From the Archives: The Excessive Occasions Information to Gurus (1977)

By Rick Fields

Guru means trainer. A guru teaches you your individual true nature, which all gurus agree can’t be expressed in phrases. Lao Tsu mentioned, “Those that know don’t say.” Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped anybody from making an attempt, together with Lao Tsu.

A guru can act in some ways: as buddy, mirror, information, God or psychic martial arts grasp. There may be additionally all the time the chance {that a} guru is even crazier than thou. A couple of good grasp has turned out to be an ideal con man. Solely you may inform, and when coping with the mercury of your individual thoughts, it ain’t simple.

Gurus, like everyone else, seldom agree with one another. In the event that they did, every part can be easier, however much less attention-grabbing. This information is a line-up of the major-league gurus whose philosophies have grow to be nationwide points. We’ve omitted plenty of one-horse, 12-apostle gurus on the idea that individuals will all the time go to the marketed model.

Selecting a guru is so much like voting for president. It’s an act that requires a leap of religion, to not point out Kierkegaard’s teleological suspension of the moral. What you might be about to learn could shock you. Look inside earlier than you look with out. Beware. And bear in mind.


Bio: Born India, 1931. Entered an ashram at 12, spent the subsequent 20 years meditating, got here to New York in 1964. Director, United Nations Meditation Group. Creator, 302 books. He’s additionally painter, composer and musician—his newest disc being “Music for Meditation” on the Folkways label.

Philosophy: Emphasizes love, devotion, meditation by means of the center and give up to the guru. Meditates with disciples a few times every week. “I enter into every particular person soul and see what the soul needs from me: peace, gentle, bliss. Regardless of the soul needs I supply in utmost silence.”

Way of life: Purity and cleanliness are conditions for Sri Chinmoy’s pupil. Alcohol, cigarettes, medicine and so forth, verboten. “Drug addicts, alcoholics or hippies” needn’t apply. Male disciples put on quick hair. “It’s my internal feeling,” says Sri Chinmoy, “that when males have quick hair they give the impression of being smarter, extra good-looking and extra charming.” Disciples stay in their very own properties, however should attend middle conferences, except they’ve a very good excuse.

Drawbacks: His poetry, for one factor. Sri Chinmoy as soon as wrote 843 poems in 24 hours. The standard of the poetry, pious doggerel, reveals it. Portray and music, ditto. Disconcerting behavior of signaling his entrance into the very best stage of samadhi by rolling his eyes midway up into his cranium.

Quote: “To illumine our life we’d like pure ideas. Every pure thought is extra valuable than all of the diamonds of the world, for God’s breath abides solely in man’s pure ideas.”

Entry: Sri Chinmoy, P.O. Field 32433, Jamaica, N.Y. 11431.


Bio: Born 1931, La Paz, Bolivia. Skilled paralyzing cataleptic assaults at six and a half. Studied martial arts, cabala, Gurdjieff, Buddhism, Confucianism, Zen and acquired excessive with Andes Indians. In 1969 in Arica, Chile, he started instructing John Lilly, Claudio Naranjo and others in “a combination of ashram, monastery and boot camp.”

Philosophy: Arica identifies 9 “hypergnostic” methods that manifest on bodily, psychological and religious ranges. The 40-day coaching clarifies these methods through the use of “psychocalisthenics”—motion, respiration, weight loss plan, “yantras” (mandalic op-art diagrams) mantras and extra. The 2 penultimate steps—mentioned to result in full enlightenment—should be taken inside the protected house of a monastery.

Way of life: Aricans are likely to stay collectively, normally sharing residences or homes. When there are disagreements, or if deeper group concord is sought, they apply “trespaso,” gazing into the left eye of your companion with the intention to contact important being. If it appears that evidently no settlement or unity is feasible, an individual would possibly discover his ego “decreased” (advised the place they’re caught in no unsure phrases) or “circulated,” requested to maneuver on until they will get it collectively. Intercourse, consuming, medicine—LSD excepted—cigarettes, alcohol and illness are permitted more often than not. Aricans are likely to stay, costume and occasion in excessive model.

Drawbacks: You can not acknowledge one other individual’s stage till you might be there your self, and you’ll’t get there your self with out taking the coaching. The 40-day coaching—together with room and board in pretty rural settings—can value as a lot as $1,400.

Quote: “A human being is greater than anybody believes.”

