The “Guru is Within” & More Blah de Blah Blah Blah.

Via Sam Geppi
on Jun 27, 2012
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I am a devotee of the Indian hugging Saint known affectionately as Amma, or more formally as Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (The Mother of Immortal Bliss).

She is currently on her North American tour, a trek she has been making for over twenty years.

(Check out the tour dates:

I met Amma in 2001 after having heard of her several years before. You see, by the time I was introduced to Amma, I had already been engaged in a meditation practice since 1983 (when I was 19 years old), and had many years of being on the path. I thought I would go to see what the big fuss was all about.

At the time, I was like many other seekers. I had concepts about what real spirituality was—the techniques, the real truth, the asanas, breath, tapas—the work. No gurus needed, thank you very much.

I was teaching yoga and studying/practicing Vedic astrology and Vedanta and well acquainted with the non-dualistic “philosophy.” I would go on and on about how “God is everywhere anyway, so why do we need to go to a guru—the guru is within. We are all divine beings, and on and on.”

Yet, day-to-day, the truth was, although I was doing deep meditations and my practices were fulfilling, I was still like most around me, disconnected from the heart. My spiritual practices were also a sort of armor, helping me safely navigate life and avoid the hotspots. They were even a function of ego. There was a feeling of superiority in them at times, like most I know (sorry, just being honest). I did not really know this until I began spending time with Ma.

I thought I was honoring the divine in all things, until I got around Ma, and saw these things in action—expressed by a true, living master. I was not really honoring others as divine (or myself either). There were a lot of well intended words and concepts about selfless love and the heart, but my practices were actually very dry.

The Guru is Within, But Are We?

All great masters say the same thing, that the guru is within. But until we are established within, we will not feel it. This is why a master, a Mahatma (Great Soul) takes a form—for us. She is always there (as are all the great Mahatmas), whether in a body or not. She is just an incarnation of universal love realized, which is omnipresent. But because we live so much through the body/mind structure, they incarnate for us in that form we recognize.

The result of interacting with a life form that appears the same as other life forms has an effect on our mind that no philosophy reaches.

We notice immediately the different quality of that being in relation to other beings and ourselves. The endless compassion, tireless work, the towering comprehension of all workings of the ego, and remarkably—a personal connection to all. Amma regularly sits 10-20 hours at a time, with no food or bathroom break—hugging all that come before her.

Everyone who has spent time with Amma knows that although she serves millions (having hugged 31 million people), she also knows exactly who you are. It is incomprehensible on all levels. Your intellect simply crumbles underneath the weight of this miracle. For this reason, it is repeated over and over in Indian teachings that the most fortunate event in a human life is to find a satguru in the body—a living example of all we are aspiring to.

The Guru—Not a Substitute—A Culmination

Connecting to a living guru is not a form of intellectual enslavement. It is not a substitute for any of the work we have to do. Rather, it is a culmination of those actions (sadhana) and a connection to one who is embodying the truth we are seeking to embody.

Spending a lot of time with Amma, or other Mahtamas is actually very hard because they are like standing in front of a mirror, a very active one. Imagine if the mirror had a volume knob on it and if the knob was more like a “contrast” knob, where the dark gets darker and the light gets lighter.

Gurus like Amma are often compared to the sun. The sun brings light, which reveals color and aliveness, but also shadows and dirt. When the room is dark it is easy to not clean up the dirt in the corners. We may not see it or even know it’s there. My experiences about spirituality were like that. I thought the room was clean. But once we turn on the light, we see all of the mess—the dirt, the roaches, the neglect. Then, we have to make a conscious choice to either clean it up, or turn the light back off.

The beauty, compassion and selfless love of the guru is so compelling that even if you try to turn the light back off, and return to sleep, you can’t so easily. The truth of the guru, and its connection to your truthful self will haunt the puny ego. The soul recognizes the purity of the Mahatma as a communion with its own nature. I have witnessed many egos for many years avoid meeting Amma, always finding an excuse to be busy then, or conceptualizing it with the “Guru within” philosophy.

I think that is a good strategy for an ego that wants to survive in tact. It is wise to avoid the sun and scrutiny. As for me, it is a never-ending opening to love and letting go of the familiar. I am eternally grateful to have met a true master in this lifetime. The direct transmission of love from those amazing eyes to mine has healed me in ways I surely do not grasp.

Such a beautiful mirror to the guru within.


Editor: Brianna Bemel


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About Sam Geppi

Sam Geppi is a Vedic astrologer, and teacher. He is the author of "The Ascendant-108 Planets of Vedic Astrology." You can learn more about the universe and why astrology makes sense by checking out his Free Astrology Class CD, his Facebook and his Membership Website.


87 Responses to “The “Guru is Within” & More Blah de Blah Blah Blah.”

  1. korina says:

    (met her in 2000) i dream of her often. when i meditate thinking about her, sometimes i cry like a baby. i so would love to visit india or tour with her. but i can't. so i carry her in my heart, always in my mind. i guess that's what it means for me, the inner part. it took a long time for me to feel like that. for me, truly, she is within.

  2. ordinarysparrow says:

    Thanks for this one… deeply resonate and agree…very similar experiences with my own… how easy it is for the egoic become spiritualized ….

  3. Bavani says:

    Some Kiss We Want

    There is some kiss we want with
    our whole lives, the touch of
    spirit on the body.

    begs the pearl to break its shell.

    And the lily, how passionately
    it needs some wild darling!

    At night, I open the window and ask
    the moon to come and press its
    face against mine.

    Breathe into me.

    Close the language-door and
    open the love window.
    The moon
    won't use the door, only the window.
    –Rumi. Translator: Coleman Barks

  4. SVS says:

    Awesome article!

  5. Michael says:

    the Guru is within. some people need an external Guru to tell them that, and some don't. for some, sitting with an external Guru is a lesson in disappointment, in realizing that looking outside was never the answer. for some, it is uplifting, indicative of an experience of wanting that knowledge without being willing to take responsibility for one's own path.

    it is fine to follow a proscribed path. it will not get you closer to yourself. nothing can get you closer to yourself.

    it is fine to wander into maya. you cannot move further from yourself. there is no distance between you and yourself.

    it is fine to love, and to not love. it is fine to dance, and to not dance. you cannot diverge from your own path.

    the realization that may come, or not, is that no one reveals your light or shadow, your purity or filth, except yourself. in fact, you've been aware of it the whole time. you neither need to clean yourself up nor turn off the light. you can simply sit in the reality of your self as both purity and filth. for those who are seekers, who seek something outside of themselves, growth and change are important activities. for those who accept, who are seeking nothing, growth and change happen.

    it is not nobler for a soul to be near its point of casting off flesh, than still in the beginning lessons of form, any more than a rose is nobler than a rosebud, or the stem as it breaks ground.

