10 Signs of A Fake Guru: Weeding Out the Psychopaths from the True Teachers

Flickr - Guru - WonderlaneChristina Sarich, Staff
Waking Times

Kumare, the documentary, makes fun of our eagerness to give someone else sovereignty over our highest selves. Let’s face it – sometimes spiritual work is hard. Why should we do the true work required of a developing soul? We have to look at some pretty dingy mirrors sometimes to overcome the ego. Why not give that burden to someone else? While spiritual teachers can be invaluable in someone’s path to realization, the world is ripe with fakes, phonies and sickos who want to pass off their brand of ‘crazy’ wisdom, when really, they are just plain crazy.

These fake gurus or false prophets can be slippery though.

So how do you know if your spiritual ‘master’ is duping you? Bankers and members of congress are not the only ones who can let power corrupt them, utilizing their positions for personal profit at the expense of someone’s pocket book, or more importantly, their emotional stability, or physical health.

Unfortunately, in times when people are really seeking answers to the BIG questions, we can sometimes turn to individuals that have all the clout in the world, hoping to find answers. Many of these fools don’t know a damn thing about enlightenment. Some are getting closer, but most are learning as they go just like you and me. Until a brave whistleblower exposes the more egregious creeps for who they really are, they keep abusing their power and hurting people instead of bringing them closer to enlightenment, and certainly no closer to joy.

Even if you suspect you are dealing with a charlatan and consider exposing them, they may try to embarrass you, call you a spiritual inferior, or oust you from an otherwise spiritually minded community, but its time to weed out the fakers, no matter where they hide, and that includes in our governments as well as religious temples, yoga ashrams, and elsewhere.

They can come from good lineages. They can claim they are the seventh generation of descendents from Lao Tzu or T. Krishnamurti’s grandson (as in the case of Kausthub Desikachar, the grandson of Sr. T. Krishnamacharya, who was found to be emotionally and sexually abusing women involved in the Krishnamacharya Yoga and Healing Foundation). You can be Bikram Choudhury, the hot yoga guru who is being sued by a former yoga student for sexual misconduct, and caught bragging about marathon 72-hour sexual meditation sessions. Lineage, fame, money, and reputation doesn’t mean squat if a guru or teacher doesn’t uphold some basic principles that any ‘realized’ person would display with ease and effortlessness if they were the real deal.

These charlatans are priests of the highest order, as in the Roman Catholic priests who were sexually abusing children as young as three years of age. The USDA and Monsanto are obvious psychopaths, but what about a seemingly benign teacher of ‘love’ and ‘light’ like Andrew Cohen of EnlightenNext magazine who has been ridiculed in many a blog post for acting like a spoiled king and emotional blackmailer? EnlightenNixt has lot’s to say about him.

There are hundreds, if not thousands more fakers in the world today. It doesn’t mean there aren’t some real gems out there – a guru or teacher in the true sense of the word. However; here’s a general list of things to look out for. It isn’t meant to be all inclusive, and you still have to use your intuition – trust it – if something seems off, then it probably is. You don’t always find out the reasons why your personal alarm bells are going off until later, but take heed when they do:

