David, I liked this post of yours. While you may have slightly
misrepresented what Spark was trying to say, I think you are raising a
valid question here, and you have developed it, and made some significant
points in this post.

However, the whole basis for your comments that follow rest upon the
assumptions you have made in the above paragraphs. Rumi told an interesting
story on this very matter. It was about a drunken man who came home late
one night, and mistook a statue in the garden for his lover. As Rumi
pointed out, in his drunken state, it was not difficult for this man to
develop amorous feelings toward the statue, but how can this be compared to
the experience of a conscious man in the arms of his Beloved?


I can appreciate your distinction and I, naturally, wouldn't replace
one second with a living Charan with a dead photograph.


Rumi then went on to compare the many men who pretend to be masters, but
who are no more than plaster whores, since they have no real love to offer.
In their arms we can only experience the love that we create ourselves.
However, this can in no way be compared to love in the arms of our true
Beloved, who cares more for us than we do ourselves. In the arms of that
one, the love that we give is returned many times over.


I do appreciate your distinctions and your emphasis on "our true

But, Doug, what constitutes one's true beloved can be another's

Just look at all the varying opinions on this newsgroup of Harji or
Paulji or Darji.

An epistemological question, naturally, arises:

How do we know that our beloved IS true?

DOUG writes:

These are important differences. True, in both cases we have faith, and
love is inspired in our hearts, but the experiences are incomparable.


Incomparable to whom? An eckist may feel that Harji is the True
Beloved, whereas a follower of another guru may feel he is a fraud.

A follower of Jesus may think "HIS" love surpasses all, whereas a
follower of the current Namdhari guru is the greatest.

And, to top it off, how do we "know" such gurus are genuine and

I know of many Thakar followers who think he is the greatest....

DOUG writes:

Therefore, I will say that I believe the point you are making here is
seriously flawed.

It appears that you have arrived at this conclusion through the idea that
even true masters are not always aware of the effects that they have on
their followers. In other words, their miraculous appearances before their
disciples, and other such experiences, does not always spring from their
conscious intentions. I believe this is what you mean by what Faqir Chand
calls unknowingness.

Now, of course, there are many cases where such experiences are nothing
but the manifestation of that person's own subconscious projections. But as
Rumi pointed out, these cases are nothing like the real presence of a
living Master. The differences, once experienced, are obvious.


Obvious to whom?

You must be quite aware of how many different opinions there are on
this very issue. Just look at the various ECK factions or the
various shabd yoga factions; each arguing for the superiority of
their "living" Master.

Yes, I do think some gurus are better and I naturally would argue
that it is more conducive to follow those who reflect higher values,

But I am also too keenly aware of weird subjectivity that permeates
this entire field....

I don't think for a second that Harji is a "true" beloved, but I do
know of lots of people who think he is.

The same (pro and con) holds for each and every guru in the
spiritual supermarket.

Thus, I pointed out how the simple cliche' "beauty is in the eye of
the beholder" holds much more truth and impact than we might suspect
in this guru/disciple relationship.

Now obviously I think some gurus are "better" looking than others
and we may even come to some consensual agreement....

But there will still be somebody out there who will get a woody for
even the ugliest "master" on the make.... if you catch my drift.

The "love" he feels--he may argue--is no different than what I may
feel for my "true" master.....

I am curious, Doug, by what objective standard can we make such a

DOUG writes:

Another issue that seems to lead people to the same conclusion as yours,
is the idea that we are all a part of God, and that the whole path lies
within us, and that we in reality need nothing outside ourselves to find
the ultimate truths. But this is not the talk of lovers of God, who have
found that jewel of divine love seared into their hearts by His glance.


I think you are barking up the wrong tree, if you think this applies
to me.

I miss Charan for precisely his "objectivity". His physical being.

I would imagine that Princess Di's kids miss her "objectivity" as

I clearly miss that "love" gleaned from his glance. But that is also
my personal relationship and I don't know if such things can be
"objectified" so clearly as you imply.

DOUG writes:

This is the talk of drunken men with their arms around the stone statue of
their Mind.


Perhaps, but I never fell in love with a stone statue, but a living
person whom I knew quite well. 

I have made my argument because I am well aware of the variety of
guru/disciple relationships and how we tend to become myopic in our
explanations of our "true" beloveds....