  6. yogijulian says:

    all an expression of the classic guru model, which clearly you are getting something out of right now.

    for what it is worth, i have known several ex-amma folks and it has taken them a lot of work to overcome the mind control and manipulation of even this benign seeming cult.

    this article <a href="http://(” target=”_blank”>( sums up some of the problems which should give anyone with sound critical thinking pause – but of course the loophole for people on the guru trip is that critical thinking is just "the ego," right? that's how they get you….

    but then again if one was using critical thinking astrology would probably have to be questioned a bit more deeply too! 🙂

    this book i reviewed last week is truly the most powerful shot in the arm around questioning authoritarian systems – which for me is at the heart of authentic spirituality:

    • Amma is freely available for question and answer during morning darshan programs—there is a question line that meets at the side of the stage around 9am that you can join. I recommend that anyone experiencing doubts about Amma bring them to her directly and take the opportunity to share a personal conversation with her about it. People draw their own conclusions and say all sorts of things about Amma—they make assumptions about what it means when Amma looks at them, doesn't look at them, what she's "doing" to their energy and all kinds of things. We all have the power of discernment and critical thinking, and I recommend talking to her directly about these things, if possible. For what it's worth, in my own 14 years of being with Amma, traveling with her and participating in ashram activities and seva, I have outgrown a lot of the naive "magical thinking" of my earlier years. In breaking through my fantasy ideas of who/what Amma is, I have come to love and appreciate her more deeply than ever, and my devotion to her has been powerfully strengthened by my own questioning and willingness to see things as they are. I am eternally grateful to her for the guidance and love she has so generously shown me (and my family) over the years.

    • __MikeG__ says:

      After reading the responses (other than yours, so far) I see there are far too many people who perpetuate the irrational belief in gurus and other "realized beings".

    • Actually, Yogijulian, I've offered you several times to engage in a deep inquiry into the system of Vedic astrology and to take on some of your critical "assumptions" about that system. But you've never taken me up on it. I would love to engage in a serious and intellectually grounded debate with you on it—after you've been exposed to the depth of knowledge that informs it (which would include a preliminary study of the Surya Siddhanta—preferably in Sanskrit). Until then, I really don't think you're informed enough to continue with your criticism of that system. Of course you have a right to and I'm not denying you that. But for a guy who seems to be as discriminative as you appear to be, it would be nice if you actually came from a better informed stance on the incredibly intricate (and yes, scientific—please again refer to Surya Siddhanta) system of Vedic astronomy and astrology. Meanwhile, I'm still open for the debate.

      • __MikeG__ says:

        Here we go again, another person perverting the word "science" so that a belief system can be rationalized. Science is a evidence based method of rational inquiry.

        How does one subject the demons and deities in Surya Siddhanta to experimentation? Offer them them a beer so that they will stay still while they are weighed? Oh, that's right. Demons and gods can make themselves weightless at will therefore invalidating the measurement. How silly of me.

        • yogijulian says:

          astrology (wether vedic or western) is in the same category as phrenology, the humors, alchemy and other early attempts at scientific inquiry.

          astrology became astronomy an actual science – in the same way phrenology became neurology and now neuroscience, the archaic notion of the humors gave way to actual medicine, alchemy became chemistry etc…

          astrology in today's world is merely a superstitious, magical thinking based, hodge podge of bad psychology, pseudoscience and (however well meaning) charlatanism using a type of cold reading.

          there is no need to study (in sanskrit or any other language) an outdated method based in so many errors and discredited assumptions that it is basically worthless.

          many people may think they are gaining some meaning from it, and may indeed feel better about their lives as a result – but it is all a mind game that ultimately is baseless. the movements of the planets do not influence human affairs, personality or fortunes.

          • __MikeG__ says:

            There is one planet found in galaxy Messier 82, 12 million light years from Earth, which sometimes causes my left testicle to itch. But that is a personal problem and one I should not share in public.

          • Thaddeus1 says:

            You two are amazing. It's funny really, which one out of you three actually has "Dr." before their name? I don't know, I guess I will have to consult my tarot deck to figure it out.

            But seriously, since you both are such avid defenders of the faith, I'm sure you aware of the etmology of the term "science." The term itself stems in large part from L. "scientia," which refers to "knowledge," and earlier from "scindere" meaning "to cut, divide." So, sorry to question your strangle hold on knowledge, but it seems that what you guys are actually referring to is a late 18th century form of knowledge based on empirical induction and not the more robust sense of the word.

            In this sense then, we can even go back further and find the roots of "science" in, wait for it…, that's right ancient India with not just the Samkyha school of enumeration, but in the distinction drawn between "jnana" (knowledge) and "vijnana" (experienced knowledge). Now, which one of ya'll has ever experienced an electron?

            Okay, that's my spiel for the day. Here's my challenge, see if you can compose a response that doesn't take issue with my use of the word "faith."

          • yogijulian says:

            what on earth does having a doctor before their name have to do with it?!

            the rest of your commentary is more of your classic transparent pseudo-intellectual attempt at postmodern bullying.

            regardless of the etymology of the word "science" or any other word about which you care to try and drop pretentious knowledge, astrology is outdated archaic nonsense. calling it a "science" is simply misleading and untrue in the context of a contemporary discussion. it is akin to calling feng shui, tarot reading, or crystal healing a science and you know it.

            its not really that complicated – scientific method consists of hypothesis, experiment and peer review of results. systems like astrology fail every attempt to demonstrate the veracity of their claims when put to this straightforward, honest type of test – even when the most respected astrologers create tests they are confident they can pass.

            as for electrons – don't be completely ridiculous! i don't have to have "experienced" an electron to be able to follow the train of scientific thought and evidence that demonstrates its existence. neither would i ask you to take on face value the "vijnana" of some who claimed to have experienced dialog with a demon under their bed.

            and yeah, predictably – you misuse the term "faith" to refer to science/reason in typical cynical rhetorical smokescreen way – but the challenge should be to see if you can resist such tactics and get over the need to construct byzantine academic sounding defenses of superstition and supernaturalism.

            you get my goat because you are educated and smart enough to know better, but you have succumbed to the allure of extreme relativist obscurantism.

