Tuesday, 15 November 2011

"Follow me - I'm right behind you" - the Good Guru Guide

Let’s get one thing straight right from the start. I don’t hold with gurus.  It’s a purely personal thing so if you have a pet guru and the relationship works for you, then great, tickety-boo (but try to choose one that doesn't have a fancy car habit, okay? And I'd steer clear of ones that advocate only one colour of clothing - particularly if that colour doesn't suit you).  Otherwise, go for it. But me? I run a mile.
Another thing I don’t like?  Spiritual self-help books.  Yeah, yeah, the irony doesn’t escape me.  I have, for my egotistical sins, written twenty or so books on natural health and spirituality. In my defence I try not to spout my own non-existent ‘wisdom’, I just report or maybe ‘translate’ what other people say.  Which, I suppose, when you look at it that way, is even worse. J
Anyhow, I have read thousands of books, literally thousands – including hundreds upon hundreds of New Age, spiritual, and self-help guides. As a journalist I interviewed a holy and unholy host of so-called ‘gurus’ and experts. Many were great people, with great ideas, but I was never tempted to lay my hat at their door. I have never been a follower; I have never even followed one particular ‘path’ or creed or religion or therapy. There’s a lot of stuff out there, some good, some bad, some blissfully bonkers. Probably way too much stuff. Maybe I got lost in the sheer volume of it all. Or maybe I just felt that there wasn’t a One Size Fits All answer to the seeking.  I was fed up of people saying with total egocentric certainty ‘do this’, ‘be that’. 

But this year I started a sort of process of distillation, of figuring out what works for me, what chimes for me.  And I started listening to people, really listening.  Okay, so a couple of those people were dead but, hey, let’s not let that get in the way of anything, right?  But one of them was very much alive and kicking (except when he died, but that’s another story).  Time to introduce you to Marek, aka Ma.Ste. Aka…nah, let’s keep it simple.
Marek and I started talking on the Labyrinth thread.  He posted chunks of his book Symphonic Bridges and I found they chimed chords. You could argue that I had found someone I could project upon (and, by heck, I’ve got a PhD in projection). That, in Marek, I found someone on whom to project my subconscious knowing, my inner guru, if you like (alongside a whole host of other projections). And, bless him, the poor guy  never took advantage of that – he just patiently (and, let’s be honest, sometimes impatiently!) held up the mirror. 
    
Anyhow. I thought that maybe one of the edgy, far-sighted spiritual publishing houses would snap up Symphonic Bridges but the daft fools didn’t.  It’s funny really how traditional people are when it comes to spirituality.  Even in this field, surely the one that should be the most fluid and experimental, there are rules and formats and genres and slots. And Symphonic Bridges doesn’t fit into any slots.

It isn’t always easy; in fact it can be downright perplexing.  A lot of people run flinching from it, saying it’s ‘self-indulgent’ or ‘crazy’.  I can sort of understand those reactions.  It isn’t a ‘safe’ book; it doesn’t play by the standard rules; it doesn’t do what it’s told.  Maybe that’s partly what delights me about it.  I used to want to edit it, to cut and paste and add and splice; to wrestle and reduce.  Then the former Daily Mail journalist in my head kicked in and I nagged Marek to write another book, to condense it, to make it all ‘simple’. ‘Tell people this stuff in easy-to-get language, in seven simple steps,’ I said.  He didn’t reply.

And no surprise because, really, what a stupid idea. The language of the soul can’t be squeezed into seven easy steps. The language of the soul is like a half-remembered tune, catches heard on the wind. Maybe its language is poetry, music, feeling, scent; maybe it’s found in the dancing interstices, rather than in stolid prose.
‘Follow me!’ says Marek.  And then swiftly adds, ‘I’ll be right behind you!’ 
Anyhow. It’s not a book for everyone, that’s for sure. A lot of friends have read it and shaken their heads at me.  But hey…I said I’d tell you what worked for me and this was a large part of it.  So make up your own mind. Or rather listen to your own soul.

