The Wisdom of the False Guru

Kumare

Recently I watched a fascinating documentary – Kumare: The True Story of a False Prophet – by Vikram Gandhi.

It is about a man who, while making a documentary about gurus, was confronted by one of the gurus he was filming who said to him – “You want to know about gurus? All those big gurus you see, they are not spiritual people. All they want is money. It’s not that easy man… Living a spiritual life is very difficult.”

This comment, coupled with what he had witnessed for himself while filming, as well as the trendiness of the pursuit of spirituality in Western culture, and his own studies of many spiritual enlightenment practices and philosophies, ended up inspiring him with more questions than answers.

He decided to try out an experiment to answer some of his questions.

One of the most pressing ones being – Why do we look outside of ourselves for something which we all possess within us? Why do we seek a guru, when we have our own guru within?

So he donned the attire associated with Indian gurus, the long hair, beard, and robes. He spoke with an accent inspired by his grandmother, a woman who had instilled in him a deep interest in spirituality. He dressed the part, walked the walk, talked the talk, embodied the image which people expect of a guru. He created a teaching, with meditative practices, yoga postures, chants, and a philosophy. Then he went out into the world to see if anyone would believe that he was who he appeared to be and would follow him and his teachings.

Throughout the entire experiment he repeatedly told people that who he was was an illusion, that he was not who they thought he was.

Now if you haven’t seen this documentary you might think it is one in which some guy who thinks he’s very clever and everyone else is less intelligent than him, sets out to fool people and then as a denouement lets them in on the joke which he played on them, making them feel foolish while he laughs at them for believing his lies.

But it is not like that at all.

Because Vikram Gandhi is not that kind of a person.

If at any point he wondered if he was that kind of a person, his experiment taught him that he wasn’t.

Vikram Gandhi as Kumare became Kumare. In many ways the part he was playing was genuine, and he came to refer to the part as being his ideal self, the person he would like to be, whom he strives to be, whom he is inside. Playing the part allowed him to discover this side of himself by letting it be expressed rather than suppressed by all the other roles that being human and living in a complex world entails. He simplified himself, and found an inner truth through an external lie.

He was very aware of what he was doing, conscious of the possible consequences and ramifications of his actions, and this became intrinsic to his interactions as he sought to minimise the effect that the revelation he would make to those who believed him and followed him would have on them. His concern and sensitivity towards others was in everything he said and did.

This gave him something extra which those with whom he came into contact could feel. He was no ordinary guru.

He cared about them, and about his impact on their lives.

He was interested in them and why they were following him.

He related to what they were seeking.

He saw himself as being the same as them, a human searching for meaning, inspiration, purpose, and guidance.

He did not see himself as their teacher, their father figure, their guru, an authority telling them how to live and be. He knew he was learning more from them than they were learning from him. And most of all he realised that he was learning a lot from and about himself during the process.

This experiment was deeply personal, and meaningful to him. It was not just a cool idea for a documentary.

One of the things which struck the people who followed him the most about him was his personal touch. He asked them about themselves, and listened carefully to their stories. He spent time with each of them, and got to know them. And as he did, he showed them the guru that he saw in them.

When they asked him what they should do, he always turned the question back to them, and asked them what they truly wanted to do.

He did this partly because he knew that he was not a guru, that it was not his place to tell them what to do, how to be, or how to live their lives. He wanted to be responsible in the role he was playing. And because of this, people found him to be amazing. He encouraged them to find their own answers. He was not judgemental. He accepted them, and by doing that he showed them how to accept themselves. How to trust that they had wisdom within them. That they knew what was right for them. They just needed someone to help them be still enough to draw it out of their inner selves.

It was beautiful to watch, as each person he interacted with seemed to blossom, come out of their protective shells and allow themselves to see their own personal power, strength and knowledge.

At the end when he revealed his experiment to those who had been a part of it, when he showed them his ordinary self, without the guru attire, he did so with trepidation but also a willingness to face up to the consequences of what he had done. He also did it with great sensitivity, making every effort to make sure that the only fool in the room was him, but that the fool that he was had been made wise by being with such wonderful people.

After the initial shock, most of those who had been Kumare’s followers, applauded the experiment for showing them that they were indeed their own gurus and had personal power and wisdom within them. He kept in touch with them, and they with him long after the filming was over. A true bond and connection had been made between them through their shared experience and lesson in life.

