Tuesday, 19 December 2017

How Fake Gurus Get Away With It And Thrive...

How fake gurus get away with it and thrive: the folk theory of non-dual enlightenment. More and more, we are exposed to the psychological drama of a cult which has constellated around a charismatic personality who turns out to…

Before we get to the original article, let us reflect on some videos, quotes and a related article by Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya (Sri Acharyaji):

"The true guru only comes to those who are blessed by God, and who have proven themselves ready to receive guidance with great humility. To have even had the opportunity to be in the presence of an authentic guru briefly in this lifetime means that one has accumulated tremendous sukriti, or spiritual blessings, in previous lifetimes. Understand the rare gift that it is to come into contact with such a pure guru. Listen quietly, respectfully and sincerely to the untainted words of such a genuine guru, and allow yourself to perfectly learn and deeply absorb his teachings unto you. Make yourself worthy of such a gift. For the guru's teachings are the greatest of all gifts. It is only to the direct degree that you approach the guru in this grateful and reverential manner that you will benefit from the guru’s presence." Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya

"Any self-described 'guru' who insists that he is an avatara (incarnation) of God, or who allows naive followers to worship him as an avatara of God, is not an authentic guru. Rather, he is only a megalomaniacal charlatan who will inevitably abuse his innocent disciples. Illusions of grandeur automatically leads to abuse just as readily as gasoline thrown into a fire leads to an inferno. If your guru claims to be God, he has then exposed himself to not even be worthy of being seen as a beginner on the spiritual path, what to speak of being a supposed Master! Such manipulative frauds have harmed the sacred reputation of Sanatana Dharma time and again, and must be rejected by all responsible spiritual seekers. It is the duty of the Vedic community to speak with one voice in denouncing such spiritual abuse. The true guru has the humility and wisdom to know that he is not an omni- competent being, but that he is merely a modest servant of God. To view oneself as such a humble servant of God is the highest spiritual attainment of all. Aum Tat Sat." - Sri DharmaPravartaka Acharya

"All authentic gurus must be able to demonstrate that their teachings are derived directly from the Vedic scriptures." Sri Dharma PravartakaAcharya

"The qualified and authentic guru is not merely someone who teaches the Truth verbally, but who also lives that Truth perfectly, and who then reflects that Truth to his students in a living and dynamic way." - Sri DharmaPravartaka Acharya

"An authentic spiritual teacher (guru) must exhibit deep humility, unwavering ethical behavior, honesty, a lack of greed, true knowledge based upon the wisdom of the Vedic scriptures, and respect for his or her students. Such characteristics mark the presence of a true and honorable guru. If any of these qualities are not present in a person, then that person is not a true and legitimate guru." Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya

"The crucial virtue of humility is too rarely spoken of today by many of our contemporary era's supposedly authentic gurus and spiritual guides. We know, however, that historically every true saint, sage, yogi, and guru has highly praised the incomparable importance of this virtue in the spiritual seeker. Indeed, we can measure the legitimacy of a spiritual teacher in direct proportion to that teacher's depth of humility, and corresponding lack of egotism and false aloofness." Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya

How to Recognise an Authentic Guru

"Accepting the guidance of a guru - an enlightened, qualified and ethical guide on one's spiritual path - is a foundational necessity in the tradition of Sanatana Dharma. In our present age, however, finding such a rare person has become a tremendous challenge. Indeed, it has been estimated that 95% of individuals who claim to be legitimate gurus, Swamis, Acharyas, and enlightened spiritual mentors are not! The precise understanding, then, of what constitutes a real and authentic guru is crucial for all sincere spiritual seekers if they wish to avoid falling into the trap of fake teachers. In this very direct, authoritative and no nonsense talk, Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya provides the conclusive criteria necessary to recognize who is - and is not! - an authentic and legitimate guru. Even if you have been on the path of Sanatana Dharma for decades and feel that you already know what a real guru is, prepare to have your understanding radically expanded! Before surrendering to someone who claims to be a legitimate guru, watch this informative video." - International Sanatana Dharma Society 


The only way to grow spiritually is to practice spirituality with deep and sincere authenticity. There is no alternative to authenticity. Sadly, authenticity has been the primary element conspicuously absent from the spiritual scene in the last several generations. As Sri Acharyaji has stated for the last few years, millions of people have now had enough of inauthentic spiritual leaders, concocted teachings, and ineffective practices, and are now ready for an authenticity revolution! Few gurus on earth teach and exemplify Vedic spirituality with the same degree of authenticity as Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya. Sri Acharyaji and his movement, the International Sanatana Dharma Society, represent the Vedic tradition in a radically authentic way. In this intensely truthful talk, Sri Acharyaji explains what precisely is spiritual authenticity, and how you can practice spirituality in a truly authentic and meaningful way.  

