Feet of Clay - Book Review

This eye-opening book invokes a larger issue: in our search for guidance and truth, when and why do we cross the line from reasoned inquirer to unquestioning follower? Feet of Clay - Saints, Sinners, and Madmen: A Study of Gurus. How do Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Gordon Hinckley, et al. fit into the scheme of things? For more reviews of this book click on the book icon.

Dictators and Gurus - Comparisons

"Dictators cannot afford the luxury of friends. Although they may marry and rear families, they depend primarily upon the plaudits of the unknown multitude rather than on true affection from the intimates to maintain their self-esteem. Paradoxically, the "friends" and allies on whom a normal leader might depend for advice and support during crises, often constitute the greatest threat to the paranoid dictator. Both Stalin and Mao Tse-tung disposed of their closest associates without hesitation.

Some gurus are dictators on a small scale. Although their message is ostensibly religious rather than political, they behave like dictators, thrive on adulation, have no true friends, attempt to exercise absolute power, and are afflicted by the same kind of paranoid suspicions."

The Worst of the Gurus

Jim Jones 1931-1978 died of self inflicted gunshot wound to the head after leading over 900 people to suicide in Guyana.

David Koresh 1959- 1993died of self inflicted gunshot would to the head in Waco, Texas.

1. eloguent , fluent preachers
2. unscrupulous sexually
3. physically cruel
4. arbitrary rules
5. prevent disciples from leaving
6. undermine family ties
7. promised new way of life for followers
8. clairvoyance powers
9. services for healing
10. everything in common among disciples
11. frequent moving of headquarters
12. "The most loving, Christ-like human being he had ever met" - Eugene Chaikin attorney - Jones
13. "The most compassionate, honest and courageous human being the world contains." - Tim Stoen - attorney
14. set up communes/isolated communities
15. required many hours of labor constructing buildings and temples
16. sme surviving followers considered the experience without regret and considered their lives radically changed for the better.
17. merge borderline between conviction, delusion, confidence trickery, and psychosis.
18. us against the world mentality
19 only one who could properly interpret The Book of Revelations - Koresh
20. dietary restrictions
21. (no underwear restrictions)
22. "A very caring and compassionate man." - Derek Lovelock - Englishman and survivor of Waco
23. few defectors from the group
24. threaten and deliver sever punishment

Once a guru has convinced a follower of his Messianic status, his actual behavior as judged by ordinary human standards, becomes largely irrelevant. Belief in a guru, while it persists, entirely overrules rational judgement. Dedicated disciples are impervious to reason as are infatuated lovers.

Garden Variety Gurus - Or Guru De Jur

Georgei Ivanovitch Gurdjeiff 1866 - 1949 - Greek and Armenian

Famous followers or students: Frank Lloyd and Olgivanna Wright, T.S. Elliott

1. claimed to be fluent in 18 languages, but spoke Russian and English incorrectly
2. mysterious background with unfounded claims to be widely traveled in Asia
3. claimed telepathic connections to teachers from other worlds
4. demanded torturous tasks of some followers
5. taught that the moon controlled all earthly events
6. Disciple Bennett "In all this, he was demonstrating to his pupils the power of suggestion and the ease with which people could be made to believe any old tale."
7. skilled at extrating money from wealthy people
8. wonderful story teller
9. dictated volumes of scripture called "All and Everything"
10. charismatic and captivating
11. sexually unscrupulous
12. uon hearing of Gurdjeiff's death, Frank Lloyd Wright told an audience, "The greatest man in the world has recently died. His name was Gurdjieff."
13.dismissed close associates whom he suspected of disloyalty
14. alife long adherent, Fritz Peters towards the end of the guru's life said, "He began to seem to me in a very excellent phrase, 'a real, genuine phony.'"
15. een if some of his followers could not accept or understand all his cosmic doctrines, they still believed that he "knew."
16. clever as a boy

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh 1931 - 1990 (The Oregon guru with 93 Rolls Royces)

1. celebrated sex as path to enlightenment
2. influenced by writings of Gurdjieff
3. extremely charismatic
4. "A teacher whose words made sense of all the basic issues of life, one whose presence touched me deeply." - Professor Ralph Rowbottom
5. "This man knew." - James S. Gordon, psychiatrist
6. became corrupted by power and wealth
7. clever as a boy
8. scorned all other gurus
9. poor physical health
10. used funny parables
11. could enrapture audiences for hours
12. founded isolated communities
13. claimed to have had sexual intercourse with more women than any man in history
14. encouraged followers to snitch on each other
15. offended nearby communities and locals
16. unable to follow his own precepts.

