You have to do it by yourself,
but you don’t have to do it alone.

519-829-4149

519-829-4149

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Awaken the Guru In You

 The spiritual seeker's guide to inner peace, self-acceptance
and who you really are

 

Luminations

When we gaze
Into the firmament of the night
There is an effect|
That only all stars can relate –
That in shining one to the other
Stars do themselves create
And in all the life that’s given
Light is just another form
Of love.

Russell Scott, 2001

PRAISE FOR AWAKEN THE GURU IN YOU

“Awaken The Guru In You offers a revolutionary, liberating process of self-inquiry for “guru avoidant” spiritual seekers wanting to accelerate their path of insight and awakening to the divine truth within themselves.”Christy Whitman, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Having It All

“Russell Scott has walked a path deep, painful, funny, and above all, fruitful. His awakenings and insights pour forth from these pages. The simple approach of Co-evolution and the dozens of practical exercises in this book will set your inner process on fire, empower you and help you build an amazing life for yourself.”Lawrence Noyes, author of The Enlightenment Intensive: The Power of Dyad Communication for Self-Realization

 “Awaken The Guru In You introduces a powerful technique called “The Co-evolution” process. In the 30 years I have known the author, I’ve witnessed its transformative healing effects in myself and hundreds of people. He shares illuminating insights into the character of many gurus (spiritual teachers). While many have great wisdom, Russell warns us that they are human beings who, all too often, fall victim to their ego and succumb to folly. In this book, Russell guides us in a very illuminating and often humorous and irreverent voice, to get in touch with our own inner Guru. Indeed, that is very wise advice!”Terry J. Hodgkinson, author of Memoirs of a Wandering Ninja –Walking the Path of Enlightenment

“Awaken The Guru In You is a wonderful guide for people who wish to explore their consciousness. Russell’s retreats, his one-on-one sessions, and his book, all serve this purpose admirably. I have benefited greatly for several decades now, from the co-evolution technique described in this book. Rather than present any dogma or belief system, Russell guides people to find answers within themselves. I have found a deeper understanding of myself, and have become much more peaceful, calm, and at ease as a result. I heartily recommend this book to anyone pursuing their evolution.”David Bryan,Chopra Center Certified Meditation Instructor, author, The 7 Principles of the Affluent Soul

 “Awaken The Guru In You” brings an updated and enlightened perspective to a lot of tired old spiritual teachings, revealing vital, practical wisdom for modern people. Russell Scott clearly shows how we can empower ourselves as Masters and become part of the solution to what is vitally needed on our planet now.”Darren Starwynn  O.M.D.,author of Awakening the Avatar Within: A Road-map to Uncover Your Superpowers,Upgrade Your Body and Uplift Humanity

“If you like your inquiry into both the truth of life and yourself with a good dollop of humour and no “b.s.”, then you have struck gold with Awaken The Guru In You. In addition to that, Russell is a fantastic storyteller and writer which makes the book a pleasure to read. Thus, this book’s distillation of Russell’s hard-won wisdom supports the spiritual seeker to end their seeking and start seeing. He holds the hand of your intellect (that is sure it is the alpha-knower) and walks it to meet the place where you can transcend the known and see what is true for yourself..I cannot recommend it highly enough.”Kathryn Jefferies, Ph.D., author of Awake: Education for Enlightenment, founder, Institute for Well-Being in Education (iWe)

“Russell’s playful yet purposeful abilities imbue this book. From the outset, he clarifies that this latest publication was composed for those he calls Independent Seekers – individuals who are yearning for a purposeful path, one that brings a deeper meaning to life. In this spirit, Russell doesn’t set himself as a guru who will dole out snappy answers to life’s complexities. Instead, this book acts as a guidebook so that readers can proactively connect with their innate truths, genuinely interact with others, and offer unique gifts into the world. This book is well designed for individuals who want to make a difference in the world yet desire to do so in concert with others.”Gary Diggins, Music as Medicine therapist and author of 4 books including Soundwork as Soulwork:Cultivating Well-being through Sonic Rituals