There are billions of mothers in history and regardless of their
varying qualities, their children "loved" them all the same (even if
such mothers didn't give a shit about them perhaps--and vice versa
of course).

So, we have lots of guru-icons and guru relationships and each
disciple will speak about their "true" beloved, whatever the ism.


Now I have argued for higher standards for our respective gurus on
THIS level, primarily because of this very issue of trust and

Although I agree with Spark and Faqir Chand (the guru is mostly OUR
projection, thus his ultimate "ethical" status may matter little
unless brought to our "here and now" attention), it is also true
that Criminals and Scoundrels and BSers tend to complicate the
simplicity of one's spiritual practice.


Because, as many ex-Eckists have noted, once you find out or
discover the ethical shortcomings of your would-be guru (which can
range from the mundane.... geez, he wears glasses? to the profound,
you mean he likes little boys?), it becomes increasingly difficult
to USE that form for YOUR projections.

Now this does not preclude the possibility to still use such
Scum Bags as gurus (just think of Thakar's
devotees who seem adept at rationalizing anything), but only that
it causes more difficulty in the long run.


David, if you first accept that our experiences of guidance and protection
come from our own projections, then yes what you say above all follows. But
such guidance and protection, and other such experiences, should never be
confused with real experiences of Guidance and Protection.


Doug, while I appreciate your attempt to distinguish the two, you
must be quite aware that what is lower case guidance and protection
for one devotee may be to another upper case Guidance and
Protection for another.

How do you "know" objectively the differences?

Moreover, let me take the example of the living master, Harold

I think he is deluded.

But what I think bears little import to many Ekists, even including
you presumably.

Instead such Ekists will tell me that he is a "True" Master.

And so will countless other disciples of would-be gurus.

What is IT that makes a guru "true"?

I am quite interested (seriously) in your objective standards to
determine such things, as implied by your post.

DOUG writes:

O The imitation
may seem similar to one who has never seen the Real, just like fake
diamonds can fool those who have never seen real diamonds (and perhaps even
a few that have.)


But what is "real" to you may be a "fake" to me, right?

Or, what is "real" to me may seem like a fake to someone else.

By what appraisement system can we distinguish such things?

Remember, if we use the "by their fruits you shall know them"
argument, each and every guru disciple has "frutiful" stories.....

DOUG writes:

The issues that you are raising here all deal with the incredible powers
of our own imaginations. But you are mistaken if you think that this is all
there is to a true Master. Indeed, the imaginative creations of the chela
are deeply involved in the whole process. Sometimes this is beneficial,
sometimes detrimental. But to gain the higher states of consciousness,
these imaginative powers are almost useless and must eventually be
abandoned. Only Spirit is dependable in the long run, which flows from the
Inner Master to the chela.


Ironically, i like what you say even though I don't think your
argument can stand its own weight.

"Only Spirit is dependable in the long run, which flows from the
Inner Master to the chela."--so says Doug.

Nice statement, but again how do "you" know?

And how can such knowledge be translated into an objective grid
system whereby we can distinguish between "imagination" and "real"
transmission of power.

Remember this: every disciple says the same thing about his/her

Why is one person's "imagination" another person's "true" reality?

Now, naturally, I sympathize with your argument, since I have always
felt that Charan was a most amazing person on an objective level.
I could also tell countless stories to buttress it as well.

But right when I do, I must also realize that each and every other
disciple of so and so guru will tell a similar story.

Why is "my" beloved "true" and the other guy's imitative?

DOUG writes:

There are many who think that dependence upon a Master is a form of
self-limitation, but this is true only for those who have gained true
Self-Realization, where the Master, Himself, lifts us up to walk at His
side, and replaces our own heart with His heart, you might say. This is an
exceedingly rare state. But, except for such advanced cases, this idea that
we are limiting ourselves by looking for a true Master who is outside
ourselves, is a trick of the mind, and is common amongst those who are
generally happy with their lives. However, when a person who is dying
finally realizes that he cannot cure himself, then he will accept the help
of a doctor.


I do most certainly appreciate your argument, as it is the exact one
given (more or less) by my own guru and by Sant Mat in general.

But how do you distinguish a "trick of the mind" from the "true
Master's" grace?

Remember, what is "grace" to a Christian may be a "trick of the
mind" to another ism, and vice versa.

Although I am all for you advocating such a distinction, I must
confess that if you think Harji is that "True" Master then we are
going to have a fun time debating the "objectivity" of your vision.