Entry: Arica, 24 West 57th Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10019.


Bio: Born Massachusetts, 1936, as Richard Alpert. Ph.D. in psychology. Harvard. In 1961, fellow psych prof Timothy Leary gave him his first hit of psilocybin. Skilled ego demise, panic and the calm middle behind and past all of it earlier than he and Leary have been fired from Harvard. Lectured across the nation in regards to the wonders of psychedelics. Then found that it doesn’t matter what he took or how usually he took it, he all the time got here down. Went to India and met an previous man wrapped in a blanket, Nirmkaroli Baba, or simply plain Maharaji. Maharaji swallowed a complete handful of LSD with no extra impact than a slight twinkling of his eyes—he was already “there.” He christened Alpert Ram Dass (servant of Rama) and put him on a strict yogic coaching program, then despatched him again to America, the place Ram Dass started lecturing, this time in regards to the religious journey. Be Right here Now, a e-book Ram Dass produced with New Mexico’s Lama Basis, has offered a whole lot of 1000’s of copies. Different books embody The Solely Dance There Is and Grist for the Mill. His brother has referred to as him Baba Rammed Ass.

Philosophy: Ram Dass teaches Ashtanga, or eight-limbed, yoga together with bhakti-devotional tune and dance, hatha yoga, meditation and doing good deeds every day. Dass’s major curiosity, nonetheless, is to not train one type of yoga, however to assist folks perceive the religious path. His lectures have a tendency to emphasise the frequent expertise of that journey, usually utilizing himself as a humorous instance of what to not do. He has been referred to as the slapstick comedian of the karma circuit.

Way of life: Ram Dass doesn’t have a middle or maintain lessons, and he claims to not have college students. Till lately, he personally answered mail from anybody with a religious query. Final 12 months he slipped out of sight—rumor has him again in India, supervising a statue of Hanuman he’s constructing as a memorial to his guru—and all mail is being returned unopened. All people is just about on their very own.

Drawbacks: Whereabouts unknown.

Quote: “Will [life] ever be The Massive Ice Cream Cone within the sky?”

Entry: Hanuman Basis, Franklin, New Hampshire 03235.

Courtesy of Excessive Occasions


Bio: Born India, 1931. Obtained realization at 21, whereas meditating in a tree. Taught philosophy at Indian universities and traveled round India lecturing, debating and customarily inflicting hassle among the many extra orthodox Indian guru followers. Left academia and arrange ashram in Poona, India, in 1966.

Philosophy: Earlier than you may attain the deeper levels of meditation, says Rajneesh, you must break by means of your psychological blocks. For that reason, encounter teams, primal remedy and rolfing are all a part of ashram life. Rajneesh’s distinctive contribution to meditation method is “chaotic” meditation, which begins with ten minutes of fast exhalations, adopted by “catharsis” or freaking-out, adopted by leaping up and down shouting the mantra Huuu! This unblocks the sexual power within the decrease cakras. Then there’s a interval of silent meditation and at last, dancing to sitar music.

Way of life: Rajneesh is extra involved with totality than with perfection. There may be an understanding that as you progress, impure habits like smoking cigarettes and consuming meat dissolve. Intercourse is seen extra as a plus than a minus. Disciples—referred to as neo-sannyasans—put on orange clothes and malas (rosaries) with a photograph of Rajneesh.

Drawbacks: Poona is a great distance off, and you discover that Rajneesh is so delicate now that individuals who arrive to see him for private interviews are checked on the door for offending odors. Even the scent of shampoo is taken into account an excessive amount of.

Quote: “One ought to stay spontaneously, naturally and never attempt to observe any proper or any flawed.”

Entry: Shree Rajneesh Ashram. 17 Koregaen Park, Poona 411 011 India. Additionally: Ananda, 29 East twenty eighth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10016.


Bio: Born London, 1916, son of Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Khan, who based the Sufi Order within the West, an adaptation of Sufi Islam as it’s practiced within the Center East. Named as father’s successor on the age of ten. Raised in England and France. Holds diploma in psychology from Paris College, studied music at L’Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris and comparative faith at Oxford. Non secular education in India and the Center East with Sufi masters and different esoteric lecturers.