“If you want to know something, ask an expert.” Russell’s message is different: if we want to know ourselves, we don’t need to ask someone else, we need to ask ourselves. Awaken The Guru In You presents a wonderfully simple and profound method of self-inquiry that is unequaled in other spiritual technologies. Apply it and it will revolutionize your life.”Sandra Fiegehen Ph.D., C Psych

“Russell Scott has assembled a genuine methodology of freedom in a voice that is clear, original, and authentic. He has done a great service by making available this wonderful body of understanding and inquiry techniques. It’s a little deceptive; what you have in your hand looks like a book, but actually, it is a catalogue of keys.There are freedoms and treasures waiting to be discovered. Use these keys and let the unfolding begin.”Murray Kennedy, Enlightenment Intensive Leader

"As a therapist and a facilitator of Enlightenment Intensives for ten years now and also an ex guru follower, reading Russell Scott’s book, Awaken The Guru In You, I became very excited with the clarity with which. Russell explained in detail each aspect of truth, a direct experience, a spiritual guide, and so much more. Every chapter is filled with inspiring ways of looking at everything I studied in my training to lead retreats. I frequently use quotes and paragraphs from his book to inspire my participants. I highly recommend reading and using this book!”Meranda Squires, Enlightenment Intensive Leader

“Russell Scott critiques the tendencies people have of attributing wisdom to authority figures other than themselves. He points out that religious leaders and self-proclaimed spiritual leaders often ask us to accept their words of wisdom and guidance without question or criticism. This is often a mistake on our part because no one outside of ourselves can say what is precisely right for us. This book is written “…to release us from the prison of religious indoctrination and to offer a superior alternative to the ‘dogma guru,’ i.e. the real guru within. This book is heartily recommended for seekers on the path of inner awareness.”Daniel Benor, MD, ABIHM, Editor in Chief Emeritus for The International Journal of Healing and Caring 

Is This Book For Me?

If you’ve just picked up this book, you’re likely wondering, “Is this book for me?” I’ve been in your shoes, standing inside a bookstore, flipping through dozens of books, and wondering if any of them are for me. So, I’d like to save you some time by letting you know, straight off, who this book is for. Then you can decide if it’s a fit.

This book is written for folks I call “Independent Seekers.” 

You’re an Independent Seeker if, on the outside, you look like everybody else—you talk, walk, eat, sleep, work, relax, earn money, pay bills, wake, dream—but, on the inside, you feel different.

  • You’re drawn to explore subjects like spirituality, higher consciousness, awakening, enlightenment, self-realization, truth, etc. You’d rather spend time considering these subjects and arrive at your own conclusions rather than blindly take on the beliefs of a guru or a religion. The thought of dogma gives you a rash.
  • You’ve spent many years alone on a meditative path feeling like you’re spinning your chakra wheels and never having the “big bang” awakening experience. You yearn to explore a different approach that involves a deeper connection with others.
  • You’ve been banged up a little or a lot in life and feel you’ve somehow lost yourself. You look back at your childhood pictures and wonder, “Where did that shining presence go?” The self-help books are piled up beside your bed, and you’re feeling slightly self-helpless. You want to try something that really resolves things for you.
  • You followed a spiritual teacher and became disillusioned with his/her behaviour. Their dogma was driving your karma and you ran into a brick wall. You aren’t interested in being a follower sitting in the back seat anymore and are now ready to be your own driver. However, you feel you might need some lessons.
  • You’re in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, have experienced a good amount of success in your life and maybe have a family. You feel trapped in the routines, the responsibilities, and the necessities of life, and are starting to believe material success isn’t where it’s at anymore. The juice is gone, and the round earth is feeling flat. You’re secretly asking, “What’s the purpose of life?”
  • You’re young, maybe in your 20s, and the idea of making a lot of money doesn’t attract you. You feel apprehension about participating in the consumer culture. There’s no allure there. You might say you’re a mystic misfit naturally drawn to explore the deeper realities of life and self in the community of others. You were born that way.

To sum up:

You question, you search, you yearn…for a meaning and a truth deeper than what our culture has offered us. We were taught that everything we need to make us happy is available by earning money and buying the right things, but you’ve been disappointed to find that’s not the case. Authenticity attracts you, so you’re searching for a way of being and relating that comes from who you really are, i.e., a path that’s genuine, real, compassionate, and provides a purpose to your life that gives everything a deeper meaning.

