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Kumar


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I was wondering if anyone had seen this documentary and what did you think.

Kumaré is a documentary by the American Vikram Gandhi. The trailer is on YouTube.

Ghandi is an American who was raised in New Jersey. He was raised in the Indian religious tradition of his parents and grand-parents. As he grew into adulthood, he became skeptical of religion. Later, he observed USA that there was a huge trend of religious gurus inspired by eastern religion that was growing in the US. He made a documentary about this before Kumaré, and became interested in the phenomenon of gurus itself.

He asked himself: Is it possible to create a spiritual experience through placebo effect, through a fake guru ?

So Gandhi created an alter-ego, Kumaré, who was a guru born and raised in India. Gandhi, let his hair and beard grow, talked with the thick Indian accent of his grandmother, and walked with a staff with a logo he made up on top.

He started teaching in a yoga center in Phoenix, Arizona. He soon had a group of followers.

Everything he did was made up. His appearance, his teachings. The mantras he used during meditation sessions were Indian translations of "Just do it" and "Be all that you can be".

This can sound appalling at first, but I think he managed to be honest in the end. That's because his teaching from the start was that the teacher is not greater than the student. That the student projects his ideal self onto the teacher. It is the student who gives the teacher power. The teacher is nobody special by himself.

He once told his students: "I'm so fake, that sometimes I don't even remember who I was".

He taught them essentially: Become your own teacher. Be the guru that is inside of you.

Since he was fake, his students created a spiritual experience on their own.

At the end he unveiled his true identity. The majority of his followers stayed friend with him.

The unveiling itself was the final teaching, in perfect coherence with the rest of his teachings.

I think the main thesis of the documentary was that no human being has a privileged connection to reality. That what drives the spiritual master phenomenon is the desire of many people to follow a leader who has a privileged access to reality.

The documentary helped me understand better religion in general, and the major figures of the different world religions.

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That sounds like a really interesting documentary. In my life I have tended to alternate between finding truth within myself and finding truth without. I know if sounds corny, but I find that moderation is helpful here . . . not going to excess in any direction . . . and trying to steer a middle course between over-generalizations and over-simplifications.

It is only my own fallible opinion of course, but I feel there is some truth in almost everything and that errors sometimes lead to the discovery or development of truths that were merely implicit before. And I have certainly benefited at times from what some would perhaps in an oversimple way label "false teachers." So I kind of feel a debt of gratitude to both the so-called friends of truth and the so-called enemies. I like that old saying [forgive the terrible paraphrase]; If I see farther than others it is not because I am tall but because I am standing on the shoulders of giants.

I notice that sometimes human understanding develops as the result of conflicting perspectives. I have a good idea and someone points out some weakness in it, lets say. And I am forced to develop the idea further. And my "critic" is actually instrumental in the development of my understanding and that my more mature thoughts would be inconceivable without the inestimable contribution of my so-called "enemies."

I think it could be said in some fairness that modern Protestant and modern Catholic theology are inconceivable without the influences of each other. Certainly I am aware of a deep process going on in my own lifetime between Christianity and Buddhism, where each is being somewhat goaded into developing in reaction to the other. And it seems at least, that both benefit from the interaction.

I know it sounds like a paradox but sometimes it is "others" who most help us become ourselves in our most unique individuality and inviolability. I think dialog is often a good thing.

Someone recently said that it is impossible to believe in God after the Nazi Holocaust. And then someone else said that it is precisely because of the Nazi Holocaust that we must believe in God, so that the dead are not lost and only in this way do we give the victims their final dignity and significance. And then this lead to the statement that we must embrace the darkness, which then gave rise to a question of whether embracing the darkness makes the world any lighter and brighter. And so on and so on and the dialog continues even now.

I try to avoid the extreme of idolizing the opinions of others and thinking they have all the answers and also try to avoid the extreme of idolizing my own opinion and thinking I have all the answers. Sometimes I try to cherish the questions themselves. Moderation is not so easy for me though. And I often do not practice what I preach. I think you are very right that no one has a monopoly on the truth. That is profound. Sometimes propositions and whole bodies and libraries filled with propositions are more like windows looking out on the truth than like little boxes that imprison it. My fallible opinion at least.

Edited by Epictetus
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I know it sounds like a paradox but sometimes it is "others" who most help us become ourselves in our most unique individuality and inviolability. I think dialog is often a good thing.

I agree completely. Dialog is great because participants both act as teacher and student at the same time.

I think the best teacher is the one who teaches his students to surpass him. The best teacher is the one who sees his students as his teachers too.

Many spiritual leaders on the other hand cultivate a master-student relationship. They say: "Follow me and I will lead you. I have a special connection with reality, and you don't, therefore you will always need me".

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I have seen Kumare and found it fascinating. It's amazing to see how people can convince themselves of something they want to be true. Several people reported feeling wisdom and "energy" from Kumare. Clearly, it was all in their heads. For me, this goes a long way to explaining how people of different faiths: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and even smaller personality cults, can have what they consider to be profound experiences which convince them of the "truth" of their beliefs.

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