Be Your Own Guru

20060514u-myselfonthecarneddmoelsiabodsummittrigpoint.jpgAs someone deeply devoted to personal development, I voraciously devour books, films, and podcasts on personal development and spirituality.

This focus, which has been fairly intense the last two years or so, has had a profoundly positive effect on my life.

But there is an aspect to the whole P.D. industry that worries me. There are certain people (O.K., a lot of people) who flock to so-called “gurus” in order to learn how to live their lives … step-by-step, if possible.

I’ll give you a brief example. I rarely attend live presentations, but when I do they have been very good (I am extremely selective). Last year I attended a two-hour talk by Wayne Dyer. He was very, very good. I brought my reluctant fiancée along, and he also very much enjoyed the talk. We even bought two plastic bracelets (I think they cost $2.00 total) to support a cause Dyer was advocating.

But that was it. I left feeling great and focusing on remembering a few points from the talk that were helpful to me.

I did not — as so many did — rush up to the stage during intermission, desperate to touch the hand of this man who might solve all my life problems. I did not stare in wonder at him as he paced the stage. I did not leave with a feeling of, “I need more Wayne Dyer, more!”

But so many people do seem to need Wayne Dyer. Or Deepak Chopra. Or Tony Robbins. Or Marianne Williamson.

Worse, they tend to gravitate toward one individual so that their need is focused on one “guru” in particular. In sum, they mistake the messenger for the message.

Look, I love many of the P.D. gurus. These people deserve every penny they earn for the changes they have made in peoples’ lives. But some of their devotees seriously need to learn to “take what you need and leave the rest.”

Another example: there is a very popular P.D. guy who blogs online. Most of you probably know of whom I speak but I won’t name him because this isn’t about him … it is about his followers. Most of his articles are great and many of his thoughts make me think critically in a way that I had not before.

Recently, he posted a pet theory about something we’ll call –for the sake of amusement — The Law of Magnetism. His theory about this “Law of Magnetism” grouped 1% of people into the thoughtful camp who had decided to personally become a magnet — or not. Again, I’m using analogies here; this wasn’t the actual theory. The other common 99% of people, according to the theory, float helplessly along in life, having chosen neither to become a magnet nor to become a non-magnet.

The theory was thoughtful but, to my mind, whacked out in many respects. To me, that’s fine. The guy is smart and critical but …. he gets stuff wrong — just like the rest of us.

Nonetheless, thousands of people rushed to the forum boards wondering whether they were among those who had decided to become a “magnet” or not. How did they know which side to choose? And what did the guru mean when he said X … and how did it apply to their lives?

It was crazy. It was like someone proclaiming that 99% of us are drifters, and 1% of us are magicians — but we have to decide which kind of magician … and then everyone re-framing their life to decide whether they are a magician or not. And what kind of magician precisely?!?!

People, please resolve to be your own guru. Even if a modern day certified savior were to appear and set out certain life precepts, wouldn’t you want to question these precepts and — if you decided you agreed with them — determine how to structure your own life accordingly, by means of your own critical thinking? You would not (I hope) run to this modern day savior and ask him or her about every detail of how to live your life. You would understand that we must know our own selves, and that we are all part of a divine intelligence that has given us the tools to take the basics and construct our own abundant lives.

At least I hope so.

I am not dismissing the gurus here. Rather, I am critiquing the phenomena of people desperately attaching themselves to one guru, taking everything the guru says as the Word, and then figuring out how they should live their lives according to the guru and that guru’s Word.

This is why so many people consume ridiculous amounts of products and seminars from particular speakers. Buying some books and films from various sources is one thing; hungrily devouring everything produced by one human being is another.

Please learn to listen to yourself. Read the books and listen to the podcasts. But be a critical thinker and take only what you need.

In short, be your own guru.

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March 10, 2007. life, Money, Passion, personal, Personal Development, Work.

9 Comments

  1. Lynne Morrell replied:

    I just found your blog. I appreciate this article very much.I am a life coach also…and I think this is what life coaching is about…supporting people to listen to their own inner gurus.
    Thanks
    Cool post!

  2. The Growing Edge » Gurus and the Arc of Development replied:

    […] The Abundant Life posted recently about the importance of “taking what you need and leaving the rest” from the teachings of any individual. The writer pointed out the apparent insatiability of so many “fans” who swallow everything the guru teaches whole and still want more. […]

  3. Verve Coaching:: Life, Growth and Leadership, Boston MA » Archives » Carnival of Powerful Living - March 17th, 2007 replied:

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  5. OptimistLab » The Carnival of Deliberate Creation #2: Perspectives replied:

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  7. BorExorbMog replied:

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  8. The lost art of thinking for yourself : Rebecca Thomas Designs replied:

    […] actually started thinking that maybe I was just insane, but this post on being your own guru is slowly convincing me that maybe I’m not. Maybe we should all be taking the time to stop, to […]

  9. The Lost Art of Thinking For Yourself | a musing kiry replied:

    […] actually started thinking that maybe I was just insane, but this post on being your own guru is slowly convincing me that maybe I’m not. Maybe we should all be taking the time to stop, to […]

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