Talk:Guru/Archive 4

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I just reorganized the "Western context" section, grouping the different paragraphs under the more appropriate sub-headings. Is this section is becoming extensive enough to spawn it's own article? I am planing to expand the Sikhims and Buddhism sections. --Zappaz 05:22, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I do not agree with the generalization that the role of the spiritual teachers is not understood. I have attributed this to Feuerstein but don't know whether this is correct. I cannot imagine that the many interpretations of gurus by Westerners are all incorrect. Andries
oh, I find the statement the role of the guru is not widely understood very uninformative unless Feuerstein explains how he thinks that the role of the spiritual teacher is (which he hardly does in the current version of the article). Andries 14:52, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
It is absolutely informative. Just because it does not fit your POV, it does not make it uninformative. You can read his article and his books. See the referece section --Zappaz 18:01, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I have read his article [1] and find it extremely flimsy and unscholarly and I think it hence cannot serve as a basis for this article. I have read another article by Feuerstein that is a lot better (don't remember where). Andries 18:12, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Oh, and by the way, please provide reference for your statement that all gurus in a lineage in Hinduism affirm that they are servants of God. This seems unlikely in the case of gurus who belong to very outspoken forms of advaita vedanta and tantra. Andries
What sentence are you referring to? --Zappaz 18:01, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
This is the sentence that I was referring to and request references for
"It is worth noting that in all sects with a disciplic succession or parampara, both guru and disciple affirm to be servants of the divine." :::Andries
No problems, plenty of references for that. --Zappaz 01:44, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)


I do not agree with moving Kranenborg's analysis about neo-Hindu movements out of the Hindu section. There are Hindus in the Netherlands too. And I think the separation between Western context and Hindu context is artificial. I have met so many Suriname Hindus who were into the SSB Hindu movement. The first three of the four items that Kranenborg mentioned refer to Hinduism. Besides Kranenborg's reference to caste can only refer to Hindus abroad because Dutch/Suriname Hindus do not observe caste due to their indention work in Suriname in the 19th century (complicated history). Andries