Philosophy: “Any one who has a information of life outdoors and inside is a Sufi. Due to this fact, there has not been, in any interval of the world’s historical past, a founder or an exponent of Sufism, however Sufism has been all alongside.” Sufism emphasizes the unity of the magical core inside all religions. Thus, in Khankas—Sufi ashrams—Buddhist meditation could also be practiced on Monday, Hinduism on Tuesday, Zoroastrianism on Wednesday, Sufism Thursday, Islam Friday, Judaism Saturday and Christianity on Sunday. Probably the most generally acknowledged Sufi apply is dancing, together with the quick whirling made well-known by the dervish college. Different Sufi dances are round and sluggish, stressing the opening-up of the center.

Way of life: Sufis are historically “hidden.” There’s a New Age Group, Abode of the Message, in New Lebanon, New York. They run a VW restore store, bakery, college and Aquarian Programs Pc Designs.

Drawbacks: The dancing is nice for opening coronary heart facilities, nevertheless it’s simple to get very dizzy. No dope allowed.

Quote: “If you don’t see God in man, you’ll not see him anyplace.”

Entry: Sufi Order Secretariat, P.O. Field 396, New Lebanon, N.Y. 12125.


Bio: Born Tibet, 1939. Acknowledged in infancy as a tulku, or reincarnation of the Eleventh Trungpa, considered one of a succession of enlightened Buddhist lecturers. Skilled within the Kargvu and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Abbot of a giant group of monasteries till the Purple Chinese language invasion’ of 1959, when he led a big group of followers by foot throughout the Himalayas into India, the place he realized English. Attended Oxford, based Samye-Ling Monastery in a distant a part of Scotland and married an English lady. A few of his conservative college students didn’t approve, and in 1970 he got here to the states, the place he discovered extra fertile floor for his seemingly radical, unorthodox method.

Philosophy: Buddhism begins not with the imaginative and prescient or promise of heaven, bliss and even enlightenment, however with the First Noble Fact, which is the reality of struggling. The basis of struggling is impermanence, which results in the Second Noble Fact, the reality of the origin of struggling. That is discovered by means of the apply of sitting meditation, which results in the Third Noble Fact, the reality of the cessation of struggling. This results in the Fourth Noble Fact, the reality that there’s a path—a path based mostly on going through the expertise of your life, each constructive and unfavorable, straight. Buddhism additionally factors to the transciency of all we consider because the self.

Way of life: Intensive apply is combined in with a sophisticated life-style which may shock some extra conventional meditators. Fits and ties are de rigueur for formal ceremonial events: Tibetan or Indian costume is discouraged. Trungpa’s main contribution to the American religious scene has been his introduction of the concept of “religious materialism,” by which the ego makes use of spirituality for its personal gratification.

Drawbacks: Elusive, besides when educating at seminars and retreats. Sitting meditation is designed to carry you down, and to not get you excessive.

Quote: “Meditation just isn’t a matter of making an attempt to realize ecstasy, religious bliss or tranquility, neither is it making an attempt to grow to be a greater individual. It’s merely the creation of an area by which we’re in a position to expose and undo our neurotic video games, our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes.”

Entry: Vajradhatu, 1345 Spruce Avenue, Boulder, Colorado 80302.


Bio: Born Jack Rosenberg, Pennsylvania, 1935. Left his spouse to construct an encyclopedia-sales empire in California the place he all of the sudden “acquired it,” whereas sitting in his automobile—a pure setting for enlightenment in California. By means of phrase of mouth and media protection, est (Erhard Seminar Coaching) unfold quickly.

Philosophy: Individuals are caught of their conditioning like rats in a maze of their very own making, for which they habitually blame everybody else. As soon as folks “get” that, they will create their very own expertise and management their very own lives.

Way of life: For individuals who make est their path there are ongoing workshops in relationships, communications, and many others. You additionally volunteer to work in est workplaces, help at occasions and begin the method towards turning into a employees member or a coach. This type of work calls for nice effectivity and a spotlight to element, plus a casually costly, razor-cut, sweater-and-slacks look. It’s OK to smoke or drink, although there’s normally not time for something greater than “getting the job finished.”

Drawbacks: Coaching prices $300 for which the trainers insult you thru a three-day religious blitzkrieg. Graduates of est can share a fairly glazed good-German, just-following-orders air.

Quote: “You and I possess inside ourselves, at each second of our lives, beneath all circumstances, the ability to remodel the standard of our lives.”

