The Guru Has No Turban: Part TWO

Author: David Christopher Lane
Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER
Publication date: February 1997

E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at

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What is the "divine" reason for "Perfect" gurus passing wind?

Grace by smell?

You see, I have yet to hear a "spiritual" explanation for why gurus
perform such natural bodily functions.

But when they have a heart attack, get cancer, or have prostrate
surgery, I hear lots of excuses.


All "Perfect" Masters die, just as all ordinary people die.

The big difference, of course, between the two camps is that the
disciples of the guru feel a need to develop some fancy reason
for why he/she died.

When my dear brother, Michael, died just a few years ago our family
looked for the naturalistic causes.

Yet, when one's guru dies there seems to be a drive or a need to 
find some "other" cause, as if a heart attack is not a good enough

As Faqir Chand once commented to me, many of the "Perfect" Masters
he knew died from "imperfect" illnesses. . . with cancer being one
of the main culprits.

Faqir didn't believe that any of these gurus were bodily or mentally
perfect and felt that it was simply just desserts when the so-called
Enlightened being died from throat cancer.

Well, lots of people die from cancer and lots of "Perfect" Masters
die in some obviously uncomfortable ways.




This is a subject that is so taboo in certain shabd yoga circles
that I am even surprised when I find out that so and so guru has

For whatever weird historical, cultural, or biological reasons, it
seems that disciples of "Perfect" Masters have great difficulty
conceiving of the fact that their gurus had sex.

I remember shocking my students once when I said that if Jesus
Christ was a "normal" human being (remember in orthodox circles,
Jesus is BOTH God AND man) then he must have experienced an erection
from time to time.

Jesus with a hard-on?

Just the thought gets people uppity (pun intended?)

Perfect Master with a woodie?

Faqir Chand, that iconoclastic guru from the Punjab, upset a lot of
people in his satsang (including his inner circle) when he publicly
declared that the night before he had a "nocturnal emission." Faqir
was 87 or so, I believe, at the time.

Given India's media prudishness in terms of sex (no kissing in
Indian movies until just recently), Faqir's frank revelation
generated quite a rise 
(pun not intended) in the audience.

When a tradition cannot allow for a guru to eat a banana with relish
(remember gurus don't eat for taste..... sure), you can well imagine
how difficult it is to envision a "Perfect" Master having a wet
dream. Bad visual, perhaps, but uncommon?

Well, given the silence on this subject in spiritual circles (a fact
which Faqir deplored since he felt that if gurus were more honest
about how they got through the day then the disciples might have a
better clue how to do so too), we don't know. But I do know this:
There have been some deplorable things done by gurus who claim to
be celibate but who were not.

When Thakar Singh sexually came on to his female disciples, too many
of them tried to "ideologically work" away his transgressions. Why?
Because how can a "Perfect" Master stick his penis in a woman's
mouth when she is trying to meditate? (I am not making these
allegations up, by the way, as they were publicly aired in a
documentary in Germany and in Oregon)

Easy answer. Perfect masters don't.

Corrupt ones do.

However, let's back up a few steps first. The real problem in gurus
like Thakar Singh, who use their exalted status to secure less than
exalted desires, is not merely that they are scum bags, but that
they arise in a tradition which does not allow for its "Masters" to
be critically examined as mere mortals.

I remember talking with several Thakar Singh devotees about their
not so pleasant encounters with their guru's open mouth, extended
penis, and groping hands.... One of their first reactions, outside
of "What the hell is going on," was "What higher purpose is there in
this?" "The Guru is Perfect, so he must know what he is doing. Maybe
it is my own lust that caused this and he is trying to purify me."
"Oh, am I that blessed that he is giving me a new form of prasad?"
(By the way, these type of thoughts are common among disciples who
have been abused, sexually or otherwise.)

No matter how much "gain" there may be in thinking one's Master is
Perfect, Thakar Singh and his antics easily demonstrate a much worse
downside. And it is exactly that downside that does NOT get discussed
in the literature.

We hear so much about "trust the guru," "give up your intellect,"
"whatever the master says is for the disciple's good."

But what about when the guru beats the shit out of you because he is
in a bad mood? (Thakar has done it--even reportedly killed a woman
in order to get rid of the Kal spirit. Can't do it with "no" hands?
Oh, I see, if you did it that way you couldn't touch their
chest.... enlightened? perfect? try way too human.)

What do you do when the guru asks you to embezzle money?

What do you do when the guru asks you to manipulate the press?

What do you do when the guru tells you to lie (hey, I am not in town,
so keep it between you and me.....)?

What do you do when the guru makes a mistake?

