Speculative Non-Buddhism

ruins of the buddhist real

The Twist

Posted by M. Steingass on December 23, 2012

KumaréGuru one. Sri Kumaré  is a revered yoga master whose ancestors can be traced directly to the Indo-Aryan civilization of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa. He spent over a decade studying yogic science with masters of the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and other esoteric traditions. The Kumaré tradition’s main objective is to achieve personal transformation through “Action — not just theory.” Kumaré teaches any and all people how to find their Guru within themselves. Sounds great, doesn’t it? He teaches how to find the inner guide. His film Kumaré, about his journey to enlightenment, is a true guide to the true inner guide.

Guru two. Deepak Chopra is the invisible in the midst of cosmic human observation. An Indian-born American physician he is the son of Krishan Chopra, a prominent Indian cardiologist. Inspired by his father and the novel Arrowsmith Chopra initially becomes a physician but suddenly gets enlightened when he meets Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. From then on he begins teaching about the heart as the ground of descriptions of facts. He also revived the ancient Indian teachings of the existence and the wisdom of precious reality. His latest book  The True Ingredients to Subjective Positivity is also a true guide to the true inner guide.

The difference. The true name of guru one is Vikram Gandhi. His Indian accent as Sri Kumaré is as fake as everything else about him. Gandhi is a filmmaker from New Jersey who undertakes an experiment. He sets out to test if he would be able to fascinate people pretending to be a guru. The whole experiment is filmed from the beginning of gathering followers to the end, with Gandhi unveiling the truth about himself. Underway he realizes that people trust him so much that he wouldn’t be able to just bail out with a lame excuse. He feels responsible.  So he invents the true teaching of the false guru: “I am fake and you have to find the true guru inside yourself.” Or in his pseudo-indian accent, “you can find yoga center inside.” Everybody believes him but only when he shaves and sheds his accent his disciples realize that his teaching is about reality.

The true name of guru two is Deepak Chopra. His accent is as true as everything else about him. He is not a filmmaker, but he is as true as a new-age guru can get. He is also conducting an experiment; but unlike Vikram Gandhi up until now he told nobody about it. His experiment is principally the same as the one of Gandhi: Putting nothing in boxes and selling it. His twist on the experiment is the question, how much money one can really make by selling nothing? So far, it is a huge success. Deepak Chopra is the wealthiest and most famous of America’s alternative quantum practitioners. Deepak has proved that in capitalism it is not only possible to get rich selling crap, but that it is also possible to get rich by selling nothing at all. Deepak didn’t return calls about  when he is to unveil the end of his experiment and to what charity he is to donate his huge fortune.

The twist.  Guru one is, of course, a true guru. Guru two is a false guru (this is because a false guru becomes a true guru only when he admits being a false guru). The true guru has roughly 700 twitter followers, the false guru roughly 1.3 million (that is second only to the one other guru). The false guru generally gathers more disciples because they  believe in the false guru only as long as he pretends to be true. This paradox is called – in the words of Deepak Chopra – the conundrum of the existential causal essence of the quintessential quantum quorum. Now, the true guru, the one who admitted to being false, turns for help to the false guru, the one pretending to be true. The false one, the one with the 1.3 twitter foolowers, helps the true one sell nothing – that is, the film about how successful selling nothing can be.

The question. Is the false one about to unveil his experiment? Will Deepak Chopra finally come out and admit: “All I ever said  is bullshit! It is all about putting your money  in my pocket. You know the hidden meaning illuminates an abundance of abstract beauty when you look at it with the eyes of Kumaré. It is clear that the secret of the universe nurtures positive choices. Kumaré is just this. Believe him, see his film and learn that the true guru is you. Elephants are birds.”

Or is it the other way around? Is the true one not really true? Is Sri Kumaré a false guru pretending to be a true one by pretending that he is a false one and is he taking advantage of the true false guru? Remember: information is inside external reality.

Or is it that both, the possibly false true one and the true false one, are providing a lesson for us about reality?

Further questions. What is with the other gurus? For example the one with roughly 6 million twitter fools? He loves to say “I am just an ordinary guy!” Is he true or false? Is he pretending to be normal–“a simple, ordinary monk”–because he is extraordinary? Is he extraordinary because he pretends to be normal? And how about us: Are we extraordinary because we are the only normal guys among all the extraordinary ones? And if so, are we true or false?

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Remarks and sources. You can find information about Sri Kumaré, his lineage, teachings, workshops and assorted materials like mantras, music and further magic on his homepage. Information about the true film Kumaré can be found here. Actual quotes by Deepak Chopra and further inspiration for this text have been taken from this site (which is of great value for finding the true depths of his teachings).

