How To Become A Spiritual Guru

Becom­ing a spir­i­tual guru is not as dif­fi­cult as it may seem.

There are one or two guides already writ­ten on the web, but after my pop­u­lar Rule­book for Indian TV News Pro­duc­ers, I thought I would write my own guide to becom­ing a Spir­i­tual Guru.

  1. Appear knowl­edge­able about at least one ancient phi­los­o­phy and way of life. Hin­duism and Bud­dhism have been milked by numer­ous stal­warts already, so you might lose the race if you start afresh now. Try Mayan, Incan, or Aztec. Find your own niche if you want to be pop­u­lar, just like in blogging.
  2. Appear to be calm and serene at all times. Vent out your frus­tra­tions and anger in pri­vate if nec­es­sary, never in public.
  3. Detach your­self from cur­rent affairs so that you appear to be liv­ing the myth that this world is a myth and you’re already “beyond” it.
  4. You may wisely make rare excep­tions to #3 to take advan­tage of mar­ket­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties in case of pop­u­lar pub­lic con­cerns. Claim that your way of life can cure what­ever the cur­rent mal­ady that has caught the pub­lic unawares and is at the cen­ter of media atten­tion – AIDS, bird flu, swine flu, etc.
  5. Vet­er­ans in the field have gone beyond #4 to claim cures for non-existent mal­adies, but you are advised not to fol­low in their foot­steps unless you are already an acknowl­edged guru.
  6. Do not con­tra­dict or bla­tantly deny any sci­en­tific the­o­ries. Rather, sub­tly sug­gest that there are lim­its to what sci­ence can under­stand or achieve. If you appear to be against a sci­en­tific approach, you risk los­ing a lot of followers.
  7. Do not focus heav­ily on God. If your fol­low­ers were God-obsessed, they would already be flock­ing to reli­gious lead­ers. Those peo­ple are not your tar­get mar­ket. Instead, focus on other abstract “stuff”, like cos­mic events, nat­ural ele­ments (fire, water, etc.), med­i­ta­tion, yin-yang, energy, one­ness, etc.
  8. Con­duct work­shops, sem­i­nars, retreats. Your fol­low­ers have busy, stress­ful, pro­fes­sional lives. These breaks reju­ve­nate them, but the rea­son behind the reju­ve­na­tion would be your spir­i­tual guid­ance, not the breaks themselves.
  9. Use the power of music. In your sem­i­nars and work­shops, use hymns, chants, and mantras. Hyp­notic, stress-relieving, sooth­ing pow­ers of music are well-known and are not the exclu­sive priv­i­lege of spir­i­tu­al­ity, but your fol­low­ers don’t know that.
  10. Research con­spir­acy or dooms­day the­o­ries and exploit one to your advan­tage. You can use the Polar Shift, Nos­tradamus’ pre­dic­tions, 2012, or what­ever. You need a tan­gi­ble, real, FEAR of some­thing to attract peo­ple to you. Of course, don’t tell them that fear is a real human emotion.
  11. Your dooms­day event should be suf­fi­ciently far into the future but not too far. It should be towards the end of your fol­low­ers life­times, or bet­ter still, right in the mid­dle of their children’s lives. Before that time, you should be suf­fi­ciently rich to be sun­bathing on your own pri­vate island.
  12. Embrace, inte­grate, mix con­cepts from var­i­ous dis­ci­plines, philoso­phies, and civ­i­liza­tions, even if they were devel­oped inde­pen­dently of each other in vastly dif­fer­ent geo­gra­phies and eras. Your pre­de­ces­sors have built a wealth of resources that you can reuse. By mix­ing them all up, you appear “holis­tic”, show that every­thing is “con­nected” to every­thing else, and that you are the sole per­son able to under­stand it “all”, what­ever that means.

Do you have any other tips to share?

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  • http://indiancabbagesandkings.blogspot.com/ manju

    How about putting your fol­low­ers to work in some way? Maybe sell­ing lit­er­a­ture– small book­lets telling just enough about your ‘phlos­o­phy’, so that peo­ple will want to attend your workshops?

    Great post! Sadly, there are too many spir­i­tual lead­ers in our soci­ety today.

  • http://amreekandesi.com amreekan­desi

    Now that i have this cheat sheet, let me work on a busi­ness plan to become the next big thing in spir­i­tual world.

    That pri­vate island beckons!

    :)

  • http://skeptic.skepticgeek.com Mahen­dra

    Manju: How did I miss the viral mar­ket­ing part?! Thanks a lot. Any guide would be incom­plete with­out show­ing how to use your fol­low­ers for mar­ket­ing yourself!

    An added bonus is that your fol­low­ers get a sense of accom­plish­ment and ful­fill­ment out of the work you assigned them — so they gain more ‘karma’! :-D

    Amreekan­desi: “Cheat Sheet!” :-D

  • http://calamur.org/gargi harini cala­mur

    cute :)
    one more :
    pro­claim that you can unlock the meta­phys­i­cal door to hap­pi­ness and spir­i­tual con­tent­ment :)and that you and i will never be lonely again — because of the ‘spir­i­tual’ guru !

  • http://skeptic.skepticgeek.com Mahen­dra

    :) I took that for granted, but yes, it should be use­ful for “newbies”!

  • http://calamur.org/gargi harini cala­mur

    :)
    i had a lead­ing spir­i­tual guru on one of my shows, at the end of it, he ended up mak­ing me feel ‘unwor­thy’ — thank fully, i have a pup that gets me back to my nor­mal state of ‘hap­pi­ness’ and ‘con­tent­ment’ — but that is the USP.
    i much pre­fer read­ing the Gita — as a tether — espe­cially the parts on detachment :)

  • http://pr3rna.wordpress.com pre­rna

    Make sure that you have a few good look­ing fol­low­ers sur­round­ing you all the time, both male and female to catch the atten­tion of prospec­tive clients.All the present babas do that and the future babas need to do that in this age of elec­tronic media.

  • http://skeptic.skepticgeek.com Mahen­dra

    Harini: Addi­tional Rule: Ban all fol­low­ers who claim to get ful­fill­ment from any­body else other than you. :)

    Pre­rna: Excel­lent sug­ges­tion! Absolute must. If you get a Bol­ly­wood star or crick­eter, con­sider your­self in the top league.

  • http://priyank.com/ Priyank

    Mahen­dra, would you like to invest in a “Baba train­ing insti­tute” that I pro­pose to open using all the MBA knowl­edge I pos­sess? Eli­gi­bil­ity: ४थी नापास. Will need to clear entrance exam­i­na­tion cov­er­ing some points you men­tion above. And yes, a hefty ‘dona­tion’ is required too.

    I pre­dict glo­ri­ous future ahead for our grads, includ­ing one inter­na­tional exchange semes­ter in Canada.

    • http://skeptic.skepticgeek.com Mahen­dra

      Sounds like a great idea! We might need to check if the horo­scopes of the appli­cants pass the entrance test. A numero­log­i­cal analy­sis of the fam­ily bank accounts will also be an inte­gral part of the test. And yes, this course will also be termed an MBA: The “Mys­tic Baba Achiev­ers” program.