Sometimes, you feel alone on the path because you’d prefer to stare into the unknown forever until the wisdom within shows up rather than sit cross-legged on a cushion and be spoon-fed someone else’s fast-food version of reality. This is the price you’re willing to pay for wanting to live from the place that intuitively feels is the only place to live—your true self. Truth be told, you also need to connect to others and the world in a way that makes you feel you belong to the mystery that’s grander than yourself.

If some of these descriptions fit you, pick up this book and come along with the rest of us Independent Seekers. We’re here to discover the truth of ourselves for ourselves, genuinely connect to others, and offer our uniqueness to the world. The good news is that it’s not necessary for us to be Lone Rangers. Yes, we have to do it by ourselves, but we don’t have to do it alone. There are too many of us now. We can do it alone—together—with this revolutionary method of wisdom and awakening called the Co-evolution Method.

So, come on along. I have lots to share, and we’ve got an exciting journey ahead, together.

Contents

Introduction: The Fallen Hierarchy

Chapter 1: Holy Cow Hamburger 

  • The Guru Tradition

Chapter 2: The First Questions

  • Do I Need a Guru?
  • What’s the Purpose of a Spiritual Path?

Chapters 3:  What is Truth?

  • The Way It Actually Is
  • The Chair Exercise
  • Truth and Experience

Chapter 4:    Barriers to Awakening

  • Trauma – Being Overwhelmed
  • Socialization – Mass Hypnosis
  • The Twits of Saint Twinkle

Chapter 5: Mistaken Methods of Knowing Ultimate Truth

  • The Scientific Method
  • Authority, Tradition, Consensus, and Appearance
  • Individual Perception
  • Affirmation, Positive Thinking, and Visualization
  • Logic
  • Occult and Psychic Revelations
  • Dogma Doo-Doo
  • The Dangers of Dogma
  • Fundamentalism and Cults
  • Dogma-Free Zone

Chapter 6: Personal Reality and Ultimate Truth

  • Insight
  • Direct Experience
  • Aspects of Direct Experience

Chapter 7: Enlifenment

  • After Awakening
  • Presenting the Self
  • Community
  • Clearing the Mind and Emotions
  • Practicing Presence
  • Physical Health

Chapter 8: To Guru or not to Guru?

  • What’s a Guru?
  • The True Teacher
  • Qualities of an Authentic Spiritual Guide

Chapter 9: The Conscious Seeker

  • Lean Toward Responsibility
  • Lean Toward Being Your Own Guru
  • Lean Toward Your Dogma Detector
  • Lean Toward the Unknown
  • Lean Toward Personal Psychological Work
  • Is There an Alternative to the Dogma Guru?

Chapter 10: Co-Evolution

  • Alone in the U-n-I-verse
  • My Personal Awakening to Co-evolution
  • Awakening within Suffering

Chapter 11: Communication and Co-evolution

  • The Decision to Relate
  • Contact
  • Speaking
  • The Communication Cycle

Chapter 12: Co-evolution and the Dyad Technique

  • The Quantity and Quality of Relating
  • The Dyad Structure
  • Preparation Before the Dyad Begins
  • The Co-evolution Process with Dyads

Chapter 13: The Enlightenment Intensive (aka the Coming Home Retreat)

  • What Is an Enlightenment Intensive?
  • What Is Enlightenment?
  • The Co-evolution Process in the Enlightenment Intensive
  • The Steps Leading to Enlightenment
  • The Value of Enlightenment in Life
  • A List of Benefits
  • Testimonials
  • Our Journey So Far
  • Mission Possible

Chapter 14: Organizing a Co-Evolution group

  • Procedure
  • Guidelines for the Co-evolution Group
  • Co-evolution with the Dyad Technique

Chapter 15: Co-evolution Groups

  • Resonance
  • The Co-evolution Insight Group
  • The Co-evolution Truth Group
  • Common Initial Concerns
  • Conclusion

Chapter 16:   Suggested Co-evolution Dyads

  • Self-acknowledgement and Self-image
  • Problems
  • Acceptance
  • Innocence
  • Thought Clarification
  • Belief Clarification
  • Guilt and Shame
  • Criticalness
  • Love
  • Enlightenment
  • Enlifenment
  • Creating Your Own Instruction
  • Additional Co-evolution Dyads

Resources

Gratitude List

Who is Russell Allen Scott?

