Date Posted:14:04 Author: Mike - 27 May 2001 Subject: How some people view Gurus - lifted from a post on another yoga board
From the "Guru Papers-Masks of Authoritarian Power" by Kramer and Alstad.
Being a "knower" as opposed to a seeker, is part of being a guru. This implies an essential division between the guru and the others. Being different (or rather being percieved as different) is the foundation of the guru's dominance. Relations of dominance and submission often contain extreme emotions. But if dominance and submission are the essential ingredients in the glue holding the bond together, the connection is not really personal. Gurus and disciples need each other, but as roles, not as individuals, which makes real human connection almost impossible. So gurus must create other ways of turning themselves on besides intimacy, the most usual ones being adulation, material wealth, impersonal sexuality and power.
Nor can gurus have any real connection with other supposed "super-human" (other gurus) because of inherent competition among them. Even intimacy with peers is denied them.
Narcissism and Adulation
It is very difficult not to enjoy special treatment and thus subtly reinforce whatever images others have of one's specialness. Gurus can justify this by saying they are using adulation as a tool to help people learn, grow, and free themselves. Unfortunately, the usual structure in which worship occurs involves putting on a pedestal one who appears to be essentially different from and superior to oneself. Worship creates an "Other" and to sustain such worship, the guru must continually reinforce images of his difference and superiority.
Given that adulation is built into the guru/disciple relationship, another trap for Gurus is narcissism. Narcissists are often very charismatic, as their power is derived from attracting. With their antennae always alert, intelligent ones are very skilled at captivating others. This of cource can happen to all of us. It only becomes pathological when it is the sole or primary way one "gets off'. This means one only really feels alive when one is the center of another's attention.
Extreme narcissists need to be adored but cannot adore, they do not really experience deep passion. Narcissism creates a piggyback form of passion, as it feeds off other's passion for oneself. Consequently, no matter how much adulation narcissists recieve, it is never enough; they always need more.
Being the focus of such attention would activate the excitation levels of any sentient being on the recieving end of it. Whether a guru or a rock star, this can be a more powerful experience than the strongest drug. It is also one of the great seductions of power. Successful gurus, rock stars, charasmatic leaders of any sort, experience the intensity of adulation amplified beyond most people's ken.
This can make ordinary relationships pale by comparison. Being the recipient of such adulation and devotion is exceedingly addictive. Here addiction is used in it's loose sense to mean mechanically needing an ongoing 'fix' of adulation to where it becomes the central focus in one's life. Adulation has powerful emotions for the sender as well, and can be easily mistaken for love. It is likewise addicting for the sender as it is an easy route to feeling of passion. Since adulation is totally a function of image, should the image crack, adulation disappears, demonstrating that is is essentially empty of real care.
For a guru, adulation and power are intricately connected since the disciple's surrender is the ultimate source of his power, and adulation is the prerequisite for surrender. A guru is made to feel that he is the center of the universe by his disciples. It is difficult to not be 'in love' with that image of oneself.
Deceit and Corruption
Another irony is that although gurus preach detachment and seekers look to them to lean how to be unattached, gurus become totally attached to the power and privileges of their elevated position. But since their power requires appearing the most non-attached and selfless, this automatically makes gurus either unconscioulsy or consciously deceitful.
There is nothing in the role to guard against the corruptions of power because the very notion of corruption is taboo. By denying that self-interest is or can be operative in a guru, there is no way to mitigate against its effects. Using lofty ideals to mask self-interest is common, but when this is melded to images of purity, corruption is guaranteed.
Authoritarian ways of relating undermine vigilance so that both sides have unconscious vested interest in the unquestioned power of the leader. In spiritual realm, the power is so absolute that it can lead to extreme excesses. They can alway ratrionalize anything they do, no matter how mistaken or sleazy and find at least a few people willing to support and idolize them.
So the guru role makes it extremely difficult to escape the traps of power-the ultimate trap being that in the end, gurus lose their humanity.