In this time of New-Age philosophy and the true globalization of religion via the Internet, I’d like to share a little about my own search for truth, justice, and the spiritual way. Oh, and guru douchebags.
I’ll try to give you the short version. (You know how unsuccessful I am at this, but I’ll try.)
Age 13: One of my grandmothers is diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. My mom is also diagnosed with breast cancer. Raised in the Catholic tradition, I naturally send my prayers to Jesus/God, questioning why this was happening, begging for both of their lives to be spared. (One out of two ain’t bad.)
My grandmother dies after over a year battling her disease. This is the point where I lose my faith. The universe seems unjust, and I can’t accept life’s unfairness. This is how my mind and faith as a 13-year-old works.
Age 21: At a party held by my then-boyfriend and his brother, I meet a man — we’ll call him H — with fiery, penetrating eyes who begins a conversation with me — again, at a party, while people are doing party things — about our futures.
“What if all you ever wanted to do was be one thing, but someone told you your role here on Earth was to do something else?” he asks. “Would you do it?”
“I don’t know,” I say. “I’m not sure I believe in the premise to begin with. Can’t say I’d do what someone else told me to blindly like that. Plus, I have too many questions about what I’m supposed to be doing with my own life.”
After another hour of conversation, H suggests I speak to someone he thinks can give me some insights about life. Curious enough, I agree.
I meet E the very next day. E knows things about me — things no one could’ve told him, because my only connection to him was through H, who’d I’d just met the night before. I wouldn’t call it psychic, exactly, because psychics are wrong sometimes, and E was 100 percent accurate — past, present, and future. So perhaps he was psychic-plus.
Anyway, for the sake of argument — and because I know there will undoubtedly be skeptics out there, and rightfully so — let’s just say he did somehow have access to facts about my life somehow: things about my family, friends and even lovers. No unexplained mysteries behind a dossier of information, right?
As I’m sitting there in front of E that day, my stomach — problematic nearly all my life — is experiencing its familiar waves of nausea and upset. It has no outward symptoms, though, so I’ve mostly suffered in silence, drinking Mylanta for breakfast most mornings of my undergrad life so I can get on with it already.
E and I couldn’t have been sitting there more than 15 minutes when he interrupts his story by saying, “Breathe so your stomach stops churning.” Throughout the rest of the conversation, as he tells me things and answers some questions, he also continues interrupting himself, providing play-by-play commentary on my stomach’s game: “There, your stomach’s upset again.” “OK, now your stomach’s settling down.” And it’s not like he controlled my stomach by saying what he did, either. His comments always occurred after the physical happening.
Naturally, I ask him how he knows. He explains being able to see energy fields and whatnot. He even teaches me how to control it so I can save a little money on my Mylanta investment. I’m not sure if further details here are necessary. Suffice it to say, I am now wholly convinced that there is something more to this world than what I’ve been seeing, something more than most people see.
I won’t claim to know what it is. All I can say was that this, for me, marked the beginning of my true faith. I spent only one day with E out of my whole life, but he changed it irrevocably for the better, and for that, I’ll always be grateful.
Age 31: Finally starting to recover from the worst two years of my entire life, I embark upon a quest to find a set of spiritual practices that resonate with my beliefs, given the experiences my life has presented me and the way those have shaped me and my path. I begin reading a couple different religious texts and subsequently become a vegetarian for the second time in my life — repeating another bad mistake from my early 20s — and get violently ill. It takes me over a year to recover, but this lesson was finally learned.
Amongst others. As I begin digging deeper into the various religions out there — and some you don’t have to dig very deep into at all, because the filthy hypocrisy is all over the news — I begin to realize that none of these religions/philosophies/whatever you want to call them are without their scandals and indiscretions, I think because they all have the human element. And even though I believe the divine is perfect and we are divine beings having human experiences, humans are imperfect — bottom line. I think this is why I gravitate toward the teachings of Cheri Huber and Don Miguel Ruiz, who don’t believe in following gurus. Teachers, maybe; gurus, not so much.
And note I said “teachings” up there. The truth for me — at least at this point in my journey — is that the message can be good, but I don’t trust any person or any religion to be the flawless, perfect iteration or incarnation of God that my spirit truly seeks.
But man, there sure are a lot of people out there today who claim to be! And if they don’t claim to be gurus, they claim to have fully “awakened.” Now, “in a perpetual state of awakening while on the planet” I can believe; that just means you’re learning from your life. Go you. But fully awakened? Doubtful. And in spite of the accessibility of information on the Internet, the truth is you never know which of these allegedly “awakened” persons you might choose to “guide” you as a “master” might have, say, continued to compulsively lie, disowned family members, had a consensual incestuous relationship, and engaged in other behaviors no person living an enlightened life of love would. Hypothetically speaking, of course.
There’s a metric spit-ton of guru douchebags who have actually fooled themselves into believing they’re awakened — and worse, tricked people around them desperately seeking to make sense of their world… or gain more control over it. Having had experiences with a few people who were, perhaps, a bit more awake than others, all I can say is be careful whom you turn to and what you’re asking for.
In my opinion, your life will give you multiple opportunities (which usually indicates you’re making the same mistake, by the by) to learn everything you want or need to know… or more importantly, have the capacity to understand in this lifetime, if you believe thusly. It makes sense if you really think about it: You wouldn’t dream of teaching a two-year-old rocket science, would you? No, you’d probably start with reading first. And this isn’t a judgment of whatever place any of us are at in our own personal spiritual growth; that just is what it is — common sense.
Point being, you never need to turn your personal power over to another person — which happens in many ways, shapes, and forms — to become “enlightened.” (True gurus, in my opinion, would by definition have no use for that anyway, would they?) In fact, you’ll likely achieve the exact opposite if you do. Just ask Buddha.
Look, there are going to be a ton of people who cross your path who will tell you how to live your life. So why not listen to one more? (That’d be me.)
Seriously, though, be careful whom you place your faith, trust, and personal power in the hands of. A lot of people claim to know things you don’t, and they may. A lot of people claim to be able to heal others, and they may. I’ve known a lot of gifted people in my life; I’ve also known a lot of narcissistic, sadist douchebags. With rare exceptions like E, they’re usually one and the same.
At the end of the day, if you are meant to have knowledge, you will. If you are meant to heal, you will. Even if you are meant to have religion, you will. Whatever your spirit really wants and needs will be within your power, keeping in mind that power can corrupt. People never think that maybe they’re being protected from themselves by having the full extent of their capabilities harnessed, but I firmly believe that’s true. Example: You have no idea how many people might’ve been set on fire with my eyes Carrie-style had my magical psychokinesis abilities not been harnessed by the powers that truly be.
Focus on your heart. Focus on your soul. Focus on your happiness. Close the door on all forms of douchebag — guru and otherwise — and open the door to your self and loving that being; that’s when the real magic happens.