Tuesday, June 28, 2011

6 Warning Signs of a Fake Guru

One hazard of seeking a spiritual guru is that the guru you find may be a fraud. Alison Rose Levy gives six warning signs of a fake guru.
By now, most people know that in his so-called "sweat lodge," James Arthur Ray disrespectfully borrowed traditional Native American sacred practices for use in his endurance boot camp, in order to produce "abundance" in the gullible participants. Two of those participants died. Like many, I feel sad for the families of the victims, and agree that it's appropriate for the legal system to hold Ray accountable. But it's a mistake to dismiss Ray as just one "bad apple." Why? because he exemplifies a bona-fide risk for spiritual seekers. Until people can learn to distinguish between spiritual authority and authoritarianism, and between spirituality and spiritual materialism, some will fall prey to charismatic individuals, like James Arthur Ray.

There were warning signs aplenty. Read more
To her list, I would add that if a guru actively solicits disciples, he's probably a fraud. By "actively solicit," I don't mean that anyone who advertises his books, workshops, or school is a fraud. I mean personal recruitment by the "guru" himself. For example, since starting this blog, I've been contacted by several "masters"who offered to teach me "secret" Tantric sexual practices. So far, I haven't taken advantage of these generous offers, and if you ever receeive one yourself, I would suggest that you don't either.


PK said...

So true, Jen. In India too, the land of gurus, there are all kinds of them!

Control, as you said, is a negative sign in a teacher or advisor. So also is active demand for money or property, dont you think?

Jennifer Lawless said...

Any guru or group that demands that you give up your money or property (to them, of course) is definitely fraudulent. Also, some demand that you sever ties with your family.