INTRODUCTION

The Fallen Hierarchy

For over 35 years, I’ve been working with individuals to help them discover their real purpose in life, to awaken to the magnificence of their true nature, and to assist them in dissolving the reactive mind. This allows them to begin creating their lives from the truth of themselves instead of re-manifesting the same old suffering.

In 2009, I burnt out. I reached a point where I’d been pushing the river too much, so to speak, by engaging in too many one-on-one sessions and workshops. Although I hadn’t recognized the degree of my burnout, a good friend of mine did, and she invited me to her villa in Belize to stay with her and her husband for a week to recuperate. I’d been feeling a growing sense of discouragement about how the world seemed to counteract genuine spiritual development and how, in many ways, it labeled spiritual seekers as heady, impractical weirdos with nothing of substance to contribute to the ambient consumer culture.

I was seriously thinking of giving up the task of helping others awaken. I was feeling like I’d put in my time as a personal-transformation facilitator, and was I planning on going out and getting a “regular Joe” job where I could experience the no-thinking mental state of working in a multi-national chain store, taking merchandise out of boxes, and putting it on shelves. Perhaps I’d missed the point of life, and re-stocking store shelves was really nirvana. Or maybe what I was really looking for was something to re-inspire me.

So, I went to Belize. I spent a lot of time sleeping and enjoying the sun and heat—a welcome respite from the Canadian winter. I thought my trip was really all about resting, but, on my fourth day there, as I was thinking about going back home and wondering what I’d say to people about what I did while I was in Belize, I decided to do something touristy. At least I could say I did something other than sleep in the hot sun. I decided to visit the site of an ancient pyramid, thinking that the visit would fit into the category of the mystical and satisfy some of my spiritual friends.

I booked a trip to Lamanai, Belize, one of the oldest pyramid sites in Central America. It took us about an hour to boat up the river, as it was in a secluded part of the country in an unpopulated area off the eastern coast of the country.

We toured a number of the smaller pyramids on the site. When I got to the largest pyramid, I was inspired to climb to the top to do a brief meditation. Several other tourists had also made the climb to the top and, for a while, there was a crowd of people looking around, gabbing, and enjoying the view. I thought there was no way I’d get time to myself, but then everyone left, and I was alone at the top. I managed to stand there with my eyes closed, in silence, for about five minutes before the tour guide yelled from the bottom for me to come down.

But that was enough. I felt a vague sense of something shift in me, but I didn’t know what it was at the time. When I came down from the pyramid, I found myself walking beside the tour guide and decided to take advantage of the coincidence by asking him about his personal interest in the Mayans. It turned out he had a degree in archaeology and was an expert on Mayan culture.

I asked him about his theory on why the Mayan civilization disappeared (having read different explanations in a number of publications over the previous year, including the popular New-Age explanation that the culture had “ascended”).

The guide immediately responded that he believed the decline of the culture was the result of two things: the ego aggrandizement of the emperors and the hierarchical system of religion and governance. He explained that the pyramids were built as monuments to each emperor. As each new emperor installed himself, he had to build over the face and top of each pyramid constructed by his predecessor to emphasize his prominence. To do this, the Mayans needed lime to cement the stones in place. To create the lime cement, they had to burn the limestone in the area with wood from the trees that were growing in the vicinity. As more and more trees were cut and burned and the landscape became denuded, the climate became drier and hotter. Without the moderating effect of the trees on the wind and temperature, the crops failed.

He further related that Mayan culture was based on a multi-god religion, and power was vested exclusively in the priests and kings. The rulers became more and more removed from their underlings and gradually lost touch with the actual conditions of daily life as experienced by the people. Instead of realizing the consequences of their egotistical actions on the environment, they thought the solution was to appease the gods with human sacrifices. The high priests instilled fear in the minds of the people with threats that if the gods weren’t pleased, there would be disaster.

