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Phooey to Gurus

As the founder and producer of the life-altering Rethinking Everything conference, I have had lots of folks over the years tell me I am their guru. I rebel against this! Heartily! With every cell of my being I rebel (and I say so). I don’t believe in gurus, gods, worship or idolatry. I am always left to ponder why so many folks seem to want, or even need, a guru of some sort to follow, emulate, fawn over, or …. use to justify their own inability to ask within the big questions, get the deeply intimate and profound answers and live accordingly. This is my dream for everyone, to discover their own heart.

As I ponder this predicament, this state of putting the wisdom of a guru before oneself, I actually understand it, of course I do. For the regular readers of this blog, I know you know what I am going to say. I just want to say it again, ok? Virtually all of us have been raised in extraordinarily conditioned environments, from our homes and schools to churches and cultural messaging that constantly bombards us through a retelling of “history” and media: movies, cartoons, television programming and “news.” We are taught through an effective system of rewards and punishments what to think and how to think it. Digressing from the straightlaced norms of what is considered right and normal, we are labeled difficult or unemployable or odd or even ADD, ADHD or somewhere on the Autistic Spectrum, for example. Sadly, there is no dearth of labels or name calling for the radical individual who chooses to think for himself.

So we’re all conditioned, what’s the big deal? Because it’s fucking unsatisfying and downright self abusive to live according to the dictates of another, that’s why! No one enjoys living under another’s thumb; we all want to be our own boss, right? Why defer to a guru or god or other authority for the discovery of right livelihood? It just doesn’t make a bit of sense. We replace one external authority for another, thinking it is an upgrade, an evolution, even enlightenment. No, that’s not how it works! Such action is not an upgrade. And it will never feel like authentic evolution. In the end, you are just working to achieve the praise of another, some other source or being rather than yourself. Your so called enlightenment will leave you as trapped as ever and jumping through the hoops of another.

Ok then, how to break out of the cycle of worship/idolatry of your favorite guru or god?

1. Realize that you have a right to feel good, alive, empowered, stimulated, joyful. Know that this is possible without the umbrella of another.

2. Recall the times in your life when you have genuinely felt wonderful – on your own, through your own doing. What were you engaged in and thinking at that time? Remember that feeling, allow your body to relax into it.

3. Imagine a world, your world, what it would look like, what shape it would take, if you were always feeling strong and joyful, content and engaged in your own self-designed important things. Give it detail, spend time imagining your world.

4. Commit yourself every day to eliminating one thought or person in your life that has you feeling small or negative or bad about yourself. Don’t question yourself on this. Choose to separate yourself from that person or thought or idea about yourself.

5. Every day, commit yourself to consciously choosing a few things in your life that you are authentically grateful for. Not things you SHOULD be grateful for but things or people you feel true gratitude for. Allow your body to feel what it feels like to be grateful.

6. Commit yourself to doing one thing each day that will elevate you to a feeling you want: of happiness, gratitude, challenge, contentment, empowerment. Stick with these new actions. You are alive in this place and time to feel good. Forget about what others might choose and make the choices that feel uniquely good for you.

7. As you become more confident, realize that every moment you have a choice to make: you can choose to think a troubling thought or a hopeful one. You can choose to act from a place of ‘what does love feel like’ or something else. You have a choice. Why would you choose troubling thoughts or actions when there are other choices to make? If love for you has been a mixed bag, then choose the feeling of love that has felt true and good, not the one that was accompanied by punishment or other harsh words or action.

8. As it becomes easier for you to live a satisfying and joyful life, one spawned from your own unique and powerful sense of right action, voila! Like magic, new doors will begin to open for you, new people will come into your life that are unlike your old network of dysfunctional/angry friends or family. Fresh ideas will begin to appear all around you – intuitively, through others, through the books and reading material you choose. Your life will take on a flow you did not realize could happen. Life is easy. You are happy and contributing and growing, expanding. Who knows where it will end?

I have been experimenting with such a life for decades now and am learning new things almost every day. The number one thing I’ve learned in my process is that no one can do it for me. No one else can tell me how to live or what’s important. It will not lead to my enlightenment, to my growth, to my evolution. I must commit myself to myself and do the work. The work all comes from what I want, what I believe is important, what things, ideas and people allow me to feel good, really good. If I take another’s ideas about this, I am working for them, not me.

Are you ready to live a radical life of joy? Are you ready to give up everything another is telling you about how to live? Dig deep. The answers are all there, waiting for your questions. The feelings you want are just around the corner and the joyous outcome of a whole new you is there too.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Joni Berg #

    love this one, Barb! I realize I can change when I’m conscious of having heard or seen the same lesson in front of me over and over. -doesn’t always take ages, but it can! ;~)
    I have read and heard recently (and in the past, too, thank goodness!) -so much of what you are saying in this blog.

    one thing pops out big-time:
    “If love for you has been a mixed bag, then choose the feeling of love that has felt true and good.”

    Absolutely. We have choices. For me, it takes a lot of encouragement to get out of the ‘hurt little girl, buttons got pushed so I’m feeling that powerlessness’ state. But I work at it and I have sometimes already chosen well. I am encouraged by my progress, so those feelings of “this feels good!” do instruct me in my growth.

    Years ago in 1997, I had already made some changes…left the institutional church practice behind and somehow managed to say “No” to the many requests for my volunteer hours/energy in that regard. Spending less time in that arena, there was a little more time for me. I am a wife and mother. My children were in high school/college. Life was busy!

