A Treatise; Making a “Case” for the Reconstitution of Srila Prabhupada’s “Mission”
The Real and The Fake Guru. There Are No Mystical or Esoteric Qualifications, For These Are Not Verifiable. Part 1
-Mountain climbing is a handy metaphor for the spiritual journey. The neophyte climber needs a capable guide, a Sherpa, if you will. That would be the guru.
If the guru in fact knows his true function by virtue of having himself made the ascent previously, it stands to reason that he is aware of the pitfalls on the way to the peak; he has a vivid sense of what it takes for a successful assault on the mountain.
In a world riddled with illusions, the practical ability to sift the data of life is surely a requirement for this expedition. Moreover, one of the primary illusions the guru must purge out of the disciple, is the tendency to have the wrong idea of guru. The experienced guru must know that because of the “sheep” side of human nature, and the social conditioning about the guru as a magic-helper, most seekers/disciples are looking for an illusion even as they declare their sincere desire to shed all illusions.
Most neophytes on the spiritual path, unconsciously (and sometimes not so unconsciously), are not looking to get out of illusion so much as for a feeling of security.
“People want relief, not a cure.”
This urge, takes the form of a hope, and a wish for someone to relieve them of responsibility for themselves. They want, to
“Escape from freedom.”
Their prayer may be like this,
“Please Lord, be merciful on this fallen and wretched soul. I implore You, send me a magic-helper who will relieve me from having to make decisions for my life. And let me believe this is pleasing to You, that it will earn me spiritual credits, that it is the true meaning of surrender. Lord, Lord, please do not let my prayer be in vain.”
Such “humble” prayers from a “surrendered” soul, are imagined to be a great virtue in the minds of the petitioners. And they justify this by stressing “the association of advanced devotees,” while conveniently missing the point of such association, that “advanced devotee” means someone who is more experienced on this path than me, so he will guide me to the top. That is his mercy that he takes the time to guide me; nevertheless, the climbing I have to do myself. It is the wrong notion of mercy when we think it means,
“Magically whisk me to the top, and save me the effort of climbing myself.”
In this way, neophytes are looking for a caring father, who will assume responsibility for them, especially on the moral and emotional level, so they do not have to shoulder the responsibility to sort out life’s ambiguities. And when they do this in God’s name, they think it is sincere and ideal. What could be sweeter? Just find a representative of God to absolve us from the responsibility to stand or fall with our own decisions and actions, who will assure us that we are becoming enlightened, wise, and favored by God, and by hitching ourselves to such a magic-helper we can shed our illusions and be guaranteed a place at the right hand of God; as a rasika bhakta, no less.
And do not cause me to look too hard at this setup; do not let me find out that this is really just an illusion of progress out of illusion, for I have invested deeply in this belief, this hope. Anyone who tries to make me take a second hard look at this silliness, he or she is “bad” association.
This is the unspoken condition of most neophytes upon taking up any spiritual path.
The real guru knows he/she is up against all this. They know, that most disciples will accept as guru whoever gives them that warm, fuzzy feeling, regardless of factual capacity to open their eyes and actually shed their illusions. The real guru knows that the sentimentalists as well as the fanatics are just as capable of feeling firm and free from doubt as the person who is authentically experiencing being firm and free from doubt because of mature understanding of the same knowledge that the neophytes only imagine they have understood.
As such, the real guru knows that neophytes, of this almost hopeless caliber, need to project and rationalize superhuman powers onto the guru, so they can feel powerful themselves; in a manner akin to the homely schoolgirl who befriends her more attractive and popular classmate, so she can bask in her reflected glory.
In the name of love, service and devotion, most disciples want to give away their volition to such a glorious guru, so they too can feel glorious. The real guru knows this very well; and for that matter, so does the fake guru.
Moreover, while the real guru knows that his task is to dismantle the wrong-headed notions about guru in the neophyte mind, the fake guru sets out to exploit them. Making the disciples feel warm and fuzzy is the fake guru stock in trade. And they make him feel warm and fuzzy in return. They flock to the shelter of his cactus feet, so to speak. The fake spiritual master dishes out these feelings in the name of “compassion,” but it is only a rationalization. The fact that the fake guru may really believe in the value of his commodities, does not change the reality of the situation. He is “categorically”, a swindler. First, he deceived himself and then he proceeded to deceive others. He can talk very delightfully about the top of Everest; however, he cannot lead anyone there; because he has never been there himself.
 Sheep Mentality: It nominally is supposed to indicate that the person being called a ‘sheep’ or ‘sheeple’ is docile, compliant, and easily influenced, basically mindlessly following the herd without thinking