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Gurus Who Do Bad Things

Don’t be a victim.

Muktananda with Lenore G. Tawney

Muktananda with a student

By the Editor

MANY SPIRITUAL TEACHERS do bad things. For example:

These teachers are often very skillful at hiding their real personalities. They convince their students that they are high-minded, generous, enlightened masters even though the truth is otherwise.

Some of these people are incapable of empathy and don’t care whether they hurt people. Others are capable of caring, at least a little, but they convince themselves that their behavior doesn’t hurt anybody even though it does.

Many students get fooled by these bad teachers. It happens frequently. You may think, “It couldn’t happen to me. I wouldn’t be fooled that way. I’m intelligent and I think for myself.”

I hope you’re right. But every year thousands of seekers get fooled and some get badly hurt.

One of the reasons why these teachers are able to fool students is that in many cases, they have attained some of the characteristics of enlightened people. They are energetically developed and charismatic. This makes them very persuasive. It also makes them dangerous.

My main purpose in this article to warn you about these people so you can recognize them and stay away from them.

Adi Da

Adi Da looks as evil as a Hollywood villain and he was. But he told his students that he was the most enlightened person who ever lived and they believed it because they wanted to believe it. Click here to read about him, if you have the stomach for it.

This article in a nutshell

If somebody claims to be hurting you because he or she loves you, or because it will help you spiritually, run the other way no matter how enlightened that person claims to be or seems to be.

Nutshell number 2

The fact that a guru can help you go into samadhi or attain some other exciting meditative state does NOT mean he or she is Self-realized. It does NOT mean he or she is a good person. It does NOT mean he or she has your best interests at heart.

A video is worth a thousand words

Please click here. Scroll down to “The Only Video You Need to See to Know Mooji is Running a Cult.” Watch a few minutes of the video. Look at the students’ faces and listen to their tones of voice.

Nisargadatta said it best

The true Guru will never humiliate you, nor will he estrange you from yourself.

He will constantly bring you back to the fact of your inherent perfection and encourage you to seek within.

He knows you need nothing, not even him, and is never tired of reminding you.

—Nisargadatta in I Am That

The student in this picture says her yoga teacher, a man named Pattabhi Jois, is rubbing his penis against her while ostensibly helping her do an asana. Click here to read the student’s description.

Why do students get fooled?

I’ve already explained one reason why students get fooled. The gurus are able to put their students in meditative states through transmission or initiation, and the students think this is a bigger deal than it really is.

Another reason is that students want to believe that they’ve found a fully-enlightened, extraordinarily terrific guru. They have a self-interested motive for believing their teacher’s lies.

A third reason is that students believe pain is an unavoidable part of enlightenment.

This is a misunderstanding.

It’s true that people become more conscious as they become more enlightened, and when they become conscious of things they don’t like about themselves, it can feel unpleasant. But this discomfort should be temporary and it should soon decrease.

Enlightenment requires only that we become more conscious of what is already there. We do not ever need to create painful thoughts or emotions. We do not ever need to put ourselves in painful situations. No real guru would ever put anybody in a painful situation. Only a sadist masquerading as a guru would do that.

It’s true that the ego dissolves when we become enlightened. But the ego does not dissolve as a result of denigration or humiliation. It dissolves as the result of intensified, expanded consciousness and love.

Enlightenment requires you to be honest with yourself. Honesty and pain are different things. Honesty, when followed to its root without resistance, brings relief from pain. This is the secret power of consciousness and truth. If somebody tells you pain and honesty are the same, run away from that person. That person is not a real guru. That person is not really enlightened. At best that person is self-deluded and at worst that person is a sadist.

Bapu Asaram, who amassed a fortune worth $750 million while conning 20 million people into believing he was a guru, is currently serving a life sentence for raping a child.

Why do so many gurus do bad things?

It’s natural and inevitable that narcissists and sociopaths decide to become gurus because it’s a dream job for them. Look at it from their point of view. When you are a guru, credulous students come to you and agree to have sex, agree to give you money, agree to work for you for free (in other words, be your slaves), and agree to do whatever else you tell them. Sometimes they even worship you and believe you are God.

For sociopaths and narcissists, being a guru is a dream come true.

For the most part, sociopathic gurus can hurt you only if you let them. They have power over you only if you believe their bullshit and do what they tell you.

There is at least one heart-breaking exception to this rule: children sometimes get hurt by their parents’ gurus.

Seekers should always think for themselves before taking advice from a guru. Surrender your ego to God but never surrender your common sense or your knowledge of right and wrong to a human being.

If somebody claims that they are hurting you because they love you, run the other way no matter how enlightened they claim to be.

There is nothing spiritual about allowing somebody to hurt you or humiliate you or denigrate you.

There is nothing spiritual about being somebody’s sex object or giving her your life savings or being an unpaid employee of his business empire.

Real name: Narcis Tarcau. Phoney-baloney name: Swami Vivekananda Saraswati. From a newspaper article: "In separate incidents, these women [his students] allege Tarcau violently anally raped them...”