Oops, Perfect Masters don't make mistakes, or at least that's the
rhetoric which puts disciples of "human" masters in a catch 22.
"Thakar is God, see, and there must be a reason he is blindfolding my
1 year old child and wants to keep him blindfolded for the next four
years..... God has my child's best interest in mind."

The fundamental problem with Perfect Master rhetoric is that it is
a tautology, a circle with no break and, I should add, no
discernible logic or intelligence. Once you buy into that rhetoric,
you are stuck. Stuck because in order to break the Gordian knot of
"Whatever He Says Is For My Own Good" you must "doubt" the very
premise in the first place.

I recently corresponded with a woman who told me that we should
follow our guru's orders no matter what, even if we disagree with
him or her. I countered with my horror stories from shabd yoga
history, attempting to convince her (but to no avail) that Perfect
Masters make mistakes.

And we should call them on it!

Let's take that classic Tibetan Buddhist story wherein the guru tells
his disciple to build a hut. The disciple does it. Then the guru
tells him to tear it down. He does it. Then the guru tells him to
rebuild it again. And so on and so on. Now the moral of this story is
that the Guru knows best and that even when he asks us to do
seemingly mindless tasks we should obey.  

Well, I completely disagree with this. If the guru tells you to do
something and you find merit in it, then by all means do it. But if
the guru asks you to do something and you don't see the merit in it 
(indeed you think it is wrong or stupid), then I would argue that
you tell the guru to his face. "Hey, Guruji, this is ridiculous. I
don't see your reasoning."

Just think how much healthier it would be if the "Perfect" Master
was "doubted" more often. Back to Thakar: next time your guru sticks
his woodman in your mouth, tell him to suck his own penis. Hey,
what's good for my spiritual benefit should also benefit the giver,

Next time Thakar says he wants to blindfold your child for five
years, tell him you think he needs a frontal lobe probe. Next time
Thakar starts pounding on your chest, ripping the skin out of your
ears, sucker punch him right back in his turban and call the cops.

Next time your guru says something you disagree with, tell him and
be clear about it. 

It's that simple, but the literary environment surrounding
"Perfect" gurus is not that simple and that's precisely the problem.
There is way too much "sucking up" in the guru system and that is
why Thakar and gurus like him can get away with murder (the cliche'
in this case, according to some Thakar devotees, is literally

Okay, your "Perfect" guru is not a scum bag like Thakar, but you
find yourself still grappling with his/her humanness. Call him/her
on the little stuff too.

If Ching Hai says she wasn't initiated by Thakar Singh but she was,
then call her on it until she fesses up (two of my college students
were disciples of Ching Hai and point blank asked her about her  
association with Thakar.... She got ticked off at the question....

If Sawan Singh says Anurag Sagar was authored by Kabir, but you know
that the text is most likely of the 18th century, then debate the

If a Beas guru says that Shiv Dayal Singh didn't smoke a huqqa (a
tobacco pipe), but you know he did, then tell him he's historically

But is that the kind of approach we are taught in shabd yoga
Yes and no. To be sure, it is mentioned (as Tulsi Sahib says,
"I will NOT believe my guru until I see the proof with my own eyes")
but it is passed over, I feel, much too quickly.

Read Julian Johnson's PATH OF THE MASTERS closely. He does not allow
for the "Perfect" Master to be less than perfect. That's nice in
theory, and I would be the very first to argue for extremely high
standards for our gurus, but it's just plain inaccurate in practice.
The gurus are wrong on many things and it doesn't take a Sant Mat
scholar to list hundreds of examples of it.

Just try reading Johnson's own WITH A GREAT MASTER IN INDIA. Who
allowed this thing to get published? Yo, there are some nifty parts
in the book and I dig the narrative flow of the letters, but what's
with the anti-semitism? Johnson's anti-semitism would make Hitler
proud and this is supposed to be an INTRODUCTION to shabd yoga?

Clearly, any "Perfect" Master would have known that the book
contained extremely offensive material. But if the Master was human,
and subject to bad advice or bad history or bad judgement, then it
is understandable (I am not saying condonable, by the way) how
such a racist book could get published during his watch.

You see, it is not pleasant to say that our gurus make mistakes, but
the obvious fact is that they do.

Some of these mistakes are beyond the pale (Thakar's actions, for
instance), some of these mistakes are significant (racist material
in "spiritual" literature), some of these mistakes are minor (hey,
Soamiji DID smoke a huqqa).

But let's call them like we see them:



end part two..... of a continuing series

E-mail The Neural Surfer directly at

I want to go back to the home base now.