Beware of False Gurus...
. . . who tell you to find stillness. Nothing, from the chains of amino acids to the present-moment experience of mindfulness, remains still. Movement is life: the embodiment of perception and confirmation that you are in synchrony with all that exists and transcends. Unless you’re dead, even your deepest serenity has movement. Rather than embracing the illusion of stillness, explore the movement of discovery. It was tribal control of wonderment that turned abundance of curiosity into “attention deficit disorder.” Health gurus medicalize living conditions they fail to understand, and medicalizing is a form of hegemony. In anthropology, hegemony means domination of one cultural belief over another, with such insidious power that the dominated fail to see the dominator's impositions
. . . who tell you to give up your ego. Ego is the cultural self you need in order to participate in, contribute to, and learn from your world. To retreat to a cave for life while others suffer is to trade your contributions to the world for a life of spiritual selfishness. Of course, withdrawing from your world is your option, but not one I recommend. You should especially question the coherence of gurus with titles such as “venerable,” “exalted,” “revered,” and other superlatives while instructing you to give up your ego. Religious titles are excluded from this critique.
. . . who tell you being mindful is to be passively present. Mindfulness is an engagement with the present to explore the new and to detect mistakes. One of imperfection’s lessons is to recognize that perfection implies no new learning. Can you imagine how boring you would be if you were perfect? There is much misunderstanding about the practice of mindfulness. In fact, calling mindfulness a “practice” is like saying “I am going to practice being alive.” Meditation and other contemplative methods are some of the paths to mindfulness.
. . . who tell you to be one with the universe. Asking you to be one with anything other than yourself assumes you can be separated from your own existence. And although there is merit in metaphorically seeing union with the universe, it is more productive to sense your belongingness in this union. You don’t have to be a tree to participate in the ecology of a forest. You can learn the finite to speculate on the infinite, but find your world before you get lost in metaphors.
. . . who tell you they are enlightened, or who entice you to believe that their spiritual narcissism is humility. We all have wisdom to gain from our imperfections, and little to offer from our delusions of grandeur.
. . . who entice you with winds of hope that cannot be harnessed. The responsibility of a teacher is to provide you with practical tools rather than platitudes. What is the use of wisdom that vanishes when you apply it to dissipate your fears and refine your love? While there is little benefit in spoon-feeding you instructions for every step of your explorations, it is equally impractical to leave you entirely with poetics when you need substance.
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