Re: [Meditation Society of America] re: dealing with the guru/Shadow of the Enlightened Guru
- NamsteThank you so very much for posting that excerpt from George Feuerstein. I had read it before and think it really relavent to what is being discussed. I'm going now to read it once again. Thanks.Having lived with a true "guru" in Rishikesh, India, Swami Sivananda, this is a subject close to my heart. Swami Sivananda was a true enlightened soul. I have met, during many years, many so called "gurus" who were not even close. Thanks again for the article.Sarojini----- Original Message -----From: freyjartist@...Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2003 10:16 AMSubject: [Meditation Society of America] re: dealing with the guru/Shadow of the Enlightened GuruHi
I feel like the following article fits in with the discussion
on guru/disciple, therapist/client, parent/child, teacher/student etc.
To me, there is conceptually a fine distinction
between the ultimate function of 'guru'
in its truest meaning, and the function
of the other "relationships".
A realized being playing the role of 'guru'.....or, being the vehicle
through which another gets realized, so to speak, may not necessarily
have an integrated personality.
As illustrated in this article, not all supposedly
'realized beings', in other words, where there exists
no-identity, have integrated personalities.
No identity and an "integrated personality"
don't go hand in hand.
I think it's a distinction worth paying attention to,
because i believe it causes confusion.
The guru/disciple relationship isn't about
fostering personality intergration. While
that can be a by-product, it's not a cause and effect
kind of thing.
This isn't that easy to convey, because,
it can be said, if there is no-identity, then
what personality is there to integrate?
Which leads me to say that personality integration,
in itself, is to start with, a made-up creation of mind.
I think that the paradigm shift of 'realization' which results
in the complete absence of identity-- and that which cannot
be spoken about-- is different from the intergration of
What does anyone else think?
As posted by Gill on Sufimystic:
From: 'Meeting The Shadow'
Edited by Connie Zweig and Jeremiah Abrams
The Shadow Of The Enlightened Guru
by Georg Feuerstein
In his book The Lotus and the Robot, Arthur Koestler tells of an incident
that happened while he was sitting at the feet of the female Indian guru
Anandamayi Ma, who is venerated by tens of thousands of Hindus as an
incarnation of the Divine. An old woman approached the dais and begged
Anandamayi Ma to intercede for her son, who had been missing in action after
a recent border incident. The saint ignored her completely. When the woman
became hysterical, Anandamayi Ma dismissed her rather harshly, which was a
signal to the attendants to swiftly conduct the woman out of the room.
Koestler was taken aback by Anandamayi Ma's indifference to the woman's
suffering. He concluded that the saint was, at least in that moment, lacking
compassion. He found it perplexing that an allegedly enlightened being,
acting spontaneously out of the fullness of the Divine, should display such
abruptness and seeming callousness. This story highlights the fact that even
supposedly "perfect" beings can and do engage in actions that seem to
contradict their followers' idealized image of them.
Some "perfect" masters are notorious for their angry outbursts, others for
their authoritarianism. Of late a number of allegedly celibate super-gurus
have made headlines for their clandestine sexual relationships with women
followers. Spiritual geniuses-saints, sages, and mystics-are not immune to
neurotic traits or to having experiences much like psychotic states. Indeed,
even apparently enlightened adepts can be subject to personality
characteristics that consensus opinion finds undesirable.
That the personality of enlightened beings and advanced mystics remains
largely intact is obvious when one examines biographies and autobiographies
of adepts, past and present. Each one manifests specific psychological
qualities, as determined by his or her genetics and life history. Some are
inclined toward passivity, others are spectacularly dynamic. Some are
gentle, others fierce. Some have no interest in learning, others are great
scholars. What these fully awakened beings have in common is that they no
longer identify with the personality complex, however it may be configured,
but live out of the identity of the Self. Enlightenment, then, consists in
the transcendence of the ego-habit, but enlightenment does not obliterate
the personality. If it did, we would be justified in equating it with
The fact that the basic personality structure is essentially the same after
enlightenment as it was before raises the crucial question of whether
enlightenment also leaves untouched traits that in the unenlightened
individual might be called neurotic. I believe that this is so. If they are
true teachers, their overriding purpose can be expected to be the
communication of the transcendental Reality. Yet, their behavior is, in the
outside world, always a matter of personal style.
Devotees, of course, like to think that their ideal guru is free from whims
and that apparent idiosyncracies must be for the sake of teaching others.
