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The Devotee

A devotee is a person who worships the personality of a guru, takes a totally uncritical and literalist or fundamentalist attitude to their teachings, and, in many cases (although this depends on the nature of the teaching), using them as an object of bhakti in order to attain Enlightenment.

In some cases it makes no difference if the guru is genuine, or a fake or even abusive; the attitude, and the experiences, of the devotee is the same. This means that ultimately then it is not the consciousness of the guru, but psychological projection of idealised parental or other images on the part of the devotee, which serves as the focus and impetus of the bhakti.

I have noticed that the devotees of some gurus tend to adopt a very infantile attitude in the presence of their guru. For example if the guru says something even slightly insightful, let alone even funny, there will be giggles or chuckles or laughs from the audience. If anyone else had said the same words, there wouldn't be this response. It has the attitude of a child happy to be at the feet of an idealised parent. I've seen or heard or read this (e.g. guru: "blah blah blah" (laughter)) this with devotees of Andrew Cohen, Da Free John, Gangaji, Guru Maharaji, and Ken Wilber. So it doesn't matter if the guru is genuine or selfish; in either case they would attrcat a childlike attitude among devotees.

I can't recall if people were like this at Siddha Yoga; I don't think so, but that's because the Siddha Yoga people watched videos of Gurumay or listened to someone talking on the stage. Most likely in Gurumay's or in Muktananda's presence there would be the same standard adoring and giggling attitude.

I haven't seen this with Sai Baba devotees, at least when I was involved some twenty years ago. But this may be a cultural thing, as most Sai Baba devotees even here in Austrlaia were Inidain, and Western devotees tended to have a maturity about them (this was before the sexual abuses became known of course).

If you have any anecdotes regarding the psychology of devotees, please contact me and I'll add them to this page

In any case, if the Guru is genuine and/or selfless, there is not too much harm in idealisation, as long as one sees it as a stage to be outgrown. But people often resist spiritual growth, and devotees of abusive gurus tend to rationalise or ignore any dysfunctional or other such negative behaviour on the part of their guru, and thus become totally swallowed up in the cultic mindset. Some even themselves become quite nasty when faced with anyone who would dare critice their guru (including ex-devotees who have genuinbely been abused), thus becoming antagonistic or even in extreme cases slanderous devotees.

However, for those with a greater level of discrimination will be able to distinguish a fake from a genuine guru, and thus attune to the Light and Presence of a true enlightened guru that is beyond the sphere of subjective psychological projection.

Spiritual devotee
Religious devotee
Antagonistic devotee
Pod person
Slanderous devotee

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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 6 July 2006, last modified 21November