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.