The Age of Anti-Guru

The Guru Principle is one of most important and foundational concepts in the Vedic tradition. All sincere followers of Sanatana Dharma understand the great importance of having an authentic and qualified spiritual master to help guide us on the path to liberation. In this radically truth-filled talk, Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya (one of the most qualified and authentic Vedic gurus in the world today) explains how we are currently living in an unfortunate "Age of Anti-Guru". If we want to experience real and meaningful spiritual growth, then we must have the humility and sincerity to seek help from a true spiritual master.  

By Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya

“Only one who has a guru can know the truth.” (Chandogya Upanisad, 6.18.2)

The Guru Principle has always been of central importance to the Vedic and Yoga tradition. It is only through the grace of the guru that we are empowered to fulfill the highest aspiration of life, God-consciousness (Brahma-vidya). For this reason, understanding what is a true guru, versus what is merely a spirituality immature person simply pretending to be a true guru, is crucial for anyone who is sincerely traversing the spiritual path. What constitutes a true guru has never been subject to debate, speculation or opinion in the Vedic tradition. There has never been confusion about what is, and what is not, a true guru. The essential attributes of a true guru are outlined with tremendous clarity throughout the totality ofthe Vedic scriptures. In addition, such attributes are clearly observed in the personal characteristics and living examples of true gurus throughout history. 

A true and authentic spiritual master is known in Sanskrit as a sadguru, or “True Guru”. A true guru is not merely an ordinary teacher of seminars, a healer, a therapist, or a charismatic person. Rather, a sadguru is, by very definition, a person who has achieved the very highest attainable goal of spiritual life. A sadguru is a fully self-realized and God-conscious person. Thus, he or she is termed siddha, or “perfected”. Such a true guru is also designated as a jivanmukta, or one who is already fully liberated while still being situated in bodily form. Such a being has already achieved liberation from all illusion, and consequently from all the behavioral characteristics resultant from such illusion. A true guru has left far behind such ego-driven weaknesses as lust, anger, greed, fear, craving for power, delusion, envy, and the need to manipulate and cheat others. 

If a so-called “spiritual teacher” has not yet transcended these egoic urges, then he is not a true guru, but is merely a deluded beginner on the path who is reveling in the hallucination of being a liberated person. Such a deluded person cannot even help himself, what to speak of being a guide or benefactor of anyone else. 

“One who cannot deliver his students from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a guru…” (Srimad Bhagavatam, 5.5.18) 

The phenomenon of spiritually immature and/or morally bankrupt individuals falsely posing themselves as spiritual adepts and gurus is neither new, nor unique to any one particular spiritual tradition. All religious traditions have suffered at the hands of fraudulent teachers and leaders, in addition to the deep damage and abuse suffered by many sincere spiritual seekers at the hands of modern destructive cults. The tragic suffering of such abuse at the hands of deluded “teachers” has also been the unfortunate experience of many sincere seekers within contemporary Vedic spirituality.

What has become a startling development, however, has been the exponentially growing number of fake spiritual teachers on the world scene today. Whether we are speaking of very famous false “gurus” with followings in the hundreds of thousands, or some local “spiritual healer” pipsqueak with a miniscule following of five or ten innocent victims, the syndrome of spiritual abuse has never been so prevalent and so destructive as it is today. The problem of such spiritual frauds posing themselves as legitimate spiritual teachers has now grown to such unparalleled proportions as to force me to have coined the term “Premature Guru Syndrome” several years ago in an attempt to fully understand and convey the roots of such destructive spiritual abuse. 

Another seemingly inexplicable and troubling development has been the increasingly nonchalant acceptance of these fake teachers’ unethical and illegal behavior on the part of some of the more fanatical acolytes. At one time in history, when a fraudulent spiritual teacher was publicly exposed for sexual impropriety, financial corruption or some other unethical activity, that would usually spell the end of the fraudulent “enlightened being’s” career. The newly exposed fraud would often then do the right thing and go crawl under a proverbial rock somewhere in shame rarely to be heard of again.

Nowadays, however, even when a fraudulent teacher is irrefutably exposed in the most horrific of sexual abuse scandals, a small number of the fraud’s more fanatical disciples will simply accept the very unethical acts themselves as being somehow evidentiary of the fake teacher’s greatness and “transcendence”! By this perversely twisted logic, the more horrifically abusive a teacher has been toward others, the more enlightened he must obviously be! Thus, today, some of the very students who have been lied to, robbed and abused by a fraudulent teacher have chosen to make themselves just as morally culpable in the cycle of abuse as the spiritual abuser himself!