  1. Let’s start with the big one – money. A real guru often won’t ask for a dime. In fact, some of the most powerful healers on this planet are explicitly instructed by the elders of their tradition that they cannot take monetary compensation for their healing ‘gifts.’ In a documentary about a nameless Chinese healer in urban Java, he told filmmakers that he was not allowed to even talk about  how he healed people with his hands (using qi), and that he could lose his powers if he charged for them. This being said, many real gurus take donations, and many healers need to eat and pay rent. If they charge exorbitantly or live opulently while ignoring those in need around them, then they are fakes. Walk away.
  2. Just because someone is psychic, doesn’t mean they are realized. We ALL have psychic abilities. Some of us have just advanced this particular ability more than others. It isn’t the sign of a true guru just because they can read your mind – a little or a lot.
  3. Someone who lives a real dharma won’t preach about it. They show it in their ‘works’ – that is the way they live their lives every day. If someone is ethical, virtuous, kind, giving, patient, harmonious, has integrity, and lives with a sense of serving others more than themselves, then you can likely trust them. Someone who teaches these principles but does not live them – isn’t a real guru. Obviously someone who steals, lies, and manipulates, or stalks women or children for their own sexual perversions is not a guru. They are psychopaths. If you even get a sniff of this – run and run fast. Tell as many people as you can to save them from being sucked into a fake’s power-lair.
  4. Real gurus never claim it’s their way or the highway. There are many paths to a righteous mind, and elevated consciousness. True enlightenment happens to every day Joes and Sarah’s just as much as someone who lives in Nepal, or India, meditates in caves or only eats vegetarian foods. There are many paths to realization. If a teacher offers you a path, and also tells you that there are many – they are more trustworthy than someone who claims to have a direct connect to God or your own higher consciousness.
  5. They don’t use disinformation to convince you to follow their path. Indulgences given out by the Catholic church would be an example, as well as gurus claiming to give diksha (the transference of wisdom from guru to disciple), when this can truly only be given by very few teachers and to students who are properly prepared to receive it. While some gurus really can lighten your karmic load, you usually have to do this on your own through a real emotional breakthrough and with plenty of trial and error and, unfortunately, some real struggle. Pain is a tool for transformation. Any guru who says they can take all your pain away is probably lying. A true guru wouldn’t want to. They know how well pain can teach you. It’s called being a spiritual warrior for a reason.
  6. There are different levels of realization – Samadhi, is the Sanskrit term. While you can have a very high level of consciousness, being completely enlightened means you would be pretty immune to most things ‘of this world.’ Even Muktananda, Paramahansa, and Osho were still struggling to achieve full enlightenment. While we can learn from those in high stages of spiritual evolution, if they are still on this planet, they are likely still somewhat unenlightened. Some cultivation is not complete ascension. Beware of those who have made a little progress but claim to have lassoed the moon.
  7. A true guru, or master of this world will have few desires. In Zen they call this the pure mind. A pure mind doesn’t want for anything because it already knows it is everything. In Sanskrit this is called Sat Chit Ananda. It means All Knowing, All Pervading, Everywhere Present. If you really, truly know that you are all knowing, all pervading, and everywhere at one time –what could you possibly need ten mansions, a new Maserati and countless women (or small boys) for?
  8. You will always be allowed to read holy books from whatever tradition suits your fancy. In fact, a true guru knows that this elevates your consciousness, and that minimizing the information you seek can ‘dumb’ you down and make you single minded. Reciting mantras, reading the Bhagavad GitaA Course in MiraclesThe TaoThe Life and Prayers of Saint Francis of Assisi, the Upanishads, the Christian Gnostic writings, Sufi poetryThe Egyptian Book of the DeadThe Dead Sea ScrollsThe Pali Canon, etc. are all expressions of the divine and a true guru knows this.
  9. Enlightenment takes effort. Every wisdom school will tell you this. You can’t sit on your ass and expect to wake up fully. The path of wisdom takes courage, perseverance, and a humble ability to screw up often and then apologize to others and yourself, and start again. Any guru who offers a magic pill, book, session, etc. for instant enlightenment is a charlatan.
  10. No matter if you call it the Godhead, the Tao, your Original Self, your True Nature, the Realized Self, etc. it’s all you rediscovering the Perfect You. Read what you want, but ultimately the work is to remove much of everything you’ve ever learned. A real guru will dismantle much that you’ve intellectualized in order to install true wisdom.

If you have other suggestions for determining if someone is a real guru, please add them in the comments section below.

About the Author

Christina Sarich is a musician, yogi, humanitarian and freelance writer who channels many hours of studying Lao Tzu, Paramahansa Yogananda, Rob Brezny, Miles Davis, and Tom Robbins into interesting tidbits to help you Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.