It was a fascinating view of the human experience and all the complexities which it involves. Very thought-provoking on so many levels. A masterpiece of perception.

Kumare often referred to himself  and his teaching as The Mirror.

The wisdom people saw in him was their own reflected back at them. The guru was not him, but their own reflection.

vikram gandhi

But of course all of this is how I perceived what I saw. How I experienced Vikram Gandhi, Kumare, and what he was doing and did. I projected my own view onto the film and those within it, and it reflected me back at myself.

Just as I liked it, there are those who dislike it, and others who are indifferent to it.

We see… what we see.

And sometimes we share what we see.

But what we think we’re sharing and what others think we’re sharing may be very different.

Such is life and being human.

 

*for the DPWC: Student, Teacher

 

 
For more about the film and Vikram Gandhi:

The film’s website – Kumare Movie

Kumare’s website – Kumare org.

An article in the Huffington Post by Vikram Gandhi – Kumare: The Time I Became a Guru

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20 thoughts on “The Wisdom of the False Guru

  1. Reblogged this on Soulpuzzle and commented:
    When I saw the movie yesterday I felt very moved in different ways. Could not even find words right away so I left it for today. Liked the twists in Gandhi’s approach: Faking something by telling people that one is a fake… and being changed/transformed by the processes coming from that itself… Like looking at something that is altered just by the look at it… When Gandhi revealed his Guru legend my heart started to beat faster. I also thought about the four of fourteen who withdrew from their former Guru und what they were going through… to me it was a worthwhile movie. Thanks for the recommendation.

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      I tried to find online if any of the participants had written about their experience, or been interviewed, as I really wanted to see their side of the story. It would have been interesting to know more about it from their perspective.

      It really touches upon and stirs so many things on so many levels, which is why I liked it so much. It’s challenging and inspiring.

      Have you seen – Three Miles North of Molkom (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1173922/) – it’s similar yet also very different. It’s a documentary about a festival/spiritual retreat, and follows several people who went there for the experience.

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      1. Yes, that would be really interesting, Ursula. I did a “walk in their shoes” imaginary (mind) walk and had feelings of “shame” and “being used” and “rejected/abandoned” as tesserae. Put those in quotationmarks because they, of course, are projections again. Like everything.

        One thing that came to mind was that a guru-figure brings people together. They center around him/her. In normal life, being their own guru all the time they would not have had the encounter…

        No, I have not seen Three Miles North of Molkom yet. I will have a look, thank you for mentioning it. Movies belong to the treasures of my life.

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        1. That’s a great point about the guru bringing people together. In essence that’s one of the most important things a guru does, he or she unites people as a group. And in some ways the guru and their teachings are secondary to the meeting of the individuals who participate.

          Many years ago I used to go to workshops similar to the ones in the film run by various self-appointed gurus. One time at a New Age festival, I attended a workshop (which was quite expensive for a workshop) which was run by three ‘gurus’ who had joined forces for a special event, during a break, the one who had been teaching us all about being positive and spiritual and so on, had an angry meltdown and laid into their assistant because there were not enough water bottles for the people attending. It was very eye-opening. This guru was teaching something they did not practice. They had an on stage persona which was all loving and peaceful, but off stage things were different. I had one of those moments of feeling very foolish for being there and believing the teachings. After the break I watched the three gurus carefully and began to see things which were very un-guru-like but which actually are quite common in those who place themselves in those kind of positions. The kind of power which that position gives, which people give to someone who is considered to be a guru, can go to someone’s head.

          That’s one of the things I appreciated about what Vikram Gandhi showed – that we give other people power over us, they think that power is theirs but it is ours. So I saw the – we’re all our own guru – concept as being about appreciating the power which we have. That all humans are equal. That it’s good to seek out teachers who help us to find our own teaching, but to remember that their wisdom is also our wisdom.

          It also showed that for someone to attain an elevated position above others, they need others to elevate them. In some ways they need us more than we need them, and as long as the relationship is of mutual benefit then it is productive, as long as there is a respectful balance of power, then energy flows evenly.

