The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power

Overview

The Guru Papers demonstrates with uncompromising clarity that authoritarian control, which once held societies together, is now at the core of personal, social, and planetary problems, and thus a key factor in social disintegration. It illustrates how authoritarianism is embedded in the way people think, hiding in culture, values, daily life, and in the very morality people try to live by. The book unmasks authoritarianism in such areas as relationships, cults, 12-step groups, religion, and contemporary morality....
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Overview

The Guru Papers demonstrates with uncompromising clarity that authoritarian control, which once held societies together, is now at the core of personal, social, and planetary problems, and thus a key factor in social disintegration. It illustrates how authoritarianism is embedded in the way people think, hiding in culture, values, daily life, and in the very morality people try to live by. The book unmasks authoritarianism in such areas as relationships, cults, 12-step groups, religion, and contemporary morality. Chapters on addiction and love show the insidious nature of authoritarian values and ideologies in the most intimate corners of life, offering new frameworks for understanding why people get addicted and why intimacy is laden with conflict. By exposing the inner authoritarian that people use to control themselves and others, the authors show why people give up their power, and how others get and maintain it.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Easily the most comprehensive, erudite, and timely book … to explore authoritarianism in religion, institutions, power, the family, intimacy and sexual relations, and personal problems such as addiction.… Argue[s] persuasively that any system of values that places tradition and the past above the imperative to question the present is destined to become increasingly lethal.” —San Francisco Chronicle Book Review 
 
“A thorough, wide-ranging analysis of the way power has historically been maintained.… A diagnosis of what’s wrong with the world and how to fix it … Its thesis is elegant and nearly unlimited in its ramifications.… [Shows that] authoritarianism is … part of the way we think.” —The New Mexican (Santa Fe)
 
“Don’t be deceived by the title. The Guru Papers is about much more than cult groups. A profoundly important critique of the covert authoritarianism of most religions … and of such cultural values as unconditional love, addiction, and 12-step programs … Thought-provoking and radically important …Extraordinarily rich and complex … An important contribution to changing [old paradigms].” —Liberty 
 
“Spells out … the dangers of becoming addicted to another’s authority in any sphere of life.” —Times Literary Supplement (London)
 
“A breathtakingly profound analysis.… One of the most deeply insightful works of our time … Nearly every page crackles with statements that … provoked one ‘Aha!’ after another as I saw elements of culture, history, and my own experience from a new perspective that made immediate sense … A magnificent contribution … The most reasonable and coherent picture of the evolution of religious ideas to date, and brilliant sections on love and control, and … addiction … A vision of spirituality beyond authoritarianism … [and] tremendous contribution to our collective understanding.” —Richard Heinberg, author of Blackout
 
“Provocative and thorough.… Unmask[s] the countless manifestations of authoritarianism in our contemporary culture. Cover[s] vast territory … rais[es] all the vitally important questions …It should definitely be placed in the hands of anyone who has been, or is, or contemplates becoming involved with a guru.” Georg Feuerstein, Yoga Journal
 
“Expands the concept of authoritarianism and gives a new slant on the human condition … Shows that to overcome our staggering problems, we must learn to think non-authoritarian … The convincing arguments will make readers re-sort their thinking.” —John Irwin, sociologist, author of The Felon
 
“Answers a host of questions about the source of recurring problems.… Unmasks the insidiously pervasive nature of authoritarian values that permeate society … Without awareness of how authoritarianism operates below the level of awareness, we too are likely to become its victims …Perceptive guidelines for detecting hidden authoritarianism and intervention strategies for self-empowerment …Deals with the most fundamental aspects of the Yin and Yang of human nature and the meaning of social community.” —Philip Zimbardo, author of Psychology and Life
 
“The questions raised by it are so profound … that they can never be put out of one’s mind.” —The Humanist
 
“Don’t let the title fool you … A more apt title would be “Masks of Power” as the book has great relevance for a secular audience as well … [Can] shift readers’ minds in a deep way. [They’re] onto something big … Elegantly articulates many of [our] … unformed thoughts” —Synapse
 
“Laser clarity.… Fascinating insights into the leader/follower relationship … [and] the usually veiled authoritarianism embedded in world views and values …One of the most compelling, ‘can’t put it down’ books I’ve read in a long time, [it] offers challenging concepts for egalitarian communities” —Communities Magazine
 