          • Thaddeus1 says:

            Oh Julian, you say the sweetest things.

            So much easier to work with your own distractions than to actually address issues. You can't possibly be so blind that you don't see how you perpetrate the exact same things you accuse me of, can you?

            As for the dear Dr., well I'm assuming she spent some time in school getting those little letters behind her name. She might know a thing or two. You know they just don't hand them out. If they did, I'm sure you and I would both have them. Of course, mine would be in philosophy and anthropology and yours would be in something to do, I'm guessing, with music.

            I know you sleep better thinking of me what you do, but one of these days you're going to start thinking for yourself and then you'll truly be dangerous.

            Until then just keep reinforcing yourself and others with your showy word jugglerly meant to convey a sense of intellectualism. You've learned your skills well from Dawkins and Harris. The unfortunate thing is that in real academic and critical circles those guys are jokes. You've just missed the punchline brother.

            Happy to serve as a gadfly to any and all who think they know.

            I just can't for the life of me figure out why you're so afraid to sit down with the dear Dr? Hell, I'll moderate. If you got all this figured out, should be no problem.

            P.S. You failed the test.

          • yogijulian says:

            i have been thinking or myself for a long time – its why i don't buy your pretentious twaddle and why i don't think someone's doctorate is an excuse for poor reasoning.

            whether or not someone's opinion counts in my book has to do with the reasoning skills they bring to bear and if what they say has any relationship to evidence. taking astrology seriously disqualifies anyone regardless of any other pedigree.

            i am sure you have heard of dr. william lane craig – famous christian apologist. should i take his similarly dishonest sophistry seriously just because he managed to get some letters after his name?

            thinking for oneself involves actually thinking through various positions not resorting to appeals to authority.

            i responded pretty directly to your claims about science and astrology and electrons, or didn't you notice?

            your arguments belie your intelligence and education – which is why you annoy and frustrate me.

            you are the classic example (and i have come across a few over the years) of someone just educated enough to convince themselves that an anti-science, extreme relativist, soft spot for superstition and supernaturalism is actually intellectually defensible.

            it doesn't annoy me that i can't change your mind – but that people who don't yet know better will be taken in by your strategies and then use them similarly to elevate nonsense with sophisticated sounding vocabulary.

          • yogijulian says:

            thaddeus – try actually responding to this from above:

            "its not really that complicated – scientific method consists of hypothesis, experiment and peer review of results. systems like astrology fail every attempt to demonstrate the veracity of their claims when put to this straightforward, honest type of test – even when the most respected astrologers create tests they are confident they can pass.

            as for electrons – don't be completely ridiculous! i don't have to have "experienced" an electron to be able to follow the train of scientific thought and evidence that demonstrates its existence. neither would i ask you to take on face value the "vijnana" of some who claimed to have experienced dialog with a demon under their bed. "

          • Thaddeus1 says:

            Unfortunately Julian, my responses would require a willingness on your part to set aside your preconceived notions and assumptions about me. That's not going to happen which is why you appear utterly foolish in your pontifications about my education and my intellect.

            This is the kind of education on critical thought that one gets in music school I guess.

            But your right, authority is not the be all and end all, but to fail to see the role of authority in the production of knowledge via science is willful ignorance. And to not see the degree to which science and all forms of knowledge make use of authority in their process of "discovery" and "progress" is merely shortsighted and myopic in perspective.

            The sad thing is that if you weren't so afraid and felt such a need to defend, you might be surprised how much more you would come to learn.

            "it doesn't annoy me that i can't change your mind – but that people who don't yet know better will be taken in by your strategies and then use them similarly to elevate nonsense with sophisticated sounding vocabulary."…I couldn't surmise my feelings about you any better, so thanks for putting the words in my mouth.

          • yogijulian says:

            my perceptions of your thinking are not assumptions, they are based on what you write here.

            please resist the temptation to tell me you know better than i whether or not i am afraid. there is a difference between being afraid of something and recognizing that it is nonsense.

            i am disappointed again.

            have a better evening.

          • timful says:

            As if future generations will not look back on the "actual science" of today as superstitious, magical thinking, even while some people may think they are gaining some meaning from it today.

          • yogijulian says:

            no, future generations will not look back on today's science as superstition. that's the whole thing, science is based in evidence. scientific knowledge progresses, but the difference between today's science and future science will never look anything like the difference between ancient superstition and today's science – that is simply a confusing and confused piece of rhetoric.

            sure, with the invention of telescopes we discovered that the sun actually did not go around the earth – but our current model of the solar system is not about to be upended the way the geocentric model was back in the times of copernicus and galilleo.

          • timful says:

            Hmm, you are not sounding very scientific there. Your certainty about the future sounds rather like faith. That's cool.

          • Thaddeus1 says:


          • yogijulian says:

            not at all.

            damn you guys are predictable!

            do you not see the difference between the geocentric model being overturned and the heliocentric model being well-evidenced?

            basically you are falling prey to the fallacy that because scientific knowledge keeps progressing simply anything is possible – which has a technical grain of truth to it, but without good reasoning becomes a lazy, relativist free-for-all excuse to make it seem as if the shift from superstitious claims to evidence-based claims might just as likely be reversed in the future.

            it won't.

            the reason it won't is not because anyone is being fundamentalist or making faith-based science a religion. (all of which is just cynical rhetorical word play.)

            the reason is that there is an actual universe we are exploring using the best method we have found to ascertain what is demonstrably, repeatably the case.

            the reason astrology fails to qualify for being called a science is simply because it fails at the test of being able to repeatably demonstrate its own claims – not because i or anyone else is closed minded or unenlightened.

            whether or not astrology is a science is not a matter of opinion, it is a discoverable fact.

          • Thaddeus1 says:

            I suppose you still think that Newton rocks physics, huh?

