Wednesday, September 20th 2017

Scoring spirituality

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Danny Kenny reviews the reviewers:  Sarlo’s Guru Ratings, Spiritual Teachers and Peter’s Pages — or as he calls them, ‘the unholy trinity’

guruBY DANNY KENNY — It’s such a simple step to go cynical. But Holy-ocity! — “handicapping” spiritual teachers, guides and gurus like race horses? That’s called bad form.

In these times, many of us dream or wish for “the simple life.” Some of us even go so far as to search for it. But be careful what you wish for — or more like, be careful what you Google.

Especially if you’re searching for “spiritual teachers,” or say, some of the names listed on Soul’s Code in the right column under the Department called Teachers We Track. One of these sites are likely to show up in the first page of your search results: Sarlo’s Guru Ratings, Peter’s Pages and Spiritualteachersorg. They “rate” — and in some cases, berate — spiritual experiences and figures.

Jesus Christ, I hear you exclaim (he only rates a 2-out-of-5 on Sarlo’s site, by the way).  Are you serious?

dalai-lama3.jpgYES MY SOUL, brothers and sisters, I am. You may think these sites that pop up have the answers to your questions but they don’t even try to reach deep into the soul, just the Internet — a sort of first-come, first server. As the result of a giant pre-ordained network of links, they have achieved high rank authority for keywords like Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie and the Dalai Lama.

Sarlo’s, for example, has 1,500 entries that “rate” spiritual teachers with a scale that uses Buddha icons, and even critique such factors as their humility. An interesting paradox in itself, as one definition of true humility is “living life without comparison.”

So be careful where your search leads you, because as a wise Buddhist once said to me: If you are going to the “Mountain Top” looking for enlightenment, the chances are that the only thing you will find there is yourself.

Of course if this is a new journey for you, and you’re looking for pointers before you take to the high road to finding your own spiritual path, it’s understandable that you would want to do some form of research.

Even so, picture in your third eye my personal lack of serenity when I see this latest concept — rating spiritual experiences on the Internet makes me think one of the travel sites is on a spiritual journey to be reborn as,!

It’s like ringing up a Zen retreat and asking, “Excuse me, do you have a Zagat rating?”

You could imagine John Cleese and Monty Python turning this whole scene into a sketch along the lines of their famous Argument Clinic skit:

Man: “I’d like to have enlightenment, please.”

Receptionist (channeling John Cleese): “I see. Well, do you want to have the full enlightenment, or were you thinking of taking a course?”

Man: “Well, what would be the cost?”

Receptionist: “There’s the three-day package for full enlightenment, which is a steal at one dollar, but for only $2,000 you can do a course of ten with complimentary breakfast and spa services.”

Man: “Are the results measurable? I mean, how will I be able to tell whem I’m enlightened.”

Receptionist: “Oh, believe me, you’ll be the first to know.”

That parody may sound a little ridiculous but, in reality, most folks searching for some form of spiritual relief can’t just up and leave their lives, wives, partners or jobs and go and live in an ashram.

So before you commit to some form of retreat from the world, its really important to know that what you’re retreating to isn’t worse than what your retreating from.

Look for sites (like this one) that offer glib-free and genuine information about the services and practices these places and teachers offer, and are there to help you make an” informed decision” about your most valuable asset, your spiritual welfare.

The Sarlo’s and Peter’s Pages don’t always offer, “Non-biased and accurate information.” Often there’s a tainted personal opinion that smells of sour grapes, and here’s a taste of what I mean from a review on Sarlo’s Guru Ratings about Eckhart Tolle:

One thing that people overlook here is the similarities of the whole guru thing to other forms of entertainment. getting up on stage, acting, rock n roll, stand up comedy, even after dinner speaking . . . it’s all acting. Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) said something like: ‘when you are nobody, you have to act, what else can you do?’

I find it very telling that the critic frames his argument through the prism of entertainment. Because in my opinion (humble, or not) great bands, comics, artists and actors all have something in common: original ideas and the intangible power to inspire people to look beyond the drudgery of their daily grind. Some even offer a message of hope — or at least transformation of some kind, even if it lasts only as long as the performance.

The other similarity between spiritual teachers and rock stars is that you can experience them first hand yourself, without having to necessarily buy into their world.