Kranemborg's' work is good, but it was related to studying neo-hinduist sects in Holland. It does not belong in that section, Andries. How can you say that separation between Eastern and Western context is artificial? Reverted once again. --Zappaz 00:26, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I'm not following why it matters which type of sect the author was studying. This is an article on Gurus, who are broadly defined as spiritual leaders. The author apparently specifically addresses gurus. Where is the conflict? Thanks -Willmcw 00:31, Apr 22, 2005 (UTC)
Will, it seems that you are making the same mistake that Andries is making. This is indeed an article about Gurus. The person of a guru is highly respected in Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism (a rather large portion of the earth population, BTW). This article describes gurus in the context of these religions from these religions perspectives. After all, this is an world encyclopedia, not a Western encyclopedia. For that we have Britannica... So, in this article we also have a section on Guru in a western context (now growing in size and one day will surely be split into its own article), in which we have attempted to (a) address scholars that have studied the guru phenomena from a western viewpoint, the criticism against gurus in the West and a few other uses of the word in the West. That is why Kranenborg's stuff needs to go in that section. Putting Krannenborg study (that was related to neo-hinduist sects in the Netherlands) in a subsection dealing with Gurus in Hinduis is (not a big deal) but innapropriate. I have worked hard on this article, and want to make sure it stays in a good shape. --Zappaz 01:44, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for explaining that - I had been under the misapprehension that you wanted the material removed from the article, as opposed to moved within it. Never mind... -Willmcw 05:41, Apr 22, 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz, I disagree with you for several reasons
  1. The fact that Kranenborg writes about caste indicates that his classification is more than just based on a study of sects in the Netherlands. The Hindus here, who came from India via Suriname do not follow caste regulations due to somewhat complicated historical reasons. In other words his remark is completely irrelevant for the situation in the Netherlands. And his remark about the Sikh meaning of the word guru i.e. a book cannot be based on his study of sects here. Summarizing, his classification is not just applicable for Dutch sects. Andries 06:11, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I just re-read the book and Kranenborg gave this classification with regards to gurus in India. The next chapter deals with Hinduism in the West. Andries 12:45, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  1. I have never heard of a rule that secular and religious views cannot be mixed. In contrast, I think they should be mixed when writing on a certain subject in order to give the reader a variety of view points. It is wrong and I think against NPOV guidelines to treat a certain sub subject only from one perspective. Andries 06:11, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  2. I continue to think that the distincinction between Hindu gurus in a Western context and in an Eastern context is artificial. We do not want an article on e.g. Reverend in the East and from an Eastern perspective. I admit that though that the new meanings of the word in the West should be mentioned. Hereunder I mention five reasons why I think that the distinction between Eastern and Western is artificial and inaccurate and should be avoided as much as possible:
  1. Many religious seekers, including Andrew Cohen visit India and became there followers of Hindu gurus. The Austrian Agehananda Bharati beccame a Hindu monk (his books would make good content for this article by the way)
  2. Or Hindu gurus come to the West and acquire followers here apart from the followers that they have already in India, like centers and Swamis of the Ramakrishna_Mission in Western Europe and the USA, founder of Hare Krisna, Prem Rawat and Maharishi. I have to admit that Kranenborg writes that these gurus do not bring undiluted popular Hinduism to the Western followers which I have to check this before I write it in the article.
  3. The criticism of gurus by e.g.Basava Premanand influences both Westerners and East Indians. Same for the criticism by David C. Lane who has written extensively about Radhasoami gurus. I do not understand why and how his criticism should go into "Western" or "Eastern" section.
  4. The terms "Eastern" and "Western" are vague and should either be defined or should be avoided as much as possible. Please use more specific terms, like Hindu, Buddhist, Sant Mat, Sikh, Tantra, bhakti, USA, India, Western Europe etc. instead.
  5. I do not believe that Westerners have different brains or have a very different mentality or join for different reasons than Easterners though I admit that this may have been somewhat different in the 1960s and 1970s. Then young people in Europe and the USA were disilusioned in political means to change society and hence turned to religion and wanted to get high without drugs. I do not believe that these motivation now still play a big role for starting to follow gurus. I also admit that it is more unusual in Europe to follow a guru than in India.
Andries 06:11, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I kindly disagree with you Andries. A Western perspective and a Eastern perspective is a very needed distinction. We assess our world around based on the cultural context from which we observe. Would you say that the perception of the world of a Australian aborigine and the perception of a New Yorker are the same? Is it possible to say that one is more valid than the other? Attempting to "mix" both perspectives in one article would be very, very strange and unusual. More useful to readers will be to show both perceptions from their perspectives. That will be very interesting material, rather than a confusing mishmash of POVs. Same here. For a pious Sikh, there is no higher being than his Guru. He will compare Guru with God, sing the glory of the Guru, pray to his Guru, etc. For a secular person living in Paris, these statements could be seen as ridiculously backward. So, how do you present an article on this subject in NPOV? By clearly making a distinction. This issue is one that most Westerners have a problem with. We somehow think (with no little amount of arrogance, IMO) that our Western perspective is the only one. Now, Wikipedia is not an Western encyclopedia, thank god. This is what is so wonderful about this project. --Zappaz 16:49, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

There is no such thing as a "Western perspective" or "Eastern perspective". There is a perspective of the followers of bhakti movements, Christians, Skeptics, humanists, traditional Hindus, Radhasoami adepts etc. regardless where they were born and grew up. Some Indians are skeptics. Is that an Eastern persective? Some Westerners follow bhakti movements. Is that a Western perspective? Very artificial and very inaccurate to use the terms Western and Eastern perspective and context. Andries 17:41, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Oh, and I did include Hindu views in my edits for example by citing Vivekanda and referring to a Upanishad. Please stop talking to me as if I do not know the Hindu viewpoint. Andries 20:06, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I am not challenging you on your knowledge of hinduism, but your sometimes innacurate assertions of fact. --Zappaz 22:24, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I do not fundamentally oppose separating coherent perspectives into sections, like sociological perspectives, Sant Mat perspective, Saiva perspective, Vaishnava perspective, but I strongly oppose to using such vague and inaccurate classifications as "Eastern" and "Western" as a basis for making sections in this article. The "Western view" is certainly not a coherent perspective. Even the "Hindu view" cannot be treated as a coherent perspective because there is too much variation between the different schools, sects etc. Andries 14:48, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Kranenborg citation