Here’s a chunk of what I wrote by way of a blurb/preface when Symphonic Bridges first came out (you can buy it on Amazon or CreateSpace, b(u)y the way...just follow the links...)

“You can drive yourself crazy going round in circles, reading, researching, trying to understand, trying to be clever, making spiritual truth all very complicated.  But, at heart, it is probably very very simple. Do you want to live a more balanced, spiritual life?  Everything you need is here, pretty much.  This book set me back on the right path and, when I’m feeling very dramatic, I say it saved my life.  Do I agree with it 100 percent? Not quite yet.  *smile*
But Marek won’t tell you what to do.  And that – I think – is why I really love this book so much.  He wraps the spiritual stuff up in the fabric of his own life, splicing it into a sort of apologetic autobiography.  In many ways it reads like a love story:   about divine Love mirrored in the very human love he feels for his wife and soul-mate (a lovely and loving microcosm of the macrocosm). 
He tells you about what he believes, what he does, and what he hopes he will get out of it.  But he never ever says “you must do this”.  And that is so right because everyone has to find his or her own way; you can lead the proverbial horse to water but horses can be bloody-minded. Ultimately we have to choose for ourselves – we can control our bodies, our minds, our destiny – or we can float.  No judgement if you float...floating is fine.
It’s not a worthy book either and, dear God, do I loathe worthiness.  There is humour and fun and lightheartedness and sex mixed with sadness and frustration and anger (mainly directed at himself). It’s human, so human. 
Finally, if you love language, surely you have to smile at the way he plays with words, constructing and destructing them, pulling them apart to tease out meaning, to release, to reveal?  And (okay, so that wasn’t the final finally) if you have a mystic’s soul, doesn’t that soul soar when it peeks over ego’s shoulder and reads something like:
“The true nature of Time and Space cannot be known. It can only be heard. Do you see?”

Personally, I reckon it’s got the makings of a cult spiritual classic.  But what do I know?”

What indeed?    For those patiently waiting for the ‘how to lose four stone’ bit, it’s coming, it’s coming. But, see, this is all part of it.  Am I saying Symphonic Bridges should be renamed ‘Four Stone in Four Months - The Ma.Ste. Way to Magic Weight Loss’?  Nah.  Though, hmm, maybe he’s missing a trick. J

55 comments:

Bud Jazzman said...

Deepak Chopra always made a point of explaining to people that he wasn't telling them what to do. It's standard procedure in the spiritual bullshit market to add this kind of thing, whilst also adding a bit of Leonard Cohen in: "Follow me the wise man said, but he walked behind."

Now where did I put Jane's Litmus paper? Oh here it is...in the bullshit box....xxxxx

Bud Jazzman said...

Actually,this has given me a good idea for a blog post...."Jobs for the boys" or maybe...you pull my leg and I'll pull yours...lol

Exmoorjane said...

I could talk about Deepak Chopra but I need to go and cook baked beans right now so I'll save the flatulence for another time. :)
Always happy to provide some inspiration for a fellow blogger. I'll look forward to the post. lol xxx

Bud Jazzman said...

You always give me such good ideas for posts, Jane. Another good one would be "The truth about false humility."

Exmoorjane said...

Great song, Teachers...btw. :)

Bud Jazzman said...

Absolutely.xxx

Zoë said...

I am very definitely a floater (or should that be bloater?)

The book intrigues me, so its downloading to my Kindle as I type. All it seems to be missing is a bit of String Theory!

As for Gurus, the only time I thought I had found the way was when I was studying for confirmation classes some 20 years ago. It all fell to bits when I realised I couldnt make the commitment to the Bishop in the proforma declaration, because I didnt believe part of it, and I wasnt about to start lieing to Bishops and God. The priest told me not to worry about it, and just say it anyway. He would make me a hypocrit, so I fled at the speed of lightening, and remain a godless drifter!

