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Regarding practices that involve devotion to a Master/Guru etc

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I am interested in the mechanisms of such practices. Particularly, what is the benefit of devotion to another human being from a practice point of view.

Also general thoughts, experience and advice about these practices are appreciated. For example there is the concern of the devotion being taken advantage of as we see on many occasions.

I wanted to ask this question specifically on a pragmatic Dharma forum in hopes to reach people who are also more rational and pragmatic minded and maybe have some insights. When you ask the devotees these questions the answers are like "Because I have no doubt that my master/guru is the reincarnation of this or that god" and that is not the kind of answer I am looking for.

RE: Regarding practices that involve devotion to a Master/Guru etc
Answer
12/14/15 4:18 AM as a reply to M C.
May help
http://files.howtolivewiki.com/why_not_gurus_alan_chapman.MP4

RE: Regarding practices that involve devotion to a Master/Guru etc
Answer
12/14/15 6:32 AM as a reply to M C.
howdy Nick,
in MCTB these issues are covered a bit.  the book by bill hamilton is also mentioned and is an excellent read on thi subject.
http://www.buddhistische-gesellschaft-berlin.de/downloads/saints-and-psychopaths.pdf

i spent some time searching for a teacher several years back.  this experimental phase was interesting and somewhat productive but eventually was too cultish for my skeptical makeup.

to get a take on the potentially positive mechanics of being near a teacher, look into the terms shaktipat and satsang

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaktipat

in advaita this is one of the tenets they put great value on.

RE: Regarding practices that involve devotion to a Master/Guru etc
Answer
12/15/15 3:20 PM as a reply to M C.
Nick N.:
I am interested in the mechanisms of such practices. Particularly, what is the benefit of devotion to another human being from a practice point of view.

Also general thoughts, experience and advice about these practices are appreciated. For example there is the concern of the devotion being taken advantage of as we see on many occasions.

I wanted to ask this question specifically on a pragmatic Dharma forum in hopes to reach people who are also more rational and pragmatic minded and maybe have some insights. When you ask the devotees these questions the answers are like "Because I have no doubt that my master/guru is the reincarnation of this or that god" and that is not the kind of answer I am looking for.
ok, from a purely pragmatic point of view

1. when you get stuck
someone who has been through the territory knows, and can see exactly where you are not letting go. if they are good they will be able to unstick you faster than you can ever unstick yourself. And of course, you are always stuck as long as you're not awakened/enlightened.
This is not a mystic thing, but just like, if you've been through a bad break-up, you can feel where someone in the middle of a break up is, and exactly what hope/lies they are holding onto.

2. motivation
if you wanna get really enlightened, you need to really believe it's possible. Imagine you live in a world where everyone smokes. You're trying to quit smoking, but you're not even 100% sure if it's possible! How hard would this be?
Then you meet a guy, just like you, who quit smoking, and you are like, wow, shit. And he looks you right in the eye, and goes - "This is exactly how you quit smoking. Do it, call me if you get stuck."

3. surrender
The most powerful and efficient way of progress (I would say the only way of progress), is where you are not using "conscious effort" aka, not grasping after enlightenment. So if you really trust someone, ie your guru, you basically trust what they say, and this takes all the pressure off you. Good atheletes do this. Before the big fight, there is nothing for them to do apart from trust their coaches, and let go into the game. trust

4. Love
how hard is it to do something you hate? eg your tax return?
how easy is it to spend days dreaming about your lover? or doing whatever your passion is.
how amazing and easy is it to be un-self-centred when you're head over heels in love?
so you train yourself to fall in love with your guru, as a manifestation of the enlightened condition. then practice very quickly becomes your favourite thing, that you wanna do all the time. you literally yearn for practice.

is that enough for a start? as you can tell, I think it's a very good idea.


ok, downsides
Basically, the more you trust that your teacher is enlightened, the faster you progress. So people say that once you have settled on a teacher, just totally trusting them is a good idea. And love/devotion are powerful things. So there is lots of scope to screw up here.

MAJOR DOWNSIDERS

if you follow common sense guidelines like, initally at least:
- if teachers ask for all your money
- if teachers want to sex you up
- if teachers treat you very differently to any other students
- if there is any hint of scandal (the internet is pretty quick and unforgiving these days)

then run! If you follow these, I think most people should be ok here?

MINOR DOWNSIDES
basically, becoming attached to the guru, or attached to your love of the guru.
say you go to a mooji satsang, you will see a lot of people who are kind of stuck in their own idea that being in sticky pop-idol love for the teacher is all they need. They get addicted to the sweetness of it. The solution to this, is that the guru should burst this bubble. The essence of the love or devotion is that it's more like a constant bittersweet yearning - you love something which cannot love you back in the way you want.

that's all I can think of for now.
use your discernment. It's just like relationships. If it is right for you, the right one will show up.

RE: Regarding practices that involve devotion to a Master/Guru etc
Answer
12/16/15 5:06 PM as a reply to M C.
Thanks all for the helpful responses.


@Tom: Saints and psychopats looks like a great read on the subject.

One reason I asked the question is that I am considering this Master. I'm very cautious as he and his devotees seem to have an urgency for me to join. I am set on taking my time but they insist relentlessly. It is a red flag for me, also confirmed by the suggestion in the book.