"Persons who are strongly entrapped by the consciousness of enjoying material life, and who have therefore accepted as their leader or guru a similar blind man attached to external sense objects, cannot understand that the goal of life is to engage in the service of Lord Vishnu. As blind people guided by another blind person miss the right path and fall into a ditch, materially attached people led by another materially attached person are bound by the ropes of karma, which are made of very strong cords, and they continue again and again in materialistic life, suffering the threefold miseries." (Srimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.31)

As a person who fell deeply in love with the Vedic and Yoga tradition at the age of ten (I am now 51), it has been painfully troubling beyond description to have been forced to witness such abuse of my religious tradition over these many decades at the hands of multiple hundreds of such spiritual frauds. Indeed, it seems that I have always been, sadly, one of the very few Vedic gurus on the world scene today to have openly addressed the issue of spiritual abuse of innocent people by such fake gurus, and the untold damage that such abuse has done both to the victims of such abuse directly, as well as to the reputation of the entire Vedic tradition itself. I have always spoken out against such abuse, and in advocacy of the victims of such abuse, usually as a lone voice in the wilderness, and often with attempts at harmful retaliation from such frauds to both myself and to my teaching mission. 

Tragically, there is a reason why the very word “guru” itself has now become almost a synonym in popular American culture for “a spiritual scam artist”. That reason is to be laid directly and exclusively at the feet of the fraudulent gurus who have given the Vedic community such a bad name, in addition to their naïve supporters and enablers. At this juncture in history, the time has now arrived to put a decisive end to such fraudulent “spiritual teachers”. 

Premature Guru Syndrome

"Leaders who have fallen into darkness and who mislead people by directing them to the path of destruction are, in effect, boarding a stone boat, and so too are those who blindly follow them. A stone boat would be unable to float and would sink in the water with its passengers.” (Srimad Bhagavatam, 6.7.14)

For the sincere spiritual seeker who has approached the path with humility and a deep yearning to know Truth, the role of the guru is viewed in its true form as one in which the guru serves as the trusted guide and source of inspiration for the student. Despite the many frivolous stereotypes about the ecclesiastical function of the guru that many people have in the modern West, the role of the guru is often a very difficult burden for the guru himself or herself. It is a position in which, after decades of dedicated learning, personal struggle and disciplined practice upon his own narrowly proscribed path of sadhana, the guru very reluctantly takes on disciples as a solemn duty toward his own spiritual master’s order to do so. The true guru sees himself, never as the master of his disciples, but as the servant of his students, and of his own guru. Above all positive spiritual qualities, the true guru must have a very deep and healthy sense of humility in serving out his role as a spiritual teacher. 

For the insincere and emotionally immature spiritual dabbler, on the other hand, the role of the guru is often mistakenly viewed as a position of power and authority, in which the “guru” has command over a legion of servile and willing disciples. The juvenile spiritual beginner will mistakenly see the position of the guru as one of power, control, wealth and access to his disciples’ affections. It is precisely within the context of this grotesquely inaccurate view of the role of the guru that many less sincere beginners on the spiritual path will all too prematurely convince themselves that they are now enlightened beings, entitled now to their own small legion of devoted fans. When such a spiritually immature person chooses to take such a disastrous detour from the actual path, and begins to act as he mistakenly thinks a guru does (in their own perverse mind, at least), this spiritual pathology becomes the phenomenon that I have termed Premature Guru Syndrome. 

Over the course of being a spiritual practitioner for over forty years, I have seen over those many decades multiple hundreds of lamentable cases of spiritually immature people who fell into this most subtle and alluring of egoic traps. As only one example of many, I remember a person who had been a Yoga teacher for over ten years who finally wanted to begin exploring the more spiritual aspects of the Yoga system. One day he invited me to his home and humbly asked me to teach him the essence of the Bhagavad Gita. Only a few weeks later, he was off on a trip to India to explore the temples there for journey of about three weeks.

Upon returning to the States, he was a radically changed person. But, sadly, it was not in a good way. Within the span of an entire three weeks in India, he had managed to convince himself that he was now an enlightened being! The first time I saw him upon his return to the US was at a public function organized by a Hindu organization. His attitude was now one of such superior haughtiness and pretention that he would not deign to look anyone in the eyes, instead looking over people’s heads with a fake otherworldly gaze as he spoke to them. He was now an enlightened guru, infinitely above the mere mortals graced to be situated within his divine presence! To make a long story short, his fake haughtiness turned more people away than attracted anyone to him. Today, over ten years later, the same person had gone back to being a humble Yoga teacher, with no following to speak of, no “enlightened guru” status, and far fewer friends now than when he first journeyed to India. A stark example of Premature Guru Syndrome.