I still believe in a greater power, and I believe it connects us all, I believe god( or what ever you want to call this entity) is in all of us, and that's how our souls speak, we are all connected via god. Yep, I am completely bonkers and in a religion on my own! Nothing new in me being isolated though.

Last time I started listening to voices I was told they were audible hallucinations and they tried to commit me! Mind you they were pretty hateful destructive voices. Stan the Man sent them packing (two years of therapy)

I really am going to have to restart the growlery, I want to talk about this stuff and my normal blog certainly inst the place, I think my audience there would think me totally nuts!

wv = covent (convent? Covenant?)

Bud Jazzman said...

Do I detect a fart building up?

Bud Jazzman said...

Chopra told people that their bodies produced everything they needed to make them well....all the medicine was produced in just the right amounts. Then he proceeded to open a shop that sold all the creams and herbs and pills for this to happen whilst also holding seminars and retreats for the people who he wasn't telling what to do to go to be told what to do....Brilliant! Like Clint Eastwood with his stove chest protector idea, old Deeps, as I used to fondly call him, is a fucking genius and a wonderful businessman....yuk yuk yuk....xxx

My word verification is "notedi" That's just given me a wonderful idea for a Christmas present for my wife...now where did I put that Anne Summers mag?

Bab's said...

interesting piece especially for someone like me who has striven to find my answers. With this I agree one size doesn't fit all. Though to dis all self help books seems just as extreme? Relate for instance do some excellent self help books - no two relationships are the same but there are some givens? I guess at the end of the day we believe what we believe?

Exmoorjane said...

Zoe - you know how I feel about The Growlery. :) I dunno...been reading Arnie Mindell again (you might like) and he works with people who are suffering psychotic breakdowns by working with 'the voices'. Fascinating stuff. Too complex to go into here but I'll send you a link.

Bud - you just had it for me. Thanks, mate! :)

Babs - I'm not intending to diss all self-help books. it's mainly when the author gets inflated and pontificate..but the concept itself does worry me a bit. I take your point that there is some general useful advice that can be given to people in certain cases but even then, no two cases are the same.. as a starting point, maybe...but to follow blindly?

Bud Jazzman said...

I think it's funny when people go to church and talk to this god and no one bats an eyelid, but when they claim god is talking back, they haul them off to the loony bin....lol

Bud Jazzman said...

No problemo, Jane....if you can't fart a little bullshit for a mate, there's nothing down for ya! xxxx

Exmoorjane said...

Yup, I really liked the early Chopra books - Timeless Healing and Quantum something or other? Can't remember, long time ago...but yeah, he sure does good business out of it nowadays. Maybe Marek should start a retreat centre in Polandia? :)

Bud Jazzman said...

Yeh, he could fit rockets to people's arses to get them up to speed......lol

Exmoorjane said...

having first choprad off their arms and legs!

Bud Jazzman said...

I must admit, I did like old Deeps' crap myself when I used to let others think for me. It was a magical time of something to look forward to and the banter on his boards was great, but nothing compared to my current position. It's great looking down on you all from my special place.....yuk yuk xxx

Bab's said...

I wouldn't follow anyting blindly? As I said one size doesn't fit all. The important thing is that we get what we want. Imo some people want someone to give them answers. It's not for me - I don't like being told what to do but isn't it down to choice?

Exmoorjane said...

Yeah yeah...go chew a bone, like a good god. :)

Bud Jazzman said...

No need to talk to Babs like that...bloody hell, Jane, what's in those beans?

Word veri is buche....lol

Exmoorjane said...

Babs. Yes, of course it's about choice. And yes, people are totally free to do whatever they wish and follow or not follow whomsoever they so desire. I personally no longer feel comfortable writing those books is all. People often want easy answers - I get that...but are easy answers really the answer? I don't know. Do you, as a therapist, think the current self-help book culture helps people? They so often seem to run from one thing to another...

