Q. How does one recognize a genuine master and not fall prey to the above-mentioned phony gurus?
Ans: Your ability to recognize a genuine master depends on your levels of self-awareness. If your self-awareness is low and you are on an ego trip, you’re not ready. When you wake up from sleep, what happens to the one that was witnessing the dream? Are you willing to wake up from the waking state dream? Most of us are not.
This article is an excerpt from my book, Bitten By The Energy Serpent: A New Perspective on Kundalini Awakening
Here are some pointers (red flags):
- The first thing is that a realized guru will never claim to have any special powers. They never claim to be self-realized. On the contrary, they might avoid you initially unless they know you have the proper understanding.
- The next red flag is people who give you a word salad. Word salad is a ploy that narcissistic personalities use to manipulate their victims. They use flowery language comprising vague terms to explain concepts. A real teacher will use straightforward language to teach.
- In India, there’s a saying, “The bigger the guru, the bigger is the Maya (illusion).” Real gurus do not build a cult following. They remain reclusive and don’t engage in self-promotion tactics. So if an institution or teacher asks for exorbitant amounts of money – run away from there.
- Be wary of teachers who portray themselves as infallible human beings. Self-realized teachers have no problem expressing their shortcomings, vulnerabilities, and failures. It’s a red flag if they get annoyed when you disagree with their point of view. The Buddha himself said that one should never take any teaching as the ultimate truth. Examine it. Rigorously verify it was your own experience and then conclude.
- Be very cautious of people who claim to transmit energy by touching body parts. Kundalini is subtle energy, i.e., it does not result from the interaction of matter and energy. You cannot directly detect it with instruments, let alone measure its intensity. Although it impacts the physical body, it is not physical in nature. It is a subtle energy that manifests in the subtle body (more on that later).
- Be cautious of teachers who make grandiose claims, promising that all your worldly problems will disappear and you will see Shiva or Jesus or Muhammad or Buddha. And that your financial situation or relationships will improve by repeatedly practicing a method. Instead of giving confusing practices, techniques, and prescriptions, a genuine teacher will guide you inwards, enabling you to experience the truth yourself.
We tend to put teachers and gurus on a pedestal, not realizing that they are also human beings like us. They may be slightly ahead of us on the spiritual path, but they are travelers and explorers just like us. Placing a person on a pedestal is the worst thing we do to our self-esteem and disrespect that individual. We build unrealistic expectations and feel disappointed when the teacher cannot fulfill them.
A genuine teacher will never stoke your ego but sow the seeds of destruction. Ramesh Balsekar would often talk about an instance when he was dining in a French restaurant with some friends. He ordered a potato dish that came concealed in a clay pot. The server gently hammered the pot to bring out the dish. Ego is like that clay pot, and the dish is you.
A gentle and compassionate hammering will dissolve the ego, but a violent strike will spoil the dish. Therefore, what a sincere teacher does is gentle hammering all along the way. By the way, the ego does not like it. It will resist by showing irritation and anger. Therefore, if you’re with someone who’s continually feeding into your bias to satisfy your ego, beware! Kundalini is not a feel-good spiritual concept. It is the most intense form of yoga.