Another example was a psychologically troubled young man who had attended a few of my talks and satsangha gatherings in Omaha several years ago. This person was on anti-psychotic medication, in addition to taking a slew of illegal drugs. He was a self-admitted alcoholic. He was a very strict vegetarian – for one or two weeks at a time, until he could no longer stand the urge to run to Burger King for a Whopper (his favorite burger!). This very sad young man was supported financially by his parents, due to having been rendered unemployable as a result of a combination of mental illness and laziness. 

As you can guess, however, despite all of these tremendous personal challenges, one day this young man approached me proclaiming that he was now an enlightened guru, here to bestow his vast wisdom upon humanity. He even managed to create his own website after a friend had given him a used laptop for free out of a sense of compassion for him. I listened to this young man quite patiently until he began comparing himself to Ramakrishna (“wasn’t he crazy too?!”, he exclaimed) and saying that he was now so radically “beyond good and evil” that, even if he were to start killing people, it would be a transcendent act! At that point, I quickly ended my conversation with this newly “enlightened spiritual teacher” and carefully left the area before he decided to put his new theories into practice! Like with the first individual mentioned above, today, about five years later, this person is recognized by no one as either a guru, or even as a very good person. Another example of Premature Guru Syndrome.

In the cases of the above two examples, one could perhaps be forgiven for even feeling a bit sorrow for the self-delusion that these two fraud “gurus” had placed themselves in. But we can only feel sorry for them because their respective guru careers were cut short before they could really convince too many others of their false claims to being authentic spiritual teachers. Sardonic amusement soon turns to dark tragedy, however, when a person suffering from Premature Guru Syndrome does actually manage to attract a small following, and in the swagger of his destructive delusion, begins to abuse his innocent students. At that point, the premature guru is harming not only himself, but will without doubt engage in tremendous harm and exploitation of his newly found disciples. It is precisely in recognizing what such abuse looks like that we then empower ourselves to not become victims of the more psychopathically inclined frauds who pose themselves as spiritual teachers. 

Forms of Abuse

As is true for all forms of abuse, spiritual abuse toward innocent students can take many different forms.This includes sexual abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, and sometimes even physical abuse. Though sexual abuse and financial abuse seem to be the most prevalent modus operandi of fake spiritual teachers, any form of abuse is a betrayal of the student’s trust and an assault upon the student’s inherent human dignity. 

“Many false gurus take advantage of their disciples, plundering them for whatever they may have of value, exploiting them for sex, and using them to amass wealth. A real guru - one who can remove the miseries of his disciples - is very rare.” (Purana-vakya)

In the following section, I will be briefly outline several telltale signs that a person posing themselves as a spiritual teacher is, in actuality, nothing but a spiritual fraud. Here are a few definite warning signs to look out for.

Sexually Predatory Behavior

The most prevalent signal that a so-called “spiritual teacher” is an unequivocal fraud is when that teacher uses the guise of spiritual practice as an excuse to engage in sexual relations with his students. Over the last few decades, an amazingly large number of fake spiritual teachers, both famous as well as barely known personalities, have been involved in such sexual scandals with their students and others. Such frauds who initially touted themselves as superhuman beings have been systematically exposed as having been nothing more than serial sexual predators. Very often, these fraud teachers will use the hackneyed excuse of engaging in secret “Tantrik” rituals with their students, thus compounding the offence by dragging the name of Tantra into their libido-driven scams. 

Tantra is an ancient and venerable (even if often thoroughly misunderstood in modernity) system of spiritual rituals, practices and tools, many of which have always been closely incorporated throughout the practices of every school of Yoga and Vedic spirituality to varying extents. At no point does real and authentic Tantra practice involve the guru having sexual relations with his initiates. That is a modern lie that has only arisen in the last few centuries as we have witnessed the rapid degeneration of the original Yogic practice, and the New Age misappropriation, and misapplication, of the Tantric and Yogic sciences. If a so-called guru claims that he is simply engaging in some form of “Tantrik” ritual with an initiated student in his action of having sexual relations with that student, he is merely a liar. He is not a mystical and occult oriented Tantrika. He is just a lusty guy with woefully uncontrolled sensual appetites. Nothing more.

Most often than not, the more patient and calculating (i.e., psychopathic) spiritual fraud will not simply pounce upon his innocently trusting student right away, but will instead perniciously groom a student as a potential sex partner over a period of months, or even a year or more. Such premeditated abusive behavior is the norm for psychopathically inclined sexual predators, such as pedophiles and other forms of pathological sexual criminals. A so-called guru who engages in manipulative sexual relationships with his students is precisely a pathological sexual predator.

At the first instance of such a betrayal of spiritual trust, many sincere disciples of the sexually aggressive fraud spiritual teacher will immediately break off all contact with the false teacher. This is the wise and safest course of action to take. Others, sadly, will exhibit a form of Stockholm Syndrome, in which they naïvely revel in the false teacher’s artificial attention and inappropriate affections toward the student. Such a false mistaking of such predatory abuse for real love is usually temporary even with such victims, as the student inevitably realizes that she has been crassly manipulated and severely exploited by the fake “guru” for his own salacious gratification. 

