves. We can be inspired by their example and teachings, but we must take the journey. As my own spiritual guide used to say: “Are you going to stand and worship the signpost, or, are you going to take the road?” It is one thing to worship God in any form. It is quite another to experience The Light by turning within. We are ALL made in the Image and likeness of God. As such, That Light is available to all.
    I apologize for piggy-backing on your blog, Mira. I hope this is helpful to those who visit here. Blessings to you!

    • Dave, you can piggy-back on my blog any time you like, I very much enjoy the depth of your responses and I hope others do too. Moreover, I agree with you. Gautama Buddha had many gurus – he learned what he needed to and moved on. The inner guru came alive and it was with this flame that enlightenment dawned. The external guru is only put in our path to lead us further to our Self. Om!

      • Thank you for your insightful response, Mira. I don’t profess to know anything more than what others have shared with me, so your words are always appreciated as a catalyst for my own insights. Om Namah Sivaaya!

  3. Hari om, dearest mira, just read your post on gurus and wanted to tell you that recently my daughter told me that i had had “the wool pulled over my eyes” after she had heard that a guru- a very famous one at that – was making lots of money, even millions from followers.
    Even though this guru was doing tremendous good service with that money, my daughrer refused to be convinced. So she has a very bad opinion of gurus, whether right or wrongly in this case,
    But the outcome is she thinks i am pretty gullible. People tend to tar all gurus with the same brush unfortunately.
    Sending you lots of love and light, vimala xxxx

    • Valerie! Been meaning to write to you…so its good to hear from you. You should tell your daughter that just like there are all kinds of lawyers, or businessmen, or mothers, or fathers or whatever, there are all kinds of gurus. The word itself means he or she who dispels darkness…and there’s a big difference between the many gurus we encounter and who help us sometimes enormously, and the satguru, who can lead us all the way to freedom from desire and fear.

      As for the guru who is doing so much good work with the money he or she earns, that is not the way of the jnani. It is rare that this kind of guru stays “clean” – easy to get dirty when we attract such attention. Ramana speaks of the “burnt rope” – an analogy for the full burning of the ego – only such a guru who has burnt the ego can afford to play in the world. Just my thoughts. Much love!

  4. Mira, your advice is straight as an arrow. You have a gift for cutting through the poppycock and getting right to the heart of the matter. So many are so desperate that they reach for the shiniest silver dollar but are blinded by the radiance of the humble penny. Thank you for another thought-provoking article. xxx

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