The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power

The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power

by Joel Kramer, Diana Alstad

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781583945988
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Publication date: 06/19/2012
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 408
File size: 2 MB

About 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 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.

Table of Contents

Preface and Map of the Book

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?


What People are Saying About This

John Tytell

Brilliantly analytical, always probing, pushing at the edges of what we know, this adventurous book offers in every chapter an unflinching view of the structure and psychology of reality. Author of Naked Angels: The Lives and Literature of the Beat Generation, Passionate Lives, Ezra Pound, The Living Theater

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A brilliant book. It inspires new insights each time one re-reads it. I have had the experience of opening the book randomly to any page and receiving just the wisdom I was needing to help me take my next step toward freedom. Author of The Couple's Journey and Beyond the Power Struggle

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A powerful and magnificent book about our own individual integrity beyond any historic and self-appointed authority. Author of A Modern Priest Looks at His Outdated Church, and God Lives: From Religious Guilt to Spiritual Freedom

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The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Lenaphoenix on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I found this book useful when I was attempting to understand how I had gotten myself involved in a cult-like group. The authors are very thorough in their deconstruction of the dynamics of authoritarian relationships both in spiritual groups and in society as a whole. In reading it, I gained a great deal of insight as to my own relationship to those tendencies.