In any case, the following advice should be fully understood by all sincere spiritual seekers if they are to avoid such a sexually abusive relationship with the person who is supposed to be their spiritual guide in life. A true spiritual teacher, a sadguru, never at any point, and for no reason whatsoever, ever seduces his disciple(s) sexually. A true guru never flirts with his students, never makes sexual innuendos toward his students, nor ever gives off even the slightest sexual vibe toward his disciples – ever! Period.

If your “spiritual teacher” at any point propositions you to have sex with him in any manner, and under any guise (i.e., “Tantra”, “Sex Magick”, “sensual massage”, etc.), your teacher is an unequivocal fraud. He is not a spiritual teacher in any meaningful sense of that term. He is not a great, liberated Tantrika. He is not an avadhuta who has risen himself “beyond good and evil.” He is not a good person. He isn’t even much of a real man if he is forced to resort to such puerile games in order to ensure that he will have a chance to have sex! He is to be promptly rejected. Immediately leave that person’s company, and never look back, if you wish to avoid being the victim of a complete and indisputable fraud. 

Beyond Good & Evil

“A guru who is addicted to sensual pleasure and polluted by vice, who is ignorant and has no power to discriminate between right and wrong, or who is not on the path of pure devotional consciousness (shuddha-bhakti) must be abandoned.” (Mahabharata,Udyoga-parva, 179.25)

A true guru is an ocean of valid knowledge and truth. A liberated guru is a true philosopher. A skilled con artist, on the other hand, will use the most deceptively attractive and falsely sophisticated misapplications of pseudo-philosophy in order to attract victims. Upon closer inspection, however, one will quickly see that the fraud “guru” actually only has a repetitious verbal routine of code phrases that they have rehearsed in order to impress their gullible audience. Their depth of knowledge, when closely examined, turns out to actually be quite shallow, and just repeated continuously. One of the most attested to examples of such pseudo-philosophical deception is the “I am beyond good and evil” gimmick that spiritual frauds will employ as a supposed spiritual justification for actually being commonplace psychopaths.

History has been littered with a myriad of spiritual frauds who will often wax on eloquently about having now reached a blessed state “beyond good and evil” in a cynical attempt to feign having “transcended duality”. Of course, to the impartial observer, the fraud’s own personal behavior rarely ever displays any positive, joyous or good virtuous attributes, but only their opposite! The fake teacher who is supposedly “beyond good and evil” only ever engages in the evil side of the equation – and rarely bestows good upon anyone unless it serves his interests to do so! The spiritual fraud will use the notion of being beyond good and evil, never to legitimately do good toward others, but only as a self-serving excuse to commit evil and unethical acts indiscriminately and free (to at least some extent) of the judgment of his more gullible disciples. Such a pretending to be “beyond good and evil” is little more than an attempt on the part of the emotionally stunted, fake spiritual teacher to imitate a much more profound concept that actually is found as an important component of the Yoga path. The philosophically sublime nature of what it truly means to be “beyond good and evil” in the authentic sense of this term escapes the modest intellects of all such frauds.

It is clearly recognized in Yoga philosophy that all materiality is comprised of three overlapping modes (gunas), with one usually taking a predominant position over the other two at any given time. These three gunas are: a) sattva, or goodness, b) rajas, or passion, and c) tamas, or negativity. One of the primary goals of the yogi is to eventually elevate herself through focused sadhana (disciplined practice) to the point of transcending the three gunas, or modes of materiality, altogether.

The universally recognized means within the Yogic tradition for transcending the three gunas is to consciously cultivate the specific guna of sattva (goodness, purity, healthiness, peace, harmony) in all of one’s thoughts, words and actions as a necessary bridge to then transcend the three gunas altogether – including even the guna of sattva itself. Once the material modes of goodness, passion and ignorance are thoroughly transcended, the yogi then persists in an eternal state of shuddha-sattva, or a pure ontological state of goodness. 

The material modes of “good and evil” (i.e., sattva and tamas, respectively) are temporal in essence and pertain primarily to the empirically moralistic, proscriptive and quantitatively factual aspects of good and evil as they pertain exclusively to the material realm. Shuddha-sattva, or pure goodness as an ontological state, on the other hand, pertains to goodness as this quality exists sui generis, or in its most essential spiritual aspect as a qualitative attributive feature ofthe Divine, and consequently manifest as an essential attribute of our very own soul (atman) itself. Shuddha-sattva is, thus, an ontologically distinct and causally antecedent state of being that precedes any conception of “goodness” as encountered in the material realm. 