  • dave

    response to AVA: in ancient egypt initiated men where sometimes practicing tantra witha priestress they assigend to him…the neophyte male, had to obey her and many times the guru was a lady…AVA you dont know what you re talking about.
    the zohar states that Moises himself was taught by batparo, pharos daughter in the temples of egypt and thats where he has his first iluminations and contact with holy spirit…his guru was a SHE. we need a TEACHER like a child of 2 years old who cant even wipe his own butt needs his mama…if you think you dont…well good luck.
    In my path I saw people who thin they dont need teachers or superiors and have a problem with the oposite sex…they are at war..they have a lot of issues there to eliminate….then suddenly in their real path if they walk it they may fall possessed by entities or attacks of black magic spells and get sick and possessed, I met people who got home to the nut house….who do you call? your guru should know how to perform serious exorcisms and cut spells….in phony seudo spirituality like reiki or other newage light teachings…noone knows anything about these realities of the path…
    I knew shamans muslim exorcists and myself did many exorcisms with my teachers help and brothers on the path….its tough and who helps you if you dont have a proper teacher and goo spiritual friends who can deal with that? spiritual path is more dangerous than climbing the everest alone in pyjamas withotu a sherpa….noone woudl go to everest withotu a proper guide and even then…many died upthere!

  • dave

    1 true guru teaches how to eliminate the mutiple ego forms we have inside the mind
    in kabbala in zohar it is said the higher mother IMA ILA eliminates and washes sins and egos inside fo us….same as tantra divine mother kundalini eliminates egos with meditation, prayer, fasting and good sexual conduct (brahma charya lunar or solar)
    lunar means alone as a monk or nunn…solar in couple with tantric knowledge as explained in point 2
    2 true guru of white lodge teaches white tantra (no ejaculation, no spasm heterosexual union) false guru will tell you sex is free do what you want, or accept any vices pedophily, homosexuality, mastrunation as normal ok cool! well this is sexuality of the dark lodge
    real guru awasy speak agsint sexual lust and promotes kundalini raising and chastity lunar and solar. even if peopel hate him or call him homophobic or whatever….the path of sexual lewdness is well described in pistis sophia and zohar and bible itt corresponds to the satanic cults and baal peor cults of human sacrifices and sexual lust in all its forms…
    what is allowed is man with woman phalus vagina or lingam_yoni to speak in tantric terms. all the rest is darklodge sexuality.
    the simple proof of that, is practice this form of tantra or taoist sex for few years and you will see the horrible attacks you receive from everybody ho clings to his lust…the will even beat you up or shout at you in public conferences…my guru never attacked any fornicator or homosexual etc he LET THEM LIVE AND DONT ATTACK THEM….but the people of dark sexuality attack regularly and fiercely the people who are sexually continent….live it and you will see!

    3 guru sacrifice himself for his students, not the contrary…he serves mankind, with his time helth,money etc…dont ask money for his healings or seminars..(bare minimum of donations) real guru stay poor and alldonations he uses them to continue his mission and give the excedent to his students in mission or to poor people etc…
    My guru when students were offering hi pens with diaoonds or a watch of high price he was using it one day and offer it to a student who needed an operation for his wife…sell it he said. and pay fr your wife…he was offering free books, renounced copyrights etc etc…

  • eblis

    all i have to say is : bs.if you are not a real master how can you recognise a real master?”real dharma”?your ideas are borrowed from some people ,or some gurus from the past..and you are using those ideas like an axiom..you are basically saying :some people are fake gurus because some people are real gurus..

  • Nikkioncloudnine

    I just wanted to say thank you. Frankly, I think many hide behind spiritual principles to justify their fearful behavior which allows these ‘gurus’ to continue hurting and abusing their power. I learned a lot about life and myself from my false guru. I learned a lot about life and myself from the person who sexually abused me as a child, too. I put him in jail and I confronted and disconnected from my false guru. Abuses continue if at least some of us don’t find the courage and voice to speak out. The anger and self righteous backlash I received from the community of brain washed minions made it so much harder; the quiet and ‘secret’ individual support I received felt like a mixed bag, validating but lacking, well intentioned people confusing acceptance, letting go, and non-judgement principles with a lack self respect, lack of discernment, a ‘sheep’ mentality, and eating shit as part of the path!? We are social, tribal creatures and I believe we need a balance of personal empowerment and community support. Thank you for being brave and speaking out about an important topic.

  • Please see this to know about false Gurus: http://nathyogi.com/FalseGurus.pdf

  • I posted some link to wikipedia about this information from several different religions. https://www.facebook.com/benjy.ray.childers

  • buddhalight

    No need to seek out a real guru, when your ready one will find you.

