You wouldn't put your life in the hands of an incompetent surgeon. In the same way, no-one should put their the hands of - i.de. should hand over all their responsibility, will, decision making, common sense judgment , etc - of a guru who was and is any less than fully and totally Realised. Even if the guru is no longer on the physical plane, why worship or follow the being who was not Realized?
Obviously, the problem of fake gurus is not only a recent one, it is as old as spiritual teaching itself. Wherever there is something real and precious, there will be counterfeits. But thanks to teh ease of mass marketting, it has been exacerbated in the modern consumerist world
In this Guru Test I give a few simple signs and indicators that you can use to make sure that a guru or spiritual master is not a fake. These are things thst are easy and obvious and can be empirically confirmed; they don't require gnosis or metaphysical insight or transcendental intuition. So no matter what your spiritual attainment or degree of seeking, you will be able to tell for absolute certain that your guru, or any guru or spiritual teacher you are investigating, isn't a dodgy character. See it as like a police check on an employee who will be hired to work in a very sensitive area (which for that matter is really what the guru does!); you are making sure that the guru or spiritual tecaher doesn't have a "criminal record"; that is, is not claiming (however sincerely) to be an authentic Enlightened or Realised Being when he or she is not.
Remember, if even one of these is the case, just one, your guru or spiritual teacher is not authentically Enlightened, not a realised being. So, here goes. Let's see how your guru or spiritrual master fares.
o Claims to be Enlightened, an Avatar, God, Jesus Christ, a Perfect Master, a World Teacher, etc etc . This is the acid test. Any guru who uses the first person pronoun to make any sort of big claim about their spiritual status is not (I repeat not) a Realised being! E (non-gender pronoun) may have great power, wisdom, insight, and so on, perhaps gained through the Intermediate zone; he or she may give Shaktipat, pearls of wisdom, and all the rest. But e is not a perfected being.
Note that disciples and devotees can and often do say the guru is god or an avatar. There is nothing wrong with this. Indeed, every authentic realised being is the transparent embodiment of the Supreme. That's what being a Realised being means. And if there is a spiritual partnership, each partner may acknowledge the Superme in the other, and recognise the other as an avatar, as in the case of Sri Aurobinbdo and the Mother. But the Guru emself (non-gender pronoun) never ever says: I am God/avatar/Truth/whatever. This is because realised beings find it very difficult to use the word "I". Because, having undergone egodeath, there is no "I", there is only God. Many don't even use the first person pronoun at all. Nityananda of Ganeshpuri referred to himself as "this place". Yogi Ramsuratkumar called himself a filthy begger and a sinner (can you imagine Sathya Sai Baba or Da Free John ever referring to themselves in that way!!!?). Sri Aurobindo tended to refer to himself in third person. And so on.
o Advertises, approaches others, seeks disciples. Once again, no authentic Realiser ever ever seeks students, devotees, and disciples. This is because every Realiser knows what a terrible burden having followers is, because they have to take on the karma, their pettiness, their resentment and resistance and demands and needs and responsibilities of every single devotee. Who would want to bear such a terrible burden? Many Realisers die of cancer (Ramakrishna, Sri Aurobindo, Ramana...), because they take on all the negativity of their deveottees. It is only with the very greatest resistence that a Realiser accepts followers, and only out of eir (non-gender pronoun) boundless compassion, empathy, and selfless love; traits that we as imperfect narcissistic beings can barely imagine! True, devotees and disciples may advitise their Guru, but the true Guru never does, and wants no part of it.
o Disaffected ex-devotees. Whenever you encounter or hear about some new guru or spiritual master, the first thing you should do is check the web and blogs for any ex-devotee reports of abuse. Abusive gurus tend to leave a trail of suffering and unhappiness behind, so learn from the mistakes of others, and be grateful you don't have to fall into the same trap! So if ever you are unsure about a guru, first check websites such as Rick Ross, Sarlo, Guruphiliac, etc, for any evidence of abuse.