Thus, a perfected yogi who has actually transcended the three gunas, and who can then be legitimately described as being “beyond good and evil” in the true and meaningful sense of this term, is a being who is always good in the virtuous sense of being someone for whom goodness is an effortless expression of her soul’s natural essence, as opposed to being merely an effort-related attempt to create good moralistic outcomes materially. A perfected sage does not merely do good, in other words, they are good…and effortlessly so.

Thus, sattva is understood to pertain to acts necessarily undertaken within the material realm as pale manifestations of a higher reality. Suddha-sattva, on the other hand, is an eternal state of being. It is, however, in determinedly cultivating sattva as apart of our Yoga sadhana that we eventually come to be in the transcendent state of shuddha-sattva. It is in cultivating good that we realize ourselves as being of the nature of an infinitely higher, Transcendent Good. Such is the path of true, effective and healthy spirituality.

Instead of honestly attempting to attain and manifest shuddha-sattva in his life, the fraudulent spiritual teacher cheats both himself and those around him by manifesting the lowest and least spiritual of qualitative modes (gunas), tamas, in an attempt to pretend that he is “beyond good and evil”. This is the equivalent of a person claiming he is the best candidate for the treasurer of an organization, because he is the most corrupt and untrustworthy of people! We must have the highest ethical and virtuous aspirations if we want to make meaningful spiritual progress, not the lowest. 

A real spiritual teacher does not childishly revel in being a “bad boy”. That is an activity better left to actual adolescent boys. A real spiritual teacher does not encourage his students to go to bars with him to have beers, unwind and pretend to chat about deep topics.

Similarly, any supposed “spiritual teacher” who makes the unsupported claim that “anything goes in the Kali Yuga!” as a ruse to justify his own inability to actually practice Yoga discipline is a demonstrated liar and a fraud. If you wish to actually attain any authentic form of spiritual realization, if you wish to truly know the Divine, then completely avoid the noxious company of such spiritual frauds.

Celebrates Dark Beings 

We live in a diverse and hierarchical cosmos, in which there dwell a wide variety of beings – both embodied and incorporeal. There are both beings of light, love and goodness (called in Sanskrit the Devas; literally “beings of light”), and those of darkness, hatred, envy and evil (known as Asuras). With one unequivocally united voice, the totality of the Vedic scriptures and the great adepts of the Yoga tradition implore us to only seek and work with those beings who are the former, and to avoid with all our strength beings who are dark and evil. We can only see in the light. In darkness, we are blind.

A truism of the science of consciousness is that we become like that upon which we meditate. If we focus our awareness upon compassionate and benevolent beings, we too become likewise. Our very being will be elevated. But if we choose to direct our meditative awareness upon miserable entities who are plunged in bitterness, darkness, sadism, envy and hate, we will then allow the qualities of such pathetic beings into our inner space, and become likewise. 

“Those who worship the lessor gods will take birth among the lessor gods. Those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings. Those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors. And those who worship Me will live with Me.” (Bhagavad Gita, 9.25)

The Yoga, Tantra, and Vedic tradition does not encouraging working with Asuric, or demonic, beings as a spiritual practice. Such a preoccupation is considered by the rishis (the great revealers of Vedic truth) to be an inferior path for emotionally and psychologically weak people who have lower aspirations. It is completely counter to the path of the Bhagavad Gita and the other Vedic scriptures. More, the illusory power of any dark beings or black magic practices are rendered impotent when confronted by the eternal power of the Vedic Truth. 

“The misery caused by a curse or black rites can never enter into that house where the Bhagavad Gita is worshipped.” (Gita Mahatmya, 29)

Knowing this truth about the nature of dark beings and the worship of such pathetic entities, avoid any supposed “spiritual teacher” who himself is haunted by such demonic beings, and who encourages his hapless students to become likewise fixated upon such dark entities in the name of a concocted spirituality. The worshiper of such beings is destined only to be eaten alive by those very beings in the end. Rakshasas (demonic entities), after all, are cannibalistic in nature. They eat their own.

“Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among beings, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various demonic species of life. Attaining repeated birth amongst the species of demonic life, such beings can never approach Me. Gradually they sink down to the most abominable type of existence.” (Bhagavad Gita, 16.19-20)

The Illusion of Power

Like the obsession with the ring of power that is central to the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy, lesser minds are preoccupied with the accumulation of power, not realizing that any material power extraneous to the eternal power of God’s grace and to the inherent power of one’s own consciousness is completely illusory, fleetingly temporary, and ultimately self-defeating. This is because the craving for such illusory power is itself no more than a manifestation of our spiritual pathology – false ego (ahamkara). And it is precisely the transcending of false ego that constitutes the entire purpose of every authentic spiritual tradition.