          • yogijulian says:

            only the aspects of physics that he described well and continue to be valid.

            quantum mechanics and relativity do not erase newton, they expand upon what he was able to describe.

            they also do not make superstition or supernaturalism suddenly valid, nor do they subvert the reasons that science and reason negate these..

            do you really not get how these are two different conversations?

            fact is you pivot and deflect every chance you can – changing the subject, retreating to the reliable fallacies, avoiding staying in direct contact with the material at hand.

            whether or not astrology is a science, ammachi is not a divine being. whether or not science is in a process of evolution, astrology does not qualify as science. whether or not newton got some things wrong, superstitious beliefs are not rendered valid. whether or not someone has a phd does not change the way one evaluates whether or not a methodology qualifies as science. whether or not you decide i am afraid of astrology, ammachi, bad arguments against scientific method or academic pretentiousness does not change the basis on which we decide what is true or false on any of these subjects!

            observe the progress of this "debate" – from the supposed divine status of ammachi, to whether or not astrology is a science, to whether or not science is legitimate, to me supposedly being a fearful person who doesn't realize how much he has to learn from people who think ammachi is divine, astrology is a science, science is akin to superstitious faith etc.

            do you ever stop and realize just how much complete nonsense you spin, how slippery your tactics and how empty your position?

            maybe one night you will awake with a start and begin to weep.

            there is such a thing as reality and the ivory tower of postmodern sophistry and regressive magical thinking is way out of touch with it.

            feel free to have the last word and i will leave you in peace.

          • Thaddeus1 says:

            Thankfully, the only weeping I experience concerns the sheer joy, beauty and awe of the mercy in my life.

            But, please if you have the time pick up Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions." At the very least an acquaintance with its precepts is required for us to have a discussion on equal footing.

            Until then, keep rocking those scales.

          • Philip says:

            Thaddeus…are you for real? It seems like you are just wasting people's time. Juilan is correct about how the debate here has evolved ? yogiJulian is just asking people to be grounded in reality yet youve just gone on making stuff up. I think you're just bored and have nothing better to do. YogiJulian was just attempting to bring some reality and logic to this crazy Amma thing. Do you believe she has supernatural abilities or not?

          • Thaddeus1 says:

            I can assure you that I am only too real, Philip. Bored, nope, not bored. I once had a high school teacher tell me that only stupid people get bored. I believed her.

            As for whether or not I believe that Amma has "supernatural" abilities. I don't have a belief about it. Never met her. See when it comes down to it, I'm actually more of an empiricist than those who beat a much louder drum than me.

            As for the nature of mine and Julian's debate, I'm gonna guess that you didn't read my first comment to him, since if you did you would be hard pressed to find anything within there that actually pertains to Amma, supernaturalism or even astrology.

            My comment pertained solely to broadening the definition of science beyond the dogmatic assertion of Julian and MikeG that "science" is reducible the late 18th century empirical method instantiated by Descartes and others of the time to a much broader and more inclusive notion revolving around "experienced knowledge." As for what Julian or you thought our discussion was about, I cannot speak to. I understand it's safer and easier for ya'll to think that you finally got this whole reality thing figured out. Personally, I think it just belies arrogance.

            But, I'm open to reconsider.

          • Philip says:

            I asked if you were real because I was under the impression…after reading your replies to yoijulian that ou were not being real. He was asking sensible questions and you seemed to be just pretending to argue with him and being extra ambiguous in your responses. I ask you again. Do you believe Amma has some kind of supernatural powers? And if so can those powers enable her to heal people with hugs? Simple questions.

          • Thaddeus1 says:

            I answered your questions above.

            I wrote, "As for whether or not I believe that Amma has "supernatural" abilities. I don't have a belief about it. Never met her. See when it comes down to it, I'm actually more of an empiricist than those who beat a much louder drum than me."

            I appreciate that you want life to be simple. I think for the most part it is. But, I don't feel a need to be confined by your limitations of the debate. If you think I'm being vague, I suppose it's because you have little to no appreciation where I'm coming from. I'm cool with that. But, I stand by my answer.

            I don't have a belief about Amma, or perhaps I should say, I don't know anything about her other than that a lot people who I've never met and some I have think she's pretty remarkable.

          • timful says:

            Surely you recognize that the geocentric model was evidence-based in its day, and the ancients did a fine job predicting the astronomical phenomenon that made a difference in their lives (e.g., seasons), regardless of how ridiculous their underlying theories were. I think it is all but certain this pattern will continue into the future, and that our current models for the universe will one day sound ridiculous, even if they serve us well today. Likewise, I suspect that among the unscientific beliefs people have today, are many that nevertheless are useful in their lives.

            This is not to say that anything goes. Whenever it is important that we all reach the same conclusion, I believe we should look to the scientific method. But, many beliefs are not of this variety. You and I do not need to agree what is beautiful or lovable or makes us happy. When we do need to agree on something, let us turn to science, but let us not be obsessed with a need for agreement when it doesn't exist.

          • timful says:

            BTW, I thought astrology was poppy cock until I moved to LA and the first 2 people who tried to guess my sign got it right. That was enough evidence for me to conclude there was something to it. Now it seems obvious that the way a child's developmental path aligns with the seasons and holidays could have large impact on their personality. E.g., if they spend 1st 3 months in summer versus winter, or experience chaotic family holidays at 2,14,26,38 months instead of at 7,19,31,43 months, etc. Likewise, there are dramatic one-time events in human history, war, etc. that will impact different generations in non-cyclical ways. So, nothing to do with the planets or stars, except in so much as they defined our calendar, but probably worth paying attention to birthdate if you want to understand people.

            As for more specific daily predictions, I think the main effect here is people only notice them or interpret them in light of what they already want to believe or are looking for at some level. But, this is not a totally useless service, if it helps people to make decisions that are more in line with their subconscious needs and desires.

          • Philip says:

            two people guest what sign you were so you then assume astrology might have something to it? Wow…..Uou must be a stop sign. Kind of invalidates all your replies to Julian here. I have to say reading all of this is kind of a waste of time. It seems Julian is just wanting people to be honest and be grounded in reality and not pretend things exist that are just not provable. Timful…I think you might be timfull of it.

          • timful says:

            Not just 2 people, but 2 out of the first 2 who guessed. Odds of that are 1 out 144, enough to make an open mind wonder. Unless you already know it all.