“With x-ray analysis and laser precision it discloses authoritarian structures. It expands consciousness of the consciousness journey itself, exposing its ever present darker side … Even offer[s] a flashlight guide through this darkness. Uncompromising in its thesis, sparing no current idol, it is a poignant attack on the illusions of our times.” —Mike Arons, professor emeritus of psychology, West Georgia College
 
“Undertake[s] the monumental task of reforming the very basis of civilization.… Step[s] on … nearly every sacred cow …Offers both affirmation and optimism.” —Creative Loafing  (Atlanta)
 
“For those … who prefer to have their world grounded in comfortable, familiar dogmas, this book will make their hair stand on end … Dissect[s], with the best scientific rigor, many old standards of belief.” —Fate Magazine
 
“Offers new insights for restructuring a more functional and caring society by exposing the cultural authoritarianism that undermines democracy.” —James Austin, criminologist, coauthor of It’s About Time 
 
“Filled with insight …Deconstructs the authoritarianism of modernity … The Guru Papers can help change agents reconceptualize what they are trying to do and how they are trying to do it” —Journal of Organizational Change Management
 
“The chapter on addiction presents an exciting and provocative new concept about the origin and process of addiction. A must read for therapists and addiction counselors.” Ann McKain, past President of The American Academy of Psychotherapists
 
“A tour-de-force … Fascinating model of the psychology of addictive behavior … Profound and compelling account of the endless battle between warring aspects of our being—and how we might become whole … Their writings are an indispensable resource in my clinical work.” —Jeffrey Rubin, author of The Art of Flourishing
 
“Ambitious treatise [on] the foundation of our social and self-control mechanisms … [The addiction chapter] take[s] on the disease model … and also … ‘responsibility models’ … As a long time researcher … of addiction, I found [it] a refreshing analysis of predominant theories of substance abuse. [Their] own model of the divided psyche and ‘why it feels good to be bad’ was not only original but resonant … Particularly useful regarding the futility of the drug war/punitive approach …” Marsha Rosenbaum, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs
 
“Anyone who reads The Guru Papers will be profoundly changed. Its ideas are like a medical laser beam vaporizing cancer cells with the power of truth.” —Steven Hassan, author of Combatting Cult Mind Control  
 
“Delivers what it promises … Describ[es how] …  overt and covert authoritarianism can intrude into social, political, and religious beliefs and interfere with normal personality development.… Part II explores subtle, indirect forces in values and beliefs … concealed in what people assume and take for granted …Merits wide readership … highly recommended.” —Cultic Studies Journal
 
“Crystal-clear.…  [Goes] deeply into the inherent paradoxes in … world religion … Explain[s] with blistering clarity why we get seduced.” —Whole Earth Review
 
“A bold, timely, important book. It can teach us to think responsibly about ‘spiritual’ questions.… Deserves to be a basic text in comparative religion.” —Abraham Levitsky, coauthor with Fritz Perls of The Rules and Games of Gestalt Therapy
 
“A contribution of the highest order … Of immense and immediate consequence” —Brain/Mind Bulletin
 
“A brilliant book inspiring new insights with each re-reading. Opening it randomly, I’ve received just the wisdom I needed for my next step toward freedom.” —Susan Campbell, author of Getting Real
 
“Very important … Simply and elegantly written … One of the most helpful books on psychological oppression of the decade.” —Creation Spirituality
 
“Brilliantly analytical, always probing … this adventurous book offers an unflinching view of the structure and psychology of reality.” —John Tytell, author of Naked Angels
 
“Explores [how] the struggle for independence … is countered by deeply embedded structures within every aspect of society … and within the individual psyche.” —Noetic Sciences Review
 
“Elegantly identifies the masks that power uses to hide its abuse[s] … Hard-hitting practical logic that rips the guts out of sacred cows that have fed too long in pastures provided by a naïve … population.” —Point Reyes Light
 
“Alarming, enlightening, and riveting … Eminently readable … Powerful tools for building a more humane society.” —Merrill Joan Gerber, author of Gut Feelings
 
“Subversive … Challenges core beliefs with powerful arguments that seem self-evident … Offers hope … Shows the authoritarian virus is not in the bio-computer, but in the way it’s programmed.” —Timothy Leary, author of Flashbacks
 