Exmoorjane said...

Bud: LOL! Radio-active probably. :D

Bab's said...

do I think self help books work? I think they do for some. Imo people find seeing what they think or feel in print somehow reassuring. I guess that's what you're saying insofar as this book resonates for you? They may have initially started with a book and then gone into therapy or started with therapy and then read a book? Life's a journey but we may take different paths?

Bud Jazzman said...

Agreed, they are stepping stones. Some people get addicted and always need to be told what to do and others find a path that suits them. At the end of the day, people are little pieces of a jigsaw that makes up the whole ever changing picture and each piece is unique and just as important as the next. I luv you all, you bunch of bullshitting bastards! xxx

Word veri = propa

Frankie said...

I'm aspiritual.

Bud Jazzman said...

I feel your pain

Midlife Singlemum said...

Could we have the how to lose four stone post quite soon please. I'm trying to keep it on until you give me the know-how but it's getting too expensive eating all this junk all the time. Ta

Bud Jazzman said...

Have you been through all the self questions and answers scenarios on why you want to lose weight?

Midlife Singlemum said...

In reply to Bud Jazzman (any relation to Buzz Lightyear?) - no

Ashen said...

Marek seems a genuinely loving person. I don't think he sees himself as a teacher, more as a spiritual friend.
Teachers often act as transitional father or mother figures, who, at best, can fill in a missing experience, hopefully of love. Good or bad doesn't come into it. We attract what we need.
I co-edited an exceptional book last year, containing reminiscences from people about their relationship with an unusual Sufi teacher - Heart of a Sufi -

Solange Noir said...

I have to read it, after all this...

Solange Noir said...

I have to read it, after all this... ;)

Bud Jazzman said...

"In reply to Bud Jazzman (any relation to Buzz Lightyear?) - no"

How revealing is that return?
lol....

Bud Jazzman said...

Last night I had a dream that I was walking across a heath looking for a friend whom I couldn't quite place when I heard a noise. It was the sound of a crowd in turmoil and between the wailing I could hear the odd commands, "Attack now" and "Retreat, she's got the dirty pole." I followed the sound, but it was always moving as I got near to it. One minute it was staright ahead and the next it was behind me or to the side.

I spotted a clump of bushes and headed towards them. As I got closer I could see that they were gooseberry bushes and the obvious mele was going on within the gooseberry bush; at its centre.

I could hear a woman screaming for help and dogs barked loudly, as if starving for human flesh. I knew I had to get inside the bush and help this woman before she was torn to pieces.

I cut myself badly as I ripped at the bushes with my bare hands - the huge thorns piercing me deeply, but got through to find the woman standing, defiant and facing the crowd with their pack of starving dogs. I knew the woman, but couldn't make out her face and then it hit me as the leader of the crowd burst forward towards me holding a pole that had been dipped in dogshit. He pointed the pole at me and said, "If she strikes with the blog then you will know." On turning to look at the woman it was you, Jane and you were holding an old rolled up parchment. You looked terrified and tears streamed down your face. Gone was the defiant woman, replaced by a quivering wreck as you passed me the parchment and said. "It is you who must strike them down." I took the parchment and began unrolling it, but you screamed, "No, don't view it before you strike." I continued to unroll it to find it was a copy of this blog post.

I looked toward you, but you had gone; the crowd and mad dogs too. I stood in the centre of the gooseberry bush, bleeding, the blood gushing, but with no pain, and held the parchment in the air. I screamed, "Mantra, take this." then woke up.

WTF? XXX

Bud Jazzman said...

I think that with all these spiritual offerings in the form of books, film, music and art, all you will get by way of answers is a snapshot of the unique reality experienced by the author or creator from their perspective and the reality is that you can never really know that creators reality from the viewpoint of the human illusion of seperatedness.