          • yogijulian says:

            here's the thing: it does not matter how many letters anyone has after their name, or how many popular postmodern texts or pseudoscience authors anyone invokes – the fantasy of a "new paradigm" in which superstition and science are somehow satisfactorily harmonized is never going to happen.

            quantum physics, general relativity and even superstring or M theory do not validate supernatural beliefs, mythic literalism or outdated superstition.

            thomas kuhn, philosophy of science, and the burning desire to somehow overturn the enlightenment and reinstate "ancient wisdom" does not add up to ammachi being a divine avatar or astrology being valid, just because you want it to.

            if this is not what you mean, then construct better arguments, don't talk at vague obtuse angles and tell me i am making assumptions. perhaps you could start by acknowledging where the lines are for you and what you actually are getting at with your references!

            there is actually a powerful growing edge at which spirituality and science can indeed be integrated. it has to do in large part with neuroscience, and understanding the relationship between objective processes and subjective experience.

            it has to do with how meditation and yoga (amongst other practices) positively impact the autonomic nervous system, helping us to resolve trauma responses and be more self-regulated.

            it has to do with how mindfulness changes the structure and function of the brain.

            there is also a powerful new paradigm emerging in science that has to with finding out how relativity and quantum mechanics can both be true even though there are apparent contradictions. the discovery today at CERN that the higgs boson actually does exist, as the standard model has been predicting is HUGE.

            revelations in the last year from folks like lawrence krauss and stephen hawking that in fact (following the equations) the universe could have emerged out of a quantum vacuum are powerful new breakthroughs – as is (potentially ) M theory….

            none of this in any way leads us in the direction of deepak chopra-esque new paradigms of supposed non-local consciousness, or nassim haramein-esque claims about egyptians, aliens and there being a black hole at the center of every atom or to fred allan wolf-esque proclamations about shamanic time travel or secret-esque claims about thought created reality.

            again if this is not what you are aligning with – then be clear about what you think is true and false and what your new paradigm actually entails.

            now please give me a break with the pseudo-intellectual ivory tower postmodernist posturing about the limitations of science to examine things like astrology, BS claims by manipulative gurus and any other cornball new age nonsense you want to try and ill-advisedly elevate.

            consider too that you seriously cheapen any argument you are making by implying i am lacking in intelligence or education, am afraid of some unnamed revelation, have not done my homework on spirituality and should go back to practicing scales. the fact that you have webstalked me enough to know that i went to music school is creepy enough – now how about dropping the ad hominem and debating facts and ideas?

          • yogijulian says:

            you may also bear in mind that kuhn was very specific in the years after he published "the structure of scientific revolutions" that a) it should not be used as a justification for relativism and b) that scientific progress happened via new discoveries in science, not via reverting to religious beliefs, buying into pseduoscience or unevidenced fringe science.

            using kuhn to justify (as you very much appeared to be doing) the claim that astrology is a science is just plain incorrect. in a thread in which a guru is being asserted as divine by someone who reveres astrology as a science it would be useful if you clarified what you actually think on the matter instead of just wading in with classic non-sequiters about whether or not anyone has "experienced an electron."

            doing it as a way to give me a smack-down because someone else in the thread has a Phd in vedic astrology and you have one in anthropology, and so therefore somehow my specific argument (which you haven't addressed) is naive or uneducated is simply ludicrous.

            my hunch is that you refuse to actually answer specific arguments and instead engage in this strategy is because deep down you know the "new paradigm" that includes outdated superstition is entirely indefensible and on extremely thin ice.

          • timful says:

            Oops, I think you replied to the wrong person. At first I thought you were misconstruing me, but it appears to be a simpler case of hitting the wrong button.

          • Thaddeus1 says:

            Speaking of predictable…I knew you wouldn't be able to stay away for long. I think it might be love.

            But, here we go, point by point…

            I don't really care, or know about Amma. If I ever meet her, I will form an opinion then. As for astrology…I've had experiences and I don't care if you haven't. In fact, I'm not trying to convince of anything. I'm just surprised that you wouldn't take up the nice lady on he offer to sit down and have a chat. Are you afraid you might learn something or have to change your mind? You seem so eager for me to divulge and I all I see is you spouting rhetoric.

            I reject reductionistic attempts at understanding consciousness as brain states. I spent enough time with philosophy of mind to know that your certainty here is unjustified. Just because you assert it, don't make it so. But real discussions require a willingness and an openness that you quite honestly lack.

            I wouldn't jump the gun so quickly on the Higgs discovery. You see, my problem with you is that you don't actually have the humility that accompanies a real relationship with science. The difference between you and I (amongst many) is that I actually worked and studied with scientists. I never encountered one so rooted in arrogance. You see, you're kind of like the false gurus that you spend some much time and energy vilifying. My speculation is that you do so because you aren't wearing any clothes, just like them. The real ones tend to be a bit less verbose.

            I wouldn't know deepak if I fell over him on the street. See, I know it bugs the shit out of you that you can't nail me down and fit me into your little black/white, right/wrong box. Sorry for the inconvenience. If you want, just think of me like Socrates. I'm just here to push the buttons that need pushed.

            You clearly didn't read Kuhn since then you would know that the central thesis of his book is that science doesn't progress…hence the title "Structures of Scientific Revolutions." The notion of progression is one of those myths you like to bash so much. Sorry, but your going to need to do more than read the crib notes or wiki entry.

            I've never claimed that astrology is a science. I just don't understand why you refuse to discuss the issue with the fine doctor.

            I don't have a Phd in anthro and I don't know anything about a "new paradigm," so I promise I ain't looking to defend them.

            Do, Re, Me, Fa…don't flatter yourself…aliens told me….at the very least you should have a sense of humor…

          • Philip says:

            Thaddeus, Actually…outside of science…progress is simply a myth. This is a subversive truth.
            Darwin was a genius… there is no progress in the world he revealed except in science.

  7. DaveTelf says:

    I was lucky enough to be drawn to meet Amma one night in Washington DC in the summer of '07.

    It was spur of the moment, entirely serendipitous, and just those few hours in the same vicinity with her left a profound imprint; the whole experience was a huge boost in vibration. After having been hugged, with whispered mantras still humming in my ears, I was abuzz, almost stunned with supernal Love.

    Two years later, having never really done much yoga, I was drawn to seek out an extended work-study program at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm in Grass Valley, CA, where I was introduced to Vedic Astrology by Sam himself.

