A Dozen (plus One) Clues that Your Teacher is a False Guru:
Read the list below. Identify those characteristics that you’ve observed in the teacher or guru you study with. I’ve studied with a teacher who exhibited one of these characteristics, but I didn’t consider that teacher to be a threat to my growth or lacking in wisdom and knowledge. I’ve also studied with a teacher who exhibited 11 of the following 13 characteristics, and I considered that teacher to be a false guru.
1. A false guru claims to hold esoteric knowledge given only to them. Listen for phrases such as “first of its kind,” “the one and only,” “never before known.” These terms denote “special” and are exclusive rather than inclusive. They set apart rather than embrace. Being “special” is not a valid criterion for holding the title of teacher or guru.
2. A false guru is authoritarian in nature. “Do what I say because…” although it is not always clear why you must do what they say. They expect you to follow their directives because they are the expert, because you’ve given them money, or because they know more than you. Ask yourself the reasons you would want to obey someone simply because they tell you to (unless you’re in military service or that person is your boss.)
3. A false guru does parlor tricks, meaning they have ability to “wow” you with their extra-ordinary skills. Telekinesis, mindreading, reading auras, going to the lower worlds for knowledge, or practicing hypnosis—whatever skills, tools, or know-how they’ve developed to show their “expertise”—is used to impress you.
4. A false guru is argumentative in nature. They hold their opinions, experiences, and insight as inviolable when questioned.
5. You seldom speak with a false guru directly. You’re offered books, tapes, CD’s, and videos for purchase, but they rarely offer to provide you with face-to-face interaction.
6. A false guru will hold secrets—secrets regarding who they are, secrets regarding their knowledge, secrets regarding sharing that knowledge with you. These secrets cause her or him to be less vulnerable and to present a façade to impress you.
7. You begin to sense that your “idea” of the guru is bigger than who she or he really is. You begin to realize that your guru isn’t someone you know well at all, once you’ve glimpsed the guru “behind the curtain,” and the behavior surprises you because it doesn’t align with what the guru says while on stage.
8. A false guru will battle/smear/bad mouth his peers as though verbal, below-the-belt competition is the norm between experts in their field. If the guru insults his or her peers (and I’m not referring to challenging peers as a means of clarifying the teachings) what does that say about the value that guru holds toward his or her fellow human beings?
9. A false guru will have hierarchy in their student structure. Initially, this isn’t something you’re aware of, but as your time with them unfolds, you find that some students—those students who do exactly as the guru says—appear to be held in higher esteem than others. They get special favors from the guru: extra time, additional training, glimpses into the guru’s private life, privileges that “lesser” students aren’t given.
10. A false guru will encourage their students to be responsible for the guru’s sustainability, i.e. for bringing in other students, proselytizing, and helping to fund and market the guru to keep them in business.
11. Details to their teachings border on excessive and obsessive—the more you study with them, the more it seems there is an endless fund of information to grasp and there’s no end in sight to what you need to learn before you can complete your journey as student or apprentice.
12. A false guru will offer “lures” for advanced knowledge. When you pass Level 1, you find there are nine additional levels to practice before you hear, experience, and understand what you need to grasp of their system. Yes, some knowledge is prerequisite for further knowledge—a toddler doesn’t get behind the wheel of a racecar—but it begins to feel as though there’s no top
of the mountain, rather endless permutations of information for you to learn and to pay for.
13. You begin to suspect that your teacher shows signs of being narcissistic: he or she cannot handle criticism; they exhibit signs of entitlement; they expect special treatment; they appear unemotional; they are unaware of others’ needs; they crave admiration; they have paranoid tendencies.
If you identify that the teacher/guru you study with practices 5~6 of the above descriptors, you may be working with someone who doesn’t have your best interest at heart. The good they can do for you is overshadowed by their own liabilities.
These actions and behaviors don’t show up overnight. No teacher or guru is going to blatantly seek to control you or treat you with little to no respect and continue to expect your commitment and financial support. However, if he or she is a false guru, over time these behaviors will begin to surface. When you are in the presence of a false guru, they are as evident as a full moon on a clear night.