A few days ago, my husband Danny and I were relaxing at home watching a movie we had selected from an online movie rental site. It was a fascinating movie documenting the life of a prominent and well-known contemporary self-help guru. The movie was filmed by his son, and made in the style of an expose, revealing a much more human side of this world-renowned guru. Although it may have surprised some viewers to see their beloved guru portrayed in this light, I actually found it to be endearing. It was fun to see him glued to his BlackBerry, spending his days tweeting updates to his followers instead of being in meditation, focusing on the present moment, or to discover his coffee addiction when he advocated a pure Ayurvedic diet. To me these traits just made him more real as a human being.
Danny and I chuckled all the way through the film, which was both well made and entertaining. He then turned to me and said with his mischievous grin, “I know! How about I make an expose about you?”
“I’m hardly a guru, so I don’t have far to fall!” I said, “And what are you going to expose about me? My fetish for shoes and purses? My love for all things chocolate?”
“Exactly!” he said. “And I’ve even got a name for the movie! We can call it “Dying to be a Diva!” I burst out laughing at this, and although the idea really was funny, I said, “Thankfully, I think everybody already knows these things about me, so there won’t be much to expose!”
Although we were kidding around, this movie and the conversation that ensued got me thinking about the perception of gurus in our culture as a whole. I started thinking about how we place those we revere, such as spiritual teachers, on a pedestal and give them super human qualities. However, by doing so, we are actually placing a huge responsibility on them and sometimes this responsibility is unrealistic. A good question to ask ourselves is: “Are we likely to get disappointed when we find out that they actually have very human desires and needs, and are not really all that different from you and me? Can we accept that they actually have the same vulnerabilities and weaknesses as the rest of us?”
On the flip side of that, what if you were to discover that in actuality, we also all have the same level of “guruness” within us, but have just never allowed our inner guru to express itself? Perhaps we have simply been conditioned not to listen to our own inner guru, but instead have been encouraged to listen to authorities we believe are superior to us, and to give our power away to others outside ourselves. Perhaps because we give our power to them, we place them on pedestals and see them as having qualities that are superior to our own.
I believe that one reason we do this is because we believe that “spirituality” is something that needs to be attained, and that we need to work at it by transcending the ego and becoming detached from the material world. In a way, this attitude has become a type of dogma, a set belief taken as a given because it is so prevalent in our world.
However, from my experience in the NDE realm, I learned that nothing could be further from the truth. We transcend our ego and the material world only when we die and leave our bodies. But as long as we are alive, breathing, and expressing through a physical body, the best thing we can do for ourselves and for those around us is to engage in life fully, embrace who we are, and express ourselves authentically. To me, being spiritual, and being ourselves is one and the same thing!
There is nothing wrong with seeking out teachers. Sometimes that is the best way to grow and learn. But since we are always learning from others, in truth, we are all teachers and students at the same time. This means that we are all gurus as well, because guru is just the Sanskrit word for teacher.
I believe that our purpose is to be who we came here to be, and live life to the fullest—and if for some that means tweeting and drinking coffee, then all power to them. Most of us take “spirituality” too seriously and try to make it something separate from our everyday life. Life would be so much more fun if we lightened up and realized we are not flawed or in need of fixing! We are beautiful, magnificent beings. We don’t have to work at being spiritual. In truth, we are already spiritual, whether we realize it or not, whether we are meditating on a mountaintop, or sharing a delicious chocolate dessert with our best friend or lover.