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25 Responses to “The Twist”

  1. frank jude said

    Matthias, you may find this rather un-surprising… For the better part of just over a decade (from roughly 1993 – 2005), I often lectured on Ayurveda for various groups. Inevitably, I’d ask a room of 50 or so people, “How many of you have heard of or read anything on Ayurveda?” and perhaps up to half a dozen people would raise their hands. Then I’d ask: “How many of you have read any of Deepak Chopra’s books?” (Recall that for the early part of those years, all Chopra’s books that were then popular were about Ayurveda) And then a very large majority of people would raise their hands!

    It was clear to me back then that Chopra was best at selling himself if people could read “Perfect Health” and come away not understanding that what he was writing about was watered-down Ayurveda!

  2. fionnchu said

    Not only Sri Kumaré but Deepak’s son, Gotham (né Gautama) Chopra, made a documentary released this year, purportedly revealing truth to a captivated West via a master peddling Eastern exoticism.

    Compare two NY Times interviews. 1) Gotham. 2) Vikram Gandhi. They chat about their respective films–also find links embedded in these articles to reviews of their documentaries.

  3. Frank, that’s an interesting point and it shows how this process of trivialization works.

    Fionnchu, thanks for the links. The article about the film by Gotham makes it clear what big an ego Chopra has.

  4. dooyen said

    Oh no, those prejudices. Forget Aryudeva, all he could say about women was that they stink between the legs. It’s a shame that he is considered a patriarch in zen. Chopra can’t be worse.

  5. Why not naming the Dalai Lama, Matthias?
    Because your question What is with the other gurus? For example the one with roughly 6 million twitter fools? He loves to say “I am just an ordinary guy!” Is he true or false? is of course about him.
    It’s not dangerous (for us in the West, in Tibet it’s another question) to discuss the different roles the Dalai Lama is playing, and discussing one of those roles: that of the guru.
    Perhaps the real question is not about being true or false of a guru, but about the sincerity of the devotion of his audience . And I’m afraid many of the 6 million followers are opportunists who easily unfollow him

  6. Nathan said

    When I tell people I am ordinary, it is because I consider ordinary to be having less than $500 in my savings account most of the time and no followers all of the time.

  7. Hi Joop (#5), of course it’s him. But I am naming him so often… so I considered this time not naming him. Also it was a didactic consideration. I didn’t want to confuse the reader with too many famous names. Sometimes they outshine the really important things. The topic is already complicated enough.

    Of course you are right regarding devotion. The Tibetans have nice anecdotes about this. Do you know the one with the guy whose mother always wanted him to bring back a relic of the Buddha but he always forgot it? One time he came back again from one of his trading trips and at the very last minute he realized “Holy shit, I forgot it again!” Luckily there was this dog skull. So he gave his mother one of its teeth. Thinking it was from the protagonist himself she was so full of devotion she got enlightened anyway (full program: rainbows, flowers raining, jingle bells, you name it).

  8. frank jude said

    #4 Dooyen, what are you talking about? I said “AYURVEDA” you know the yogic medical “science,” not Aryudeva! Chopra made his name and his first millions shilling Maharishi Yogi’s Yoga and Ayurveda until he realized he could make MORE money if he went off on his own! For instance, his “Primal Sound” mediation is nothing other than re-packaged Transcendental Meditation which itself was simply fancy packaged mantra meditation!

  9. Mathias: what is this crap about the “true” vs. the “false” guru?

    The point of the film ought to be that there is NO guru, if a guru is some sort of direct connection to a divine (or eternal, or true, etc.) source of knowledge, an embodiment of “god,” or an infallible guide. Kumare, and then Vikram, does say that you must be your own guru, but that’s not what follows from his original insight / premise that all gurus are false, is it? What follows is that there is no guru, including “you”. In other words, while the lesson of self-reliance is valid, there is no inner / hidden / true voice or aspect of being that directly knows the truth or the best course of action in any particular situation (which the word guru implies, right?) Kumare demonstrates that there is no guru, and therefore each individual should forge his own path through careful thought, reflection, and action, but the implication of outer/inner guru-lessness is that we are bound to often make mistakes, and that the fantasy of transcending the human is just that: a fantasy.

    By using the terms “false guru” (Deepak Copra) and “true guru” (Kumare/Vikram), you are perpetuating the notion that there are “gurus” who really “get it” (even if “getting it” entails negating claims to transcendent knowledge) and can lead/teach us the truth, which is exactly the myth that Vikram originally set out to dispel. So what gives?

  10. Hi Matthew, the problem is so complex that I am not sure to understand every aspect of it. True, the true guru is no guru. It follows that there is no guru but a false guru. That is very good, now we know that every guru is a false guru. But now the problem is that the non-existant true guru is getting advertisement by the existant false guru. It follows that the non-existant true guru still exists. This means that the true guru is also a false guru. You say “the point of the film ought to be that there is NO guru.” But there still is a guru….