Andries, what from the text below is from Kranenborg's book and what are your additions. The sentences I am referring to are in bold. Also, explain what is the meaning of last point. It does not make sense. Thanks --Zappaz 22:29, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The Dutch theologian Dr. Reender Kranenborg distinguished four types of gurus while studying Neo-Hindu sects in the Netherlands:
  1. the spiritual advisor for higher caste Hindus who also performs traditional rituals and who is not connected to a temple (thus not a priest);
  2. the enlightened master who derives his authority from his experience, such as achieving moksha. This type appears in bhakti movements and in tantra and asks for unquestioning obedience and can have Western followers. Westerners even have become one, for example Andrew Cohen;
  3. the avatar, a guru who claims to be, or who is claimed by his followers to be an incarnation of God, or to be God-like, or an instrument of God, for example Sathya Sai Baba and gurus from the Sant Mat lineage;
  4. A "guru" in the form of a book in the Sikh religion.
All is from Kranenborg's book. I only made a very short selection of what Kranenborg had written. The Sikh refer to a book as a guru as explained in the section about Sikhism Andries 04:51, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Are you saying that Kranengborg cites Sathya Sai Baba, Sant Mat, Andrew Cohen, etc. as examples of hois taxonomy? How "selective" are you on choosing a citation? --Zappaz 15:50, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)
yes, Kranenborg mentions Andrew Cohen, SSB and Sant Mat and a few more that I forgot in his taxonomy. Andries 18:48, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Of course I have to be very selective when I cite his book because there is little space in this article and I do not want to break copyright. Andries 22:26, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Dr. Feuerstein's article uses a peculiar definition of a guru

I have a problem with using that article article by Dr. Georg Feuerstein as a basis for this article because I think it is flimsy in contrast to some of his other writings and above all because he uses some unusual tautological definitions of a guru/spiritual teachers. For example he writes.

"Spiritual teachers, by their very nature, swim against the stream of conventional values and pursuits. They are not interested in acquiring and accumulating material wealth or in competing in the marketplace, or in pleasing egos. They are not even about morality. "

This is in sharp contradiction with the understanding of mainstream Hinduism that puts greats emphasis on morality and that its warnings that there are false and incompetent gurus who exploit their followers. Elsewhere Feuerstein writes that there are gurus exploit their followers. Andries 13:44, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Feuerstein is an acclaimed Indologist. I would be cautious in dismissing his descriptions of the meaning of Hindu folkways. --goethean 16:22, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
He has written many books and is a known yoga scholar. --Zappaz 16:35, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I believe it but what he writes in that article contradicts both the regular definition and what he wrote elsewhere. Andries 16:37, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Feuerstein is cautioning against using our normal standards and methods in evaluating the actions of gurus. He is saying that when gurus appear to be immoral, they may actually be extra-moral or trans-moral. Feuerstein desribes Indian culture from the perspecive of a scholarly insider, a very valuable perspective. That his statement doesn't make sense to you almost argues for its validity. --goethean 17:42, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Goethean, I know the Hindu mentality quite well and I read Feustein's enty in his encyclopedia about a crazy adept. But in the encyclopedia he writes things that totally contradict what he writes in the article. If you insist on using that article as a source then I will also include Feuerstein's writing that contradicts his article. Andries 17:51, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Goethan, I know from personal experience that Feuerstein's way of reasoning as expressed in that article can lead to disasters. Andries 17:56, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
If you insist on using that article as a source then I will also include Feuerstein's writing that contradicts his article.
Just be sure to put it in context and include the date of composition, rather than quoting misleading fragments out of context. --goethean 18:10, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Goethan, I know from personal experience that Feuerstein's way of reasoning as expressed in that article can lead to disasters. Andries
Could you elaborate on exactly what you mean by this? --goethean 18:12, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I have sent you an email. Btw, Feuerstein made a complete fool of himself by writing such contradictory statements. See the article. Andries 18:21, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Picking and choosing quotations out of context is not an acceptable manner to cite authors. Later in the day, I will come back and review your edits. I warn you again, Andries, that WP is not a place for advocacy. As I said, if you want to express your opinions in this matter and/or advocate against gurus without being challenged, go ahead and publish your thoughts in a blog, a wiki or a website. If it is good material, we may even link it from here ... :) --Zappaz 19:22, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I quoted from Feurestein's entry in gurus in his encyclopedia and so I do not think that that is out of context. I told you that it was not very wise to use that article by Feuerstein as a soruce but you insisted. Andries 19:33, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Thank you, Goethean for cleaning up this section. It reads much better now. --Zappaz 22:31, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Extensive edits by Andries

