Devotion to a guru

I think that devotion to a guru is rather sad because it leads to an impractical life.

Devotion to a guru is often coupled with a strong desire for enlightenment and with the associated wild goose chase for enlightenment.

Having some peak experiences around a guru can be mistaken to indicate that one is close to enlightenment. A few peak experiences and the quest for spiritual knowledge can entice people to devote their lives to a guru.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi touched on the topic of devotion in his book, A new commentary and translation of the Bhagavad-Gita. Maharishi wrote that devotion and service to a guru was a way to speed one’s evolution to Cosmic Consciousness because you would be attuning yourself to the Cosmic Consciousness of the guru’s mind.

Maharishi had also groomed TM teachers to become some sort of distant devotees by relating a story about Trotaka who was one of the 4 disciples of the great saint, Shankara. Trotaka was known as a dullard who was not interested in spiritual knowledge, but he showed his devotion to Shankara by doing mundane tasks like cooking and carrying water. The story goes that Trotaka was enlightened while washing Shankara’s clothes, and that he was enlightened sooner than the other 3 disciples who were engrossed in spiritual discourses.

During a question and answer session on one of the TM teacher training videotapes, a meditator stated that he respected Maharishi similar to how he respected his father. The meditator wondered why he didn’t feel the level of devotion to Maharishi that apparently others felt as they fawned over Maharishi. Maharishi replied that his experience was okay, but that the relationship would grow in time. I could relate to that meditator’s feeling because I also didn’t feel reverent or mushy towards Maharishi.

In the TM movement, there was peer pressure for TM teachers to show outward signs of devotion to Maharishi. There was peer pressure to avoid criticizing the TM organization. Since Maharishi was the guru who was supposedly in the highest state of consciousness and living in accord with natural law, no meditator could dispute any part of the teaching and remain in the group.

Though outward devotion to Maharishi was not innate to my character, I emulated the devotional behavior of other TM teachers.

I now think that the outward display of devotion and the inner feelings of devotion to a guru or any other person are not healthy. Devotion obscures common sense and diminishes critical thinking.

Since I doubt that a state of enlightenment exists, I think attuning to the guru’s mind is a fast way to nowhere.