Is the old Guru model now crumbling fast?

An important new book is out called “Evolving Dharma” by Jay Michaelson and therein is included a chronicling of how the “dharma” is essentially entering deeply into mainstream places (like schools, the military, psychiatry, medicine, commercial outlets, essentially everywhere).  The meditation practices from the earliest of Buddhist teachings are in particular what is “infiltrating” our western culture in a more big way.  For more about this new book, which does include a great examination of the two basic aspects of meditation, calm abiding (with expansive energy and bliss) through one pointed concentration and clear seeing/insight through mindfulness, see the following page:

Also just now coming out is a new book of memoirs by a woman serving Ammachi for two decades. For a few years or more it seems that more and more peeks behind the curtain at the Ammachi scene in Kerala have suggested very disturbing things going on in the “background” of that scene. For more information, go here:

These two books, coming out at this time, seem to add to the other signs (see the Andrew Cohen and Kalu Rinpoche stories here, for example) of an unfolding trend or development showing a dying Guru model that initially took shape around 1200-1300 years ago. (During the development of the Tantric movements, ritualization, the rise of “deity worship”, and the adoption of “initiation” practices imparted by the Guru–or Lama and Rinpoche; and also contributing to this initial shaping of the Guru model was the work of Shankara 1300 years ago, formalizing Advaita Vedanta with the Maths.)

Jay Michaelson’s new book chronicles what is replacing that dying model. Gail Tredwell’s new book shows why that old model is now just barely hanging on.

The company of mature practitioners and stably Realized persons is good. Listening to what they have to say is good. And, moving on is apparently the key in waking up and easing into a free condition.

Though others may disagree about this moving on part, or the spirit of the relationship I note in the above paragraph. This quote was posted by the host of the Facebook page called “Amma for Nobel Peace Prize” (around the beginning of November):

“Only those who are willing to stay on, in spite of even being beaten and killed, will progress. A bramachari has to carry the whole world on his shoulders, so he should not be weakened by little things. I will really shake my children up. Those who desire only Self-realization will stay, the others will leave.” —AMMA

For an in depth examination of Ammachi (and based on going into the field, including into Ammachi’s arms last year), see this major public media article in the Rolling Stones (August 2012):

ROLLING STONE: The Hugging Saint

In that article, there’s a hint or glimpse of what would be later detailed in Gail Tredwell’s book. (Which came out only recently, long after this article.) The above article has some reporting on what Tredwell was beginning to share publicly over a year ago.

At this moment, there is a developing and very extensive comments thread to a posting by the host of the Facebook “Guruphiliac” page. It includes a good look at multiple perspectives people have regarding the revelations in Gail Tredwell’s book:

Guruphiliac Comments Thread on “Holy Hell”

And, a few months ago the New York Times in its Business Day page profiled the huge Charity/Financial Empire of Ammachi’s (posted before certain revelations in the Tredwell book):

Amma’s Multifacted Empire Built on Hugs

A blog by an Ammachi follower has been set up in recent months obviously designed to respond to the book by Gail Tredwell. (Only a few posts so far but most recent one relates to Tredwell herself.) It’s address starts of with “ammascandal” so persons searching with similiar keywords will most likely find this site:

Blog Defending Amma

The following news article from the Telegraph (a British paper) is from last month and covers Ammachi’s visit to England. It briefly mentions the then pending publication of Gail Tredwell’s book and is a detailing of the reporter’s observations and impressions of the Ammachi scene (including of her hug):

News Article Profile of Ammachi October 2013

Over a year ago, Gail Tredwell initially reported (via a yahoo discussion group) on the reasons she left Ammachi after 19 years with her, that itemization reposted here:

Gail Tredwell’s initial posting, August 2012

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17 thoughts on “Is the old Guru model now crumbling fast?

  1. “Mature practitioners and stably Realized” folks are one thing, borderline psychotics and sufferers of grandiosity such as Ammachi, Adi Da, Andrew Cohen, Ken Wilber, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, et al., are entirely another. Were all these folks “mature practitioners” at one point? Probably. But they now serve as examples of the power that the acquisition power over others can have over anybody, nondual realized or not.