Although I am always for being bold in editing, I find Andries unilateral masive editing and deletion of text inapproriate and lacking in consensus. I am reverting all these edits. Go slow Andries, and excplain your reasons for each edit.. --Zappaz 16:52, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I had explained every move and deletion. Andries 16:56, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Where? --Zappaz 17:31, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Not good enough Andries. We have been working on this article collaborativelly for months. Please go aghead and add value if you wish, but bing changes likes the one you made, is better that you discuss them first. Go ahead, go slow, one at a time. There is no rush. Some of the stuff you added is good. --Zappaz 16:59, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I have been saying that I do not agree with the distinction between Eastern and Western for months. Andries 17:02, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
That does not mean anything. Seek consensus before making extensive changes. --Zappaz 17:29, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Pot kettle black. You are the one who first moved without consensus van der Lans and Kraneborg's citation to a separate Western section. See my question to you on 6 Feb. Andries 06:56, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

WP is not a place for advocacy

Andries, please note that WP is not a place of advocacy of any kind. If you want to advocate against Gurus and warn the public about the dangers you see, or to tell your personal story, you have all right to do that but not in WP. Get a website or even your own wiki for that. Thank you. --Zappaz 17:29, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The problems with regarding the assessment of a guru and the widespread criticism of gurus is a notable documented discussion and hence deserve to be mentioned here. Andries 17:33, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Of course! That why it is in the article already! Note that the "widespread criticism" makes the usual mistake to exclude billions of people that think different. That is what I meant by "western perspective". Tell you what Andries: I need to leave now. Give me a chance to include some of the text you added in the previous format of the article. I will have time later in the day. As I said, some of it is very good. --Zappaz 17:38, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Many of these billions of people India are also critical of gurus and also have problems in assessing the guru. Andries 17:53, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
How do you know this, Andries? --Zappaz 19:25, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Both Traditional Hindu scriptures warn against false gurus and modern gurus, like Vivekanda, Yogananda, Prabhupada, Sai Baba, and Sathya Sai Baba. Kranenborg also wrote that there are tradional methods to distinguish charlatans from true gurus. Andries 19:29, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

That is the problem, Andries ... your need to advocate blinds you. In an article about Paper money, how much of that article needs to be dedicated to Counterfeit money? --Zappaz 22:38, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

If the problems are so big that even the word guru received a slightly negative connotation then the problems regarding the assessment of their authenticity deserves an extensive treatment. The somewhat negative connotation that the word has acquired is based on real experiences by real people and not just on anti-cult propaganda. If people continue to trust the wrong gurus based on ignorance then the reputation of the word will only suffer more. Andries 07:51, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I repeat: WP is not a place for advocay and not a place for you, or anybody else for that natter to save people from suffering. Regarding your extensive edits, I do not have much time today, but rest assure that I will come back and clean up after you. I find your attitude of unilaterally editing to be disingenous and lacking in manners. --Zappaz 15:47, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Sorry Andries, your advocacy is creating havoc in this and other articles. This is unacceptable. I have no other way than to revert again all your edits, and I will continue to do the allowed times: 3 times in 24hrs, until you consider editing collaborativelly and seeking consensus before making substantial changes to an article that was stable for months.--Zappaz 16:53, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

