The Shimmering Dead End
Thoughts on the packaging and sale of nonduality

Deployment of the FToE

I’m convinced that the mere suggestion of what it would be like to be God, everything or nothing is the standing wave of the FToE in global culture. This wave has produced ripples in the form of mystical literature, most of which include descriptions of spiritual experience that support the inherent notions of the FToE.

And then there are the popular gurus, those men and women who have risen to godwo/man status in the media age. Their followers usually number in the millions, world-wide. Often, but not always Indian, these folks are banking on the notion that the devotees will believe them to be God. And all over the world, there are people who are neurotypically-driven to accept that a person can be more divine than themselves, the biological alpha. It’s in our genes to follow those we perceive greater than ourselves. But the horrible rub here is that any real guru knows that their enlightenment doesn’t make them any different, better or special than anyone else. But that doesn’t sell, while being special kills.

Which is why a guru will deploy the FToE in their satsang’s weltanschauung. By this we mean let slip little astounding facts about themselves and their spiritual experiences. These are almost instantly amplified throughout the org, reinforcing commitment to someone who is obviously a very holy person.

If we look at the current landscape of superstar gurudom, a few peaks stand above the rest. A brief list would include Ammachi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sai Baba, Kalki Bhagavan, and the off-like-a-bullet newcomer, Nithyananda. All of these individuals are thought of as divine. While they may not openly admit this themselves, they sure as hell aren’t trying to stem that belief in their satsang, as evidenced by this example of one Swami Amritswarupananda’s bald-faced miracle-mongering on the Amma org’s official website:

What will I get from Amma? Of course, in this world, where everything revolves more around taking than giving, it is quite understandable that people want to know what they will get from Amma. Okay, let us think in the same line. What does Amma give? Amma gives everything.

“Be specific! I don’t have a house. Will she give a house?”
She will.

“I am sick and don’t have enough money to undergo the necessary treatment. Can Amma help?”

“I cannot afford my son’s education. What can Amma do for me?”

Amma only knows how to give. This giver of givers doesn’t take anything except our darkness, pain and sorrow. In return Amma offers the light of pure love and peace. To put it in another way, Amma gives life . She gives more life. More life means a deeper life, a deeper understanding of life, a life rooted in higher values.

All of the gurus I mentioned are using this kind of idea to cement their hapless followers into place. The effect of this is wild financial success, but at the expense of massive amounts of occlusion, and often a good deal of disillusionment. The divine guru metaphor is a sales driver made of dreams, when being awake is what most are really after. But the notions of enlightenment provided by the example of the divine guru keep us asleep and comfy in our ignorance. The best revenue stream is the repeat business.

2 Responses to “Deployment of the FToE”

  1. Good article – you bring up interesting points. Some thoughts:

    If it’s neurotypical to follow the leader of the pack, then an anti-guru may generate a following based on the very same neurological hardwiring. Jiddu Krishnamurti comes to my mind, with his many non-disciples. He mentioned towards the end of his life that no one has understood him. Possibly because he saw his followers trapped within the same structures that he actually tried to dissolve?

    Do you see any chance for anyone wanting to point these things out not being swallowed from that neurotypical net that looks for an alpha? If it’s true that it is neurotypical, is there something that can override it? What options do you see here?


    • I’m not sure if one needs to override the tendency. Being mindful of it is probably going to be enough. As for the one pointing, there’s perhaps a skillful means for dealing with it that maybe Krishnamurti didn’t quite grasp. As my friend Greg Goode points out in this essay, maybe if we keep it between us as friends, folks on either side of the equation won’t get so caught up in the hero worship reflex:

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