A friend sent me a link to a very useful article about the traps of unhealthy relationships between Westerners and their gurus or Buddhist teachers.
Here an excerpt:
Many Westerners who turn to the new religions — Buddhism, Hinduism, New Age cults, etc. — are of course very vulnerable. The mainstream Western religious traditions, long estranged from the wellsprings of true inspiration, have signally failed to provide them with satisfactory spiritual support and guidance. It has moreover been persuasively argued by the American commentator Ken Wilber (in his book Up from Eden) that contemporary society does not provide the conditions necessary for proper psychological and spiritual development.
So vulnerable people quite naturally turn to where what is deficient seems to be on offer-In the short-term the guru and the cult may offer support, guidance and conducive conditions for healing and authentic spiritual development. In the long-term, however, there is sometimes a very high price to pay. There is in short usually an initial giving, but later a subtle withholding is brought into play. This of course is the basic mechanism of addiction.
An authentic teacher, like the Buddha himself (see The Kalama Sutta), will always seek to put his spiritual charges in touch with their own internal spiritual centre — with the Buddha within. While some of our modern gurus purport to be doing this, they often fail to confer the sacred talisman that bestows self-reliance. Perhaps this is not really so surprising. To allow their followers to become free would after all be to risk depleting the willing labour force that creates and runs their centres and publicity machines, and which also provides that intoxicating adulation to which some gurus become so addicted.
It’s worth to read all of it:
- Charismatic Modern Gurus by John Snelling
- The Guru-Disciple Relationship – Advice by HH the Dalai Lama (with a lot of further reading links)