You are the one who should first seek concensus and give a detailed reply and rebuttal to all the extensive comments and explanations that I have been making for the last few months. Not me. Andries 18:45, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz, you have no right to revert my edits unless you explain in detail what is wrong with my version. And if you have no time do so then you have to accept that my version should prevail for the time being. Andries 19:02, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

This is not about "who's version" prevails. Note that the previous version was not my version. And theres is not point to discuss issues related to your version. This article does not belong to you... The issue at hand is one of consensus NPOV writing vs. advocacy against or for "gurus". Regarding your extensive comments, if you want to play by the rules, please state each one concisely and let's discuss them. --Zappaz 20:41, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I have already stated my comments many times. I do not have to repeat them over and over again. Andries 21:34, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

A summary of Andries' POV and proposals regarding this article

  1. My version contains a lot more information than your version. All information that is in your version is also in my version. Andries 21:52, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  2. I cannot see where my version breaks NPOV guidelines so I do not understand why you accuse me of advocacy. Please tell me where my version advocates something. Andries 21:52, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  3. I consider making sections based on "Eastern context"/"Eastern perspective", "western context""/"Western perspective" vague, artificial, and inaccurate and instead I propose making sections on Hindu perspectives (preferrably breaking down in yoga, tantra, sant mat, bhakti) , skeptical perspectives, Buddhism perspectives, sociological perspective etcetera as long as the main subjects stay together. Andries 21:52, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not a soapbox

Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not - (my highlights) -- Zappaz 21:01, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not a soapbox, a chatroom, discussion forum, or vehicle for propaganda and advertising. Therefore, Wikipedia articles are not:
1. Propaganda or advocacy of any kind. Of course, an article can report objectively about such things, as long as an attempt is made to approach a neutral point of view. You might wish to go to Usenet or start a blog if you want to convince people of the merits of your favorite views.
Please explain where I make advocay. I don't see any advocacy in my version. This is the second time that I am asking you for detailed criticism of my version. Andries 21:34, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)
You don't need to ask me about your advocacy. Read your own words in this discussion. My last revert for this 24 hr period. There is always tomorrow. --Zappaz 22:56, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)
You won't make a good impression on the other editors if you revert without explaining why the other version is better though it contains less information. Andries 22:59, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I am not here to impress anyone. Your combative attitude is not helping here. The version you took apart is NOT my version. Is a version arrived by a multitude edits over a period of months by many editors. Please don't play the naive with me. Your anti-guru advocacy is known to anyone that has followed your edits, and can read your own words above. Your deletion of text, your shifting around the text to portray your anti-guru POV is totally unencyclopedic and unfair. Your "pick-and-chose" citations and anything but POV, and your attempt to stuff the text as a later thought to claim "I have added information", is just a game that I will not accept. Period. And I am absolutely serious in challenging you on this. --Zappaz 23:04, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Zappaz, pot kettle black about "pick and choose" citations. Yes, I am critical about gurus but I am critical in this article following the NPOV guidelines so that is no advocacy. And I have added a lot of information that you simply remove without trying to integrate it. So your accusation of text removals by me that were minimal and that I later re-added are ridiculous.Andries 23:08, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz, here is an example where you do not follow the NPOV guidelines in this article. The lead section should always contain a summary of the article but you removed the following sentence.
"Critics assert that some gurus do this with the effect or even purpose of exerting domination or receiving inappropriate benefits."
So please stop accusing me over and over again of advocacy without being concrete and detailed. Thanks
Andries 23:14, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Just read your own words. You fail to address my concerns:
  1. Unilateral massive changes to the structure of the article
  2. Unilateral shifting text to suit your POV
  3. Adding text only relevant to criticism of Gurus
  4. Unilateral mixing of Western and Eastern perspectives
  5. and all the above concerns about advocacy.

