Why You Do Not Need a Guru
I actually have to admit something. I went to see Amma. Twice.
For those of you who don’t know Amma, she’s the hugging saint who hails from South India. She can sit in the same spot for hours and hours without food, water or a bathroom break, hugging crying people and kissing babies.
It’s pure madness waiting in line. You can sit in the canteen area and snack on a late night meal of vegetarian curries, naan and chai while you watch from a television screen the stream of people falling into her bosom.
Many people claim that she’s a miracle worker. That she’s pure goodness.
But really she isn’t.
The first time I went to her, I thought I was having a magical experience. But if you look closer at her whole operation, there’s a lot of commercialization going on. She has a whole store devoted to her personal books and products for you just as you wait for your miracle hug.
All of them come with a price. She says that she is donating the money to good causes, but as a religious organization, you don’t necessarily have to report where all the money is really going. In fact, a former devotee named Bronte Baxter writes about this topic in her blog Splinter in the Mind.
Somewhere along the way I’ve realized that I don’t need a guru. I used to look for one all the time, feeling inadequate in every way. It seems so easy to find comfort in “spiritual” people who have all the answers.
But really, honestly, most of them just want your money. I can tell this from my own experience. After years and years of giving my money away to spiritual teachings, I didn’t really gain much more that when I started. In fact, what I gained was always feeling less than.
Yes, that’s right. The guru needs you to feel less than to possess you. And when you surrender, you continue to give away your money.
You always feel like you need to be fixed. You always feel that you are never good enough. What some of these so-called “teachings” do is make sure that you will be dependent for the rest of your life. Because you haven’t apparently found enlightenment yet and it’s your fault that you haven’t reached it.
There will be always something out there to reach for.
I also used to be a self-help book junkie, too. I read myriad ways of communicating better, learning to love myself, learning to let go of all those anxieties. And I can tell you one thing:
Yes, it’s true. I think that a lot of these religious and spiritual practices can be misleading. Because of course you want to feel as though you belong somewhere. That’s one of the most innate human needs and so many organizations out there take advantage of people’s sense of vulnerabilities!
So if you have been searching for the perfect teacher or spiritual enlightenment, here’s some advice to you. Let it go. Just learn to treat yourself and other people with kindness and dignity.
Respect yourself – and your money. You don’t need to search so hard.
Spend quality time with those who love you. Take care of your body. Eat well and exercise. Go for a walk in nature and listen to the birds. They have much more to teach you than any guru. And most of all, stop comparing yourself to others.
I don’t really like to say to people that they should be their own guru. Because that in fact still perpetuates the guru idea. I think that you can just be your own person.
You can be someone who has good relationships with other people. Someone who enjoys where they are in life and learns that life is not always going to be perfect.
You do not need to consult someone above you in order to make decisions about your life.
Anyhow, I know what some of you are thinking. It’s hard and scary to give up your personal guru. But I can tell you that it’s been very freeing to learn to think for myself and ask myself how I’ve wanted to live my life.
That is really how I’ve found writing again. Before, I waited to be told what was good writing. And now I just put it out there and hope for the best.
It’s hard living life without a supposed higher meaning or purpose. But what if your purpose was just to be a good person? We’re all trying to search for something meaningful out there, but really, it’s time to chill out.
The search is just another distraction.
Trust me on this. Not because I’m playing another guru. Because I’m just another vulnerable person like you.
Photo Credit: Didi via Flickr Creative Commons