11. Sex, Lies, And Idiosyncrasies

The Guru Wave Casts a Shadow

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This was the hardest chapter to write, but it had to be written because the incidents of guru misconduct — both provable and merely alleged — were a big part of the story told in American Veda. As the Tibetans say, a guru is like fire: keep your distance and you don’t get warm; get too close and you can get burned. In the 70s, many got burned because gurus were placed on pedestals built of fantasy, projection and delusions of grandeur. Because gurus misbehaved or were accused of misbehaving, many devotees were disillusioned; some sustained enduring emotional wounds; others threw the babies out with the bathwater by conflating the teachings with the fallible humans who taught them.

The scandals, rumors and innuendos tarnished the sustainable ideas and practical methods that came here from India. But not for long. Americans are a pragmatic people, and a good and useful product will find its market, even if the producers and distributors make mistakes. In the end, the flaws of the gurus are no more important than Einstein’s parenting skills or Picasso’s treatment of women: they have little bearing on the efficacy of their work. With this exception: when gurus are held up as exemplars of the teachings they expound, and when impossible levels of perfection are attributed to them, their human flaws cast doubt on aspects of the teachings.

In the end, important lessons were learned from the guru upheavals, and devotees are now less likely to make the same mistakes.

The Internet is filled with websites where the particulars are revealed, accusations are made, and implications are discussed, debated and flamed about repeatedly. Since I have no way of knowing which sites are responsible and which are simply trafficking in sensationalism, rage and hidden agendas, I am not including any links.

I do, however, welcome comments and recommendations and will happily add the useful ones to this page. Please write to Phil@AmericanVeda.com.