The Folly of Gurus



The crowds mass in public squares to see the deified speak, as if anointed through heralded proclamations. With bated breath, the followers wait, as the proceeding words will surely stir, other-worldly and illuminating the world — but is this figure truly a man of the people, or a man for himself?

I am not talking about a bygone-era or civilisation with dictates and togas, though the tribal necessity for worship that collects the disparate energies of a community has always been there. At times, an essential burden is placed on key figures, in which they serve as a custodian for the people, but the gurus of today have made a pact with themselves.

Everything in matters of the inhabited self today is traceable to Nietzsche’s announcement that “God is dead”, because there is only the external, or the externalisation of the intrinsic self. The fomes peccati of our times is what we make of the absence of external deference, and whether we surrender to the temptation of ultimate agency or negotiate the demands of this schism.

Thus we look into the abyss, or some into the field of dreams, or furthermore to the figures in which society raises to the platform of unassailable status; the sporting heroes, the Hollywood stars, the influencers and in the late blooming of the information age (though somewhat decrepit after all), the guru figure, born out of a technocratic urge.

The guru has absconded from his human form, in a Malthusian sense, seeking to imitate transcendence from the trappings of their mortality before it asks of something they cannot give. We have contravened ourselves as a species when we cannot honour ourselves as flesh; we become a mere vessel and the guru is more a conduit than a citizen.

Gurudom, in its most technological iteration, proposes a missold illusion of value, like a call-to-action or hard sales line, via the tyranny of contrast, that co-opts groups and individuals. These people have the image of a shepherd, but are not a leader, because leaders risk themselves for direction, they do not act like they have arrived.

First, they are experts before their time, they have un-lived, borrowed wisdom, fuelled by the nascent grasp of ego which requires the affectation to support themselves foremost. Their ideas are rendered superficial by the enthusiastic, unmeasured adoption of having found the sunken treasure that they eagerly wish to share, not for you, but for themselves.

Second, they have met success when they approached the world with hunger and humility, but it now blinds them to their frailties and humanity. They have become Theoden under Saruman’s thrall; they believe themselves to be above reproach, treating it as a rejection of their right to the throne. They have forgotten what it is like to breathe free air.

Third, and with the potential of the above, they have turned away from their conscious hierarchical natural give and take, and instead have attempted to adopt the role of the unconscious through their consciousness. Gurus attempt to be what man cannot be, a God, but the true result is their human qualities are held in abeyance, as they cannot be allowed to seem flawed.

The guru is at best a sacrificial lamb for others to feast on, soaking up insight and usable quotes to further the cycle of the ubiquitous idolatry. The rot of corruption spreads from host to host, until you are no longer distinct and rejectable, but an amorphous entity that seems to have abandoned all form of uniqueness.

Some things are not meant to last forever. Some ideas are best incorporated into companies and businesses, not inhabited within a single master. They need to leave the domain of the mind. The worst idea to take hold over the last few years was popularised as “You, Inc.”. The proponents of this have since either been memed to death or turned to Christ for redemption. I merely state the facts.

The act of becoming a guru is attempting to incorporate yourself, and the effect is treating man like a machine. Not beholden to the biological but treated as something to optimise, streamline and eliminate redundancy from, so further insights can be produced from an attempt to feign the logical necessity of something more mechanical.

The further we stray from essentials, the more our collective psyche suffers. Together, we are a spiritual and psychological collective that can meet aims that are above ourselves, but we often find ourselves residing in the pits of our own disintegrated self in the whole, tarnished by the acts we live in sufferance to perform.

The guru has long forgotten what it meant to associate on relatable terms; they do not dare speak of the banal or commonplace. Everything must indicate wisdom. The guru reduces their world to being resolved, while an intolerable hell festers beneath, remaining obscured as long as they keep playing the game.

  1. Kunal

    I never really understood your disdain for Naval’s ways. I do now. This is quite profound.

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