Supposing that you find you have a noxious guru, what do you do?
How might you discover it?
You may have encountered unpalatable aspects of his personality, but assumed that he was a high-functioning narcissist who lived his spiritual life as best a narcissist could. People in the satsang might have seemed to be thriving on his achievements and loving towards him. Thus lulled, you might learn one day that he, by his own admission, had been having sex with women in the community. You might excuse him at first, saying, oh well, those of a certain age grew up in the hippy era with more relaxed attitudes to sex than the current conventions.
But then you discover differently. There was secrecy and suppression surrounding the sexual activity – nothing like the relaxed and uninhibited joyfulness of another era. From the testimonies of those courageous enough to tell of their experience you discover that what has been described is pernicious coercion – psychological, emotional, and worst of all, the pressure from claiming that the spiritual well-being of the female partner depended on her compliance to her god-master, and secrecy to maintain it. About 40 such female partners.
Discovery of the secret liaisons soon reveals that the guru has complete indifference to the actual emotional well-being of his partners. This might suggest a range of other cruel behaviours.
- “the woman” was not ever seen as a partner, but rather as a commodity for his use;
- The encounters were not reciprocal but were about giving him physical pleasure;
- The encounters were about giving him misogynistic pleasure. The woman was there to learn submission, to be debased and dominated;
- And that he gained narcissistic pleasure in dominating also their men-folk. Instead of accepting his karma as a diminutive man, now he was more powerful than all those other men whose wives and girlfriends he dominated right under their noses.
Even a disciple of good will towards the guru could not tolerate sitting idly by giving tacit approval. It is a complete nonsense that all the behaviours of a guru should be put down to sadhana or the shakti or to tantric sex, in effect attributed to God’s grace, ignoring the nastiness of the man.
A narcissist’s toolkit
Part of a narcissist toolkit is lying to get what the narcissist wants, and manipulating people’s responses to him by getting them to suppose the narcissist thinks the same way they do. At the same time, he goes about his narcissistic program in complete violation of what he has led people to suppose he holds sacred. In addition, he can never admit wrong-doing and dismisses any responsibility for any hurt he causes – in this case, any responsibility on his part for the hurt to his sexual partners, their own partners, and any hurt that his duplicity caused the whole community. Simply non-cognisant of what they are feeling.
How would you respond?
What would you feel then? Wouldn’t you feel mortified because you did not see deeply enough into him? Would you not be so ashamed of him that you could scarcely look at a picture of him?
Would you not also be ashamed of those women you might have sat with in good faith at the satsangs who must have been complicit in it? Those who knew what was happening, and did nothing about it.. Knowing, keeping it secret, protecting the behaviour, is that not corrupt? Would you not be ashamed of the company you kept? And would you not be aghast to find that their response is image management, and damage control?
What would you say to others who feel nothing for “the women”?
And of people who stay, claiming that the hurting women and men are “negative, and unloving”, what would you want to say to them?
I know what I would say to them: The unloving behaviour is yours, the negativity is yours – no compassion, no empathy, no kindness, no truthfulness… negative in all of those. But you’d score high on callousness, cruelty and incomprehension of spiritual life.
That’s what I would say to them.