    In 2000, I was attending an essential oils convention and one of the presenters *happened* to be riding in the elevator with me. I remarked about one of the things she spoke of and as we got to talking, she recommended I “do some emotional work.”

    Well, that threw me. Emotional “work?” How does one DO this?

    Turns out I had been doing this all my life, but not calling it that. How well have I come to feel, and have I been able to change for the better through it, is the question.

    I know I have lived my whole life persistently hearing a voice from inside saying, “you’re not feeling good; pay attention to the feelings” but ever understanding it as a youngster. Intense inner mental wrangling, pretend escape playtimes, and self-soothing behaviors became how I yo-yoed through most of my life. I was a very daydreamy kid. (Note: no, my folks were not monsters or abusive; they did the best they could. They were very normal for the era.)

    Back to this century!!! In 2005 I “found” energy work. Well, started it in earnest. I knew it was there all along, but had labeled it a bit far out for me. I’d been raised pretty straight-laced and was a pretty good girl until some time into my last year of high school and “The Rebellion” -my own of course, but the important one for me. (Yes, it was 1969/70)

    New Age, Eastern or non-scientific modes of thought, etc. became something I was willing to look at. “Natural” and “organic” sounded good. I visited those for a time, but didn’t dive in too deeply. Much of it kept getting torn down by the people I spent a lot of time with.

    And Barb, you are **so right** about #1 on your list…feeling good, joyful, *empowered* -and this w/o that umbrella of another.

    I spent so much of my life jumping through hoops. Not that anyone said the words, “Here’s your hoop, sweetie. You jump through this in order to win my approval.” I just got trained that way. This is what happens.

    And it sticks. Conditioning sticks.

    Energy work opened me to the questions of
    What feels good to me? When do I feel alive? What am I doing when I feel empowered? Does this stimulate me? What on earth do I just plain, ol’ enjoy? How about some unadulterated JOY in your life, Joni?

    I have found some places that “love has felt true and good.” I know my inner YES! I count it a blessing and am grateful. I see that I do feel good more often the more I visit there, and the more I do what it takes to stay conscious of what is happening IN me without checking in with anyone else.

    This is a re-thinking, a re-conditioning of the loving sort.

    OK Barb, there’s a blog entry for you: Close encounters of the loving kind. tee hee.

    It does take work. Doing these things you suggest, Barb, is very helpful.

    Be valiant, loved ones…you lovely lovers of life-wide-open out there! You will see a change in your life when you change what you’re doing. And you will feel it in your feelings. You *will* feel better, often good, sometimes great!

    If you’re working at this my hat’s off to you.

    May 1, 2012
    • Thanks so much Joni for your story and input. Everything we do is energy work when we are connected and know what it feels like to be so. When out of sorts or in need of an energy boost to help one get started, I love EFT, Reiki, meditation, ho’oponopono, and just being in laughter with people I love and care about. What are your favorite energy boosters?

      May 1, 2012
  2. Joni Berg #

    Hi Barb. I agree with your statement about energy work. I cut my teeth on EFT and certainly, that’s a well one can go very deep into. (the Tapping Solution World Summit is coming up starting this Monday the 7th -free to all via their website! Feel free to delete that statement if it turns out to be a promotion of sorts, and not supposed to be found in the blog.)
    I haven’t learned Reiki, though have found it helpful on 2 occasions. I have not experienced ho’oponopono but it sure *sounds good.* Just saying it is fun! What is that all about?
    Stopping to quiet myself, get grounded, and breathing deeply works for me. Dropping deep into that still place where I am not only connected to God/ creator/ Life, but know I Am God in this form -“I and the Father are one”- always seems to clear out the cobwebs and set me straight again. I find I do best when I visit the big picture window in my house in the morning with my cup of tea, and see the sunrise. I’ve just started that since last fall, having been a confirmed night owl most of my life. I don’t know how I will approach the middle of the summer when that sun’s up REALLY early!
    Byron Katie’s The Work has been so useful -not so much to boost energy as to clear out the old conditioning and to square away what thoughts i have believed which aren’t serving me— this does energize me in the long run.
    I am truly encouraged by reading the Rethinking Everything pieces, too, as it shows me people have overcome many difficulties when they put their heads together and their energies to it. I get a very good feeling from that. Communicating with others lifts me up most times, and laughter with loved ones has got to be the best!

    May 1, 2012
  3. I love The Work by Byron Katie too, very much. The extraordinary simplicity of h’oponopono is a mantra that goes like this: I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thank you. The mantra is used for any type of challenging or negative feeling about oneself, another, the world, etc. It assumes we are all part of a oneness and all part of the creation of everything, both good and bad. I like it. It feels good.

    May 2, 2012
  4. Hi Barb, this is a great site and as I’m nodding my head I’m thinking … I have to tell her about our work! So please visit our site, particularly the “back pages” that talk about the educational philosophy. Thanks for the breath of fresh air!

    July 16, 2012
    • Hey Mary-Helen,

      We need to talk! What’s your email address?

      July 19, 2012
  5. MHR #

    I just commented but I’m not sure it “took” … i was enjoying your site (which I just found) and smiling and nodding and thought “I should tell her about our work!” So please visit our site, especially the back pages that talk about the philosophy and educational approach. And thanks for the oxygen!

    July 16, 2012

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