This is why I threw away all the spiritual crap and listened to my silence. My silence taught me the importance and value of nothing.

Exmoorjane said...

You just answered your own question! :)

Exmoorjane said...

I dreamed... but, hang about... dreams are WAY too revealing to reveal.. lol!

Bud Jazzman said...

How revealing....lol

Bud Jazzman said...

"You just answered your own question! :)"

Of course... one always does, but if you're gonna manifest as human then you gotta play the game a bit. Otherwise, what would be the point.

It's just consciousness justifying itself. lol

Bud Jazzman said...

"Consciousness is a wind up merchant."
© Zero. Consciousness

I hope no one steals my quote for a new buk....HA!

Exmoorjane said...

Patience, man. I'm only on post two of this fecking thing. Got to thrash around in the bush a bit first... :)

It's like a Hollywood movie, right? Spielberg doesn't go in the first five minutes - oh look, the planet is safe, all the baddies are dead and the guy got the girl. The End. Or nobody would buy their tickets and overpriced popcorn, right? lol

Bud Jazzman said...

A dream is a dream.....lol

My favourite all-time song:

When I was young and they packed me off to school
and taught me how not to play the game,
I didn't mind if they groomed me for success,
or if they said that I was a fool.
So I left there in the morning
with their God tucked underneath my arm
their half-assed smiles and the book of rules.
So I asked this God a question
and by way of firm reply,
He said - I'm not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.
So to my old headmaster (and to anyone who cares):
before I'm through I'd like to say my prayers
I don't believe you:
you had the whole damn thing all wrong
He's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.
Well you can excomunicate me on my way to Sunday school
and have all the bishops harmonize these lines
how do you dare tell me that I'm my Father's son
when that was just an accident of Birth.
I'd rather look around me - compose a better song
`cos that's the honest measure of my worth.
In your pomp and all your glory you're a poorer man than me,
as you lick the boots of death born out of fear.
I don't believe you:
you had the whole damn thing all wrong
He's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.

(Ian Anderson)

Ma.Ste. said...

Sea, Love? Fucking waste of space basically... :o)

Ma.Ste. said...

Ashen is right. I AM a spiritual friend. And a spiritual lover... Now and then... :o)

Ma.Ste. said...

And fuck Deepak Chopra! The fucker never follows me on fucking twitter!

Ma.Ste. said...

Bud... Hmmm... Yeah... Right...

Ma.Ste. said...

Anyway...

Exmoorjane said...

No sails then? :

Exmoorjane said...

btw, Bud. Love him. How could I not? Lucky to have him around.

Also, must confess, the off-air comments I get about him are amusing me mightily! yuk yuk (to coin a phrase)

Bud Jazzman said...

The story of my life. I too have been amused over the years by off-air comments. Sometimes you gotta wonder if it's the man taking the dog for a walk or vice versa....Keep watching....lol

Ma.Ste. said...

Tanks for mansion... :o)

Ma.Ste. said...

Transformation! Bud u no... Life is like a dream... The night matures in every flower... Every bird sings about silence... The wind swooshes about fading... And there's a little jobo in each and everyone of us... (copyright © Marek Stefanowicz 1911 :o)

Exmoorjane said...

My inner jobo is getting bloody restless! :D

Kim Bennett said...

Well. My own experience is that I went for all the self-help I could get at one time. In MY experience - all avoidance. All trying to find something to fix me, someone to blame, something to point my finger at. Spiritual bypassing I think some people call it. But when I look back I think that all the books, meetings, conversations etc were all a fine tuning and a growing up. For the moment I'm sat in the Zen house. We'll see. Most importantly on a day to day basis I am happy, content, fulfilled and joyful (and, Jane, I breathe...:-)). 9 years ago I tried to commit suicide 3 times. So summink's changed ;-)

Exmoorjane said...

Ah Kim...this has been a year of marvels and truly, you have become one of my sweet companions of the road... xxxxx