Tag Archives: cult

You, Guru

Tonight I watched Kumaréa documentary about a man who impersonates an Indian guru. Having become disillusioned with religion and faith, gurus and masters, Vikram Gandhi decides to fake it. He adopts an Indian accent, grows out his hair and beard, and sports orange robes and a comical staff.

Before long, Sri Kumaré has gathered a loyal following for his self-made teachings, pushing the boundaries as far as he can. It is amazing but not all that surprising to see how readily people believe and how willingly they devote themselves to him.

It is not Vikram’s intention to fool or humiliate these people. He simply wants to demonstrate that there is a guru within each and every one of us. That we already have all the answers. That we don’t need to give our power away by looking outside of ourselves for guidance. That we shouldn’t have to follow anyone else’s orders or advice. Sri Kumaré tells his devotees: “You are all great beings and you must stop pretending that you are not.”

Interestingly, Vikram realises that his new persona is the best version of himself. He is happier and more loving and connected than he ever was as Vikram Gandhi. But he must unveil the illusion in order to teach his lesson. By revealing who he really is, he hopes to reveal the guru inside each of his followers. And speaking of revealing, don’t worry, I’m not about to give away the ending.

In India, the greeting “Namaste” is frequently used. It means “I bow to you” and it is accompanied with a slight bow made with hands pressed together in front of the chest. The gesture represents the belief that there is a divine spark within each of us. I love the idea of saluting the divinity in every person I encounter. But it must start with oneself.

An old Zen koan attributed to Linji Yixuan goes like this: “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” This means that you should not worship any one person or value anyone else’s opinions over your own. Yes, it’s great to meet a wise person who shares their valuable teachings. But the smart thing to do is to take what they say and then allow it to sit with you. Is it right for you? What is your intuition or gut telling you? Give yourself time and space in silence to listen to yourself. As your own best guru, only you can lead your way. Namaste.

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Cult Brainwashing

Last night, I was held captive for almost two hours by Elizabeth Olsen’s arresting portrayal of a young woman who had escaped an abusive cult. Martha Marcy May Marlene is an excellent independent film that centres around a young adult who is confused and paranoid after having spent over a year with a crazy but cunningly convincing cult.

Two things really got to me about this film.

1) How easy it was for these predators to suck in vulnerable youngsters.

The charismatic leaders offered runaways the “unconditional love” and “support” they had been denied throughout their childhood. They then cleverly laced their hippy cocktail of freedom, sharing, nature and love with their sinister views on sex and death.

2) The lead role isn’t played by a stick insect.

We may find the cult’s brainwashing dangerous but what’s just as scary is how we, as a society, have been brainwashed into thinking that skinny is beautiful and that curves must be lost, or at the very least, hidden.

The star of this film is gorgeous but she’s also curvaceous. She’s not overweight but she’s big for an Olsen (Mary-Kate and Ashley are her older sisters). I’m not used to watching movies starring meatier heroines. It got me thinking: If all our leading ladies had bodies like hers, we’d aspire to having more natural, feminine figures.

Don't tell me she's not a stunner!

So, why don’t we stop being so impressionable and cease falling victim to society’s dictates on fashion and desirability? Society is the dark and manipulative cult that’s trying to make you forget what’s important in life and who you really are. Don’t be afraid to walk away. And always remember that you are magnificent just for being you. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

Images: http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/Yuf36xrF9DU/Elizabeth+Olsen+Martha+Marcy+May+Marlene+Photocall/OxqcVRoB1TR/Elizabeth+Olsen; http://favim.com/image/24088/