          It also showed how often those who fool us will tell us what they are doing and that we may not hear what they are saying as they are saying it because we’re not looking out for it, we’re projecting our own goodness, so to speak, onto them. We help them to fool us by fooling ourselves because of our hopes and dreams. It’s not until they reveal to us their deceit in a way which we can’t deny, that we see what perhaps we may have known from the start but refused to accept. That tends to be what triggers the feeling of shame. Being fooled, used, is one thing – the feelings which this stirs are usually directed at the person who fooled and used us and it is something we can deal with more easily – that we helped the person who fooled and used us, that we fooled ourselves and allowed ourselves to be used, is much harder to accept – the feelings this stirs turns inwards towards ourselves and creates shame.

          It’s actually a good film to watch if you want to understand narcissists, the dynamics of guru and follower are similar to those of narcissist and their victim. Also being a guru is something narcissists aspire to and that world of guru with followers is one which attracts narcissists.

          I love movies too, especially ones which take me on a journey and are thought-provoking. Movies have a way of tapping into the imagery within our subconscious and giving them life. It’s a fascinating medium of expression, especially when it is done with heart rather than for profit.

          Please recommend movies which you love. I’m always on the lookout. I have watched a lot, but not everything, not yet anyway 😀

          Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts, I love the way you see things, very insightful!

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          1. I loved “Three miles north of Molkom”, Ursula! Thanks for bringing that to my attention. What a wonderful piece of art. I shed some tears on several occasions. Those people felt to me like some dear acquaintances. I took them into my heart instantly. It was so close without being intruding – what a great energy of the director/camera team and what a great dynamic in the little group. That movie made my day. I loved Nick and being a witness of this magic live Aussie transformation 😀

            My recommendations are: “As it is in Heaven” from Sweden, my all time favorite movie. Can not count how often I have seen that one. Just love it.
            “Time Expired” is really worth seeing in my perception. It is on Vimeo because the movie makers uploaded it themselves. A movie about projections
            and “what is best for someone else”… funny and moving… “Of Gods and Men” was thoughtful – about living up to one’s ideals/convictions.
            I recommend Danish “Babettes Feast” and quirky “Adam’s Apples” also Danish.

            I like what you write about the shame and how this is projected to the outside. That is what I feel/perceive the same way. It is me in the center of all these “negative” emotions and it is powerful to re-own that “shit”. I had an experience about ten years ago that brought me to a “community” – it was an organization rather than that – of really dangerous Guru types. They would not at all live what they preached. I got that quickly. Yet it was quite a work to reown my share in it and to overcome the devastation after my realizing how I let myself being exploited and fooled… It was a good lesson after all…

            I spot people claiming this and living that – the full opposite – very quickly now. And I had made enquiries about them and prevented several people to have a full training there by sharing my results. That was high amount of money they did not get… made me feel a rebalance so to speak… 🙂 Sometimes I think it is part of a mission to cross some people’s paths (but that can also be a bit of bs ^^ it just comforts at times that there can be a deeper meaning in those encounters and that you’re “sent” that way…)

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            1. Those are great recommendations! Thank you so much 🙂

              Adam’s Apples is one I was thinking of watching. It was one of the few films I hadn’t seen on a 3-part list here – http://www.highexistence.com/25-spectacular-movies-probably-havent-seen-pt-3/ – and it sounds very intriguing. I love Mads Mikkelsen as an actor – The Green Butchers (macabre and funny), and After the Wedding (amusingly poignant). I also liked him as Hannibal Lecter – the series was a bit silly but he was spell-binding.

              There’s a very sweet and beautiful film I saw a few months ago – Tricks – it’s a Polish film about a little boy and his view on life and fate.

              And – In the House – a French film all about perception and projection. Very intriguing.

              If you like very quirky – I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK – a lovely Korean film, surreal but easy to follow and get caught up in it.

              I’m excited to check the ones you mentioned out. I’ve seen and loved Babette’s Feast!

              There’s a Youtube channel which I go to every now and then, which does short films – Future Shorts – some of which are breath-taking – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irm6E_UbaZA&list=PLA7981EF7096D827E&index=34&feature=plpp_video – I’ve linked to one of my favourites.

              I think all the experiences and encounters we have are of equal value to us (and maybe to others too), but sometimes we have to alchemically turn them into something of value. Take a piece of carbon and turn it into a diamond. Every negative has a positive inside of it, just as the positive can have negative inside. It’s what we do with it.

              I love how you turned your experience with those gurus and that community into a treasure for yourself and for others. In some ways you did learn what they were preaching – what they were actually preaching rather than what they wanted people to believe their message was. Being able to see the dynamic of talk versus walk, what people say versus what they do, are the two things the same or are they different, is a lesson which applies to everyone, including us, in life. We usually have to learn it hands on, the hard way, but once we do… it’s a gift of insight.