  11. DannyDanny said

    Thanks Matthias for another thought provoking piece. I haven’t seen this film yet but I have it on order…I doubt Deepak is going to come clean anytime soon!
    I’d like to get some discussion going about practices again,the kind that make us aware of and get us outside of our ideological boxes. Like the work Glenn is doing at The Won Institute and Tom has talked about doing at his sangha. Could this perhaps be a role for a TRUE guru?

  12. Hi Danny, the film would need a real review apart from my ironic comment. There are some issues with it. Dramaturgically, the cut and the music, the film is not really a documentary. There too is no documentation of the process of the three people (Kumare/Ghandi + two women helping him) conducting this experiment. The sample is too smal (14 disciples) etc. But I think Vikram Ghandi is honest about the problems he had in unveiling his ‘true nature’. The real strange thing is why he would let somebody like Deepak make an advertisement for his film? Is this one more strange joke by the ‘true guru’? Or isn’t Ghandi aware about what kind of fraudster Deepak is?

    Re your remark: I’d like to get some discussion going about practices again,the kind that make us aware of and get us outside of our ideological boxes. Personally I am pretty unsure about what makes us aware of these boxes and if I really have something to say about it? I’ll think about it a bit.

  13. Tom Pepper said

    Re 11 &12: How do you know that Deepak Chopra is full of shit? We can tell this, right? It is obvious to most of the population that everything he says is stupid, wrong, and useless. This might be a good place to begin. Why is it that those who buy his books and fill his lectures and pay him thousands of dollars for private consultations cannot see what the vast majority of the population can so obviously see? Surely this isn’t a matter of education or intelligence; I know plenty of people with little education and average intelligence who think he is a fool or a con-artist. If we want to try to discover how to distantiate our own ideologies, perhaps we can more easily begin by seeing how people can hold so firmly to those beliefs that almost everyone would see as absurd. What do such beliefs enable people to do, or not do, in their lives?

  14. Danny said

    Matthias re 12:
    Ah, I see. this is a good question. A strange irony, indeed. Ghandi must be aware that Chopra is a fraud and perhaps, like you say, this being simply one more strange joke by the “true guru”. But for those who don’t get it, the Deepak Chopra name certainly sells, doesn’t it?

    Tom re 13:
    “What do such beliefs enable people to do, or not do, in their lives?”
    Well, perhaps it allows us to think our “world” as it is, is the only way it can be; fully real. And fail to see that our minds are “ingaged in structuring the world, moment by moment”, so that we actually CAN change it for the better…?

  15. Tom Pepper said

    Re 14: This does seem to be a major effect of such beliefs, right? To convince people that we need not, and in fact cannot, change anything in the world. What really baffles my about Deepak Chopra is how people who are apparently otherwise fairly intelligent can possibly take seriously anything he says. How do they manage to turn off their cognitive capacities like that? Particularly on the topics of health and science, where he seems to have said the most absurd things?

    I know his audience is the very wealthy, those who are called the “worried well,” and they are very invested in NOT seeing that the cause of their dukkha is the oppression their wealth derives from. The delusion and conceptual error that are required for them to screen from awareness the level of suffering caused by their affluence is bound to cause some unease or dissatisfaction, probably more to someone who actually has some native intelligence. But even given this powerful motivation to believe in the ridiculous, Chopra seems to me to go too far–to offer a lot of embarrassingly silly nonsense that I would expect anybody to just dismiss.

    I really don’t get this at all–and I suppose that is why I have not been more successful in my attempts to encourage people to become aware of their ideologies. I just cannot grasp the mechanism by which people can be rational and intelligent in some areas, but believe arrant nonsense in others. I know there is such a mechanism, but I don’t get what it is.

  16. Tom,

    You say “I just cannot grasp the mechanism by which people can be rational and intelligent in some areas, but believe arrant nonsense in others. I know there is such a mechanism, but I don’t get what it is.”

    Maybe I can help you. The milestones of my own growth consist of conversions from believer-in-nonsense to disillusioned-wanderer, a series of losses, not of “ideologies” (although I may not understand how you use that term) but of various insignificant ideas about how things are. So I consider myself something of an expert in this area.

    In my experience, the underlying “mechanism” is not a function of the intellect as much as the heart/mind that endows certain corners of the universe with meaning; it generates “beliefs”, not in the sense of “justified and true” but as an erotic disposition cathected onto what is, as dreaming. Logic and reason are useless because “cognitive capacities” have no leverage here.

    To become “more successful in [your] attempts to encourage people to become aware”, maybe you should start with where they are at and join them in the dream.

  17. Craig said

    16:

    Patricia,

    I also am dropping insignificant ideas. At the same time I don’t want to be too deconstructionist. For example, If I’m arguing about some current political issue with someone I always end up dismissing most of the details and conclude that my basic value is absolutely different than my opponents. Now, who is deluded in this situation? For example, let’s say I’m arguing about the war in Iraq. I’m no longer interested in arguing about details of the situation. I’ve concluded that there is absolutely no excuse for war in this day and age. I wonder, then, if my conclusion is delusion, laziness, inability to explain or think clearly….etc. I’m not sure.

