Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Real Guru

The guru you are looking for is inside of you.
This is the central teaching of Sri Kumaré. He is the subject of a recent documentary that I watched a few weeks ago. He is also a complete fraud, sort of.

Kumaré's real name is Vikram Gandhi, a filmmaker who grew up in New Jersey in a devout Hindu family, but who had long struggled with faith. Skeptical of the sincerity of the gurus stoking America's infatuation with Indian spirituality, especially yoga, Gandhi set off with a camera to find out "if these spiritual leaders were for real or just full of it." He found only the latter, which inspired a new direction for his project. Gandhi himself would become a guru, the ultimate proof that "spiritual leaders are just illusions."

And so Kumaré is born, along with a collection of non-sensical sayings, symbols, yoga poses, and meditations. Devoted disciples soon follow. On the surface, it seems like an exercise in humiliation and mockery. As the experiment progresses, however, it becomes clear that Gandhi-Kumaré has actual truth to teach.
The guru you are looking for is inside of you.
"Do not listen to the preachers and prophets because they tell you that you should. Do not follow a teacher because you are afraid to be on your own. If you believe the message to be true in your heart, then listen to the messenger. If not, reject him, whomever or whatever he may be. Trust yourself. Trust your heart. She will not fail you. Believe in your own goodness, in your own loveliness. For that is what you are. Love and goodness brought to life. Turn your eyes inward, and you will see it is true."

God dwells within each of us. Some may be more aware of this reality than others, but that is not a sign of superior knowledge, just the randomness of grace. And while we can and should learn from such people, there is only one true teacher. Whatever the title, whether ordained or self-appointed, everyone else is a mere messenger.

God dwells within each of us. We already possess all the wisdom we will ever need. The messenger is simply there to remind us of that wisdom and to urge us to use it. Lust or pride may drive some to seek more power. Laziness or insecurity may prompt us to give it to them. But none of that changes the basic truth.

God dwells within each of us. Or "the guru you are looking for is inside of you."

And here is where we get to laugh at the divine joke. God chose the skeptic, the fraud, the phony guru to be their truest messenger, to remind us that we are all kumaré.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Monthly Reading Links

"Fifteen years ago, Ruett and Rhonda Foster were grieving parents in a courtroom. Their 7-year-old son Evan had been shot and killed by a gang member … Three young men were convicted and sent to prison. And the Fosters began performing their own sort of penance, making regular visits to local youth prisons, reaching out to troubled young men … They are still making those visits."
Sandy Banks, Los Angeles Times

"For his high school prom in 1942, Robert Clement bought a white orchid corsage in a fancy plastic box. He gave it to a female staff member who organized the dance. Others would think it was a kind gesture, that he was just a considerate young man. In truth, Clement didn't have anyone else to give it to. He liked boys. And he couldn't take a boy to the prom. Especially not seven decades ago in a small town."
Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times

"It is time to drop the labels. They are lazy, inaccurate and often unjust. They push people away rather than draw them into conversation. They allow us to live in a fantasy world where we don't have to be confronted with the real positions of real people who may force us to look at a situation which is more complex that we would like it to be. Dealing with that complexity is difficult, messy and even risky – but it is a requirement of intellectual honesty and solidarity."
Charles Camosy, Catholic Moral Theology

"The first 'Thanksgiving' was not celebrated by the Pilgrims … It was celebrated by Spanish missionary priests a half-century earlier … The history we have been told – the history of the winners – is not untrue. But it is biased and incomplete … Without the rest of the American story, we are left with a distorted idea of American identity and national culture. And at certain moments in American history, this incomplete sense of American identity has led to grave injustices."
Jose Gomez, New York Post

"One special thing about me is that I have Down syndrome … Some people think that because I have Down syndrome I can't do what other people can do. But that is not true. Everyone can share their talents … God loves me because God made me. He made me just the way I am, and he loves me just the way I am."
Joey Kane, America Magazine

"Sometimes a police officer would find me in a state of what is termed 'camping' by the city's anti-camping ordinance … Sometimes the officers were polite, sometimes they were rude, but always they added, 'It's against the law.' As if I didn't know. As if I could do something about it. The hardships and insecurity of homelessness couldn't dampen my spirit as much as the humiliation that my city hated me. They must have hated me, since I was denied shelter and yet forbidden to live without shelter."
Paula Lomazzi, U.S. Catholic

"I end up dismissing the love shown to me because I'm too busy waiting for the moment to become a perfect, heart-shaped peg, and to slot itself in, just so. So I end up holding out, expecting love to come later in some deep, soul-bearing conversation. This can't be what extraordinary looks like, I think. But it can."
Keith Maczkiewicz, The Jesuit Post

Follow me on Twitter, @jwbidwell, for additional reading recommendations.