              I try to apply what I learn about others to myself. And yes, we sometimes tell ourselves soothing stories, but those too have value sometimes and maybe they are true as well as soothing. It’s hard to know, just have to wait and see. Let things, ourselves, and others reveal themselves 🙂

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              1. JoJo in the Stars is wonderful, heartwarming, thank you, Ursula. This is a shortie I love: Head over Heels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWGauQVasGg 🙂

                I have just posted twice about another experience of mine that was/is about missing the walk-the-talk-energy. Right now I can not see any soothing in it. It is and was just hurtful and sometimes the number of events like it in my life overwhelms me…

                For me it comes down to my list of 10 most important boundaries I have set, written down and truly take care of protecting. One is: Nobody is allowed to leave me in the dark about the setting I am in (missing clarity of processes and frames set by others that I have no chance to co-create). I call it the McD frame. I won’t fight for haute cuisine at McD yet I will feel taken for a ride when someone disguises their McD as something else. Again I was served wonderfully sounding meals that turned out to cause me belly aches. It was dsigused crap as I tasted and perceived it.

                Another is: Nobody is allowed to devaluate/invalidate me. They do, of course. Yet this is a defined no-go now. I will not “forgive” that and walk away at once. I will tell them (mostly, not always) and then turn around.

                It takes a lot of energy to follow through and the pain grows even in an exponentiated way instead of shrinking in my experience. I still have not found a way to release these painful experiences that add to my full bucket so to speak. Even if I see and own my share… it is like summing up in my heart/on my soul.

                Maybe it is because pain caused/retriggered in settings of people that were also abused weighs so much more because they “should” know better what they are doing if they repeat subtly what they suffered from themselves. (Maybe that is too cryptic without knowing the details.) I have experienced that in therapy or healing places the danger is much higher than in every day life. I got burnt and retriggered even retraumatized terribly that way. And still I do not want to believe that there are no other experiences possible. At the same time my angst grows… Healing for me means to be more vulnerable and that at the same time endangers me again… A lot of “Gurus” are out there – people who attract others to center around them – who harm and destroy while they are not even aware of their impact.

                All those toxic peanut events really impact me on a very powerful level. And I am still not sure whether this will destroy me or serve me and my own healing in the long run…

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                1. Your words here and on your blog hit a deep chord with me. I agree with you. I feel something very similar, especially when you say – “Maybe it is because pain caused/retriggered in settings of people that were also abused weighs so much more because they “should” know better what they are doing if they repeat subtly what they suffered from themselves.” – THAT!!! Yes, yes, yes!!!

                  I had something happen recently which ties in with your forum story. There is a post I wrote a while ago which I wrote for myself to remind myself of something and work something out – which is what drives all of my writing. I post publicly as a way to break the silence/censorship of my past. I didn’t expect anyone to read it, it’s long, rambling and a bit of a mess. But because of its title, it gets a lot of views. Some people have been kind enough to let me know that it has helped them. The positive reactions which I get far outweigh the few negative ones, and that allows me to maintain a balanced view. I do have moments though when I’m tempted to delete all my posts on NPD and my experiences of it. But each time I struggle through that urge, I make a bit more progress with myself. It takes baby steps to transmute that which is toxic into that which nourishes. For the most part I use a flipping around of perspective method until I can get a more rounded picture of something which is bothering me, find a way to use pain as an ally. But sometimes I just vent, like I did in my post on Saturday, so I can see what is buried within me underneath the inner clutter when things get to me.

                  The other day I noticed in my blog stats that I was getting quite a few referrals from one site, so I tracked back to see who had linked to my blog. It was from a forum which offers support groups for different issues. A member had shared the link to my post explaining that they had found it helpful. I was touched by their words. Then I read the reactions to their sharing of the link. What shocked me was how harsh the comments were – not so much the attitude towards me and my post, which is par for the course when you blog publicly, people often dehumanise you, especially those who are very caught up in their own suffering, let their pain do all the talking and may find it hard to empathise, to realise that they are not the only ones who feel pain. I was struck by how they behaved towards their fellow support forum member. They may not realise that I am a human being, but they know the forum member is and they know the forum member is a member of that support group for the same reasons that they are, they have suffered abuse from a narcissist. The forum member who posted the link, then felt obliged to apologise to these harsh commenters for upsetting them by posting the link. A few did apologise for their initial reaction, but they also excused their harsh behaviour saying that they had been triggered by what they had read. One person admitted to not having read the post, they skimmed it and got angry at what they skimmed and then needed to vent their anger and chose to do it on the link-sharing forum member’s page.

