guru

  • Beware the Charismatic Guru Paid Member

    The following article by John Snelling (1943-1992) was first published in 1982. As reports of abusive teacher-student relationships in Buddhist communities continue to surface, Snelling’s essay remains just as relevant today. We hope that its republication here, along with the suggested readings that follow, will provide further food for thought. —Ed.Of course, in following a spiritual path—as in anything in life—one needs information, support, and the guidance of experienced people. We could call those who supply these essentials teachers—though perhaps spiritual friends is a better term. Traditionally in both East and West such people have lived modestly and often in seclusion, avoiding the public gaze. Some, however, on account of their very rare gifts and achievements, attained fame and sizeable followings. The Buddha is an example from the distant past, Sri Ramana Maharshi from more recent times. More »
  • Extraordinary Imperfection Paid Member

    ‘I don’t believe in religion.’ So goes the response to my reluctant confession that I teach about religion for a living (obviously a religious nut). Yet, when I drop in that I teach about Buddhism, the tone changes. ‘But Buddhism’s not really a religion is it? More a way of life?’ While in some ways it comes as a relief that my cherished spiritual principles are not dismissed as so much garbage, if not positively harmful, it puzzles me that Buddhism should escape the wrath of the anti-religious zealot. Is it so anodyne as to cause no one offence? Are Buddhists so accommodating that they bend whichever way the wind blows? Or is it simply that the general perception of Buddhism is so rose-tinted and exoticized that it cheerfully resists the all-too-mundane reality? There is no doubt that in general Buddhism has a very positive press in the Western media. More »