I am currently listening to the audiobook ‘Eat, Love, Pray’ that almost everyone told me to read before I went to an ashram in India last fall. It is a good and fast read, the kind of thing I listen to as I cook or brush my teeth.

In the second part of the book, the author Elizabeth Gilbert goes to her Indian guru’s ashram. A guru is just a teacher. Gilbert defines a guru as someone who brings light to darkness, someone who enlightens you.

I thought that Elizabeth Gilbert’s guru would have to be Amma, the hugging guru, whom I’ve seen twice in New York, but the internet tells me that her guru was Gurumayi of Siddha Yoga, someone I didn’t know before. 

Upon googling some more, I see that Gurumayi is now in seclusion and her ashram was in scandal. In fact, there is a blog devoted to “critical news of various yoga and guru groups.”

When I was in my ashram, we had Guruji, who was almost never there but didn’t display any of the 10 myths that Guruphilia busts about gurus. He gave me a great recipe to clear my sinuses with steaming cabbage. The only complaint I had about him was that he didn’t answer all of our questions in class. He didn’t hold himself up as the supreme ego, even though there was someone else in a leadership role who did so sometimes at the ashram.

It is really sad that people who have the power to affect positively so many people then abuse that power. It’s only human, isn’t it? One more reason I want to teach everything I know to my students, so that they become their own teachers—learning through their own bodies.

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