RE: Regarding practices that involve devotion to a Master/Guru etc
Answer
12/16/15 6:07 PM as a reply to M C.
Nick N.:

One reason I asked the question is that I am considering this Master. I'm very cautious as he and his devotees seem to have an urgency for me to join. I am set on taking my time but they insist relentlessly. It is a red flag for me, also confirmed by the suggestion in the book.

Nick, take it from someone who has been there. Anyone who throws urgency into the mix is DEFINITELY a no-no. No need to even think twice about that. That is a BIG REDFLAG.

You can learn this the hard way. But I suggest that you'd rather not.

Any guide or teacher who is worth his salt and is sincere will not coerce people to take rash decisions.

RE: Regarding practices that involve devotion to a Master/Guru etc
Answer
12/16/15 9:04 PM as a reply to Ian And.
@ Ian:

Thank you.

They have tried several different approaches to make me join. First they tried to make me feel special. Then they implied I would lose my chance later. And the last thing the master said was something along the lines of "if the student loves the master they get initiated". Guilt tripping.

These signs are obvious and they are the reason why I haven't joined till now. That's one side of the coin. The other side is I do feel a pull. I like the practice, I feel spiritual opening when I'm there and have new experiences, and from a perfectly naive point of view and it may sound stupid, but I do "love" the teacher.

RE: Regarding practices that involve devotion to a Master/Guru etc
Answer
12/16/15 10:22 PM as a reply to M C.
Nick N.:
@ Ian:

Thank you.

They have tried several different approaches to make me join. First they tried to make me feel special. Then they implied I would lose my chance later. And the last thing the master said was something along the lines of "if the student loves the master they get initiated". Guilt tripping.

These signs are obvious and they are the reason why I haven't joined till now. That's one side of the coin. The other side is I do feel a pull. I like the practice, I feel spiritual opening when I'm there and have new experiences, and from a perfectly naive point of view and it may sound stupid, but I do "love" the teacher.

Been there, done that. The red flags raised in the first paragraph are already overwhelming. I ignored them, too. But unless you are a strong spirit, I would recommend against it. It may not be worth the lessons you will learn. Everything you think you love now, you will feel resentment toward in the end. If you can put up with that possibility, then it may be worth your trouble to be put through the pain they have in store for putting you through.

Yet, in the end if you survive, you will slowly realize that it was all unnecessary. That is, unless your personality is a particularly tough nut to crack. I put up with nine years of abuse, however I was stronger than even I knew at the time, and I used that experience to my advantage when I left. The lessons Iearned were burned into my psyche. And I gradually came to trust my own inner intuitions OVER what my heart was telling me in the beginning.

You can take a chance, but what is staring you straight in the face is the biggest ego trip that teacher has yet to overcome.

What lineage is this person part of?  Because this has a Hindu or Tibetan flavor to it. Quite typical of the tactics used by of those lineages.

If you do go through with it, be prepared to be able to leave once you confirm your worst fears, and when you do (notice I say "when" not "if"), do not look back or think twice about having left. Sever all ties with one fell slash. And take what you have learned and build upon that.

At that point do not be surprised if you realize that you now have to de-program yourself before you can begin the work of re-programming yourself with the true Dharma.

Being fore warned is being fore armed. Good luck to you on your chosen path and journey.

In peace,
Ian

RE: Regarding practices that involve devotion to a Master/Guru etc
Answer
12/17/15 4:29 PM as a reply to M C.
Nick N.:
@ Ian:

Thank you.

They have tried several different approaches to make me join. First they tried to make me feel special. Then they implied I would lose my chance later. And the last thing the master said was something along the lines of "if the student loves the master they get initiated". Guilt tripping.

These signs are obvious and they are the reason why I haven't joined till now. That's one side of the coin. The other side is I do feel a pull. I like the practice, I feel spiritual opening when I'm there and have new experiences, and from a perfectly naive point of view and it may sound stupid, but I do "love" the teacher.
yeah agree big time, rushing someone to join is a big danger symbol.

hey here is a cute story from Rudi's book Spiritual cannibalism. 

A great teacher allowed people into his presence only between the hours of noon and 4 p.m. He spoke highly and became the inspiration of many devotees. One young man came every day for a year and listened with great attention. The man asked deep questions and obviously grew from the answers. The teacher was happy to see his seed grow in another person. In his heart he planned shortly to allow the man to live in his own household as a reward for his conscientious attendance and obvious intelligence. The teacher had his servants prepare a room. They painted the walls and made furniture of a simple design. On the day it was done, the teacher asked the young man to stay after the four o’clock audience ended. He took the man to the room and told him of his decision. He could see that the man was very disturbed by the suggestion. The teacher felt it best not to pursue his desire and told the young man to consider his proposition. The man never returned. After several months the teacher grew agitated. He inquired of the man’s whereabouts from his other students. He went to the man’s home and to his amazement found he was living with two women and was the owner of a disreputable nightclub. The teacher returned to his house, barred the door, and never taught again. The true teacher is a pure vessel through which God’s will flows. When he attaches himself to anyone, he is expressing his own will.

RE: Regarding practices that involve devotion to a Master/Guru etc
Answer
12/27/15 1:23 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Thanks again Ian. I have been sick so couldn't write earlier.

Maybe I'll bug you over PM about this sometime.

After your comments I'm even more cautious than before.