In the documentary Kumare, Vikram Gandhi dresses himself as a guru, speaks in a fake Indian accent, and builds a following of devotees. His teaching: he is an illusion and that the student has to make changes for themselves. The devotion to “Kumare” remains high until he reveals that he really grew up in America, and is not a guru (he’s a reporter for Vice). Then, half of his devotees walk out in disgust. Those that don’t, however, are the ones that see major changes in their lives — changes that they had apparently been unable to make before.
In the West, the guru is a controversial figure. Although many Americans reference their university professors and first bosses whenever possible, most utterly reject the notion of a guru. Conversely, some — especially in the fields of Yoga, Tantra, Sufism, and Eastern religion — actively search for a guru to almost blindly follow. Continue reading “The Guru On The Journey Of Self-Initiation”
Richard Smoley is a consulting editor to Parabola magazine and the author of several books on esotericism, religion, and spirituality, including Supernatural: Writings on an Unknown History, How God Became God: What Scholars Are Really Saying about God and the Bible, and Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition.
During the 1980s, Smoley was a writer for the respected esoteric journal Gnosis, and in 1990 he became the journal’s editor. Under his editorship, Gnosis released issues on Gnosticism, Freemasonry, G.I. Gurdjieff, the spirituality of Russia, and more.
We spoke to him about the spiritual crisis of the West, alternative spirituality, and inner Christianity. Continue reading “Interview: Inner Christianity and Esotericism With Richard Smoley”
I find myself caught between the tension of rejecting top-down societal constraints imposed by an old, privileged classes bent on control and the desire to preserve ancient principles grown up out of cultural traditions that have a long track record for developing notable individual achievement.
Hierarchy and regimentation is not something I’m a big fan of in most cases. In fact, playing by the rules and being obedient are concepts I have spent my entire life rebelling against. The thought of bowing down to an authority figure gives me the creeps. Nowhere do I feel more strongly about this dynamic of human interaction more so then in the realm of politics. The very notion of an individual or small group of powerful elites enacting a monolithic standard of ethics and moral law is the epitome of unnatural subversion against free people. It truly makes my stomach churn. These abusive and liberty corroding control systems play out in any number of other social arenas such as can be found in education, law enforcement, workplaces and within the family unit. Continue reading “Self-Actualization Through Hierarchy: Risks and Rewards”