Guru’s Overinflated Ego

Can someone have strong personal magnetism, even some almost tangible spiritual energy, but still behave badly, demonstrating unwholesome, even abusive behaviors? Some spiritual circles believe that the two do not go together and that spiritually advanced individuals behave correctly by default. Others say, “Yes, they can!”

The great problem results when an individual rightfully achieves a degree of spiritual development with all the resulting powers or siddhis but has done little work on his or her own personality. Unfortunately, once an individual has moved into the role of a spiritual teacher, he or she may be “alone at the top'” without any oversight to correct their behaviors. “

Some gurus claim to be enlightened and, therefore, free from emotions and personality flaws. Some even go so far as to claim not having any personality at all. According to the APA, personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.” If one can think, feel, and produce behavior, one has a personality, including gurus. The assumption that one’s enlightened mind is free from flaws and, therefore, infallible leaves a vast space for abuse. For example, believing that a certain guru is in direct connection with God, and is our only salvation, encourages followers to blindly accept any (mis)treatment as a necessary “training,” imagining it comes from God and, therefore, must be good for them.

Once they have progressed to the point where they feel “so great,” an over-inflation of the ego results, wherein they will predictably give little or no credence to any constructive criticism that may be offered. Quite typically, their “greatness” is mirrored back by a group of loyal devotees in an inner circle who want to stay in good standing and avoid receiving the wrath of the teacher that might result from some personal disagreement or confrontation. The delusion becomes greater and greater, with no one to hold the teacher accountable.”

This kind of teacher/guru does not fully understand the powerful relationship and transference that develops between them and their followers and does not take any responsibility for managing the situations that occur. Community members are commonly seen as God’s instruments to further the guru’s work. They are not treated as valuable human beings but as tools that the guru can use to accomplish a goal or fulfill a spiritual need. The guru discards them at will with no accountability to the devotee.

“It is rare that such a leader can be held accountable by his community. If it is attempted, the overinflated “guru” will distort the facts, deny the truth, and change the rules of the community in order to justify his or her position and actions in order to maintain his or her standing.”

These teachers feel they are behaving correctly and actually feel justified in their actions because of the existing over-inflation of self. Such defensive actions often are accepted by the community members because they must maintain a level of denial in order to maintain their relationship with the teacher. The members’ lack of individuation makes it impossible for them to think clearly and discern finely the full facts of a situation. The members often are unable to maintain “whole object relationships,” in which the “good” and “bad” aspects of the teacher can be openly discussed and integrated (in other words – they see the teacher as only good despite the evidence to contrary, which tends to be denied on the spot). In the end, the integrity of the community becomes sacrificed through this process of splitting and denial.”

Source: Sacred Healing: Integrating Spirituality with Psychotherapy
©2017 Copyright Ronald L. Mann, Ph.D.