Okay, now let's take Spark's lead and say something a bit more
radical, even if not politically cool:

Every guru (apparently without exception) has skeletons in his/her

One approach, and one that I certainly advocate, is to ACKNOWLEDGE
those skeletons or ghosts for what they are.

In this approach, we actually do open up the door (the proverbial
pandora's box) to see the Guru NAKED (see my series of articles
on this very issue).

It is not a pretty sight; now, naturally, some gurus LOOK better
naked than others.

Thus, we could make the argument like this:


If we can accept the core of their humanity (and remember there is a
range here--some gurus may be so reprehensible that when we spot them
naked we will simply hurl from the sight), and we still find them to
be beacons for our development, then perhaps such gurus are


What you are referring to here, David, is simply the human aspect of the
Outer Master. Sure there are always imperfections. Every Guru craps, every
guru dies, eventually. They each have their own personalities, their own
traits. They all must consume the lives of other beings to live in this
world, even if only plant type beings, when they are vegetarian.

The real point here is, is this a real spiritual teacher, or someone
posing and acting like one? If this person can guide us, and if their gaze
connects us to real spiritual currents that move us beyond space and time,
who cares about imperfections? As the Sufis said, all those imperfections
then become beauty marks.


"Real spiritual currents"--you say.

How do we know they are "real"?

Moreover, I do quite agree that when you love your guru you will not
get bothered by such imperfections but will see the beauty of them.

But that's precisely my point:

It is our "love" which is transforming the object, even if we
"perceive" that such love is objectively being transmitted from the
very "object" itself....


This is a matter of spiritual love, not human love; of unconditional love,
not self serving love. Or let's put it this way: to one who is dying of
thirst what difference does it make if the water comes in a mug or a
goblet? If a person starts complaining about the quality of mug, then
there's a good chance he is not very thirsty.


Hmm, but this is exactly my point. When one is thirsty they will
drink ALMOST ANYTHING, including fluids which are neither pure nor

It is that THIRST which fuels our views of the objective standards
we hold for our respective gurus.

I am not so certain that we really know which guru is true in the
ultimate sense.

We simply know what "our" relationship with him/her brings to bear.


Now, what I do find alarming is our desire to keep our gurus fully
clothed, as if such clothing (in itself) will hide all those human
traits we know are there but are unwilling to acknowledge.

Of course, it is also the case that one can follow a completely
fucked-up guru (and know it all along) and not care.

This is the privilege of guru/disciple relationships, as it is with
almost any human bonding.

We can pick lousy gurus, just like we can pick lousy friends.

Thus, in a contradictory two avenue move (something Spark rightly
picked up on), I have argued that we should have high standards for
our gurus, EVEN though the love/devotion/faith we have for them is
more or less OUR OWN product.

I guess I could say it like this:

Yes, we are the ones doing the spiritual masturbation to those
chosen icons, charging ourselves up by the belief in their
"ontological" beauty and charm.


You may be describing your own experience here, David, but not mine.


I didn't fall in love with Charan because I felt it was a spiritual
masturbation project, but rather because I sensed a transcendental
love that I couldn't describe.

But having said that (and I could tell countless stories to buttress
my objective feelings), I realize too well that what is "objective"
to me can in turn be seen as merely arbitrary to another....

That is why I love reading Faqir Chand and "doubting" my own visions
concerning Sant Mat and my guru.

Let me give you one example.

Yes, I love my mother; and yes, my mother is still alive.

And, yes, my mother loves me as well.

But there are billions of mothers and billions of sons who feel
almost exactly as I do.

What this suggests is that "our" relationships fuel our

Or, more bluntly, love making is indeed a lot better with an
objective person with whom you are in love with.

But the orgasm is yours and what causes such a climax is one's 
perception of the other.......


masturbation you are referring to is what takes place within your mind, it
is not at all the experience that comes from Spirit to Soul. Perhaps you
are looking for a real Master? 


Hmm, I think you got caught in your own trap here, Doug.

What you think is a "real" Master may be quite different than what I
think, especially if you think Harold Klemp is one.

I know exactly what I sensed from Charan and what a beautiful thing
it was for me.

I can even talk about all sorts of "objective" episodes, but this
again sidelights the pandora's box that is inherent in religion or

What one takes to be objective and real can be perceived by another
as completely delusional.

