Mindfulness is big business. There are so many self proclaimed Guru’s on the market these days how does one know if they are getting authentic spiritual training or if said Guru is just trying to take advantage of a person in need?
Yes that’s right! I said it out loud!
Spiritual people are easy prey for some Guru’s. Many of the spiritual folks I have met on my personal journey were just like me. Going through a stressful time, feeling vulnerable, looking for something to believe in, wanting to learn more about how to be a better person. After all, this is the age of self help right? Many spiritual people are trusting. Maybe too trusting. This trust and belief that everyone should be treated with loving kindness allows them to fall prey to unethical teachers. These teachers are often times filled with the very same ego that they claim is the root of all your problems. Only they are pros at hiding their ego. They are self centered although their teachings will tell you the self is only an illusion and doesn’t exist. However, actions speak louder than words and if you watch their actions long enough you will see their ego shine through.
Guru’s talk in circles to confuse an already vulnerable mind. The female Guru is just as bad as the male only she will use sexuality to sell her message. Going as far as to post pictures of her bikini clad body on social media and encourage inappropriate comments from men thereby encouraging predatory behavior and making an unsafe place for unsuspecting women who are merely looking for spiritual guidance.
It’s sad to say but I’ve found many of the spiritual folks that I have encountered, mainly women, lacked confidence and were easily lead…or as I like to call it…mind controlled. Again these groups often attract predators aka men who attend these groups solely to pick up women. I was surprised by the number of married men who fall into this category as well.
That being said I decided to share my experience to help raise awareness so that other folks on a spiritual journey would not fall victim to spiritual groups that are led by what I like to call “Spiritual Pimps”. Spiritual Pimps basically misrepresent themselves as an authority. Some may go as far as calling themselves a minister or make claims that they are awakened, enlightened, relaxed, aware, spiritually advanced in some way.
So here are 5 things to look for when joining a spiritual group:
1. Go with a friend, partner or spouse. Make it clear to everyone that you are not joining a singles group.
2. Be wary of questions pertaining to your personal life. Make sure your spouse or partner is aware of these types of questions as well. One predator in a group I was in had the nerve to ask my partner if I liked to cook and questions pertaining to how much time I spent in the kitchen. Really??? Guess he was interested in mindfulness of cooking. Perhaps he wanted to share recipes. Regardless, I still don’t see how time spent in the kitchen had anything to do with a meditation class.
3. Be wary of the quiet ones. Some of these people get their information from Google or Facebook. One fellow made a reference to the Buddhist Bootcamp page on Facebook to make himself look informed. He had no idea it was a page used to promote the book of the same name. Yet he talked about Buddhist Bootcamp as if it was an actual group of people who got together for a Buddhist boot camp class. The look on his face when I chimed in about the book and named the author was priceless considering he had no clue there was a book.
4. Be aware of your surroundings especially if meetings take place in the evening. I attended a group that included sitting and walking meditations and I notice one fellow who would stay inside during walking meditation if there were attractive women who chose to sit and not walk. On the other hand he would go outside to the walking meditation if there were no women to talk to inside. He would then watch and if a woman he found attractive decided not to walk he would follow her back into the temple and sit with her. I dubbed him the stalker because I watched him do this on several occasions. He’d follow a woman back into the temple then proceed to talk to her although the rules were to remain quiet so as not to disturb other meditators. He would also follow an unsuspecting woman to her car. Given how dark it can be when parked on the street this could put someone in danger so again be aware of your surroundings and who is following you to the parking lot.
5. Don’t accept social media friend requests from people you don’t know well. You’d be surprised at the things you see being posted and/or the comments you may find on your own posts. I made this mistake and ended up with a comment about male genitalia on a post that had nothing to do with male anatomy. However, I will say that Facebook can give you a look inside who a person really is and whether or not they are a predator. If you see them commenting on what appear to be porn star pages most likely they are a predator and you should probably beware!
I hope you find these five things useful and I hope they give you something to think about while on your spiritual journey. Overall most of the people I’ve met are truly good folks. Many going through a rough time in life or having some doubts about their purpose and were simply looking for like minded people who would show them compassion and friendship. However, no one should fall prey during a vulnerable time and after witnessing this behavior I decided to write about it so that others can protect themselves from these Spiritual Pimps. By the way, I am no longer a member of the group in question but I have not given up on my interest in Buddhism.