Gurus who sleep with students

If your teacher tells you that having sex with him will help you spiritually, he’s lying for his own selfish purposes. He is lying to you because he wants to have sex.

Maybe you find it impossible to believe that he’s lying. “But he’s enlightened,” you say. “He’s the embodiment of love and kindness.”

Wake up and smell the coffee. He’s a human being and he’s lying.

If you are attracted to him, consider the possibility that you are attracted because you are a little bit brainwashed by his charisma and energy and the fact that he is an important person in your spiritual community. These are natural reasons to want to sleep with somebody but not good reasons.

Think carefully before you do it. You may get hurt. You may overestimate your ability to not get hurt.

Is it possible that sleeping with him will help you spiritually? Yes, it’s possible. It’s also possible that breaking your leg might help you spiritually. Being an alcoholic for 20 years might help you spiritually. The death of the three people you love most might help you spiritually.

Anything might help spiritually. I myself was helped spiritually by 14 years of illness and clinical depression. But it would be stupid and crazy to deliberately choose to suffer that way. I had no choice and it turned out that I was in God’s hands and things turned out well. But if you have a choice, do not choose pain.

Only crazy people choose pain. Crazy people and the victims of sociopathic gurus.

What about tantric sex? It only really works when done by people who love each other because you have to get not only into each other’s physical bodies but also each other’s subtle bodies. Imagine your hearts expanding and becoming one and the two of you inside that thermonuclear heart. This requires a very great degree of intimacy and openess. There is a mingling and sharing on multiple deep levels. You have to really know each other in a very extreme way. This is possible only when it’s done by people who love each other.

Amrit Desai

Amrit Desai was fired from the ashram he founded for committing adultery with students while enforcing a rule of celibacy against everyone else.

Thy will not mine

There is a well-known prayer: “Thy will not mine.”

That prayer is meant to be offered to God. Think carefully before offering it to a human being.

God’s will is known to you in your heart, not from the mouth of a human being, not even if that human being is a guru.

Andrew Cohen. Click here for a list of ways he hurt his students.

In David Carse’s Words

If a teacher wants anything from you, demands anything from you, solicits anything from you, even if it is couched in the most spiritual terms of advancing your own awakening, then it is exceedingly likely that they have not awakened, that the Understanding is not there. If they ask for money in any form, if they demand your loyalty, if they thrive on your adulation, if they suggest that having sex with them is part of the ‘transmission’ or ‘initiation,’ or if they want your time or services or possessions in exchange for what you are ‘getting,’ if they insist that you live in a certain way or perform certain actions, if they want anything at all from you; I assure you that it is supremely unlikely that they are what they say they are, that they have what you are seeking, or that awakening has occurred.

—From Perfect Brilliant Stillness

Warning Signs

The teacher tells you what to do.

The teacher recommends that you do things that hurt or seem wrong to you.

The teacher claims to have unique knowledge or powers that nobody else has.

The teacher makes you feel bad.

The teacher says, “If you have sex with me, it will help you spiritually.”

The teacher says, “If you give me money, it will help you spiritually.”

The teacher says, “If you work in my organization, it will help you spiritually.”

The teacher says, “I love you” but you don’t feel any love.

This website’s policy

People sometimes ask us why this website contains writings by or about gurus who did evil things. We publish these documents because we think they are useful. This doesn’t mean the authors were good teachers or that they were enlightened.

The fact that we publish an article by or about a teacher does not mean we endorse that teacher.

We usually avoid publishing writings by or about living teachers who do bad things because we don’t want to encourage people to become students of those teachers. But dead teachers can’t hurt anyone in that way.

Nisargadatta Again

Unlike the clowns and criminals in the pictures above, Nisargadatta was really enlightened.

Please listen to what he says and take it to heart.

Please don’t let yourself become a victim.

The true Guru will never humiliate you, nor will he estrange you from yourself.

He will constantly bring you back to the fact of your inherent perfection and encourage you to seek within.

He knows you need nothing, not even him, and is never tired of reminding you.

—Nisargadatta in I Am That

And One Last Time

“The true Guru will never humiliate you.”

If somebody humiliates you, if somebody makes you feel bad, LEAVE. That person is not enlightened. That person is not a guru. That person is not somebody you should be near.

That person is a narcissistic fraud.

Don’t make excuses. Don’t rationalize. Don’t invent reasons why it’s really okay.


Related reading

Book mentioned above

I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Translated by Maurice Frydman

If any spiritual work of the last century deserves to be called a classic, it’s this one. An American spiritual book dealer has told us that this is his number-one seller. More than five hundred pages of transcribed conversations allow you to eavesdrop on Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, the most famous teacher of Advaita since Ramana Maharshi, as he sits in his living room and answers questions from visitors who have come to ask what they should do to become enlightened. The stupendously forceful language, coupled with Nisargadatta’s profound insight, makes this is a unique and astonishing work.

See it on Amazon.

This page was published on May 11, 2019 and last revised on February 24, 2021.


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