  • Finally an article that doesn’t totally bash gurus despite the shortcomings of people who are obviously not real gurus but duped millions. I mean if you followed someone like John Friend, that’s your big lesson in spirituality. We all have them. The easiest way to tell if a person is real deal is if you find yourself growing in peace by just sitting in the persons presence. They should inspire you without even speaking. This is in the classical texts. And no it’s not the same for everyone, not everyone gets or needs the same teacher. WE’re all at different spots.
    I would want to ad that this whole “be your own guru” bag is a bunch of nonsense as well. It’s complete ego and doesn’t recognize how difficult it is to become realized and embody the energy that comes with awakening without going crazy and becoming some lunatic. You definitely need someone who has tread the path further than you, and the farther the better I say. Good luck.

  • dimitri

    Great article and important periodically needed reminder to be constantly vigilant.

    I’d like to add my favorite candidates to the POS guru list: Trungpa Rinpoche, Amrit Desai, Pema Chodron, and just about any “teacher” who shows his/her face up for a paycheck at places like Kripalu, Omega Inst. and Esalen. These are but the tip of this toxic iceberg of phony gurus. Be your own guru! That’s the one big suggestion Buddha had for everybody.

    And while on the subject DO NOT MISS the thinking and inspiration within the classic on false gurus: by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad it is titled The Guru Papers. They do a good job of exposing the sociopathic element residing in most if not all self-proclaimed gurus.

  • This is an excellent article full of information for teachers and students. For the teachers, it gives specific “benchmarks” against which they may judge themselves. For the student, it gives specific criteria against which they can compare their teacher.
    Spiritual teachers, whether gurus, priests, imams, rabbis, etc., have a wide range of presentations. At one end are people like Jim Jones, who persuaded his flock to kill themselves. The Jesuits take an oath to maim torture and kill those who do not do as they say. Certain clerics exhort their followers to behead the infidel. At the other end of this spectrum one will find the pure teacher, such as Jesus, Krishna, Patanjali, Lao Tzu and the Buddha. Their instructions are impeccable, and if followed, lead to God-Realization. Most teachers are somewhere in the middle.
    A recent article on CNN was entitled Proof of Heaven popular, except with the Church. It listed several reasons why clerics do not teach about Heaven, but missed the most important: they do not know! If a teacher of any faith does not know Heaven, they cannot possibly teach it, and thus all sorts of misinformation is promulgated by those claiming to have authority.
    The bliss of Samadhi (Heaven) is difficult to maintain, even for advanced teachers. All of us who teach must be careful to adhere to the highest standards of God–Realization within ourselves. This article gives invaluable advice. Thank you.

  • Interesting that Guru1 calls himself Guru#1. Then goes on to say,” We should all feel free to teach of mastery long before we achieve it, acknowledging that we don’t know it all, but have something to share”.

    He has shared a lot of his philosophy which seems to boil down to anything and every goes based on being judgmental if we do not. His subtle attacks on Christina seem very judgmental. There are Universal Laws in which we each are held accountable, and trespass at our Souls imperial. All the great Avatars have taught these laws. They each in their own way bringing in a new paradigm of evolutionary consciousness.

    Buddha brought in the Light of the Mind. Jesus over shadowed by the Christ Consciousness brought in Love and Justice. He also brought back the role of women to their rightful place though it has still been ignored for centuries – until now.

    As the Dalai Lama has said,” It is the Western women who will save the world.” The out of control Yang energy is destroying this planet though greed and power of the few toward the many. It is the feminine Yin energy that is needed at this time in time to balance out the equation.

    Ava was very astute in her comments. “I suggest scratching the whole list here if you are a female and delving deep into goddess centered spirituality and crone wisdom. Why support and chase after patriarchal systems of spirit control and male concepts of wisdom and power? They have not served women at all; to the contrary, they have (continued to) abused (them).

  • Thank you for your article, my heart tells me you are watching out for others and that is a good kind of kindness. never noticed any grammar errors, I was flying on the wind of your words. It is a good gift to hear people who think.