    At least I know I’m deluded in some ways. Many folks do not have this self awareness. Engaging them is difficult. I am more of a ‘meeting them where they are’ type of guy, but lately I could care less. Some folks are just plain wrong :-)

    Craig

  18. Thank you, Craig.

    re– “Engaging them is difficult.” I have learned that, when people do not want to be engaged, where there is no chink in the delusions, there is really nothing one can do.

    What amazes me about myself is my unwillingness to give up!!!!

  19. frank jude said

    Tom “What really baffles my about Deepak Chopra is how people who are apparently otherwise fairly intelligent can possibly take seriously anything he says. How do they manage to turn off their cognitive capacities like that? Particularly on the topics of health and science, where he seems to have said the most absurd things?”

    Many folk have tried to research just why this is. There’s a list somewhere of common cognitive errors, biases and fallacies that we are all prone to, and if we’ve not been specifically trained in critical thinking skills, would never recognize. Here’s an excerpt from Michael Shermer on the topic:

    “Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.
    Rarely do any of us sit down before a table of facts, weigh them pro and con, and choose the most logical and rational explanation, regardless of what we previously believed. Most of us, most of the time, come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence and logical reasoning. Rather, such variables as genetic predisposition, parental predilection, sibling influence, peer pressure, educational experience and life impressions all shape the personality preferences that, in conjunction with numerous social and cultural influences, lead us to our beliefs. We then sort through the body of data and select those that most confirm what we already believe, and ignore or rationalize away those that do not.
    This phenomenon, called the confirmation bias, helps to explain the findings published in the National Science Foundation’s biennial report (April 2002) on the state of science understanding: 30 percent of adult Americans believe that UFOs are space vehicles from other civilizations; 60 percent believe in ESP; 40 percent think that astrology is scientific; 32 percent believe in lucky numbers; 70 percent accept magnetic therapy as scientific; and 88 percent accept alternative medicine.”

    http://www.michaelshermer.com/2002/09/smart-people-believe-weird-things

  20. Craig said

    So how do we know who’s deluded and who is not. And, given this confirmation bias, how can anything change? Reality is right in front of us and we can’t agree on what we’re looking at much less what to do next. Family, peers etc. have such a powerful impact on people’s personalities it’s amazing that anyone can gain some self awareness. Almost no one can really make any changes as a result of this self-awareness. At least, this has been my experience.

  21. Patrick said

    Hello Craig; re#17
    you make a good point here ‘I wonder, then, if my conclusion is delusion, laziness, inability to explain or think clearly….etc.’
    I feel exactly the same. I too am in the process of re-accessing major ideas (and practices) I find myself wondering the above every time I express an idea, especially when I try to put complex ideas down in writing, which is one of the reasons I tend to keep my mouth shut and rarely comment on blogs(I haven’t got a written one myself). This feeling is a sign of progress I think ,even though it is pretty uncomfortable. It can however lead to a form of paralysis and a sort of quietism that is not good, So I think its just a matter of ‘putting in your shillings worth ‘as we say in Ireland and hoping for the best (and of course continuing to refine your grasp of important ideas )

  22. Ananda said

    Consider if many use critical reason to dispel deception and the end thereof.
    Consider if many use deception to dispel deception and the end thereof.
    Many will become good at deception or many will become good in the use of critical reason.

    Two tangles come to mind.
    ~What tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive.
    ~The inner tangle and the outer tangle this generation is entangled in a tangle.

    I don’t think Yes Men or Kumare’ are wholesome methods of change, nor can they be emulated on a large scale without chaos however old fashion debate still is.

    Example: “Does God have a future”

  23. Craig said

    Patrick,

    Thanks for the response. Yep, it goes both ways. Should I talk or not. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. It’s all a process. I hate it that I get so caught up in some of the emotionalism in blogs and forums sometimes. Oh well. Look forward to your other posts. If you’d like to leave your email address here, myself and another blog reader here named Rod have been chatting through email about this site. More the merrier :-)

    craigrneely@gmail.com

  24. Patrick said

    Hello Craig,
    Thanks for the invitation . I will decline for now -I am snowed under-but will take your offer up hopefully soon. As for emotionalism I think its often inevitable given the strong views we all hold at one time or another… makes for that extra bit of edginess we sometimes need to keep us on our toes, as long as it doesn’t get out of hand!

  25. Craig said

    Patrick,

    You are so right. This site is actually quite validating of our emotional issues. That’s part of being human :-) and can’t be meditated away.

    Yeah, drop me a note if you ever are interested in off blog discussion.

    Peace

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