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Stripping the Gurus:
Sex, Violence, Abuse and Enlightenment*

by Geoffrey D. Falk

Recommended Reading

"Norman Einstein": The Dis-Integration of Ken Wilber by Geoffrey D. Falk.

Barber & Barber, When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth. By far the best book on the interpretation/meaning of myths. It shows convincingly that myths throughout the world have typically "transmitted real information about real events and observations, preserving the information sometimes for millennia within nonliterate societies."

David Fitzgerald, Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All. A very accessible summary of the "Jesus Myth" theory. That is, the high likelihood that Jesus never existed at all in flesh and blood, not even as an itinerant, illiterate, apocalyptic nutcase-preacher.

Richard Carrier, On the Historicity of Jesus. The most comprehensive analysis of Jesus Mythicism, concluding that the "judicious" odds of a historical Jesus ever having lived, been crucified, and given rise to a cult/religion, even excluding all miraculous claims, are less than one in 12,000.

Randall Helms, Gospel Fictions.

Alan Dundes, Holy Writ as Oral Lit: The Bible as Folklore.

Richard Elliott Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible?.

Dennis R. MacDonald, Does the New Testament Imitate Homer?: Four Cases from the Acts of the Apostles.

John Loftus, ed., Christianity Is Not Great: How Faith Fails.

Ex-Preacher, Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1).

The Thinking Atheist, Bible Contradictions.

William J. Broad, The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards.

William J. Broad, The Oracle: Ancient Delphi and the Science Behind Its Lost Secrets.

Holotropic Breathwork (YouTube). Grof's theories about reliving birth traumas through his rapid-breathing techniques are nonsense, but like deep-tissue Rolfing, the practice has real and beneficial effects in emotional catharsis.

Andrew Newberg, Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief.

August L. Reader, The Internal Mystery Plays.

Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.

Armed with wit, insight, and truly astonishing research, Geoffrey Falk utterly demolishes the notion of the enlightened guru who can lead devotees to nirvana. This entertaining and yet deadly serious book should be read by everyone pursuing or thinking of pursuing the path of guru devotion.

—John Horgan, author of Rational Mysticism

Stripping the Gurus is superb—one of the best books of its kind I have ever read. The research is meticulous, the writing engaging, and the overall thesis: devastatingly true. A stellar book.

—Dr. David C. Lane, California State University

This gripping and disturbing book should be read by anyone who finds themself revering a spiritual teacher.

—Susan Blackmore, author of The Meme Machine

Geoffrey Falk's delightful but disturbing unmasking of religious prophets and preachers who command a vast following is a welcome contribution to the literature on the gurus and god-men of all religions.

—Dr. Narasingha P. Sil, Western Oregon University

No one involved in contemporary spirituality can afford to ignore this book. It exposes the darker side of modern spiritual movements, those embarrassing—sometime vicious or criminal—reports which the leaders of these movements prefer to hide. With wit and humility, and without abandoning the verities of religion, Falk has provided a corrective critique of groups that peddle enlightenment and transcendence. A must!

—Len Oakes, author of Prophetic Charisma

Ramakrishna was a homoerotic pedophile.

His chief disciple, Vivekananda, visited brothels in India.

Krishnamurti carried on an affair for over twenty years with the wife of a good friend. Chögyam Trungpa drank himself into an early grave. One of Adi Da's nine "wives" was a former Playboy centerfold. Bhagwan Rajneesh sniffed laughing gas to get high. Andrew Cohen, guru and publisher of What Is Enlightenment? magazine, by his own reported admission sometimes feels "like a god."

These are typical of the "wizened sages" to whom otherwise-sensible people give their devotion and unquestioning obedience, surrendering their independence, willpower, and life's savings in the hope of realizing for themselves the same "enlightenment" as they ascribe to the "perfect, God-realized" master.


Is it for being emotionally vulnerable and "brainwashed," as the "anti-cultists" assert? Or for being "willingly psychologically seduced," as the apologists unsympathetically counter, confident that they themselves are "too smart" to ever fall into the same trap? Or have devotees simply walked, with na´vely open hearts and thirsty souls, into inherent dynamics of power and obedience which have showed themselves in classic psychological studies from Milgram to Zimbardo, and to which each one of us is susceptible every day of our lives?

Like the proud "Rude Boy" Cohen allegedly said, with a laugh, in response to the nervous breakdown of one of his devoted followers: "It could happen to any one of you."

Don't let it happen to you. Don't get suckered in. Be prepared. Be informed. Find out what reportedly goes on behind the scenes in even the best of our world's spiritual communities.

You can start by reading this book.



I Speak No Evil
II A Bit of a Booby Ramakrishna
III The Handsome Duckling Vivekananda
IV Mother Dearest Aurobindo
V The Krinsh Jiddu Krishnamurti
VI Zen in the Art of Sex and Violence Zen Buddhism
VII Sex, Bliss, and Rock 'n' Roll Satchidananda
VIII The Sixth Beatle Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
IX Been Here, Done That, What Now? Ram Dass, etc.
X Scorpion-Man Satya Sai Baba
XI Even If It Happened.... Swami Rama
XII Mo' Chin-Ups Chinmoy
XIII Thai Surprise Thai Buddhism
XIV Battlefield Teegeeack Scientology
XV Werner's Uncertainty Principle est/Landmark/Forum Training
XVI Cockroach Yoga Yogi Bhajan
XVII A Wild and Crazy Wisdom Guy Chögyam Trungpa
XVIII Sixty Minutes Muktananda
XIX The Mango Kid Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
XX Da Avatar, Da Bomb, Da Bum Adi Da
XXI Sometimes I Feel Like a God Andrew Cohen
XXII Hello, Dalai! The Dalai Lama
XXIII Up the Asana Yogi Amrit Desai
XXIV Sodomy and Gomorrah Roman Catholic Church
XXV Of Cabbages and Nature Sprites Findhorn
XXVI ... To a Nunnery Paramahansa Yogananda
XXVII Gurus and Prisoners
XXVIII Spiritual Choices
XXIX After the Ordeal
XXX Make It Better

Appendix I Sam Harris and "Spirituality Without Religion"
Appendix II On Ken Wilber, Ex-Rabbi Marc Gafni, and Integral Blindness
Appendix III Interview with Geoff

Essential Online Resources
About the Author

Trademarks: "TM" and "Transcendental Meditation" are service marks registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, licensed to Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation. "Coke" is a registered trademark of the Coca-Cola Company. "Barbie" is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc. "Molly Maid" is a trademark of Molly Maid International, Inc. "Spiral Dynamics" is a registered trademark of the National Values Center, Inc. "Adobe" and "Reader" are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated.

* The inclusion of any particular individual in Stripping the Gurus is not meant to suggest or imply that he or she represents him- or herself as a guru, nor is it meant to suggest or imply that he or she has indulged in sex, violence, the abuse of others, or any other illegal or immoral activities.


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