  • Marya

    I appreciated both the conciseness and thoughtfulness of your article. It provides an overview for anyone on the journey especially for those who may be in the earlier stages. A number of years ago I was pondering this very issue after a variety of experiences with gurus, teachers, & shamans, both women and men. I happened to find a book called Halfway Up the Mountain which explained what was probably happening when gurus and teachers behaviors do not match the teachings they espouse. The bottom line was that the shadow continues to grow even as you hold more and more light. The point being that it is necessary to continue to do our work all along the way because the shadow is not generally getting any smaller. Rather it may well be getting bigger and given an opportunity, its influence may become more obvious in outward behaviours of greed, lust, misuse of power, lies, control etc. I also liked your suggested reading list. I look forward to reading more of your articles in the future as I have your past ones and I am grateful that you are willing to share your wisdom.

  • ava

    is guru1 defending his own patriarchal brothers agenda of power and control? sure sounds like it! i enjoyed the article and can relate to the author’s advice and experience. guru1’s comments were a predictable and perfunctory response from a system of abusive patriarchal rule that has spanned the beginning of recorded time. which brings me back to the original article, of which i intended to start this comment, but got distracted from reading the comments!

    this is a good list of signs to look for in a teacher. however, this is also assuming a submission into the patriarchal values, thought forms, teachings and cultural ideologies. for those who buy in (no pun intended, but sure fits!) to the patriarchal religions and agendas would of course fall prey to these possibilities. the hierarchical concept of guru/student is a male-created one. and of course! it has served them very well! and continues to do so.
    i suggest scratching the whole list here if you are a female and delving deep into goddess centered spirituality and crone wisdom. why support and chase after patriarchal systems of spirit control and male concepts of wisdom and power? they have not served women at all, to the contrary, they have abused. (and i know the responses with this: spirit has no gender, we are all ONE, etc)

    the goddess consciousness movement was destroyed in the middle ages and beyond from the same patriarchal system of know-it-all arrogance, hierarchy, control, drugs, medicine, ego, gurus, etc. it is no different now. though women still fall into it! i will also point out that women should take responsibility for giving her power away and can be more mindful of creating a feminine centered spirituality without hierarchy or abra-ca-dabra mystical tantric guru nonsense and attain her full womanhood with the support and circle of other healing women searching for wholeness in spirit. an amazing blissful, healing, soul shift takes place without the presence of control, ego, men, hierarchy, etc. if women could let go of the culturally induced brainwashing and her own embracing of false values created by the patriarchy, we would have no need for fake prophets, gurus or lists such as these. but the warnings are still appreciated!

  • Guru1

    > they are just plain crazy

    Actually, rereading this article again, I really get the impression the author is being obnoxious and judgmental. I’m not even sure why Waking Times published this. It seems very ethnocentric – basically a list of Yoga rules and abstinences declared as universal truths, with judgmental rhetoric thrown in. I thought Waking Times took a more culturally diverse approach to spirituality than labeling non-Yoga teachers “fakes, phonies and sickos” – name-calling?

    I think Waking Times should reconsider this level of discourse – raise it up and accommodate diversity, and keep the name-calling and judgmental attitudes out of it. Or perhaps refactor it to address just choosing a Yoga teacher, not spiritual mastery in general, which is a huge topic, to put it mildly.

    I realize the intention, but it’s easy to jump to conclusions about people with other ways and values. I think the angry, judgmental rhetoric and name-calling is poorly done.

    • Can’t stop learning

      The comments that you have written are far better and lean towards my persoanl truth than the original artical itself and I thankyou for that. Have a great life

      • TE

        I agree with you, Can’t stop learning & Guru1. Perhaps it’s also best to have experienced both sides – how it was to have had a guru for some time and then being on your own to know the difference. Personal experience always speaks volumes.

  • Guru1

    A few more thoughts on dissolving the guru/non-guru distinction…

    The fact that a person is dealing with ego, wealth, power as you describe can mean they are authentic – they have met with some level of success in tapping into true power. Unlocking psychic abilities is just the start. If you think skills for wielding such power come automatically, guess again. Could you handle people grouping around you, waiting on your every word, utterly ADORING you? Would it change you? Could you handle having the power to influence others with the mere power of your mind? Would you use it well? Are you sure? On your first try? Power corrupts, or at least brings out portions of our psyches which can challenge us in deep ways.