The greatest seeming paradox that has been witnessed throughout the history of spirituality is that those who seek power alone will, indeed, gain a very momentary surge of power in the short run, only to then lose themselves even deeper into the pit of illusion in the longer course of events – and to ultimately be relegated to a state of complete powerlessness. Conversely, those who pursue spirituality for its own sake, out of a sincere sense of love for Truth, and with a humble attitude of self-surrender to the Source of all Truth, come to know seemingly infinite spiritual power as a direct result of following the path of simplicity, humility, devotion and compassion. It is in the path of self-surrender (prapatti) to the Absolute that we achieve a full state of self-mastery.

“The Master doesn't try to be powerful; thus he is truly powerful. The ordinary man keeps reaching for power; thus he never has enough.” (Tao Te Ching, 38)

The quest for power, even in the guise of wanting to accumulate “spiritual power”, is only a slightly subtler manifestation of false ego (ahamkara), and is thus the very opposite of pure consciousness, and of authentic spirituality. If you wish to know Truth, avoid any fraudulent “spiritual teacher” whose focus is merely on the accumulation of power. He is actually the most powerless of persons.

Radical Universalism

"One who, in the guise of a guru, gives unauthentic instructions detrimental to scriptural teachings and one who, as a disciple, listens to those false instructions are destined to enter into great misery." (Narada Pancaratra)

More so than any other spiritual tradition on the Earth today, the Vedic path is a tradition that encourages us to be tolerant of other paths, and to eagerly recognize whatever good there may be in other paths. At the same time, however, never at any point in its very long history has authentic Vedic spirituality encouraged the idea of Radical Universalism, that is: the false notion that all religions are the same. Not only are the world-views, practices and end goals of all religions not necessarily the same, but they are periodically diametrically opposed to one another. (For a much more detailed explanation of the many problems and logical inconsistencies in the claim that all religions are the same, read my book “Radical Universalism”.)

For this reason, while followers of Vedic spirituality certainly cherish whatever legitimate wisdom and inspiration is to be found in non-Vedic paths, serious followers of Vedic and Yoga spirituality do not believe in artificially mixing together radically opposing practices and beliefs in an attempt to create a newly concocted, syncretic “path”. Such artificial syncretism is more meant to satisfy our own subjective egoic sentiments than to exhibit philosophical fidelity to Truth. It is more an attempt to continue to revel in the ego in the name of spirituality designed only to be a reflection of that ego, rather than to sincerely surrender that ego at the feet of the Absolute Truth.

To try to blend contradictory elements from other religions into the vast ocean of Vedic spirituality clearly shows one’s own lack of faith in the efficacy of the Vedic tradition itself. It is an offensive insult to the integrity of the Vedic tradition. It also vividly displays a lack of mature philosophical discernment. Radical Universalism is the by-product of New Age commercialism, and not the mature approach of any authentic spiritual tradition. 

We cannot hybridize Vedic spirituality with Voodoo, Crowleyan “Sex Magick”, Luciferianism or any other contradictory belief system. Any supposed “spiritual teacher” who crassly insists on grafting the pathologies of such dark cults onto the brilliance of the Vedic tradition has less than no understanding of the Vedic tradition. Such a dishonest pretend “guru” is a thorough fraud and should be summarily rejected by his students. 

Claims to Being an Avatara

“One who accepts disciples for personal service and fame is unfit to be a guru.” (Vishnu Smriti) 

The true guru (sadguru) is traditionally offered a tremendous amount of respect and reverence from his or her disciples…and rightfully so. This is the case because the sadguru is recognized as being, not merely some teacher, knowledgeable person, or supposed authority on the history of religion. Rather, the sadguru is recognized as being a fully liberated sage, who has fully transcended the bounds of false ego, and has achieved both self-realization and God-consciousness. Due to his liberated state, the sadguru does not posses any material motivations in teaching and leading others. The true guru is devoid of the tendency to cheat others. Only a fraud abuses others, never a true guru. The sadguru personifies the very highest ideals of Dharma in everything that he thinks, in everything that he says, and in everything that he does. It is for this reason that guru-bhakti, or devotion to the true guru, has always been of central importance to the sadhana practice of the full-fledged Yoga tradition, and always will be. 

While the true guru has transcended the merely human stage, and advanced to the stage of absorption of all his awareness upon the Divine, the guru is still a limited and finite atman. The primary difference is that he is an atman who is free from illusion. At no point does the sadguru cease to be an atman and “become” either God or an avatara of God. 

Another very obvious sign that a purported spiritual teacher is actually a fraud occurs when he allows his disciples to proclaim and worship him or her as an incarnation of God (or the Goddess), or a purna avatara. To claim to be God, and allow innocent disciples to worship him as if he is literally God, is to engage in abusive behavior toward his disciples. Any self-proclaimed avatara in our era is a fraud and should be rejected by any sincere followers.

