In the documentary Kumare, Vikram Gandhi dresses himself as a guru, speaks in a fake Indian accent, and builds a following of devotees. His teaching: he is an illusion and that the student has to make changes for themselves. The devotion to “Kumare” remains high until he reveals that he really grew up in America, and is not a guru (he’s a reporter for Vice). Then, half of his devotees walk out in disgust. Those that don’t, however, are the ones that see major changes in their lives — changes that they had apparently been unable to make before.
In the West, the guru is a controversial figure. Although many Americans reference their university professors and first bosses whenever possible, most utterly reject the notion of a guru. Conversely, some — especially in the fields of Yoga, Tantra, Sufism, and Eastern religion — actively search for a guru to almost blindly follow. Continue reading “The Guru On The Journey Of Self-Initiation”
“Violence,” says Rene Girard, “is the heart and secret soul of the sacred.” This is perhaps a shocking statement, and one that flies in the face of the modern tendency to sugar coat certain religions, and to equate spirituality with peace, quiet, and love of humanity.
Girard makes the above statement in his Violence and The Sacred, in which he explores the history of human sacrifice, in particular, as a social phenomenon that binds the community together, and that is both “a sacred obligation” and “a sort of criminal activity.” Although often being treated as an honored guest, or even as a son, during the period leading up to his murder, it is the outsider (often a captive from an enemy tribe) that is usually sacrificed.
Here, in contrast, we will look at violence, the sacred, and the insider, i.e., the member of the tribe. In other words, we will explore violence as an aspect of initiation, especially into manhood or into full membership of the cult or fraternity. Continue reading “Spirituality And Ritual Violence: An Explanation”
What is the source of our inner strength? Some seem to possess it in abundance, and others not in the slightest. Is it, as modernity contends, simply a matter of being an individual rather than being one of the “sheeple”? Or is there something else? “[W]hen the individual faces torture or annihilation,” says Eric Hoffer in The True Believer, “he cannot rely on the resources of his own individuality. His only source of strength is not being himself but part of something might, glorious and indestructible.”
Similarly, Yuri Bezmenov – a defector from the USSR – told audiences in America that only belief in the non-rational — in God — could give the individual strength to endure months or years of torture, and indeed, to be able to fend off other types of attacks on the individual and the society itself. Atheists – who had often been communists, and often remained so up until the moment of execution – separated from the state they had served, did not last long once they had been accused of thought crimes by the apparatus of the USSR. But those of faith managed to survive or, at least, died with composure. Continue reading “Individuality, Archetypes, and Ancestors — Against The Atomization of Modernity”