    Do not judge these ‘young gurus’ too harshly who appear imperfect. They too are learning to handle the very powers they may be teaching you to unlock. And there is no way to tell at what level they are playing with them, or with you.

    Being an illusionist is part of being spiritual, and this is unavoidable. Get used to being tricked, learn to love it. We are making it all up – it’s creative power. And life is magic, illusion at its core. You will always find deception in spirituality, even from ‘God’, the greatest illusionist. Yet this deception can be light-hearted, as a master fooling a student to great effect. It can be a child making up wonderful stories that may come true. Gurus will always have this quality in my experience, that sparkle in the eye, this magic. Many are rascals, even scoundrels of a sort! And students will always be willing to believe the unbelievable, because that is their power to grow. Use these, rather than attempting to turn spirtuality into cold, hard facts and rigid routines. Be playful, even/especially in the world of gurus, psychics, and magicians of all sorts. The practice believing is more valuable than anything you may lose. So go ahead and believe in your guru, have some fun, and learn what may be there to learn. Eyes and heart open.

    Power is what we’re all dealing with, and power is wonderful – if you can wield it ‘in light’. I like The Lord Of The Rings trilogy movies for showing this – the way even the best of them is afraid to even touch the ring of power, lest they be overwhelmed by what lies within them. And when they hold the ring, most of them fail to be who they thought they would be. They fall – even the ring-bearer failed in the end, and the ring was destroyed by luck. We all carry the seed of chaos. Thus they *avoid* power, or too much power, knowing their weaknesses. Yet to be a teacher, one must put oneself out there – and fame is power and must be wielded. It is unavoidable if one is to teach.

    Observe carefully how your guru (mis)handles power of various kinds. Learn from his or her mistakes. If you succeed in your own path, you will one day find yourself facing similar challenges, for teaching is part of what we are.

    As we grow, our challenges grow. Gurus face challenges too, challenges which can overwhelm them at times, even causing them to forget what once they taught. This is called life, and if you think you are larger than its powerful forces of change because you have mastered some tools, guess again. Life – time – will find you, and will change you yet again. As water wears away even the greatest stone, so may gurus be worn down to forgetful children at times, to be reminded of their own lessons by their students.

    Students often approach spirituality with the hope they can ‘cure’ their life’s problems. Yet if you follow the road, it becomes not about clearing a few hurdles on some track another made for you, but of creating an entire universe of your own making! This is an experience of great power, which may take many forms, depending on our choices. This may sound like a millionaire complaining that it’s hard spending all his money, but one day you too will be that millionaire.

    A shaman once taught me: “Remember to hug your shaman.” Don’t look for perfection in your teachers. Look for love and joy, as well as honesty, yet be compassionate in your looking. What if every guru discarded any student who didn’t seem fully sincere at their beginning or was seeking less than their highest goal? Begin, and go from where you are.

    Sure, there are mere tricksters trying to take you. Yet even they are playing with power, with spirituality in a form. Dance with them. Be wide-eyed with wonder and see where they take you. This is more fun than being paranoid and afraid, trying to find which guru is the ‘true’ one. Eventually, that will become clear (YOU are).

    • Rascals, yes, abusers of small children and manipulators of women ‘disciples’ NO. Plain NO.

      • Guru1

        Abusive people will attract abusive teachers – masters of abuse. Some use this in powerful ways to explore the depths of manipulation, bondage, enslavement, etc., with dark roles for the guru and the pupil. This is a darker form of spirituality, which you may judge harshly from your bright Yogic perspectives, yet it is not for you to choose a path for another, or to judge what teacher they choose on their soul’s path. Thus does your list of ways to spot ‘fakes’ merely become a list of ‘my way or the highway’, violating your own list.

        I too have little use for abuse or darker practices such as these, but manipulation is a part of life, and thus a part of spirituality. One may move into great enlightenment through the exploration of darkness, and some awareness of darkness is always necessary.

        As for small children, it is the role of their caregivers to place them in the hands of the finest teachers, by their values and beliefs. When the caregivers themselves are abusive (and thus easily fooled by other abusive people), there is little you can do to control that – it is a cultural level of ritualistic abuse. Intervene if you will. They can only give to their children what they have to give – as much love and wisdom as they have found.