Or you could just read a review of someone else’s experience or even become a critic yourself who uses other peoples’ quotes. Which would present another choice (not a comparison): is a critic a person who is professionally engaged in the analysis and interpretation of the works of others and expresses a reasoned judgment, or someone who frequently finds fault and makes harsh judgments like the cynical Amazing Randi who made a business out of disillusioning people who are just looking for a little magic in their lives.

dirty-harry.jpgSo go ahead, “make my day,” and feel free to respond by rating my writing on any scale you wish :) But you gotta ask your self (in a Dirty Hari-Krishna kinda way), “Do you feel enlightened?”

Well do ya?

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16 Comments on “Scoring spirituality”

  1. Thanks again Danny for bringing both wit and wisdom together. I've seen a few of these sights and so far it looks like they rate without really experiencing the depth. It's easy to take a few lines from, say, Eckhart Tolle, and then make fun of the whole teaching. Some gave me a very funny parody of Tolle's first book called "The Power of Then"

    The Buddha is reputed to have said something like, "if my teaching doesn't work for you, discard it." I measure the teachers I have read by whether what they say meets something in me that says "yes". Like music, it has to find a similar vibration within me. And it has to take me somewhere further beyond myself, not just confirm where I am or think I want to be.

  2. All we can say is that some spiritual teachers "suit" us more than others, which one who suits you or me is a personal choice :) ... Cxxx

  3. I find that all so interesting...For myself, I do not follow Spiritual Teachers, I am not sure it is even possible to be a 'Spiritual Teacher'...perhaps 'facilitator' is a better word for it.

    I am my own Guru, just like the Souls Code assertion, and for me, everyone has experienced a life full of great lessons for all of us. I am a student of the Universe. I have learned my most enlightening lessons from my sons, Gabriel and Raven, and my dog Rudy.

    Big Love,

  4. Dr. David Hawkins in his book, Power vs. Force talks of rating anything and everything using muscle testing.

    He explains that one enlightened person vibrating at a higher level offsets the negative energy of many more people. Emotions are rated also - a great book with lots more concepts than these two.

  5. It's funny....Hey, where's my name?

  6. There are sites out there that do and show pretty terrible stuff. The net seems to me to be an amazing manifestation of the human mind. It has its crap (have you looked at your spam lately?) and it has the sublime, with all points between.

    Is it such a step to think that part of our mind compares spiritual and religious teachers and teachings to see which is 'best'?

  7. I agree that we learn from each other. I know I learn a lot from other people. However, I've also learned a lot from spiritual teachers such as Eckhart Tolle and Osho to name just two, in person and via books, spiritual sites and TV programs.I agree that any message that feels right, no matter where it comes from is valid...

  8. I love this quote:

    “I do not believe that there is any teaching; there is only learning, and this is very important to understand. When the individual who is listening regards the speaker as one who is teaching him something, such an attitude creates and maintains the division of the pupil and the master, of the one who knows and the one who does not know. But there is only learning, and I think it is very important from the very beginning to understand this and to establish the right relationship between us. The man who says he knows does not know; the man who says he has attained liberation has not realized. If you think you are going to learn something from me which I know and you do not know, then you become a follower—and he who follows will never find out what is truth. That is why it is very important for you to understand this.”

    ~Jiddu Krishnarmurti

  9. dear all,

    i read your comments and find them all very interesting but perhaps from my understanding missing one of the important points about spiritual teachers/masters.

    for me the ego is the one responsible for leaving us entangled in the web of individuality and seeking to become something for ourselves. this leads us to become separate and living in duality. why would you try to do things for yourself? and who is wanting to do this path alone? are you proud about your intuition, about having all the answers inside, about being your own guru? who is speaking, is it your true self or your ego?

    i do not know if you have already met a true spiritual master in your life, but from what you write i feel that the gratitude for having met and worked with a living beacon of light that shows our true potential is missing in your lives. for me this brings a sense of struggle and creas beliefs that do not really correspond to reality and slows us down along the path.

    if it weren't for spiritual masters perhaps this earth would have been again and again erased from the universe due to our egos and minds. they are true miracles and gifts from existence, and it is up to the individual to seek their path alone or amongst the ones who are conscious of consciousness itself. i believe there is always a choice.

    i will leave you with a very profound quote from Tony Samara: "If one cannot contact directly this inner guru, then one must search for the outer guru.