Entry: est, 765 California Avenue, San Francisco, California 94108.

Courtesy of Excessive Occasions


Bio: Born India, 1914. Labored in agriculture, mechanics, electronics, cinematography and enterprise. Met Guru Sri Swami Sivananda within the Himalayas and acquired the sannyasi (monk’s) vows in 1949. Got here to New York in 1966 for a two-day go to and stayed for 5 months, founding the primary of his Integral Yoga Institutes.

Philosophy: Integral Yoga’s aim “is a physique of good well being and energy, thoughts with all readability and management, mind as sharp as a razor, will of metal, coronary heart filled with mercy, a life devoted to the frequent welfare and realization of the True Self.” The primary emphasis is on hatha yoga asanas (postures), however the Integral Yoga path additionally goes on to incorporate pranayama (respiration workouts), selfless motion, chanting of holy names, mantra repetition, prayer, meditation, examine and reflection.

Way of life: The hatha yoga lessons are open to anybody for a modest payment, and they’re probably the greatest bargains within the religious market. Superior college students grow to be disciples, taking sannyasi vows of celibacy, vegetarianism.

Drawbacks: Swamiji has met twice with the pope, opened the Woodstock Competition, and together with a Zen monk, a Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi, heads the Heart for Non secular Research. By together with everybody and every part, he has developed a method so broad and inoffensive that nothing very significant will get mentioned. Advantageous for hatha yoga, however his solutions to extra sophisticated issues can get somewhat platitudinous (an English phrase which means boring).

Quote: “We train undoism, not Hinduism.”

Entry: Integral Yoga Institute, 227 West thirteenth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10011, telephone (212) 929-0585.


Bio: Born South India, 1908. On the age of 15 Muktananda met the famend Guru Swami Nityananda. In 1961 Nityananda left his physique and handed alongside the ability of the Siddha lineage to Muktananda.

Philosophy: Muktananda transmits kundalini power, which awakens a corresponding power mendacity dormant within the disciple. As soon as kundalini is woke up, consciousness routinely expands. Some folks expertise visions, robust rushes of power, spontaneous bodily actions.

Way of life: The ashram Muktananda runs in India is strict and disciplined. Celibacy and purity are the norm for individuals who go all the best way to grow to be monks or nuns, though this step just isn’t counted vital. Women and men sit individually throughout chanting and meditation.

Drawbacks: Calls for complete give up to the need. Overlook it for those who can’t give up to the Guru Muktananda. For those who like intercourse greater than religious bliss, keep away.

Quote:Kundalini is the supreme power, the supreme intoxicating drug.”

Entry: Siddha Yoga Dham, 324 West 86th Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10024, telephone (212) 873-8030.


Bio: Born Calcutta, 1896. Retired from married life at 54 to grow to be a sannyasi. Charged by his grasp with the accountability for bringing the Vedic teachings to the English-speaking world, Bhaktivedanta took a freighter to New York in 1965. Opened the primary Worldwide Heart for Krishna Consciousness in a Second Avenue storefront a 12 months later, educating the mantra Hare Krishna.

Philosophy: Hindu fundamentalism. There’s a God, whose title this time round is Krishna, the everlasting, all-knowing, omnipresent, omnipotent, all-attractive character of Godhead. We’re not our our bodies, as we’d assume, however everlasting pure souls, components and parcels of Krishna. All actions must be carried out for Krishna fairly than for our personal sense gratifications. Devotees chant “hare Krishna, hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, hare hare, hare Rama, hare Rama. Rama Rama.”

Way of life: Devotees are inspired to “extinguish” their senses—no intercourse except for functions of procreation, no meat, alcohol, cigarettes or medicine. Devotees put on orange robes, males shave their heads—apart from a knot of hair—and customarily observe the traditions of orthodox Hindu monks.

Drawbacks: Swallowing India complete usually results in a foul case of pimples in addition to religious indigestion. Members of the general public usually think about Krishnites cross-cultural casualties who block site visitors with their blissed-out incense-peddling on major streets of huge cities.

Quote: “The title of Krishna is as {powerful} as Lord Krishna himself.”

Entry: ISKON, 340 West fifty fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10019. (212) 765-8610.

Excessive Occasions Journal, October 1977

Learn the total situation right here.

The submit From the Archives: The Excessive Occasions Information to Gurus (1977) appeared first on Excessive Occasions.

You May Also Like