  2. Loved your story, Bruce! (And, I love also surat shabda yoga. Got exposed to that by a high school teacher back in 1968—-a guy inititated by Kirpal Singh.)

    Hi Jody. I think you would really enjoy Jay Michaelson’s book. He really gets into that “power” thing that happens. Michaelson will have nothing to do with hooking up with a Guru. I guess his passing relationships with teachers served him well enough.

    Good work over the years there at your blog, Jody.

  3. Thanks for the kind acknowledgement. Jodyji has been admirably stalwart in pointing out the corruption in the big-time guru “biz” for long time, something I see as a great seva — he’s also been kind enough to design and host the website where you found my words, which I appreciate very much.

  4. so how much time did Jay Michaelson spend in Adi Da’s presence? and where did this woman make her connection? Is mr. michaelson a realizer of some note, capable of recognizing other realizers? Drukpa Kunley comes to mind, and certainly Chogyam Trungpa. let’s discuss them, too, shall we? i can’t wait to find out what mr. michaelson bonafide’s are, so we all understand the level of recognition.

  5. Don’t know yet anything about Jay M. spending any time in Adi Da’s presence. I’ve had about ten darshans and maybe a few informal hours total in Da’s presence (1975 and 1986) in case that means anything to anyone, btw.

    BUT, from what I am reading in his book he most definitely doesn’t see himself as a realizer! He talks about his sadhana in detail there and interestingly focuses on the need for practitioners to again be exposed to developmental maps or models (like say the old jnana progression system, etc). He does characterize his practice, sounds like a stream enterer.

    I don’t quite understand your questions. I see no reference to Da or that lady in the video in Michaelson’s book, which I have right here. And, there’s really only pages 184-188 devoted to “The Guru Phenomenon” and other sections related to power questions, misconduct, etc in the teacher/student relationship. But, he appears to be a very mature practitioner.

    In any event, this thread is about his book and then about the book by Gail Tredwell. Their voices are going to be very important, I think. I am going to write a “book report” on Jay M’s book after I finish it here shortly so I will think of your questions.

    Ammachi is being presented by some, coming to her defense right now at Jody’s page on FB, as some sort of Avadhut, Crazy Wise in her ways. As I finish Michaelson’s book I will get back to whether or not he addresses issues raised by the likes of Chogyam Trungpa and Drukpa Kunley. I think he may to some degree, but with the examples of teachers in the Buddhist tradition.

  6. Hi DR. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the blog. Folks seem to believe that nondual realization is a kind of super sanity, when it’s really just the recognition of an ongoing fact of consciousness that doesn’t necessarily cure one of their preexisting personality disorders. Thus, you can have an Adi Da who is apparently realized, but still more or less a wack-a-doo.

  7. Non dual realisation seems to be the realisation that there is no realisation. The scriptures tell us it is not captured in time-space-causation. Awareness always is and does not suddenly appear.
    It’s like water in water or milk in milk, as the Upanishads like to tease our mind. But if we understand that, we have not understood. And it’s only those who don’t understand that understand. (Kena Up). So let’s forget about this enlightenment, which just seems to be a concept, and be fully human.

  8. The guru model don’t work, baby! How many more examples of child molesters and thieves need to be pulled down from their high pedestals to get over it?

  9. Pingback: Chronicling “now” for the historical record………. | A New Sun in Western Skies

  10. I had a dream that I asked God, “please God relief us from all this so-called realised persons …” . And God answered ” I never had anything to do with this, I created everybody equal, this realisation is a fig-leaf of your mind.” So I said: ” yes God, we know this, but please could you tell THEM as well?”

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  13. Hi Google Ad Words editor. Thanks for the compliment. At this point the blogging has ceased and I am just finishing up the affixed page at the top for Advaita Vedanta and will eventually have background pages for the history, teaching, and practices of Vipassana and Kashmir Shaivism (along with the ones for Dzogchen and Advaita Vedanta)……..Thankyou body shop and Dessie.

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