Rudolf Steiner 1861 - 1925

1. instituted schools for mentally and physically handicapped children
2. "the spirit of kindness incarnate" - a follower
3. followers felt they were at some sort of divine service rather than a lecture
4. charismatic.
5. clever as a boy.
6. although seemingly honest and sincere his belief system was so eccentric, so manifestly bizarre, that rational sckeptics are bound to consider it delusional
7. customized the teaching of Goethe for his own ends and means
8. "Just as in sensory perception anyone sound in mind and body can discriminate between mere fancies and the perception of real facts, so a like power of discernment can be attained by spiritual means." - Rudolf Steiner (this sincere statement by Steiner is so full of holes it should be swiss cheese)
9. claime occult knowledge about the evolution of the world
10. wrote over 40 books.
11. currently has about 500 Steiner Schools throughout the world.
12. unshakeable conviction that he "knew"
13. mild, kind, gentle
14. left humantarian legacy in spite of eccentric beliefs

Carl Gustav Jung 1875 - 1961

1. "I have read a few books by Rudolf Steiner and must confess that I have found nothing in them that is of the slightest use to me." Carl Jung - a letter to a friend.
2. a spiritual teacher as well as a physician
3. "As a child I felt myself to be alone, and I am still, because I know things and must hint at things which others apparently know nothing of, and for the most part do not want to know. Carl Jung - autobiography
4. had a vision of God as lad
5. he claimed to have been "menaced by psychosis" as a young man
6. had a mistress and affairs with at least two of his patients
7. broke ranks with Sigmund Freud
8. referred to his followers as "my people"
9. studied the occult and astrology
10. both humorous and serious
11. charismatic and confident that he "knew"
12 generalized from his own experience

Sigmund Freud

1. far more a guru than his followers have acknowledged
2. called psychoanalysis science (which it is not)
3. offered revolutionary view of man's behavior
4. perceptive observer
5. lived in mental torment
6. "was so convinced that he was right that no criticism by others was able to shake him."
7. attempted to explain art, literature, religion, humour and anthropology with psychoanalytic theory
8. psychoanalysis became his substitute religion and became a movement similar to a religious movement
9. intolerant of criticism
10. he called defectors "heretics"
11. was charismatic
12. gifted writer and speaker
13. probably faithfu to his wife
14. some of his disciples became deluded fanatics

Ignatius of Loyola founder of the Society of Jesus 1491 - 1556 (founder of Jesuits)

1. clever as a boy
2. claimed to have visions of Christ
3. employed mediation and concentrated thinking
4. wrote "Spiritual Exercises" still in use today
5. claimed special insight
6. charismatic
7. "every utterance was inspired" - a follower
8. demanded total obedience to god
9. brought comfort to inmates and patients
10. claimed recurrent ecstatic states
11. suffered periods of depression and psychosis

Paul Brunton 1898 - 1981

1. claimed memories from previous incarnations and from a mysterious sage named Angkor.
2. claimed to know Sanskrit, but actually knew only a few words.
3. "He was just a hodgepodge of misread and misunderstood ideas from an ancient culture he did not know or understand." Jeffry Masson who studied Sanskit at Harvard.
4. falsely claimed a Ph.D.
5. married four times.
6. claimed abstinence from sex lead to spirituality 7. spoke often about sexuality causing problems
8. had few possessions and never owned a home
9.required arbitrary tasks of followers to test obedience
10. was financed and housed by disciples
11. hoarded string
12. claimed special spiritual wisdom

Mother Meera 1960 - still alive in Germany

1. never speaks to followers
2. people sit in her presence in silence and experience blissful altered states of consciousness
3. believed to be reincarnation of divine mother

"Whether gurus have suffered from manic-depressive illness, schizophrenia, or any other form of recognized, diagnosiable mental illness is interesting but not ultimately important. What distinguishes gurus from more orthodox teachers is not their manic-depressive mood swings, not their thought disorders, not their delusional beliefs, not their hallucinatory visions, not their mystical states of ecstasy: it is their narcissism.

Those who remain narcissistic in adult life (aim to loved rather than to love someone else) retain this need to be loved and to be the center of attention together with the grandiosity which accompanies it. This is the characterisitic of gurus."

Comparing Gurus to Joseph, Brigham and Gordon

Which of these three prophet, seers and revelators fit these molds:

1. clever as a boy
2. charismatic
3. good preacher
4. expects blind obedience
5. claim special spiritual wisdom
6. claim to be visited by heavenly beings
7. rely upon the faithful to support them financially
8. utterances considered to be the word of god
9. excommunicate those who question them or their authority
10. focus on sexual behavior as means of enlightenment (either indulgence of or abstinance from)
11. eccentric claims and explanation for the world's existence
12. unscrupulous sexual behavior
13. set up isolated communities
14. hold birthday parties in new multi-million dollar conference centers along with celebrities from the entertianment world.
15. the list goes on ad nauseum.....

So we sustain Gordon B Hinckley as guru, prophet, seer and real estator of the Church Formerly Known As Mormon. Bow your head, raise your arm to the square and say yes, damn it!

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