They were a guru couple, a husband and wife team, who spoke the language of mystics in forceful whispers that said nothing. Their delivery was hypnotizing, which made it easier for the audience to believe they had heard something profound. But what they heard were hushed words uttered confidently and rapidly, which sounded familiar enough to evoke a feeling that the deep, mature spiritual conversation they had paid to hear was taking place.
In one instance, the husband spoke to a distraught woman from the audience. She had some psychological disturbance, the product of a tragedy. She cried. She wanted answers. She wanted to know why she feared death.
The stage guru cut her off at every turn to affirm that what she was saying, whatever she was saying, was accurate and valid—that the answers were found within and she had already found them. When he addressed her concerns in longer sentences, with guru stuff that she clearly did not understand, she nodded along and he affirmed that she had understood clearly and called this public charade beautiful. He took her confusion and made her feel intelligent. He took her questions and made her feel answered. This is what happens when one replaces the solitary hero’s journey with social hero worship.
Why do we do that? Why do we attend these outings that are advertised as a means to self-empowerment, yet inevitably lead to the audience handing over its power?
Why are we so utterly concerned with power in the first place?
What is power? Is it knowledge? Is it physical might? Is it the financial ability to move freely in the world? Is it oil?
Whatever power you seek holds power over you. You don’t attain it, the quest for it attains you. This woman from the audience was there seeking the power to heal herself. Her problem was not physical, it was mental, and so she sought the help of a “spiritual healer” who lays on words, not hands. She would rather take center stage with her tears and her breakdown than take the isolated couch of a psychologist.
She is like so many of us whose lives have become a perpetual quest for healing. At first, we may have wanted to heal from a psychological wound, but when the quest becomes one’s main action in life, healing turns out to be the last thing we want. Our objective is not to heal; our objective is to quest. Being healed is the ending of that action.
And being healed is the ending of this couple’s income. So, they dangle carrots. They bring you to the edge of understanding with vague truisms and leave you there, while they blurt out another set of related words and then proclaim that you understand perfectly, as you “yes” them. If by chance you stop the pain yourself, it is likely that you’ve moved on to another action, another quest. Because you’ve moved, you feel like you’ve gone somewhere hierarchically–ascended up into higher understanding, or a temporary lessening of pain, or fallen into a worse pit of despair. Depending on whether your experience of getting over the blockage is positive or negative, you feeI like a success or failure, yet neither is the case.
Trading in one self-awareness quest for another is running from directly experiencing selfless awareness, which is awareness that informs and “becomes” the self. The direction you run may produce highs and lows in feeling, but the act of running is the same horizontal move. And these fortune-hunting gurus are all too happy to provide you the track.
That, not Truth, is what you pay for.