Yes, Rumi saw Shams as a God-man, but don't forget that apparently
one of Rumi's sons thought the opposite and conspired to "kill"

What causes the discrepancy?

Think long and hard about it, keeping in mind that what we think is
grace may simply be our way of objectifying that which we cannot
describe from a purely subjective realm.


What may not be so apparent (and what often does come out after
time) is that some of those Guru-Models have been Severely "touched
up" by their professional handlers, so that we won't be able to
spot that chunk of cellulite, or that blemish, or that crooked nose.

Can we love our guru models when we see them without Make-Up?

Can we still "juice up" the same to their Images when such is

Can we as Mary Magdala suggests, still love the Master even if he
NEVER resurrects?


Now, here, David, you are talking about the deification of past masters.


Nope. I am talking about each and every guru, living or dead.

How much do you really know about Harold Klemp?

How much do we really know about ANY guru?

I hung out with my guru for very long periods of time (I watched
T.V. with him, I ate dinner with him, I saw him in a variety of
conditions), but even then how much do I "really" know.

Geez, we don't even know that much about our spouses, yet we live
with them day and night....

DOUG writes:

It is common for the followers of a master to forget, or even cover up, the
blemishes of their master after they are gone.


Nope, they do it just as well when he or she is alive.

Your distinction does not hold up, since we know too well how living
gurus have also been "made-up" in a variety of ways with all sorts
of glossing sheen.

DOUG writes:
But this is no different
than people who choose to remember the good qualities of a lost loved one.
There is a good reason for this: The real being, our true self, is not
limited by this body. It is much more than this body. If we truly know
someone, we know something that is not just a body. We know their
beingness. It is that beingness that we miss, when they have left. Thus we
touch up the blemishes to come closer to our memory of their beingness.

Of course, this can be said even for the case before the Master dies. It
is still quite natural to think of the Master without the blemishes,
because this comes closer to His true beingness. But the more advanced
students know, that even in those blemishes are hidden meanings and
purposes. This is what is meant by seeing perfection in the Master. This is
also an advanced state, and if the chela reaches this point then no matter
what may happen to the Master, He will never leave him again.


Sorry, I disagree with you on this.

I think a much more "advanced" state is when one can simply say,
"yep, my guru fucked up."

As for seeing perfections and hidden meanings and the like, the most
novice of chelas do it.

I have seen satsangis worldwide do it, even from day one.

Nope, i would argue that the more impressive stage is when you can
simply call an ace an ace....

Or to invoke Donavan's song from a Zen Buddhism koan:

first there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.

DOUG writes:

However, if the Master dies, then their love can no longer reach us here
at this physical level. If we are able to go up and meet them at the plane
where they now reside, then we still can gain guidance and teachings from
them. Otherwise, we are in need of a new living Master, who can connect us
to the teachings while we are here in the physical. The miracle that
occurs, is that the new Master is exactly the same, spiritually, as the
past master. Not because it is all our own creation, but because the outer
Master is but a matrix through which the True Master works. And it is this
True Master that uses the form of the outer Master, whether the outer
Master is fully conscious of it all the time or not.


Nice rhetoric here, Doug, but again an epistemological question:

How do "you" know and how can you objectively verify this?

Moreover, how do you know that a "living" master is necessary?

Christians think Jesus is still alive.             

Even those in Soami Bagh, Agra, think that the previous guru is
guiding them....

"True Master"?

How do you know such a thing, really?

I am very interested in your objective renderings....

It should make for a fun debate and exchange of ideas....

Or, will it turn into a "My guru is better than your guru"

DOUG writes:

One last thing should be mentioned on this subject. This idea that we
should drag up all the terrible failures and imperfections of all our
heroes, and any public figure, is a relatively new one, historically, and
can be quite destructive. While it certainly plays a useful role in the
democratic process, for keeping our politicians honest, and is healthy when
looking at our own weaknesses, as a form of social objectivity, it is cold
and heartless. It is like trying to examine the body to find Soul. This
lifeless scientific approach will not get us any closer to seeing the true
purpose of this world, nor the real greatness in great men and women. But
it surely does chop down great people to the size of the little people who
like to feel bigger than they really are. I know that is not your real
intention, David, but I'm just referring to this modern journalistic trend
and its effects.


Sorry, but I point blank disagree with you.

If politicians need to be kept honest, so do our gurus.

The higher the claim, the greater should be our scrutiny.

They deserve nothing less.