Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


It's OK If The Guru Is Irritable

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

July 2, 2021

"The physical universe is my guru." ...   answering the question "Many people have a guru. Who is your guru?" 
"The older I get, the surer I am that I'm not running the show." ... Leonard Cohen
This essay, It's OK If The Guru Is Irritable, is the companion piece to Three Stairs At A Time.

It was written at the same time as Relating To Source.


I've written It's OK If The Guru Is Irritable like a painting collage  (creative interpretation) rather than like a photograph (factual account). It comprises

 1)  vignettes which really happened in the past,
2)  one or two possibilities for the present / future, and
3)  a dream sequence.

A friend of mine is a self-styled disciple of a swami  who is a well-known guru. One day she stopped by for a visit at my place after a satsang  (a spiritual discourse / sacred gathering) at his ashram. She was quiet, so quiet I could tell something was amiss (usually she's the type who's never quiet for a moment). So I had to ask her: "Are you OK?". "Yes" she said. But no, it was too rote: I could tell she wasn't  OK. Something happened at that satsang to which she wasn't 'fessing up. I didn't want to push. So I said "If you want to talk about it, I'll listen" and I left it at that.

"The guru was irritable" she finally said, so long after the fact, that I no longer knew to what she was referring. "Excuuse  me?" I said. "The guru was irritable" she said again. "You asked if I was OK / what was going on with me, and that's what was going on with me. He was irritable, impatient. I feel like he let me down.".

Now I got it. Her guru being irritable was so unlike  / didn't match / wasn't congruent with her rose-tinted image of what a guru should be like, as to render him totally un-guru-ish. That's what this was all about: her guru was irritable, and it didn't fit her pictures ie her expectations. So for her, he had (quote unquote) "let her down".

I know what it's like to have a guru. No, I don't have one anymore, but I bin there before (as Huckleberry Finn may have said). So I do have a sense of what it must be like for her, even though I would assert she doesn't require one (with all due love and respect, I've recontextualized  my relationships with all gurus). So I said to her "Maybe he did you a favor", smiling. "What do you mean: maybe he did me a favor?"  she asked after a pause - and puzzled, turned to face me.

"What I mean is that human beings get irritable and impatient from time to time. And your guru is a human being, yes? So it's OK if the guru is irritable. It's a tacit reminder he's human ... or ... if he's a really grand  guru, it's he who's subtly reminding you to never forget he's human, and (more importantly) to never forget you're  human. Human beings show human qualities. Being irritable is human. When a guru shows being human, it's a sign of vulnerability and courage - even greatness.".

"But ... shouldn't a guru be beyond  being irritable?" she asked, almost beseechingly. Ah! There it is: the (undistinguished) belief that a human being should be trying for being beyond  being human - like a dog trying not to be a dog. She may not have realized that she'd just touched on what mires us in dissatisfaction: we're convinced  there's some other more enlightened  way to be ... some way other than this, some other way in which we can be beyond being irritable, some other way in which we can be ... well ... beyond being human. But this  is it! And the last notion we give up before we get enlightenment, is that we're not already enlightened.

"Try this:" I suggested, "the way to handle being irritable is not to hold out hope of getting 'beyond' being irritable, but rather to take responsibility  for it, and to clean up any mess you may have made when you were being irritable. Aspiring to being somehow super-human and therefore being 'beyond' being irritable, exemplifies a patently unclear-on-the-concept  brand of wishful thinking that simply takes too long to die. You already knew that. You just don't get it yet. You just don't own  it yet. The guru didn't let you down: you  let the guru down by holding him out to be somehow beyond human.

Look: don't go to satsangs looking for a guru teaching being beyond human. Don't even entertain being beyond human. Entertain being human. That's who you are.".

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