For many years, the populace accepted this practice. It was part of their religion. It was part of their culture. They lived from birth to death under the doctrine that had been passed down from the emperor to the high priest to the initiates and to them. They were indoctrinated. What else could they do but believe in the divine decree of the emperor? But, of course, the sacrifices didn’t work. There were more and more crop failures, and people were starving.

As food resources dwindled, city-states that had once thrived in peaceful co-existence began to invade one another. Each city-state convinced its citizens that the other city-states were enemies. The conquerors robbed the conquered of food and riches and subjected those they vanquished to slavery. After decades of environmental devastation, food shortages, sacrifices, and war, many of the populace got fed up with the sacrificing of their husbands, wives, and children, and those who didn’t starve eventually walked into the jungle. As a result, one might say that the emperors then “ass-ended.”

After the guide finished his summary, he looked at me and continued walking. His silence spoke volumes: “Same old history, brand-new news.”

I was shocked to realize how history was, in that moment, repeating itself. Although I wasn’t sure of the veracity of the tour guide’s historical summary, I saw the connection. We have environmental degradation caused by over-consumption of resources, deforestation, and the political elite that dictates to the masses and manipulates them to fear their neighbors. We’ve sacrificed our children to the gods of war in the name of creating peace. We’ve invaded other countries to secure their resources. We have various religious authorities that have programmed their followers to believe that the only way to heaven is to adhere to their prescribed path.

Although I was aware of this before, it became even clearer to me how easily the political and religious elite can manipulate a population to believe whatever they want them to believe. There are many examples in our own time of how a mass culture can become a mass cult, galvanized around a few charismatic leaders whose oratorical and personal powers are sufficiently advanced to alter people’s perceptions of reality—to the point where people will put their own lives in jeopardy to support a lie. How did we come to believe that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Did we really believe that Jews are an inferior race and must be eliminated?  

In the religious sphere, history is replete with examples of self-appointed spiritual leaders promising nirvana and a blissful afterlife, only to lead devotees down a path of mind control, financial poverty, physical abuse, sexual predation, and even suicide. One need not search far to find examples: the death cult of Reverend Jim Jones, the sexual and child-abuse inherent in the polygamous offshoots of the Mormon Church, the multi-million-dollar lawsuits being faced by the Catholic Church related to sexual abuse.

I’ve always known that behind the pain and suffering of followers seduced by charismatic leaders and teachers, the real sacrificial victim of political and religious dogma is truth. When the tour guide looked at me after relaying his story, it was as if I suddenly realized the extent to which this pattern reaches far back into our human history and still resides in our consciousness.

Why?

The question stopped me in my tracks.

I thought about the years and years I’d spent searching for the truth and employing various techniques to help people reach spiritual realisation for themselves. I thought about the 11 years I’d spent running a retreat center, witnessing and participating in events that helped people come to inner peace and connect to their true selves. I thought about how I, too, had been seduced into a cult many years previous and experienced damage to others and myself. I mentally sorted through my file box full of memories searching for the answer.

Then, for some reason, I turned and looked back at that huge Mayan pyramid. When I took in its imposing presence on the landscape and its enormity, the reason for my lack of finding the answers I sought suddenly became clear. It had to do with the way in which the deception is delivered. The problem is the pyramidal structure, the hierarchy: Emperor to priest to initiate to populace; pope to bishop to priest to congregation; guru to chela; teacher to student; author to reader. The idea that one’s personal evolution is totally dependent on receiving the truth from another—who’s supposedly more enlightened, more advanced, more exalted, and more knowledgeable—is the real problem. Yes, there are other factors involved, but the fundamental problem is the structure—the hierarchical structure.

When there’s a socialized perception that those higher up the political and religious ladder are more spiritually evolved, automatically we tend to believe that truth and knowledge are more accessible to those higher up than ourselves. We believe truth is acquired from without rather than inspired from within, and that it’s dependent on a teacher’s exposition rather than our own exploration. Within the hierarchical structure, people are likely to accept dogma as truth rather than depending on their own discrimination.

At this point, with this new insight in mind, I rejoined the group of tourists and the realization retreated into the back of my mind. I completed the tour of Lamanai and returned to my hotel room for the evening. As I drifted off to sleep, I re-lived the whole scene and began to ponder the question, “If the hierarchical approach is problematic for spiritual growth, what’s the better way?”  