                  Certain aspects of the interaction on that forum member’s page reminded me of interactions with narcissists. They lash out with no consideration for anyone but themselves, you end up having to apologise to them, having to explain yourself, if they apologise to you at all it’s not an apology it’s always a justification for their behaviour which is still designed to make you feel bad about yourself and make you wish you hadn’t done whatever it was which incurred their wrath. They also have an air of superiority, their pain trumps everyone else’s, and they always know things which everyone else is apparently too stupid to know.

                  I admired the way the forum member who posted the link dealt with the situation. They were respectful, firm, empathic and dignified. They really should not have had to do that, they were, in theory, in a safe environment which should have been supportive, understanding, empathic, and respectful towards them. There are ways to disagree and express strong emotions and reactions which is respectful to all. Which does not need to use invalidation or anything of that ilk.

                  Witnessing that, plus what CZBZ of the Narcissistic Continuum wrote about an incident which happened on her own forum, plus what The Narcissist’s Child wrote about another forum, plus the experiences of friends of mine on forums, makes me steer clear of them. I do give the link on my NPD posts to CZBZ’s forum, I sometimes think I should join it if I’m recommending it, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

                  There are certain environments which attract narcissists, especially those narcissists who like playing certain roles – the righteously enraged victim in particular – to get their supply needs met. They do what narcissists do, and they make themselves the centre of attention, form a clique, then go on a witch hunt.

                  People in pain often behave like narcissists. There are many traps on the path to healing. I’ve fallen into many of them, maybe all of them, I’m clumsy, but they can be climbed out of with self-awareness and self-understanding, and we keep going, learning more and more about what it is to be very human. The more we understand ourselves, the more we can understand others, those who hurt – hurt themselves, hurt others, hurt others because they hurt themselves and are hurting. Whenever I see something in others, I look to see it in myself. It’s difficult to heal, especially if the wound goes all the way back into our earliest memory, the struggle is hard on many levels, we keep going because life flows forwards.

                  Whenever I get overwhelmed, particularly by frustration at those who pass on what has been done to them to others, who cry out in pain about what has been done to them but can’t seem to see that they are inflicting the same kind of pain onto others in the way that they are crying out about their own pain, who pass on their wound to heal it rather than heal it by owning the wound and learning from it… I pull my attention away from them and onto those who do own their wound, have learned from it, and who try to pass on the hard, painful lessons they have learned in life by being respectful, empathic, understanding, and dignified. There are some truly inspiring people, like you, who shine in a deep and human way. It is earthy earthly beauty.

                  There may be a lot of narcissists and narcissistic people, but there are also a lot of people who choose to be aware of others, self aware, and do their best to live and interact in a responsible way. They often do it quietly, not drawing attention to themselves because they don’t reside in ego. They’re the ones to notice, the ones to know, knowing and noticing them, you, that’s what is soothing 🙂

                  Thank you ♥

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                  1. I felt and still feel deeply moved by your answer in more than one or two ways… Thank you, too, Ursula ♥

                    There were memories coming back how I had always begged for forgiveness as a girl, saying/crying out sorry when my begetter had hurt and hit me with his verbal violence. This kind of despair and shame – and the wish to overcome it magically – was the motor of all my adult relationships with men before I was able to see and stop it. Took me almost all my life. Only recently I’ve found out about narcissism in my childhood and relationships – both with men and women. Being a SOS as I call it for myself – Survivor of Stereo-narcissism – I always “needed it from both sides” mono was not familiar/painful enough. One of the reasons I always found myself in triangle dynamics, too. (Mostly with Ns and their NMs… restaging “Mom & Dad”.) Reading the cast of my life (movie) so far is like one of a narc and sociopath horror-movie so to speak… Maybe that’s why Jojo in the Stars touched me so deeply, too… And still that darkness brings out lights and ability to see them shine… (although I am still full of shadows that have not been brought to light yet… guess the struggle will go on as long as I live…)

