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Alternative Culture Articles

July, 2008

Guru Trouble
By Royce Carlson

I was recently researching what happened to a guy whose books I read back in the 70ís. Sort of a ďwhere is he now?Ē kind of thing. Back then he went by Bubba Free John. He was a spiritual teacher that had many quite brilliant insights, in my opinion. Still, there was something not right. I couldnít put my finger on it. As I said, the teachings were brilliant and useful. I never met him or joined an ashram or anything like that, probably because of that slight uneasiness, and because I wasnít much of an ashram joiner anyway.

He is still alive and living on an ashram that covers an entire island in Fiji. He now goes by the name, Adi Da, and his ďreligionĒ is called Adidam. He claims to be the world teacher and make quite a few audacious claims about who he is. He has written many books and changed his name many times. He still has followers and still speaks and teaches. He is still problematic and paradoxical. Over the years he has run into certain problems that often result from guru-disciple relationships. Problems involving sex and money. He may not have even done anything he was accused of. I have seen this situation before with other well-known spiritual teachers.

This got me to thinking about the whole spiritual seeker/guru thing. There always seem to be gurus and teachers cropping up. They have some wisdom and they attract followers. Many of them start organizations, gain in popularity, attract more followers and then end up having sex with their followers and getting in trouble. Not that there is anything wrong with sex, per se. As long as itís a freely chosen activity between consenting adults, I have no problem with it. Mainstream western culture does have a problem with it, though.

If a person is enlightened, and spiritual teaching is what they are all about, why donít they know that having sex with followers could cause problems out in the wider world? The media loves that kind of stuff. So do lawyers. Why donít they know that love and desire can change quickly to hate and revenge especially when sex is involved? Things being what they are why go down that road except for personal indulgence?

Spiritual teachers are still people and, as people, the have the same desires and needs as all the rest of us do. They all have baggage. They all have personalities. They started seeking spiritual relief because of all that. Thatís why I began my spiritual search over 40 years ago when I was 13 years old.  If you study, meditate, and just pay attention to what happens in your life, you are going to learn something. Itís inevitable. Just because you have clawed your way into some wisdom thatís worth sharing with others, doesnít mean you have it all worked out and are beyond the human condition. You can still get into trouble.

If you are on a spiritual search, learn all you can. Practice the practices, read the books, sing the songs, and try to walk the walks. Just donít ever give up your autonomy. Not to anyone. It is naÔve and naivete invites betrayal. The teacher you follow may end up an instrument of that betrayal.

If it happens anyway, in spite of your best efforts, you can use the betrayal itself as a teacher. Where you feel betrayed is where you gave up your self. When you learn lessons like this (the hard way), you learn them really well.

You donít get enlightened by following someone elseís path. It is just not going to work. We can all learn from wise teachings. I am not disputing that. The problems come when we give up our autonomy to another person. The connection to the Divine is within. The source of enlightenment is not outside of oneself. I know this from experience.

Everyone is a mixed bag, even the ďenlightened.Ē Donít throw away the good things they have to offer and donít swallow the bullshit either. Think for yourself, and trust your intuition. Thatís my advice, for whatever itís worth.

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Royce Carlson