The next morning, I awoke with the mental image of that huge pyramid rising out of the jungle. The question persisted: “How does consciousness evolve in the most optimal way?” As I sat with the question, my mind was drawn to a vision of the jungle itself, the environment out of which the pyramid had arisen, and the penny dropped. It was simple. I saw it in the nature of the forest itself. I saw each element in the forest: the trees, the insects, the animals, the plants in the understory, and the soil organisms, all evolving together. “Life evolves in relationship.”

It was clear that consciousness didn’t evolve as the result of one person delivering his idea of truth down the line so that those below accepted it as a second-hand belief. It evolved in a more democratic process of equals relating to one another, and this was far more effective. Just as many organisms in the forest adapted and evolved symbiotically to reach their present state, we, too, evolve through our interactions and relating to one another. We evolve together in an organic, democratic process. The name for this came to me: “Co-evolution.”

As I sat with this new piece of the puzzle, a final piece clicked into place: “Russell, you’re already leading people through this process.”

For the previous 35 years, I’d been leading people through many seminars and retreats using a process where people sat in dyads (two people) or small groups, inquired into personal and ultimate questions of life, and shared their thoughts and experiences. As people related with each other in this way, they arrived at deep personal insights, let go of internal blocks, and awakened to the divine nature of their existence. I didn’t teach any dogma or philosophy. I only taught a contemplation and communication technique, and people naturally evolved as the result of practicing it. I’d never had a label or fitting term to explain what it was that I did. But this new term, “Co-evolution,” wrapped up what I was doing into a neat little bundle. I found that this new label carried a lot of power—it could easily be understood, and it communicated the immense benefits people were receiving from the method. With this came the inspiration to share this concept with a wider audience. And, I’m excited to say, that’s what I’m doing now with this book.

My secret hope is that what’s presented in this book will release you, as a spiritual seeker, from the prison of religious indoctrination and offer a superior alternative to the “dogma guru,” i.e., the guru within you.

So, just like a young mother, I’ve struggled through all the challenges and joys of pregnancy and finally given birth. I now recognize the beauty and blessing of what has arrived—a radical new method of opening up to the mystery of self and seeing into the nature of existence.

There’s one proviso in all this that needs to be made clear: I’m aware that I’m walking the thin line of paradox. In offering up my wisdom to you about truth, the spiritual path to awakening, and the danger of dogma gurus, I could very well be creating in you another set of beliefs that can imprison you. To prevent this, I ask you to not believe anything I present to you but, on the other hand, not to disbelieve what I write. I ask you to consider this discourse and dwell somewhere in the zone between openness and skepticism, the unknown and the certain, and to treat my ideas as hypotheses until you, yourself, in your own experience, discover them to be true or not. Please try out the co-evolution exercises at the back of the book with fellow spiritual cohorts, and base your evaluation on that experience.

My greatest wish is that you become inspired like me and thousands of others by the liberating power of the co-evolution process and that you revel in its naturalness and beauty. I hope you, too, can use it to transform your life and get turned on to the exciting journey of finding wisdom and joy in the most obvious and yet unexpected place—yourself. Maybe along the way, you and others will discover something else vitally important—that co-evolution is going on all around us—inherently in the nature of life itself—and that the saviour we’ve been waiting for…is us!

Chapter 1

Holy Cow Hamburger

The guru tradition has been an ancient tradition in the East for centuries. Spiritual teachers have been a respected part of spiritual practice, and their wisdom and guidance have been honoured as an essential aspect of everyday life. Within the Eastern religions, there are elaborate codes of conduct that both preserve the stability of life within the religious order and set it apart from the popular culture. These traditions emphasize the sublimation of personal will and ego identification in favour of worship, service, and conformity to spiritual authority.

But, as these spiritual teachers have migrated to the West—which emphasizes individuality, laissez-fare morality, and capitalism—their messages have been confusing and sometimes painful. Our culture has processed these Eastern holy cows into hamburgers.

The West has also produced its own, home-grown, self-appointed teachers, who are anointed by their own professed divine revelations. They’ve seduced many of their followers with their charisma and personal power. They’ve told us their version of reality is the one to believe. Many followers have been seriously misled by abuses of sex, money, and power, and have even been encouraged to commit serious crimes or suicide on behalf of these self-anointed gurus. The practices, beliefs, and rituals of these men and women have, quite rightly, been met with derision, leaving many serious spiritual seekers harmed, wary, and angry at the whole scene.