“A powerful, magnificent book about our own individual integrity beyond any historic and self-appointed authority.” —James Kavanaugh, author of God Lives
 
“How authoritarian leaders manipulate followers and why people surrender to them” —Publishers Weekly
 
“An essential key to understanding … control and manipulation” —The Bookwatch
 
“It’s unusual to find a book that covers [so] much ground … and does it so well.” —Truth Seeker
 
“Sheds light on our darkening political spirit … Compelling theory about why we keep taking the same tired approaches, despite their proven failure.” —Magical Blend
 
“Displays appropriate irreverence toward all organized religions—with a powerful analysis.” —Paul Krassner, author of Best of the Realist

New Mexican (Santa Fe)
"A thorough, wide-ranging analysis of the way power has historically been maintained.... Purports to be no less than a diagnosis of what's wrong with the world and how, not merely to fix it, but to save it. Its thesis is elegant and nearly unlimited in its ramifications... [Shows that] authoritarianism is not merely a political phenomenon. It's part of the way we think."
Keith Thompson
"Easily the most comprehensive, erudite, and timely book in print to explore authoritarianism in religion, institutions, power, the family, intimacy and sexual relations, and personal problems such as addiction....Argue[s] persuasively that any system of values that places tradition and the past above the imperative to question the present is destined to become increasingly lethal." -- San Franciso Chronicle Book Review
Times Literary Supplement (London)
"Spells out at length the dangers of becoming addicted to another's authority in any sphere of life."
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781883319007
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books
  • Publication date: 5/28/1993
  • Pages: 408
  • Sales rank: 1,474,201
  • Product dimensions: 6.03 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad are co-authors of The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power. They have written and taught together since 1974 on evolution, spirituality, relationships, values, awareness, yoga, and social issues. Their Web site is www.joeldiana.com.Joel Kramer, the author of The Passionate Mind, did post-graduate work in philosophy and psychology and was a resident teacher at Esalen Institute (1968-1970). He is a pioneer and legend of modern American yoga whose evolutionary vision of yoga freed it from its authoritarian roots, re-visioning it for the West.Diana Alstad, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, received a doctorate from Yale University in 1971. She taught in the humanities and initiated and taught the first Women's Studies courses at Yale and Duke. She envisioned the Yoga of Relationship and developed it with Kramer.
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Table of Contents

Preface and Map of the Book

Introduction:
Why Focus on Authoritarianism?
Authority, Hierarchy, and Power

Part 1: Personal Masks

1. Religion, Cults, & the Spiritual Vacuum
Religion and Morality
The Challenge of Science
Who Defines Reality in Religions and Cults?
Reexamining the Sacred

2. Gurus and Times of Upheaval

3. The Seductions of Surrender
Control and Surrender
Scandals, Saints, & Self-Centeredness
Recognizing Authoritarian Control

4. Guru Ploys
Inducing Surrender
Maintaining Dominance

5. The Assault on Reason

6. Stages of Cults -- Proselytizing to Paranoia
The Messianic Phase
The Apocalyptic Phase

7. The Attractions of Cult Hierarchy

8. Gurus & Sexual Manipulation
The Betrayal of Trust
Spiritual Hedonism

9. Gurus, Psychotherapy, & the Unconscious

10. The Traps of Being a Guru
Narcissism and Adulation
Deceit and Corruption

11. Jim Jones & the Jonestown Mass Suicide

12. On Channeling Disembodied Authorities
Assumptions about Channeling
An Example of Channeled Writing:
A Course in Miracles
What Are Channels Channeling?

13. Do You Create Your Own Reality?

14. Healing Crippled Self-Trust

Part 2: Ideological Masks
Introduction: The Morality Wars

1. Fundamentalism & the Need for Certainty
The Essence of Fundamentalism
The Quandaries of Revisionism
Revisionism and the Need for Identity
What's at Stake?

