The world is awash in prophets and guides, gurus and gods, masters and mentors who would – usually for a fee, always for your idolatry and worship – lead you to some imaginary promised land. For a time I had one of these false prophets, until his phoniness, hypocrisy, and inner confusion became so obvious no amount of rationalization or woo-woo-speak could mask it.
They’re everywhere, these wannabe gurus, magnets to wounded, seeking minds. Not unlike the local drug dealer creating and then feeding a physical addiction, these false prophets are masters of one skill: identifying a weakness and seizing upon it to turn the walking wounded into followers.
And what do these followers reap from their worship? For a time, a sense of belonging, a feeling that they’re onto something bigger than themselves and that their new guru has insights that can lead them to the inner peace that has for so long eluded them.
But over time, if you are fortunate, it will become apparent that the followers never quite get there. There is always the need for more healing, more cleansing, more steps to take and stages to master and realms to access. Soon enough, if your vision is clear, you’ll notice the same followers beating the same drums and never really ‘getting’ anywhere. In many ways, these ‘spiritual communities’ are just as miserable as the 9-to-5 world they supposedly transcended.
So, how to know a legitimate prophet from the countless pretenders floating about?
Simply put, the real prophet will not portray herself as such, nor will he pretend to have anything to offer you other than a pointer or two that always and forever leads you inward toward the real guru – the one that exists within your own heart.
This is precisely why, upon finding Advaita Vedanta, my own outward-seeking quest ended. There is no need for prophets or seers or sages. You can use their words to guide you, to blaze the trail, to kickstart the journey. But ultimately, you’ve got to leave them and their words behind. You’ve got to plow through and find the source of that which is doing the seeking. And where, in that deep inner quest, can a guru possibly play a role?
Do not get caught up in the web of the spiritual teacher who points you anywhere but inward. It’s that simple.