        I understand what you’re trying to accomplish here, but I don’t think you have fully grasped the challenge. Merely judging ‘bad gurus’ from your cultural and religious perspective and saying ‘them is bad!’ is nothing new – it’s simply a myopic and moralistic view.

        Your list is very negative, perhaps reflecting the Yogic drive to abstain your way to purity. Perhaps you should consider what to look FOR in a teacher, rather than focusing so much on what to avoid. Keep it positive. But I know why you might not do so, for if you do, you will find that the ‘good’ is often mixed with the ‘bad’, and this will upset some prejudices and make things confusing.

        Ironically, confusion can engender enlightenment.

        Overall, I think focusing more on the messages life is bringing you, from whatever sources, is more valuable than making it personal – guru following and the like.

        • You choose your abusive guru and I’ll choose mine. Not at all my way or the highway.

        • chris cunningham

          This is practical not negative. Healing services often attract wounded people who inadvertently or intentionally do more harm than good.

      • Guru1

        To give you an example of the ‘my way or the highway’ coming from you, your cultural bias:

        > 1. Let’s start with the big one – money.

        Why is that the big one? It’s important to you? It’s of so little importance to me – meaningless in fact, as wealth has many purposes. This is really big to you, #1, because of the Yoga perspective, greed or money being a NO – something a master would always reject, certainly never seek and relish, or they would be rejected.

        Yet to a hedonist master, he would scoff at this. He would say accumulate wealth and relish it! Allow your greed to drive you to accumulate and have all that you can, and see where that takes you. Rather than always fighting back the greed in you, let it expand and teach you what it has to teach you. Don’t deny it. If he saw a teacher demonstrating that level of greed and hedonism, he would celebrate that as an excellent example, and one which produces enlightenment. If he saw a teacher such as you preaching abstinence, he might consider you a “fake” teacher.

        So as I said, I just don’t think you’re grasping the full challenge you’re undertaking, taking on all the unsavory and unshapely gurus and shamans of the world that you would condemn from your cultural and spiritual perspective. I suggest giving it some broader contemplation. 😉 But it’s certainly an interesting and old question.

    • Taking back your own power is not being afraid. It is being discerning and wise.

  • Guru1

    Personally I don’t find much value in trying to identify the ‘real’ guru. This reminds me of politics, where it is increasingly difficult for people to retain any true leaders, because the ones who are human are deemed morally and socially imperfect and driven out of politics, leaving the polite, appropriate, fully evil scum.

    Focus more on the message and less on the person. If someone is bringing you a message which is valuable to you, it doesn’t matter if they have an inflated ego, drinking problem, etc. The real problem is your need to turn people into idols and authorities, rather than seeing yourself as your authority.

    Gurus are going through their processes too – they have a life to live. Even if they seem perfect and have it all together at one time, at another time in their life they may fall from grace, experience personal problems and challenges, just like anyone. Does this mean they had nothing of value to share?

    We are all gurus, all masters. Some have merely remembered and practiced more. Love human beings but don’t idolize them.

    None of the things you listed are fast rules, and by ignoring a ‘guru’ who has some of these flaws, you may ignore someone who is making a real effort to bring you a valuable message. Don’t be so picky about where you receive help. ‘Take this and leave that.’ I think that is far more effective than the dualistic thinking of ‘weeding out’ the so-called bad from the good. That division doesn’t exist in reality, and judgment does not make for clear vision.

    Even if you find a ‘good’ guru, giving your self and self-authority away will never work. A ‘good’ guru may make every attempt to appear ‘bad’ to you in that case, just to drive you away from being a ‘follower’. The value of seeing and believing in the abilities of a guru is that you can then imagine such capacities in yourself. So even seeing a bit more than is actually there is okay – imagination is part of this. Don’t be so paranoid about playing the fool. We all do sometimes and that’s okay – we are children. Play it willfully and joyfully rather than engaging in judgment, witchhunts and self-importance.

    In my view, a guru is simply one who is playful with life, with ALL aspects of life, even money, ego, etc. If you expect a master to play by the rules, you’ll be disappointed.