In general, there seem to be three types of abuse: financial, sexual, and emotional/psychological.
o Financial: Demands money, or even asks for the smallest donation.. No Realizer ever ever asks for money. Not even one tiny donation. Not even to cover genuine expenses. Asking for money is a sign of grasping, greed, and insecurity. Visitors and devotees may give money of their own accord, and there is nothing wrong with that. But the Realiser only lives in trust of the Divine, and thus never asks for anything. And as for so-called gurus who live in wealth and luxury and opulance, tehy are even more deluded then their unfortunate devotees.
o Sexual: Makes sexual advances, offers "tantric initiation".. Ramakrishna often spoke of "women and gold" as the two obstacles to attaining realization. This especially applies to many fake and ambigous gurus. Don't be fooled either by offers of "tantric initiation", especially if it is only to young female devotees! In fact it seems to be the case that all authentic Realizers are celibate. Which isn't a popular thing to say in the indulgent, "neo-tantric", post-Rajneesh New Age spiritual supermarket! But it just shows how much of what you encounter there is fake. I have nothing against lifestyle Tantra and that sort of thing, but it should never be confused with Realisation.
o Emotional/Psychological: Tries to break down the devotee's ego. This is perhaps the most insidious of all. No Guru, no spiritual instructer, no adept, ever ever ever tries to break down the disciple's ego. There is only one person on this whole Earth who can break down your ego, and that is you. The Guru shows the way, and provides grace, but it is you and you alone who are responsible for your own spiritual development and self-transcendence. Talking about breaking down the devotee's ego is a sure sign of only one thing, and that is self-deluded abusive behaviour on the part of a so-called, and obviously fake (because non-realised) "guru". The ironic thing is that these same so-called gurus who are so keen to break down their students' egos would scream and raise high heaven if anyone ever put them through even a fraction of the treatment they put their loyal devotees through! That is proof of the hypocrasy and spiritual self-deludeness of the guru, and the seriously disfunctional and masochistic attitude of the disciple.
All of which of course is explained and justified in terms of "Crazy Wisdom" and other misused and abused terms.
o Selfishness.. No Realizer ever, under any circumstances whatever, puts emself and eir own needs ahead of the needs of the devotees, no matter how petlant and trivial the devotees needs may be, and how important the Realiser's own needs are. This is because the authentic Realiser is infinitely loving, infinitely self-sacrificing.
o Trickery or deception.. No Realizer ever resorts to trickery, fake miracles, or puts on any sort of show in order to impress. A Realiser doesn't have to impress anyone, because e doesn't have an ego; has nothing to prove, and no need for followers (instead, the followers need em).
o Hypocrasy.. No Realizer ever says one thing and does another. If you know a guru who teaches celibacy and vegetarianism in public, but has sex and eats meat in private, that person is not Enlightened.
o Violence, slander, ill-wishing.. No Realizer ever incites violence against anyone, under any circumstance, neither in thought, word, or deed. Just the opposite.
o Bitterness and anger against devotees, critics or non-believers.. No Realizer ever rails against real or percieved injustices, is bitter or angry because people don't accept them, etc.
I could probably come up with more indicators, but the above is a pretty good start. Note that someone can still be a spiritual teacher in the sense of an imperfect human being who has things to teach you, just as you have things to teach em. But they cannot be a Realised being if any of the above are the case
Even if the guru passes the Guru Test with flying colours, that still doesn't prove that he or she is actually Realised. E may simply be a very humble and modest but non-Realised person. So it is upto you to investigate further, and follow your own inner feelings and spiritual Light and guidance. But at least you will know for sure that the guru is not un-realised (i.e. deluded, mired in samsara).
What do you do if you already have a guru, but your guru flunks this test? Well, the chances are you'll dismiss it all out of hand, and continue to give away your power to this person, who is probbably much more ignorant than you are (because you at least know you are not a Enlightened). You'll do this because it is too emotionbally painful to admit the truth, that this person has misled you, and worse, you have misled yourself, and devoted years of your life to sitting at the feet of a spiritual incompetent, perhaps giving them tens of thousands of dollars. It is a terrible thing to realise this, but even if you can't change the past, you can still assert your power now, by breaking free of this parasite. More power to you if you do!!!
Other Guru tests:
These basically cover the same ground I do.
False Guru Test - by Andrew P, a contributer at Energy Grid com (mirror; mirror). See also his so you want to be a spiritual teacher - incisive satire on the whole guru spiritual teacher bullshit trip. Both pages complenet the present page, and will help in warning of the fakes and pretenders that populate the spiritual supermarket!
SPIRITUAL GUIDES: Pass or Fail?, by the Wanderling. Includes many useful quotes and some further links.
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