                    You know, Ursula, I think it is perfectly okay to recommend something even if not being part of it oneself. Those who follow a recommendation will always have their own choices and decisions. I had followed and it was my choice to let myself be attracted by the things that attracted me. It was my choice to believe the words that later on turned out wrong to me and my own truth. I was free to join and free to leave. Funny… when I think about that I remember that in my past I used to fully identify with my recommendations. So if someone did not like a book or movie or anything I had recommended I’d feel rejected as a person… or if I had followed something that I did not like I’d be angry with the one who gave me the tip. I have now grown out of the identifiaction thingy on both sides 😀

                    Reading your lines I also thought to myself that it may be a difference whether you have a “problem” with fellow-members or with the one who is setting the frame and has the total power over all others like a forum owner. Not sure. I do not know whether I would have stayed in the case of the member you described. Maybe my training program is to leave and endure feelings of isolation. Just because I am not really alone… and this kind of isolation can be part of the healing, too. To see the togetherness in the withdrawal…

                    I thought of another movie that I found heartwarming: Elsa & Fred (Spanish). Bottom line “You need very long to turn young”.

                    And a thanks to Kumaré who inspired this comment conversation that means a lot to me 🙂

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                    1. Thank you 🙂 I feel the same way. This conversation has been inspiring and nourishing!

                      I’m very much on the same page as you. I tend towards removing myself from situations which cause me to ask – why am I here, do I need to be here? Is there a reason why I am putting up with this? I learn what I am ready to learn from it and then move on. I used to feel isolation more, now what used to be experienced as isolation is the solace of solitude. A place where i disconnect from the noise of others, of the world, and reconnect with myself. When things are quiet, I hear myself very clearly and it feels right.

                      I don’t feel the need to impose myself on others in any way – unless they invade my space and then it is simply to say – you’re invading my space – succinctly. I would not have handled the situation on that forum as that admirable member did, which is partly why I admired the way they handled it.

                      When I do have a problem with others, I tend to look to myself and ask – what is this telling me about myself as well as about the other. Both apply. We learn alot from interactions. We also learn a lot from being alone and having a relationship, conversation, interaction with ourselves. There’s a balance somewhere in the play of opposites and all things.

                      I love that quote, and I agree. I sometimes feel I was born old – just old not wise – and that it has taken me an age of ages to learn to become young. Beautiful quote and concept 🙂

                      One thing, amongst many, which I have learned from the narcissists in my life is – there is a time to stop caring about what others need, think, feel, etc. It’s not a cruel version of not caring, it’s a healthy one. Like the boundary between earth and sea. A natural line drawn in the sand.

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  2. Hello, thank you for mentioning this film– I watched it last night. I agree with many things you say about it, although I have a less kindly reaction towards the protagonist.

    I would like to add another aspect to this discussion, a topic common with cult-ish stuff– money/funding. I wonder where Kumare got the money and time to stay in such an opulent house with swimming pool in Arizona. I wonder if the two women who posed as his first “followers” were being compensated for their time and acting, and in what form. I wonder if he “taught” all of his followers for free. If not, I wonder if he returned any of their money upon revealing his misrepresentations to them. (His followers all appeared to be relatively well-off economically, so they could probably pay good money. I wonder if he considered trying attract poor/ homeless followers.)

    Even if he continually told his followers he wasn’t what he appeared, he continued to mis-represent himself and his two original followers to them– and I’m assuming he was collecting their money while doing so. I consider this fraudulent lying, even if his followers felt like they were learning something or getting good effects from him– his underlying supercilious message (certainly during the time period after his realizing the nature of the situation and before revealing his deceit to them) was that he knew something (rather deeply important) about the situation of which they weren’t aware, and only he would get to decide when/how to share this information with people who had given him their intimate trust.

    In the end, I felt he was extremely disrespectful and his top priorities were to make an interesting film and collect money– even if I’m incorrectly assuming that he charged money to his followers, he must have profited from the film, and certainly the yoga studios that booked him must have charged money.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your view of it 🙂

      My guess is that Vikram Gandhi funded the documentary the usual way it is done. The producers would have provided the financing in advance, and some of the profit from the documentary would have paid back those who financed it with interest if it made a profit. Purva Bedi, one of Kumare’s assistants, was also a producer and she seemed to be in charge of arranging things like the house they stayed in, publicity and organising workshop venues. Filming crews usually get special deals on things like property rental. The other assistant was his Yoga teacher, she may have waived her fee or it would have been covered in advance.