    It is truly a boon in any lifetime to cross paths with a great soul. Never underestimate the power of darshan.

    Thank you for this heartfelt article Sam.

  8. samgeppi says:

    Thanks folks for the comments.

    DaveTelf – i so remember your rapt attention at the Ashram!

    Thanks Michael for your heartfelt comments and commentaries on your experience. I agree with a lot of what you wrote. You know something funny, I usually feel her essence (of peace and connection) much more when she is NOT present to me in form. I love being near her form though as well, because it is so deep and joyous (and hard). Spending time with her form is like a pilgrimage to India, or something. While you are there, you are dealing with a lot – and do not really integrate the practices fully until you come home and get to connect to Self on the mat again. Only then do you actually realize what the pilgrimage opened in you.

  9. Nalini G says:

    A Satguru is definitely essential on the path.. The Ego is so cunning..The Guru is the light that leads us back to the self (god) within! Humility is so so important! Ammas shakti is very very powerful. I have been fortunate in this life to have spent time with another Great Soul, Satguru Bodhnatha Veylanswami, of the Kailasa parampara. When you are in the presence of such high minded souls, its life changing and when you are sincere the Guru is always with you! Jai Satgurus!!
    Wonderful article Sadasiva, you are so blessed to have such a beautiful Satguru such as Amma!

  10. Sarah Pamplin Watkins says:

    Beautiful article, Sam Sadasiva Geppi! I have always admired your love and devotion for your guru, Amma. I have been blessed to see her in physical form on a few different occassions, and it has always been an unforgettable and powerful experience.

    I am thankful for my guru too. I love how you wrote, “Gurus like Amma are often compared to the sun. The sun brings light, which reveals color and aliveness, but also shadows and dirt. When the room is dark it is easy to not clean up the dirt in the corners. We may not see it or even know it’s there. My experiences about spirituality were like that. I thought the room was clean. But once we turn on the light, we see all of the mess—the dirt, the roaches, the neglect. Then, we have to make a conscious choice to either clean it up, or turn the light back off.”

    Thank you for sharing your experiences, wisdom, love and purity of heart with all of us. I am thankful for you too.


  11. M says:

    To those who say its a cult. There is no such thing as cult, only cult minded people.

    There is the master: one who is realized

    And those who surround or the organization around the master or realized one.

    Those who surround are the quagmire mind. In varying degrees of darkness the sat guru does not discern to withhold their grace.

    It is like a stream that flows through a forest it is abundant many types come and go. A murderer, perhaps some villain. The stream goes on flowing. They may get some idea to even package the water, to sell it, to damn it but the water continues as long as it can.

    The issue is not the water. It is the mind.

    All get attracted like a moth to a flame.

    people are naturally attracted it is like the love of a loving mother their is no reason, no explanation.

    Some go to take something, some for an idea. Some get sucked into the politics of any human organization, and some really dive deep, they use it as a true yogi, or in true tantra like a springboard a outer reflection an experiential one reflecting our highest self… They use that to unify with their param Atma, their divine nature, their true self.

    Everyone is doing this to a degree though we are unconscious of it. We eat a sweet, it awakens a sweet feeling in us and again we look for sweet, in fact our whole life we search it out. It matters not what we are doing, whether meeting friends, going on a trip, working for a promotion. These things we do to collect those sweet experiences which bring us satisfaction. Even by abstaining these their is a sweetness as their is an inherent sweetness within us we are connecting. But not matter whether internal or external we are in a process like it or not because we are alive we are always in movement moment to moment in action. And inherently all for experiencing satisfaction and peace of mind.

    Though we might not go about it always rightly. whether like or not we are in a world of experience, and through this outer we connect to our inner. It is a Dance. All Is guru, a teacher however one who has fully embodied that experience of merging, of living in that experience of satisfaction. Just in their presence alone that part within us is awakened. With everything in the cosmos it is true. Everything has an experience that awakens that experience within us. Food for example. Seeing a beautiful flower, a grumpy person, a happy person. When you connect with that outer thing in stimulates that experience within you, the more you are open to it, the more it stimulates it. It is guru in a sense.

    It is interesting that We are so opposed to guru but the truth is it is not an idea. Idea of guru is good to oppose as is any idea by itself being from mind. But the experience of it is something else it can’t be denied, even if you wanted to because it is just happening, there within you.

    Now you can say arrogantly, “it’s happening within me” it’s just me. In a sense it’s true but the catalyst of the object was a part of that experience. The experience was yours but it was catalyzed by the flower. And that you even has that experience of beauty is not yours. It is a gift, it is a grace, that moment you were able to experience that flower and say wow! This is a grace.

    The interesting thing is we are so against the concept of guru, however that concept applies in our own lives daily.

    A food can awaken an experience in us however a human from that direct experience of love or a feeling or understanding surpasses that times a thousand.

    Everyday we are surrounded by examples.

    If we want to learn math we go to a math teacher. Someone who knows it well. Or a musician, we go to a music teacher. If we want to learn a trade we apprentice, we learn by spending time with someone experienced to learn the ropes.

    However now we bring it to the head we are so knowledge focused. We think it is knowledge we are getting from the teacher, when truly it is their experience they are imparting.

    If you just sit and hear about how to construct a building or a lecture from a teacher who just knows how to lecture. You will understand only to that depth. You won’t retain it and you will need to experience with great trial and error.

    And may or may not eventually get it. If someone who is experienced it teaches you it is quite different, they embody that experience, they know it in and out and just spending time with them and their knowing you pick it up too, quickly… This is the same as having a guru.

    If it is a forced relation or some idea, then it is dangerous.

    Then also you can put some idea to create a unhealthy dynamic by putting stock into an idea of a person and often an off cookoo person.

    Or you will go crazy from all these weird ideas and expectations.

    The feeling is different. There if you truly connect, even the person can be off but you are connecting to a feeling there’s something connecting you to your own self that is different.

    But with a saint like Amma, it’s not that she has amassed all these people through some idea. Just her being alone her immense love. Some stil may not be open to it that’s ok. sometimes she even attracts opposite, as mentioned above, those who want to kill… Even her, the light attracts dark.

    But that experience of love itself once experienced. It is beyond logic. It is the true guru, that she embodies and we are blessed just as we are with great tradesmen to be in the presence with one who embodies this and who can guide us through example, to our own true heart.