    • I agree that none of these are fast rules. Many gurus will teach with paradox. However, I have seen too many people give their intuition and own acquired wisdom away to those who mean only to do harm and abuse their power. Sure, we would all be tested if given endless money and adoration, but those who are truly ascended will have worked through that karma already – in my humble opinion. It doesn’t mean we can’t learn from people who are imperfect, as I said in the article, we can still learn from someone who is at a certain stage of enlightenment, but anyone claiming to be fully realized and still struggling with issues of fame or greed – they are not the real deal.

      • Jugh

        > anyone claiming to be fully realized and still struggling with issues of fame or greed – they are not the real deal

        Your fascination with “the real deal” concerns me – like a form of worship. I’ve never seen such worship produce much good in one’s path. Irreverence is more valuable to growth and en-light-enment. Lighten up. Otherwise you’re just another sour human seeking a power trip, trying to get with a winning trainer.

        You can never know what is a struggle for another. You cannot know what their soul is creating or why, nor can you know that your perception of them reflects their truth. To stand in judgment of them reflects on you, not them. You cannot know what their fame or wealth means to them or how they use it. It is between them and Life.

        Karma by its very nature proceeds in cycles, and this is good to remember if you would seek perfection.

        I don’t find much value in your search for the ‘true guru’. It’s too black and white, and still leads someone to the role of follower. Best to search for the ‘true self’, and understand that gurus are doing the same, sharing a part of their journey with you, as you are with them. Make of it what you will.

        Being fooled by false teachers – and we have all seen it and done it in some form – is part of the waking process. I don’t believe it’s something you can avoid for anyone. It too teaches – don’t pity its students, nor judge its teachers. You’re merely meeting yourself. (Nor are novices its only ‘victims’.)

        I find too much hero worship and idolizing in the Yogic traditions you seem to follow, like any religion, and I think that is more the source of your ‘problem’ here. Lighten up – that is enlightenment. Practice irreverence.

        Does your guru act like a child? Good. Nothing may be broken. The idea that there is some ‘proper’ way a master ‘should’ behave is to completely misunderstand what a master is. There are no should’s – that is a whole lesser level of human experience. You (and the Yoga teachers of the past) are making all the rules up as you go, and they keep changing as well. I find too much right and wrong, black & white, in that view, for my tastes. The universe is wild, and for good reason. Try as you may, you won’t be able to fit into neat little boxes.

        Not every guru or master is a smiling yoga instructor. It takes all kinds.

  • Anyone who puts himself on a pedestal and expects to be served or worshipped is definitely not Self realized. That is one of the first realizations upon awakening, is that we are all equal here. To make yourself special, above others, is a dead giveaway of a fake. A true awakened person is unassuming, humble and breathes kindness. So this pretty much puts most “gurus” into the trash bin.

    • Guru1

      You can never know the purpose of a master, thus you can never say what a master will do or not do, be or not be, in a given situation. There is simply no way to identify a ‘master’ by external actions or appearances. Nor is a ‘true master’ required to teach mastery – in fact sometimes the opposite teaches it best.

      We should all feel free to teach of mastery long before we achieve it, acknowledging that we don’t know it all, but have something to share.

  • Sue

    I always enjoy your writings, Christina. There is a sort of freedom that I can almost smell coming off the words, which is one of the first things I look for in knowing whether to listen to someone’s words or not 🙂

    (PS: I was a bit distracted by the typos in this article though. Just a bit of honest feedback. Cheers to you.)

    • Sue – your advice is well taken. I have dyslexia so often I can’t see my typos until it is too late! I’ll work on it though!

  • Preet inder jit singh

    I would like to write the conclusions of this fake guru articles in my way. Ist makes it clear that we are the master of our own mind.What we are at present at mercy of Him (enlightened power always existed in all directions)as the flow of that power in our body and mind on this living planet,solar system and galaxies and universe.we may be having a equilibrum of these powers at His will. we on this planet have materalistic needs which are sometime blessed from previous generations and may be we our present karma may be blessing our needs .what we actually need is satisfaction (SANTOSH).we are running our body and mind for needs of life by selfish motives but on the other hand God’s work to continous balance goes on .For what purpose we are born is fulfilled already by HIM in the time to come .we might be heading towards Moksha by our karma ………preet inder

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