TAKE THE FALSE GURU TEST. If seven or more of the following describes your guru or spiritual teacher, then unfortunately he or she may not be be as enlightened or good for your soul as you would like to believe:
1.States his or her own enlightenment: The wisest masters tend not to state their own enlightenment or perfection for they know that it is both unhelpful to themselves and to their students. The false teachers often make this claim because they have little else on offer to attract followers.
2.Is unable to take criticism: False teachers strongly dislike either personal criticism or criticism of their teaching; they do not take kindly to ordinary unenlightened individuals questioning them. They or their organisations will even undertake multi-million dollar law suits to stop ex-members from spilling the beans.
3.Acts omnipotently with no accountability: Some spiritual communities are run like concentration camps, with guru and his chosen ones acting like Gestapo officers. Unjust or outrageous behaviour by the guru is passed off as what is needed to help the followers grow (how kind). These are the dangerous gurus who have often severely damaged their students. A real master respects your will even if he or she understands that your particular decisions may not be in your interest, and he or she will act accountably to an ethical code of conduct.
4.Focuses on enlightenment itself rather than teaching the path leading to it: It is amazing how much false gurus have to say about enlightenment. They argue their points in the same way that the scholars in the middle ages argued how many angels could sit on the head of a pin. Any fool can talk about the end goal because what is said is irrefutable to most of your listeners. What is skillful is guiding those listeners to having awakening within themselves. The real teacher focuses on the path and strictly avoids any talk on enlightenment.
5.Takes the credit for a particular meditative or healing technique: The fact is that meditation and guided visualisation work. Anyone doing them will experience major changes, benefits and realizations. The false guru will try to own or trademark particular methods and techniques so that she has something unique to attract followers. And she will hijack the effects of meditation as the guru’s blessing rather than each individuals natural potential. Often the students or followers are forbidden from divulging the techniques to maintain a sort of intellectual property right, usually under the guise of needing the technique to be taught correctly.
6.Encourages or permits adoration from his followers: Avoid any group that focuses on the “master” themselves rather than the teachings or spiritual practices. This will be a hindrance to your self-realisation for your focus will be drawn outside of yourself, and usually indicates that there is not a lot more on offer than guru worship.
7.Presents himself or herself overly fashionably and glamorously: Beware of masters who present glamour photographs of themselves and dress overly fashionably (whilst proclaiming that they have no ego and leading ego-death retreats). Yes it does happen!
Demands love and devotion from their students: Keep clear of any master who demands love and devotion. One very well known Western guru stated, “Anyone who loves me is guaranteed enlightenment”! Real love and devotion is earned over time when we begin to really know the whole person and not their public image.
8.Runs expensive miracle workshops and courses: You are unlikely to reach enlightenment after a few weekend workshops with cheesy titles. In our society of “must have now”, we want to be able to purchase spiritual development with minimal fuss. Also, avoid meaningless accreditation — it is often used merely to encourage followers to do more courses.
9.Flatters you and treats you as very special: Sure we are all special in some ways, but this is one of the things that a false guru may do to hook a potential follower or to get a current follower to do a particular task. Nothing can be more intoxicating to the ego than to be selected by the master or leader (or any high profile person). A real master will stand back and allow you to make your decision whether to accept his or her teachings without trying to influence the process.
10.Talks bollocks: It is surprising what a person will listen to when he or she is devoted to the speaker. It is always a good idea to get hold of a written transcript of what has been said and really read the message. Then tell an open-minded friend who is not a follower what their opinion is purely on the strength of the words. You will soon find out whether there is any real substance to the teacher’s message, or whether you are merely being drawn in by the charisma of the messenger.
11.Overly relies on slick presentation: Slick presentation can often mask poor content, and so it is important for you to look past the lovely music and video shows at the actual message. The slicker the presentation, the harder it is to see what exactly the teaching is.
12.Gives him or herself outrageous titles: Not satisfied by being “merely” an enlightened being, many false gurus give themselves titles (or allow their followers to do so) to indicate that they are literally God-Incarnate, the reincarnation of the Buddha or Christ, or THE chosen one. Some continually change their names, to keep pace with their burgeoning egos.
13.Makes false claims of lineage: Many mistakenly believe that realisation can only happen under the guidance of a realized master. In this belief system, gurus are only authentic when they come from a line or lineage of realized gurus. Desperate not to be left out, some gurus claim a false lineage of enlightened masters to bolster their authority to teach. Another pseudo form of “lineage” is to recount a miracle that once happened to them (maybe they cured themselves of some disease or God spoke to them personally) which infers that they are “chosen” and therefore have the authority to set themselves up as teachers and gurus.
14.Presents themselves as non-profit whilst raking in the cash: Often, the false prophet will present her teachings for free, whilst strongly encouraging her devotees to make large donations. In this way she can appear above money considerations, whilst maintaining her greed and opulence.