But a moment's reflection would show this to be based in fantasy and
Some teachers have claimed that their conduct reflects the psychic state of
those with whom they come in contact, that their sometimes curious exploits
are, in other words, triggered by disciples. This may be, because
enlightened adepts are like chameleons. But such mirroring still proceeds
along personal lines- For instance, some gurus will not sit on garbage
heaps, consume human flesh (as did the modern Tantric master Vimalananda),
or meditate on corpses to instruct others, while few of those who engage in
such practices would consider training their intellects or acquiring musical
skills in order to serve a disciple better.
The personality of the adept is, to be sure, oriented toward
selftranscendence rather than self-fulfillment. However, it is
characteristically not on a self-actualizing trajectory. I use
self-actualization here in a more restricted sense than it was intended by
Abraham Maslow: as the intention toward realizing psychic wholeness based on
the integration of the shadow. The shadow, in jungian terms, is the dark
aspect of the personality, the aggregate of repressed materials. The
individual shadow is ineluctably tied up with the collective shadow. This
integration is not a once-and-for-all event but a lifelong process. It can
occur either prior to enlightenment or afterward. If integration is not a
conscious program of the pre-enlightened personality, it is also unlikely to
form part of the personality after enlightenment, because of the relative
stability of the personality structures.
The claim has been made by some contemporary adepts that in the breakthrough
of enlightenment, the shadow is entirely flooded with the light of
supraconsciousness. The implication is that the enlightened being is without
shadow. This is difficult to accept as a statement about the conditional
personality. The shadow is the product of the near-infinite permutations of
unconscious processes that are essential to human life as we know it. While
the personality is experiencing life, unconscious content is formed simply
because no one can be continuously aware of everything.
The uprooting of the ego-identity in enlightenment does not terminate the
processes of attention: it merely ends the anchorage of attention to the
ego. Moreover, the enlightened being continues to think and emote, which
inevitably leaves an unconscious residue even when there is no inner
attachmerit to these processes. The important difference is that this
residue is not experienced as a hindrance to ego-transcendence simply
because this is an ongoing process in the enlightened condition.
A few adepts have resolved this issue by admitting that there is a phantom
ego, a vestigial personality center, even after awakening as the universal
Reality. If we accept this proposition, then we could perhaps also speak of
the existence of a phantom shadow or a vestigial shadow, which permits the
enlightened being to function in the dimensions of conditional reality In
the unenlightened individual, ego and shadow go together; we can postulate an
analogous polarization between phantom ego and phantom shadow after
Even if we were to assume that enlightenment illumines and evaporate the
shadow, we must still seriously question whether this illumination
corresponds to integration-the basis for higher self-trans formation. This
means that it involves intentional change in the direction of psychic
wholeness that can be observed by others. When I examine the lives of
contemporary adepts claiming to be enlightened, I do not see evidence that
such integration work is being done. One of the first indications would be a
visible willingness not only to reflect disciples back to themselves but
also to have disciples be a mirror for the adept's further growth. However,
this kind of willingness calls for an openness that is precluded by the
authoritarian style adopted by most gurus.
The traditional spiritual paths are by and large grounded in the vertical
ideal of liberation from the conditioning of the body-mind. Therefore, the
focus on what is conceived to be the ultimate good-transcendental Being.
This spiritual single-mindedness jars the human psyche out of focus: its
personal concerns become insignificant and its structures are viewed as
something to be transcended as quickly as possible rather than transformed.
Of course, all self-transcending methods involve a degree of
self-transformation. But, as a rule, this does not entail a concerted effort
to work with the shadow and accomplish psychic integration. This may explain
why so many mystics and adepts are highly eccentric and authoritarian and
appear socially to have weakly integrated personalities.
Unlike transcendence, integration occurs in the horizontal plane. It extends
the ideal of wholeness to the conditional personality and its social nexus.
Yet, integration makes sense only when the conditional personality and the
conditional world are not treated as irrevocable opponents of the ultimate
Reality but are valued as manifestations of it.
Having discovered the Divine in the depths of his or her own soul, the adept
must then find the Divine in all life. This is, in fact, the adept's
principal obligation and responsibility. To put it differently, having drunk
at the fountain of life, the adept must complete the spiritual opus and
practice compassion on the basis of the recognition that everything
participates in the universal field of the Divine.
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