      I imagine that he did not charge his followers for their participation in his documentary. His production company probably covered the costs of the venues which he used, and the workshops were probably offered for free.

      Your question about the funding ties in with much of what spurred Vikram Gandhi to do the documentary, because when he made his previous documentary about gurus he was struck, like you were, by the financial side of it. His meeting with that one guru whose quote I included in the post, set him off down this path in many ways. I think he wanted to understand it from the inside out. As previously he had been a follower and he wanted to know the other side of it. He did mention that he struggled a lot with what he was doing from the get go, and as he progressed, his view kept changing and he filmed his own conflicts with himself.

      That’s one of the things about the documentary which I found insightful. It was intensely human, an experience which we all have. It exposed the many facets of being human. How we deceive ourselves sometimes in ways that we may not notice, or which we choose not to notice and paint over with a veneer that excuses it and justifies it. It’s an issue many of us face in our work, our home, our ambitions, our priorities, our public and personal lives, in our relationships, in how they sometimes conflict and cause us to question our values.

      It’s an issue we all face in our day to day life, especially in western civilisation, one which we perhaps are only aware of when we look at others or the world at large through the eyes of the news, or see a documentary like this one – but do we apply it to ourselves, or do we miss what is right in front of us within ourselves. Where is our funding coming from, where are the things which we take for granted and get annoyed when we can’t get them coming from, who are we disrespecting to get what we want, who are we deceiving. From the larger aspect of it to the smallest detail. That cup of coffee which has become such a must have – where does it come from, what is its journey, who profits from it, who gets disrespected for it – we only want an interesting cup of coffee and to profit from the caffeine boost and perhaps the social image side of it, we don’t want to know what happens to the cup after we discard it, to the money which we paid for it, or all of that which happens before to get that cup of coffee into our hands.

      Love it or hate it, it’s a documentary which really stirs and provokes thought.

      I saw a documentary the other night which touched upon a similar subject from another angle – Three Miles North of Molkom (2008) – it’s about a spiritual/new age/alternative therapies festival in Sweden. It follows a group of random people who took part in it and their experiences. Very interesting.

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  3. This is a great story, a great lesson. Reminds me of something I did when I was a young girl. Me and my friends were all in love, mostly unreturned, and we drank a lot of coffee and one day I looked into the cup , searching pictures at the bottom, in the dried remnants of the coffee, and from those pictures I “predicted” my future, will he love me or not, and my friends wanted the same, and later they all claimed that I had predicted what really happened later – and that was only beacuase I knew their stories, I knew the boys they were in love with, I knew their hopes… because I always listened carefully.

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      I love your story, it’s a wonderful example of the power of really listening and remembering what you’ve heard. You’re a talented people reader.

      It’s funny how often people seem surprised, and may consider it some kind of magic or psychic ability, when you show them that you’ve listened to them and the stories of their lives and who they are with interest, attention and care. I suppose if they don’t do it themselves, listen to themselves or others, they may not realise other people do.

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      1. Yes, yes, anupturnedsoul, quite often they think its is some kind of psychic ability whereas its is simple listening and watching, yes, yes… and you don’t event have to think 🙂 🙂

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  4. Yes – stilling oneself long enough – that is the key. I recognized this many years ago but it’s so hard to do. My brain is usually so busy with so much useless (for the most part, anyway) stuff. Clearing it out can be quite a job!

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    1. Sometimes it feels like there is a conspiracy to keep us away from stillness, and not just from our own minds. It’s like the world wants us to keep busy (and drink lots of coffee) so we won’t notice what the world is up to. And we sometimes feels guilty for not being constantly busy, either physically or mentally.

      And those times when we do get a moment to ourselves, there’s often an interruption or a distraction. Someone needs us to be busy and think about them and their things.

      So it’s not just about us trying to be still within ourselves and not being able to do it.

      I’ve found as I get older my mind tends to go blank more easily, which is not always helpful but since it’s doing it might as well use it as an opportunity.

      There’s an author whose name I can’t remember who said that meditation is contemplation, those moments perhaps when you’re waiting for something like an appointment or a bus, when you just zone out and go quiet for a few seconds. If you focus on that natural ability and each time it happens expand its time a bit, then it can become your own practice of stillness, one which is created by you for you. I always liked that and have used it 🙂

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