I met a guru the other day…one of the many fakirs, saddhus and gurus of the modern world. But what are we to make of the guru/messiah trip as we move into the Great Age of Aquarius? This age is said to be the Age of Enlightenment…well, most of us seem to be seeking something, and some of us by jove are finding that missing x-factor, but are we finding it anymore by sitting at the feet of the messiahs and gurus?
The Age of Aquarius is also known as the age of the common man, where we all find the divinity and the power within ourselves….that means not giving our lives and money and common sense away to the ‘great’ Wizard of Oz. Remember the Wizard was a fake, or at least jumped himself up to be a lot bigger and better than he was. Perhaps we need to remember to peek behind the curtain, to keep a check on our gurus, and not listen blindly to their preachings of power and greatness.
I recently attended some sessions locally by an up and coming star on the international guru circuit. Apart from not understanding a word he was saying, I found the silent reverence for this man by the audience very unnerving…we waited in awestruck hush for the guru who turned up an hour late. He gave no explanation, apology or even a greeting to the audience, just took his place on the stage before us, lapsing into an enigmatic 25 minute silence. A friend of his reminded me that gurus ‘normally behave very strangely; it’s part of how they teach’. But I was not so sure.
What is really going on in the Emerald City?
How much strange behaviour are we prepared to ignore in our spiritual teachers before we start to question what is really going on? The story of gurus that have proved to have very human failing is a common one. The ‘Beatles’ pop band, for example, abandoned their Indian guru in the sixties because of the guru’s sexual indiscretions. The concept of the immorality does not bother me, so much as the hypocrisy and denial. Often these teachers justify their sexual indiscretions with spiritual rhetoric. But it just seems like the tired old language of denial to me. What is scarey is that so often their followers fail to even question these matters, dismissing the guru’s personal life or actions as unimportant. Followers of spiritual leaders often give up their money, their families and their lives in devotion to such people. Wouldn’t it be sensible to really take a deeper look at a person before offering ourselves up? It seems that the real danger occurs when people cross a crucial barrier of attributing to such people a status beyond human. A clear example of such danger happened recently when a spiritual teacher held a week’s workshop in America, for which he charged $10,000 per head. The week was designed to bring out the warrior in people. He ran an extreme sweat lodge, encouraging people to push beyond their boundaries, declaring that they ‘would not die’. What ensued was horrific. Over twenty people were hospitalized and 2 people died.
When people turn to spiritual teachers, quite often they are vulnerable in some way, so are susceptible to the guru’s ‘authority’. The Native Americans Indians are taught to sit back and watch a person over a long period of time, taking time to listen to what they say, to observe their actions, and see how their actions match their words, in order to determine the person’s integrity. It seems people can be in such a hurry to hand over their power to the Wizard in the Emerald City!
Divine and Human
But why is such hypocrisy so prevalent, why can’t such teachers of truth just say ‘hey, I was attracted to these women, or discuss their own struggles or weakness? I believe some of these gurus may be in denial of their own humanity, in some cases after having connected with some deep levels of their own divinity. Perhaps the Age of Aquarius is a time of uniting the dualities of divinity and humanity, mattter and spirit, masculine and feminine, light and darkness. And it seems to me that if the gurus aren’t honouring both sides then it stand out a mile. There are gurus and messiahs springing up all over the world at the moment. We don’t seem to have learned the lessons of the Christ and the Piscean age; we still seem to need to put someone up on a throne and worship them. I believe that the second coming if anything is the birth of the Christ/Divine child within each of us. Perhaps what is asked of us is to acknowledge the divinity and humanity existing side by side in each one of us, then the psychological necessity to set up human beings as ‘saviours’ or as ‘unchallenged spiritual authority’ will cease.
Transformation and Transcendence
I once listened to a guru preach that it is useless to hope that the mind, body, or emotions can ever help us on our quest for truth, that the world is an illusion. Perhaps this is true in one sense, but in another, our world, mind, body and feelings are all we have – very real indeed. This brings to my mind the concept of transcendence…an old idea which makes my body shudder. This idea has dominated Eastern religion, and in a sense has also been the root of the ‘hairshirt’ ascetic religions of the West for 2000 years. ‘Well the times they are a changin’. Listening to female spiritual teachers like Shakti Gawain, I feel safe in my body, planted securely in the reality of my self and my life, not thinking of myself as an illusory thing which must be simply transcended. The feminine approach to spirituality speaks of transformation not transcendence. It marries matter and spirit together and does not deny the earthly life: bringing spirit (the masculine) deeper into matter (the feminine), transforming our bodies, our minds, and our emotions, and hence our world, so that heave can be brought to earth.
Masculine and Feminine, Spirit and Matter
The denial of this world of matter is part of the split between masculine and feminine. Matter is derived from ‘mater’ – meaning mother. The very male dominated religions of the past 2000 years have seen the Church Fathers denying the Goddess; the joys and power of the body, and the earth herself. And we are all realizing where such denial is getting us, a damaged planet full of people with damaged emotions. I think in such times, our spiritual teachers and gurus should honour and live all aspects of reality – the feminine aspect of everything cannot be denied anymore, and I think that means showing their human side, being honest about their earthly appetites, and not misleading themselves and others about their own perfection.
The Yellow Brick Road
I am not saying that these teachers do not have some kind of deep connection to the divinity within, and maybe they do have something important to teach, but they are also human beings, often with very human failings. Do we really need to pale before the jumped up authority of the wizard, sitting at the feet of these gurus, giving up our lives, our money and even our families. In times of uncertainty such as now, many cultish groups are forming, and I think we just need to remember to keep checking behind the curtain before we hand over our power.
A book called ‘The Secrets of the Yellow Brick Road’ by Jesse Stewart depicts the Wizard of Oz story as a map of the modern spiritual journey. The main lesson it taught me was that along the yellow brick road to our true power and freedom we may be ensnared by our own light as much as our own darkness. The witch represents our own unintegrated light.
The witch and the wizard are two aspects of our inner worlds. But we can meet them on the outside too. Along the way we need to do battle with the witch and wizard, and integrate their power back to the Self, just as Dorothy took the witch’s shoes, the symbol of power.
Within ourselves, too much light can can mean we may not be able to hold down a job, or function in this world. We may be too ‘airy fairy’, or too consumed by our own ‘greatness’ or someone else’s greatness. Likewise, too much darkness can mean being at the mercy of the more manipulative, fearful, addictive, destructive side of our psyches – the witch. It is interesting to note that the dark side, the witch, is the part of us that holds the power, symbolized by the witches magic shoes. It is by facing our fears, and overcoming the witch, that we grow and gain power.
In the past I found myself caught up with a Native American Indian shaman who people revered as a great man, but he used manipulation and fear tactics, and collected an ever-increasing number of young wives. I was seeking my ‘destiny’ at the time, and I was therefore vulnerable to the power of the wizard in the outer world. But I escaped the Emerald City, and am less easily awestruck by others power and light these days and more connected to my own self and the power of my instincts.
If you swing too far towards the light or darkness the other one can get you, until you learn to come back to your centre, the Self – Dorothy. We weave between the two, it is our journey, but perhaps the art is to stay in balance. For example, after following a severe raw foods diet, and being ‘very spiritual’ for a while, I found myself diving down into my darkness of addiction. A friend found himself in prison following an excessive spell in his light heights.
The yellow brick road is a path of steady self-development, not one where where we wind up living in the Emerald City worshiping the not-so-great Wizard of Oz. In walking our path in a balanced way, honouring all the dualistic aspects of our being, we just might find we can (l)earn our true power to live our dreams and find our way home.