Lack of Lineage

Another important factor for determining the validity of a guru is to examine the parampara, or spiritual lineage, that he has been supposedly initiated into. There is no such thing as a guru who does not, himself, have a guru. As Sri Krishna explains in the Bhagavad Gita (4.2), evam parampara praptam. 

“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, parampara, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.”

Moreover, such a disciplic lineage cannot go back for only a few generations, but must be traceable back to the very beginning of the cosmos, with the Supreme Absolute as the origination of the lineage. 

Any supposed “spiritual teacher” who cannot demonstrate that they received initiation (diksha) into such an unbroken Vedic lineage is by default lying to his followers, and should be rejected by his students. 

Mercantile Consciousness

"If the guru becomes attached to sense gratification, loses his sense of duty, and follows a degraded path, a path other than devotional consciousness in the Supreme, that false guru should be rejected." (Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva, 179.25)

Finally, and probably most obviously, a true spiritual teacher is not motivated in his teaching activities by the base desire to simply make money for himself. A sadguru does not have an established business, or an LLC, and does not render professionally licensed services to clientele. A sadguru does not greedily hanker to become a bestselling author and charge exorbitant fees to conduct third-rate talks. Rather, the true guru is motivated only by the sincere and selfless aspiration to teach Truth to all sincere beings out of infinite compassion toward the suffering of others, and indirect service to his own guru. Greed does not exist within the inner framework of a true guru, only love and compassion do. 

If your “spiritual teacher” is overly motivated by money, or if he charges unreasonable fees for his guidance, then that individual is a fraud, and should be rejected by any sincere student. 

Healing in the Aftermath

The amount of pain, trauma and destruction that a fraudulent spiritual teacher commits against innocent students is immeasurable. While some victims of such spiritual frauds do manage to walk away from the situation with their dignity and sense of self-worth still intact, quite a large number of other former students may take untold years to fully recover from the horrid experience of betrayal. 

In the wake of encountering a spiritual fraud, it is important to first take the time necessary for self-healing. Often there will be, at first, many unwarranted feelings of guilt and foolishness at having been so taken in by such a con artist. While it is understandable that you will initially blame yourself for not having seen what so many of your loved ones and friends saw so effortlessly, the blame does not fall upon you. The full blame belongs exclusively to the spiritual con artist who used every psychological device in his toolbox of manipulation against you in your sincere search for a higher truth. 

Realize that a professional cheater has cruelly victimized you, but that your real identity must not be that of a victim. The very fact that you were able to eventually break away from the spiritual con artist’s grip means that you were ultimately a strong and courageous person. Use that strength and courage to now begin the process of healing…and of moving on in a positive and now truly authentic spiritual direction.

As you are healing, a natural reaction to your experience of having been lied to at the hands of a false “spiritual teacher” is that you may now begin to question whether there are any true gurus out there at all. There are. You may even begin to question whether the spiritual path itself has any real validity. It does. 

Using your now newly honed power of perceptual discernment, you will eventually come to the very healthy realization that the existence of many disappointing fakes does not negate the fact that there are also very real and legitimate teachers out there. They are simply very difficult to find. If they are indeed real spiritual teachers, after all, then they should be difficult to find. Do not let the evil actions of one spiritual fraud dissuade you from the greater spiritual path. For if his actions do dissuade you from seeking true and authentic spirituality, then he has won. Do not let him win! The path to Truth is very real. Please never give up seeking it.

“Many cannot even hear about the soul, and even after hearing about the soul, many cannot understand it. This is because it is hard to find a guru who is a genuine seer of the truth. Such a qualified guru is a great soul and is very rare. At the same time, realization of the truth can only be achieved by those disciples who carefully follow the teachings of the qualified guru, and who become experts in the science of God. Such disciples are also very rare. Thus it is that only a few ever come to know the soul in truth.” (Katha Upanishad, 1.2.7.)

We established the International Sanatana Dharma Society many years ago as a safe shelter for those sincere individuals who wish to practice and experience authentic Vedic spirituality in a joyous community of fellow yogis that is healthy, real, and completely predicted upon an understanding of Vedic and Yoga spirituality that is derived directly from the scriptures of the Vedic and Yoga tradition – not the speculative utterances of any fraud. Please consider the International Sanatana Dharma Society to be a safe harbor for your spiritual life as you continue your healing process now that you are freed from the grips of a fraudulent spiritual teacher. Please know that you are not alone in your sacred journey on the path to the Highest.

Here is the original article: How fake gurus get away with it and thrive: the folk theory of non-dual enlightenment by Jody Radzik, Medium.com, Dec 6, 2017.

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