    • yogijulian says:

      cultish doublespeak and religious nonsense.

      let me be more specific though:

      1) yes there actually is such a thing as a cult – it is a community of people in which critical thinking is actively discouraged, irrational beliefs are embraced as ultimate truths, and autonomy is sacrificed in the name of group identity.

      it is usually organized around a charismatic figure who claims to either be divine or be in direct contact with the divine. this leader figure is the focus of extraordinary devotion, is seen as infallible, enlightened, perfected and is treated as royalty, divinity, a numinous manifestation of grace, such that they are completely projected to literally BE an archetype walking in the 3D world.

      all of which (of course) is impossible.

      the leader is defended against criticisms by loud proclamations of their divinity, unique powers and personal anecdotes of how their presence has positively impacted follower's lives.

      facts are not addressed – rather the claim is leveled that it is the egoic blindness of critics, lack of willingness to surrender tot the divine personage or failure to appreciate the lessons that the charismatic leader is bringing up for the critic is at the heart of their perceptions of any problem with the leader or the cult.

      and yes, as you say, this attracts "cult minded people" – or those vulnerable to the allure of belonging to a special group that claims leadership by a divine perfect charismatic figure.

      the psychological implications and underpinnings of this have been explored deeply by many observers, including myself in numerous EJ articles.

      2) all of your assertions about the nature of the guru, our resistance to the guru, the true experience beyond ideas or knowledge, the true being of a "saint like amma," that is beyond logic etc is plain and simple grandiose, pretentious, spiritual nonsense.

      its a set of rationalizations to justify completely unreasonable beliefs and a deep need to have certain deep emotional convictions be true in some ultimate sense, just cuz……

      this is based on the foundational claim that it is a super special experience that cannot be judged except by those who know it in some deeply surrendered sense.

      i point this out because i think you and the author of this article, with all the best intentions, perpetuate a very deluded and destructive meme that many in our fledgling spiritual community want to grab onto with a gleam in their eye like they have found an adult version of santa claus.

      problem is, there is no such thing – only a regression into childhood and a giving away of power to a fraud who makes ludicrous claims and capitalizes on people's deep vulnerability and longing for the all-good mommy.

  12. Sarah Pamplin Watkins says:

    Beautifully written, M. I know who you are from reading your writing! <3

  13. Sam, I really appreciate you for sharing your direct experience with your Amma. I think more people need to be exposed to the deep compassion that she models for us.

  14. Bettina says:

    Sam, I'm thankful you are sharing your experiences, particular for some of us (less fortunate), who for some reason are not (yet) able to experience the love and enlightenment from a Satguru. You are an extending light of Amma, yet bringing your own light, wisdom and your Jyotish teachings to us. Forever grateful… thank you! <3

  15. […] The “Guru is Within” & More Blah de Blah Blah Blah. ( […]

  16. __MikeG__ says:

    This post and the majority of the responses make me want to cry for humanity. This article is an classic example of a perfect storm guru hucksterism, magical thinking and a desperate need to submit to a perceived authority.

  17. Jade Doherty says:

    I'm quite shocked to see an article about Amma here. The idea of having a Guru seems quite unpopular in the new age/yoga movement. Guru seems almost like a dirty word that makes westerners feel inferior to some kind of better, more godly being.

    I've met Amma a few times and have to say that my life has changed considerably since meeting her. Totes agree with what you said about it being hard to be around gurus, I find she stirs my shit up every time I see her!

    Funny that we can bang on about the Vedas, ShivaShakti stuff, and quote an infinite amount of dead gurus, but when we have the chance to meet one whose alive we don't know how to handle it!

  18. sarmada says:

    thank you so much for this fabulous piece about Amma and the importance of a Satguru. it always amazes me that westerners are so freaked out by the idea of an enlightened being, being able to help us to conquer ego. Anyone who has a chance to meet Amma should do it and at least give it a chance with an open mind and an open heart.

    • __MikeG__ says:

      No one is freaked out by the idea of an enlightened being. The problem is that the concept of an enlightened being does not pass the laugh test. It is time to grow up and leave this childish concept in the dust where it belongs.

  19. __MikeG__ says:

    This article and most of the posts are prime examples of adults embracing the spirituality of childish concepts. Adult spirituality does not need pseudo mommy or daddy figures to give people meaning to their lives. Adult spirituality does not infer "enlightened" status on ordinary human beings. Reality should be ones friend. Belief in magic is not only unnecessary but counterproductive.

    It is way past time that we all move past magical thinking and supernatural gurus. Until we do we will continue to be mired in the swamp of thought contained in this article.

    • yogijulian says:

      exactly mike.

    • "Reality should be ones friend."

      Ahhhhh. Thank you!

    • Devi says:

      Judge others much?

      • __MikeG__ says:

        Ah, thanks for this. I am happy to take your ad hominem bait.

        First of all I made no personal attack. And I completely stand by Every.Single.Word. It is way past time for us to begin to grow up.

        Second, it is interesting that you bring up the "no-judgement" fallacy in this weak attempt to discredit the issues I raised. Judgement is a necessary requirement of life. You can have no ethics, opinions or personal preferences without judgment. It is impossible to be completely neutral on all subjects. Understanding that simple concept is a required step in understanding adult concepts.

  20. So, if the Guru wasn't within us, how is it that you have written this article? Who wrote the article, a ghost? The truth is that supreme enlightenment is within everyone. We experience it from time to time. To experience it, and to bask in the knowledge, in your inner knowledge, then to question the existence of it is the worst kind of theft.

  21. jody says:

    The fact is, you could take a rock, and if you truly believed that rock was enlightened, it could do everything for you that Amma appears to do. The phenomenon of the "Satguru" is little more than another manifestation of the placebo effect. Unfortunately, the idea of the Satguru had done more to prevent enlightenment than all the brothels and drug dens in the world combined.

    • __MikeG__ says:

      At least the rock wouldn't spend as much time on improving its financial bottom line. As we all know enlightened rocks all have trust funds.