2.  Satanism & the Worship of the Forbidden:
Why It Feels Good to Be Bad
Good and Evil
The Problem of Evil
Satanism as an Avenue to Power
The Divided Self: Good and Evil Internalized
Satanism as the Dark Side of Monotheism

3. Who Is in Control?
The Authoritarian Roots of Addiction
What Is Addiction?
The Divided Psyche:
Symptom of a Dysfunctional Morality
Taming the Beast:
The Inner Battle for Control
Addiction as Revolt Against the Inner Authoritarian
The Failings of Disease & Responsibility Models
Twelve Steps to Where?
Developing Wholeness and Self-Trust

4. Love & Control:
The Conditions underlying Unconditional Love
What Is Unconditional Love?
Love, Time, and Timelessness
Self-Sacrifice, Power, and Passion
Control and Boundaries
"Love Addiction"
Measuring and Roles
Forgiving and Letting Go
The Religious Foundation of Unconditional Love
Timeless Love through Time

5. Oneness, Enlightenment & the Mystical Experience
The Mystical Experience
Dualism and Renunciation
The Function of Enlightenment
The One-Sidedness of Oneness
Holism and Interconnectedness
Renunciation as Accumulation

6. The Power of Abstraction:
The Sacred Word & the Evolution of Morality
Abstractions and Power
From  Animism to Polytheism:
The Concrete Abstractions of Idolatry
Monotheism: A Universal Abstraction
Oneness: The Culmination of Religious Abstraction
Abstraction, Either/or Thinking, and Dualism
Symbol Systems and Power
Transforming the Symbol System:
A Dialectical Perspective

Epilogue: Where to Go from Here?

Index

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2005

    One of the most important books for the 21st century

    God. The God of Science, The God of Papal Infallibility, The God of National Security, The God of Family Values, The God of Buddhist Selflessness, The God of Unconditional Love. What are they good for? Absolutely nothing. The Guru Papers elegantly identifies the masks that power uses to hide its abuse of others. Authoritarianism is the exercise of authority which, presuming an unquestioning obedience, can tolerate neither question nor challenge, meeting either with disregard or punishment. Assiduously distinguishing the everyday exercise of authority - living life and making choices amongst the propositions it presents - from the bullying domination intrinsic to the type of power unwilling to recognize an equal, the authors carefully dissect the threads which, woven together, comprise the cloth of abuse. Whence abusiveness flows, certain features are invariably present. When a 'leader' sets up an ideological standard of perfection or purity that no human being can attain, and our consequent failure of such attainment becomes the raison d'etre for a double standard of treatment whereby the leader gives orders and we obey them, we have lost our freedom, particularly if we believe it is for our own good. Whenever one pole of a duality is identified as essential to good living and the other pole leads to evil, behind that mask an authoritarian moralist weaves his tale positing that which he believes is most important, that which he says is God. Gurus and religions, politicians and governments, educators and schools, parents and families, and lovers and spouses frequently equate evil with selfishness and goodness with selflessness and sacrifice. They say if I am sufficiently sincere and pure of heart, I will sacrifice what I want for what they tell me is best. Thus, I will be a better man. There is little difference between the cult leader who demands allegiance to the unproven presumption of his godliness, and the lover who, crying 'let me be myself,' claims his imperfections should be accepted without limit in the name of unconditional love. When a moral demand for sacrifice is made in the name of something sacred, be it the Immaculate Conception or an Idealized Lover, one best be brave and ask one's questions. If such courage is met with punishment or disregard, one better run. If one does not, one's conduct will communicate that there is something wrong, and it's not with the other guy. The essence of authoritarianism attacks the inner certainty of individuals by claiming that it knows a superior, more moral path. It not only condemns an individual's assertion of self as selfish and wrong, but also is unwilling to engage in dialogue which does not adopt an unquestioning regard for that which it deems sacred. If an individual adopts this moral dichotomy, he can only mistrust himself as inferior. This, Alstad/Kramer say, is the purpose of authoritarian control: to generate internal self-mistrust which makes the individual available to imposition of control by an external authority. They correctly expose the deception that such externally imposed control is benevolent. According to Kramer/Alstad, authoritarian persons are never benevolent because such persons use others for their own selfish purposes while lying about it, saying they are not, if they are saying anything at all. 'Do as I say, not as I do; and if you dare question what I do, you are questioning what all good people know is beyond reproach. You, too, would have respect if only you were a good person. Since you are not, you must do as I say. It is for your own good.' Such is the circle of authoritarian ideology. The language of authoritarianism is the language that Orwell named double-speak. There's no Orwellian double-speak in this book, just hard-hitting practical logic that rips the guts out of sacred cows that have fed too long in pastures provided by a naive and idealistic population. Such a populace, wanting to be goo

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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