Scourge of the Gurus

“When the gurus on your block outnumber the tradespeople or teachers or artists, surely that’s a sign that the world has lost its footing. Because even as the guru seduces you with his wicked poetry of self-actualization, each lesson is filthy with reminders of your relative shortcomings. There is always the faintest hint that you haven’t fully arrived yet, that you can and should do better, and that if you fail, you deserve your fate. There is always the not-so-subtle implication that you have already squandered your gifts and will continue to do so until you learn to exert control over every dimension of your existence. But if you do somehow manage to rise above your circumstances, there will be no more suffering or second-guessing, no more rage or injustice, and the bounty of the earth will be yours to plunder. The guru’s words are haunted by the looming shadow of your so-called best life, an implicit rejection of the life you’re living right now.

The guru is not an expert in happiness or inner peace, although he plays one on the internet. He is not a role model in the realm of fighting injustice or saving the world from disease or throwing his body onto the battlefield. He is a champion of the self. His livelihood relies not only on the defeat of human emotions, but on a denial of the existence of prejudice, of resistance, of the machinery of oppression, of the impenetrable forces that maintain the status quo, of the ever-widening gap between rich and poor, of the disastrously callous habits of the overclass and the bought-out legislators who server them. The guru will not instruct you on how to navigate a world that distrusts or despises you, nor will he acknowledge that the landscape you inhabit was built to keep you poor, powerless, and suspect.

In other words, the guru is an expert in gaming privilege. Many of his so-called life hacks are just that, hacks – sly methods of disrupting other people’s resources for the sake of your own. If you happen to have a few demographic advantages, plus the raw self-loathing and lack of affection for humanity that tend to accompany any sustained imperative to maximize your own delicious supremacy behind fortress walls, the guru can make you king or queen of all that you survey. Everyone else can get fucked.”

— Heather Havrilesky (via)