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  • Writer's picture Brian E Pearson

No More Gurus

I don't know if it was Jean Vanier's fall from grace or if it was accumulative, given these "Me Too" times. But I finally had to admit it. Entrusting your spiritual journey to another human being is a bad idea. No one else has the truth you need, or the path, or the practices. You gotta walk that lonesome valley ... all by yourself.


Gurus are so alluring, especially among the young. For me, it was a dynamic young minister named Dave Ward. He had it all. Good looks, fast talk, and faith like a laser beam. When you're a teenager, trying to find your way, the sort of confidence Dave exuded was irresistible. I wanted that, even more than I wanted his fundamentalist take on Christianity.


Needless to say, Dave had his own issues. Nothing to land him in court, as far as I've heard. But control was a big thing. His truth became his congregation's truth. Men were the teachers of women, and sex was a big topic among them all. One woman was accused by some of the men of being a "temptress," as if this was her problem. When she suffered injuries from a car accident, Dave arrived with a delegation to demand she search her conscience. Clearly the crash had its roots in her sinful life.


But I had held out hope that spiritual guides still did exist, somewhere out there in the world. I met Jean Vanier on several occasions, and even did some volunteer work for his L'Arche homes in and around Toronto. His charisma was in his quiet radiance, unlike Dave Ward's brashness. When he opened a Bible to expound, extemporaneously, on the spiritual need to climb down the ladder of success, to serve those who can't climb the ladder at all, I was smitten. His counterpart, in my view, was Mother Teresa, who walked a similar path, working among the poorest of the poor, in Calcutta.


But then Mother Teresa died and her journals were found, where she questioned God, not only God's voice, but God's very existence. How had we so misplaced our trust as to think she could guide us into the way of faith? To good works, yes. To compassion, definitely. But to faith? It appeared she never really had any.


And then, of course, the revelations about Jean Vanier, after he died, the charges of sexual abuse and coercion among his female followers, carried out under the guise of some sort of esoteric spiritual practice. Give me a break. Yet, for a time, he had been a role model for millions, me among them.


So, no more gurus. Just the lonely valley, please.


Next week: Becoming our Own Guru


Visit me in The Mystic Cave: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1577227

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6 תגובות


Deanne Riopel
Deanne Riopel
14 בפבר׳ 2022

Brian, I too inadvertently placed this amazing yet all to human individual on pedestal….. learning once more the folly of ever doing that, Reminded that No one can stay up there despite their best efforts. Reminded that my doing so is most likely contributing to their need to never show otherwise. No doubt Jean‘s ego contributed to this falsity…. But don’t we all fall pry to this somewhere on our travels? Especially those of us who have been formed institutional church.

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Straja Linder king
29 במרץ 2021

Thanks for giving this voice. I am inspired to see people not locked in to their beliefs and to begin questioning as they move through their journey. I still remember a professor that refused to even entertain the thought that there existed myriad ways of approaching anything that captures our attention. I had merely questioned one of the theoretical frameworks in my field as being too restricted in today's world. I am so glad that I pushed through this myopic view and explored new paths. Reminds me of the surrealist poet Paul Eluard, "The earth is blue like an orange" I hope to subscribe to an open model always.

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 Brian E Pearson
Brian E Pearson
29 במרץ 2021
בתשובה לפוסט של

“Blue like an orange.” Yes! I love it. Thanks, Straja.

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d.krausert
d.krausert
29 במרץ 2021

Those were the two alright, for me also. Mother Theresa's revelation give me some comfort, I was struggling with believe also and someone like her was not going to go to hell. Jean Vanier on the other hand was devastating.

I'm not sure if I would use the word Guru but I certainly respect the likes of Marcus Borg and Bishop Spong. Teachers that think beyond the orthodox give me meaning and hope. Thanks Brian for sharing.

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d.krausert
d.krausert
29 במרץ 2021
בתשובה לפוסט של

Yes, I like "They're all just seekers too, like me." Thinking about it I don't think that I have ever had a "Guru"; no one that I have 'hung' unto their 'truths' as being absolute ... Jesus? But then the Sanskrit understanding of a Guru is a teacher who is a "dispeller of darkness", so I have had many throughout my life.🤔

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