    The outer guru - the spiritual teacher - is he who guides the true seeker into this inner journey for the intimate contact with the inner guru - wisdom. He who is trying hard to experience his inner guru, will easily find an outer guru also to help him in his inner journey."

    love, wahido

  10. I find the answer to your question in the last passage... "IF one can not contact directly this inner guru, then one must search for the outer guru "...

    There is no pride in this, just experience and insights which is the essence of all spiritual searching... Some prefer to "search" themself, some to follow one guru in this experiences, some prefer different gurus... Is there anything wrong with any of those??? Not to me :) There is no better or worse way... There is just the "path... What is :)

    Lots of love Cxxx

  11. Today we are going to look at the ratings on NGL SUNDAY, a special day when people all over the country gather together on the Sabbath ; some even in prayer and meditation to ponder on whether their favourite Guru will reach this years GURU BOWL.
    This years bowl will feature a match up between some of the games greatest quarterbacks; including
    Jesus : famous for his Hail Mary pass that brought him and his team back from the dead in an unforgettable match up with the Pharisees.

    Buddha: famous for staying in the moment under pressure and being so gracious in defeat or victory.

    Brahman: will be looking for some good karma to release the Hindu's from what seems like an endless cycle of defeat and victory and will be looking to Darhma as a reciever.

    Simran :The Sikhs quaterback, whose team truly are equal opportuntiy and feature women in key positions.They will be seeking their first big win, as complete lack of aggression has been a disadvantage in the past but could turn out to be a reward in this one.
    But no -ones a loser here today John ! It's just great to know we can all come together on a Sunday as one big family and appreciate the same things.....

  12. Please don't equate skepticism with cynicism. They're quite different. And perceiving my work as "disillusioning people who are just looking for a little magic in their lives" is very far from an apt description of what we do. We try to bring reality a little closer to those who have adopted illusion as their philosophy and way of life, ignoring the real world in which they must live. Pretending is fun, but leads to disaster. I know, because I have to deal every day with those who went down the Yellow Brick Road - can't find the way back...

  13. There are "legitimate" gurus and spiritual leaders but there are also a lot of fake ones out there, in it purely for the money.
    Rating those different kind of well-known spiritual leaders cannot be done in an objective way. It is very subjective, we all have our own self-created belief systems, some of those leaders fit in it, some don't, it is all subjective.

  14. There can be immense pressure to be one thing or another... I feel great sympathy for those that are thrust into the spotlight and given titles of what they are expected to be.. at the end of the day we have no idea if these people are truly happy... they sacrifice themselves to the title that they must live up to and undergo much scrutiny... it must be awfully tiring to 'be perfect'

    I believe that we are everything and that we are nothing... we experience everything... we are all one - like Dawn has said...

    and I believe that what we admire in others is the potential within ourselves - which tells me that Wahido - you'd make an excellent Guru ! Keep up the good work my friend and please make sure that you honor yourself and remember that it is ok to be human :) You're doing an excellent job on your chosen path...

    Much Love to all


  15. Nice review as far as it goes, but in the end even more superficial than my site. (Judging from the comments, that's really saying something.)

    If you want to review the reviewers, rate the raters, then get some facts right: The Gatekeeper does not rate at all or even review. He simply lists. Some of those he lists he links to his own pages where he provides further info, but these are mainly obscure teachers, either because of antiquity or unusual fields. This is a true service, he hardly ever offers opinions.

    The other thing is an omission, another true rating site, offering opinions and assessments, among other things. This is . And i see btw fwiw that, in its review of Eckhart Tolle, it links to a page on my site where one of my visitors writes more or less favourably of his "satsang" experience with Tolle. (A little thingie to balance the supercilious page noted by Danny Kenny).


  16. [...], a website for Muslims living in India, reports that the Indian Express newspaper has rated the Muslim leader, Zakir Naik, as the No. 3 guru in India. Swami Baba Ramdev came in as No. 1 and Art of Living Foundation founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, came in as No. 2. We couldn’t find the news on the Indian Express website, however, so we have no way of knowing if their methodology was anything like Priceline’s. [...]

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