Monday, March 18, 2024

Take Care in Seeking Comfort and Support in Grief

You need many teachers, not one teacher; you need many gurus, not one guru; you need many books not one book!  ~ Mehmet Murat ildan

A reader writes: One of my recent problems has to to do with a book I’m reading, consisting mainly of writings and 'lectures' by a man who claims to be an actual avatar, a real embodiment of God Itself, and whose claims of how things really are, and how a continuing life might be for anyone, are very, very close to what I already believed to be the most logical and sensible way things probably worked. BUT, a few of the things he says have also been not only different, but quite frightening, at least to me.
One of these areas concerns what happens with us after we lose the body, and that is, that our experiences from then on depend on our state of mind at the time of dying and how we've thought and lived throughout our physical lives. Since my own mind has been so troubled during much of my life, and particularly so since my losses, with fear being the predominant emotion, this does not bode well for me, if this 'man' is to be believed! It is also claimed ( the absolute worst thing I could have read ) that we don't necessarily see our loved ones either when we die or afterward, again, depending on the above!! So anything that can relieve some of my now even bigger recent fears is most welcome!!!

My response: While I deeply respect your quest for knowledge and understanding, I want to gently suggest that, if this man's take on this subject only adds to your fears, then don't continue reading his book. Only you can determine what brings you comfort, and if you find this particular person's work disturbing, recognize that you have a right to disagree with him, to reject his theories and to stop paying him any more of your attention.

I am reminded of a “Q and A” column I read some time ago entitled The Passing of An Era. It was written by Belleruth Naparstek ~ an expert on PTSD and Guided Imagery, and a colleague for whom I have the greatest respect and admiration. Fortunately I clipped and saved a copy of the piece to my files, since an online search has failed to locate the original. In any event, this is what Belleruth had to say about "connecting with people who may be more advanced spiritually" than you think you may be:
I would caution you against looking for one person to follow. To tell you the truth, I think the guru days are over. And for those of us who didn't quite ‘get’ the demise of guru-dom right away, we were blessed with a lot of misbehaving swamis and frisky TV pastors--everyone from the rascally Rajneesh to the weepy Jimmy Swaggart--to drive this point home.
Forking over your autonomy, will, and power of discrimination to a ’visionary’ may not be as valuable as learning from many teachers, each of whom has many ideas and answers, some of which are compatible with you and some not. Slowly you get to shape a paradigm that is yours, based on many people and their ideas. It's also good to hash out these ideas and chew them over with fellow seekers in those learning circles. 
In following this advice, I suspect that you would have to give up your dependency--the idea that somewhere there is an idealized figure who will meet all your needs, tell you the truth, show you the way, and do the sorting for you. It doesn't work that way. Ultimately, gurus become unsatisfactory because no one belongs on a pedestal. Sooner or later, we figure that out and feel disappointed. And your very wish for such a teacher could leave you open for the kind of guru-abuse that was going on all over the place in the ’80s. It makes you easy to exploit.
So I wish you luck in your journey, but I hope you don't stay too long with any one teacher. Allow yourself to outgrow them. And try to eschew the kissing of hems!
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