  22. ex_Non-Hindu says:

    No matter what happens – however much a non-Indian may embrace some "guru" or read Sanskrit, or study Vedanta, or dress in Vedic garb, or do puja or whatever practice – a non-Indian will never be a Hindu, and will never be respected as such and will always be a mlecca who is outside of Sanatana Dharma. A non-Indian will always be considered a non-Hindu (a person outside of the vanashram-dharma) and will (for example)never, ever be allowed into Guruvayoor bhuloka-vaikundham, the most important temple in Amachi's home state of Kerala. Western people should stop deluding theselves that they ever will become Hindu.

  23. Gypsy Wise says:

    Jillian and Mike make great points and I want to support thir overall message. It is to think critically and magical thinking is magical thinking.

    I don’t doubt that people experience an energetic response to meeting some people. You don’t need to be around a “guru” to have one. I am sure there are plenty of people that feel a similar charge from meeting a favorite celebrity.

    There is lots of neuro science supporting the energic nature of meditation. It does not support that it is outside the reach of most humans or only available within a few. Nor does it mean that one is enlightened because the can control their brain. It actually shows that we can all learn to do it. Kinda makes less magical if everyone has access to it.

    When Jillian talks about critical thinking she is addressing you ability to question what is wrong along with what is right. If this woman Amma, and there seem to be a few who have taken the title, why has she limited her mirical to hugging her way into the world record books? Why hasn’t she cured poverty, even a little in one of the most impoverished countries in the world? Helped the plight of farmers killing themselves to the tune of 250,000 because of shame? I would thinkthat one would make her radar.

    When you give away your personal power to people of little dy to day consequence you can then make a lot of excuses when it goes wrong. I see very few people that follow these leaders in any form, be it guru, Christian or else take full responsibility in their wn lives because the are so willing to give it away. That is the authoritarian belief system that allows people to have power over you.

    Jillian and Mike are right….

  24. vikers says:

    im a hindu and i dont give a shit …

    so to all those who argue – go on with your shit and leave this magic stuff to us hindus – and those of you who want to be part of it – come in for a while into the circus tent like little children, sit down and enjoy the show. maybe buy some ice cream, candy floss and play with all the fun stuff in the circus.

    while the arguing public can try and do some 'hot or power or whatever you brand it sequence ' yogic pose and get scientific with it.

    science begins with magic … just like music … or art … and that is life.

    boring people who dont like circus can leave the show … the hindu rope trick is on !!!

  25. Karen Jonson says:

    Sam Geppi, I can do you one better — my "guru" was a JAGADguru!!! Do you know what that means? It means he is the guru of the whole f-ing universe.

    And as a result of my 15 years of association with him, I can say the following with utter confidence and probably a lot more insight than you have: ALL gurus are frauds! There you have it — your AHA! moment if you have the strength to accept it. That's if Amma hasn't taken all of your personal power away from you. Because that is ALL that she or any other so-called guru has — the power you gave them to control your mind and heart.

    Julian and Mike have got it 100% correct. And you and everyone who supports the guru magic have it 100% wrong. The reason you can’t find the divine in yourself, is because what you really want is a fairy tale. If you could handle the truth, you wouldn’t need to look outside of yourself.

    It’s just sad to hear people talk so childishly about their guru mommies and daddies. It makes me remember when I was a deluded, brainwashed devotee of Kripalu Maharaj, the self-titled jagadguru. Turns out he’s a child rapist, sex addict, and money-hungry narcissist. His disciple, Prakashanand Saraswati, lured me in, and now he’s in hiding after being convicted of child molestation. I wrote all about them in my memoir Sex, Lies, and Two Hindu Gurus.

    My advice: Look behind the curtain and find out exactly who the person you worship really is – if you dare!

    Karen Jonson, ex-cult member

  26. […] meditation, wisdom and insight appear of their own accord, without a “how” or a “why” attached to them. A series of feelings and […]

  27. Auki says:

    There are some seriously hostile replies posted here to Sam's tender-hearted article. The hostile and arrogant tone of the various comments tells me everything I need to know about the folks making the comments. God help us!

    For the record, I'm with Sam!

    • Cerealbox says:

      How do you know they are hostile. Does everyone have to be like you? respond like you? think like you? Your attitude tells me everything I need to know about you. God help us!

  28. Cerealbox says:

    Does she do these tours for free? or do you have to pay tons of money to meet her?…

    • Lakshmi says:

      You don't have to pay anything to meet her, but you may have some expenses involved in going to meet her…such as room/board, etc.

  29. Lakshmi says:

    There are terrible frauds out there…this is true of just about everything in our Kali Yuga….that darkness masquerades as truth and many people will fall under its spell….that is certainly true of "yoga" in general in our modern world. But just because there are false gurus…even evil ones, doesn't mean that there aren't true "sadgurus" A guru is a teacher. Why should we be so arrogant as to think that there aren't teachers out there with more knowledge than what we have? If I want to learn an instrument, I would go to an accomplished, established musician. I would respect their superior knowledge and I would accept them as my teacher. I wouldn't assume that I can learn it all on my own. Some people may be self taught. And some may even go fairly far being self-taught. But even a self-taught person could learn something from a maestro with a little humility. What is wrong with that? There are experts in every field, including spirituality. There are genuine teachers out there. I consider Amma to be my guru as well…and yes, I consider her to be so because of a series of "magical" synchronicities that honestly defy any rational explanation. I'm a pretty rational person, but these events were too unlikely and improbable to be purely random coincidence…it was striking enough to hit a rational person like me over the head. I don't feel that I've given up any personal "power: to Amma at all. In fact, I consider myself to be a pretty lousy devotee. Yet I don't doubt for a moment my experiences of her….and that has given me something that I can't measure or explain.

  30. Kiva says:

    The guru debate is always an interesting one. All kinds of people swear by a guru and there are those on the opposite end of the spectrum who scoff at the idea of giving their power away. Since there is a long history of the guru-disciple in Indian spirituality at least, it would be hard to say that it never works, because it does in many cases. But at the same time, there are so many frauds. I just read about another one yesterday in India who was exposed for abusing his devotees. So I can totally understand why people would be jaded about gurus. After all, could it be any worse than your spiritual teacher taking advantage of you. I've heard of people who just completely gave up on the path after finding out their guru is a fraud.

    Going it alone is the safe way, but finding a teacher you trust can be quite helpful since they can answer your questions and help you get over obstacles. There are also in between routes, like finding a guru that has already passed and just reading his books, watching videos. I find books on their own can do a lot to transmit teachings.

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