In addition, we’ve seen a merging and blending of many traditions into new, creative iterations of practices and beliefs: yoga and aerobics, shamanism and energy therapy, Buddhism and psychotherapy. I’ve even come across a practice that combined Native American spirituality, kabbalah study, and rebounding called, “Yahoo-ism.” The variety of these combinations and the hype around their effectiveness is dizzying. When established traditions are combined with new, untested practices and then re branded with creative marketing, the spiritual consumer has a hard time determining the efficacy and authenticity of these teachers, their beliefs, and practices. Some of these new combinations are untested and dangerous, while others have produced some remarkable improvements over age-old traditions. 

We’re also experiencing a blending of spirituality and capitalism delivered in over-priced, under-delivered seminars that somehow equate financial abundance with higher consciousness and self-worth with net worth. These movements prey on people’s fears and dreams of easy riches, promoting greed while sinking their students deeper into a you-can-have-it-all materialism—and, all too often, debt. Self-help books offer a prepackaged set of beliefs and quick fixes that leave people feeling a sense of self-helplessness, failure, and cynicism rather than deep transformation.

I’ve personally had both positive and negative experiences with teachers over the years. I’ve experienced the emotional pain of being part of a dogmatic spiritual cult, and a psycho-therapeutic cult that left me with my marriage damaged and good friends estranged. I’ve witnessed the harm that results when sociopathic gurus are caught with their pants down, their hands in the till, or their golden shoes fastened to the pedestal. Many gurus have used brilliant transformation methods to scam others for their own selfish purposes. They’ve led people to discredit genuine advanced spiritual practices and  throw the baby out with the bathwater. I’ve also counseled seekers who’ve been mentally and psychologically injured because they blindly placed their trust in the dogma and unhealthy practices of their mentors.

Yet, on the other hand, I’ve experienced immense benefits—including powerful divine awakening experiences—gained under the mentorship of several spiritual guides. These people have supported me with love and firmness. They helped me through barriers on the path that I couldn’t have overcome on my own. As well, in my 11-year tenure as the owner of the Ecology Retreat Centre in Ontario, Canada, I’ve had the pleasure—and sometimes disappointment—of interacting with many spiritual teachers, gurus, seminar leaders, and personal-growth facilitators. As a result, I’ve been exposed to a wide spectrum of wisdom teachers and spiritual paths, some of whom are genuine and life-affirming, and some of whom are harmful, misguided, and downright weird.

It’s no wonder that the whole spiritual scene has come under scrutiny. People are wondering if there’s any value in having a guru and following any form of tradition.

Yes, the West has made hamburgers out of the holy cows in the guru tradition, and, although it’s been disheartening for some, others—like me—have seen the blessing behind the curse. For too long, we’ve looked on dogma as the necessary evil that accompanies the guru so that we may advance on the spiritual path. Now we’re seeing clearly that dogma is the unnecessary veil between the divine and ourselves, and we no longer want it. Let it be understood that I’m not advising anyone not to follow a guru or to just follow your own intuition blindly without external guidance. These choices must be personal options, but we mustn’t make them blindly. There’s much to consider even before we make these decisions. I’d suggest that the first considerations are some basic questions, which we’ll address in the next chapter.....

Russell shot 25About The Author

Russell Scott is one of the new generations of "no dogma teachers". He is the former owner of the Ecology Retreat Centre in Ontario Canada where he pioneered programs in green building, sustainable living, permaculture, and spirituality. He has led hundreds of self-inquiry retreats in Canada for the past 35 years. As a “self-realization guide,” he has assisted 1000’s of people in his one-to-one and group programs breakthrough past limitations and inner sabotage so that they can walk in the beauty, honesty and magnificence of their true nature. His greatest joy in life is watching people fall off their seats in fits of laughter when they realize who they really are. He is sometimes known to sing rib-tickling Country and Eastern songs.

 

 

 

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—Lise Gillies, Employment Counsellor, Kingston, Ontario

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