Listen, Andries, playing unilaterally will take you nowhere... You see, I can come tomorrow and excise the whole text about Eastern perspecive and spawn it into its own article. What will you do then? Revert my edits, wouldn't you? Put an RfC? If you want to work together, then revert back to the last version by Goethean and come here to discuss the changes. Thank you and good night. --Zappaz 23:26, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

ad 1. I have been saying this for months and you started unilarally moving text, see my comment to you on 6. Feb. A pot kettle black reproach. Andries 07:52, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)
ad 2. same for 1 Andries 07:52, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)
ad 3. untrue I added a lot of factual information Andries 07:52, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)
ad 4. I explained extensively and in detail why I think your structure of the text is wrong and I am still waiting for your reply and detailed rebuttal. Basically, I think that the article should be organized on subject, not organized on the something very vague, inaccurate and artificial as "Eastern perspective" or "Western perspective". Westerners can also have a Hindu perspective and Indians can have a sociological or skeptical perspective. And yes, when organizing the article more on subject there will be more mixing of POVs. Andries
ad 5. You alway accuse me of advocacy but never take to effort to be more specific and explain which text by me are advocacy. Probably because you can't as my edits followed NPOV guidelines. In contrast, I do not accuse you of advocay but try to be specific about the text that I do not agree with.Andries 07:52, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Edits by Zappaz

Thank God for a new day...

  1. Restored original article layout;
  2. Incorporated new text by Andries into article, in the appropriate sections;
  3. Removed text that was not attributed;
  4. Removed original research;
  5. NPOV'ed several paragraphs;
  6. Overall cleanup, rm dups;
  7. Added section fron Kranenborg, although it does not warrant a section IMO. We need to look for a more substantial taxonomy on Gurus than this one, but for the time being will do.

--Zappaz 07:03, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  1. I restored the new structure but tried to address some of your concerns and rewrote some sentences into NPOV style that you had removed or provided references for unreferenced statements.
  2. I also removed the following unreferenced statement for which I had requested references you some time ago:
It is worth noting that in all sects with a disciplic succession or parampara, both guru and disciple affirm to be servants of the divine.
Besides, I think that starting a sentence with ``It is worth noting ´´ is a weasel statement (like ``Some believe´´) and should be avoided. Who considers this worth noting?
Andries 10:16, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Unacceptable editing behavior. I tried to incorporate your additional texts, but you are unilaterally making too many edits that substatially change an article that was worked on by many editors before you. This is totally unacceptable behavior. This is about collabrative editing. I ask of you again: Discuss substantial changes to the article here, and seek consensus before proceeding. Until you accept to play by the rules, my activities on this article will be as follows:

  1. Incorporating any worthy new text to the original structure
  2. NPOVing your edits
  3. Removing unattributed and original research
  4. Reverting your edits the maximum alloted of 3 times in each 24 hrs, when you do masive editings and change the article structure. Have a good day. --Zappaz 16:17, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz, I will follow Wikipedia's rules but not your instant home made rules. For months I have been arguing and explaining that and why the old structure is not good and I have yet to see your detailed reply and rebuttal to what I have written. Andries 17:01, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I replied to your proposal about restructuring already and presented my reasons why it is a poor idea. I also suggested to bring this issue to RfC. You ignored this and acted unilaterally. The fact that you went ahead with the change without seeking consensus, shows your contemmpt for collaborative editing. As I said, until you relent, I will revert your changes throughout the maximum allowed eachy day, and at night I will attempt to incorporate new text that is worthy of inclusion into the article as it was before your restructuring. Note that I am not only oppossing your restructuring, I am opposing your attempt to make this article an anti-guru article as a mean to advocate your POV that gurus are "dangerous". This is an outrageous disregard for the reverence that millions of people profess for their Gurus, in Hinduism, Skihism, and Budhism and a blatant disregard for the no-advocacy of WP. Have a good day. --Zappaz 21:53, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  1. I had presented this article to RfC already today. Andries 22:04, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  2. I was not at all impressed at all by your rebuttal and reply to my proposals and criticism of the old structure so I went ahead. Andries 22:04, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  3. There is very much criticism of false gurus both in and outside India, both in Hindu scripture and by Hindu gurus and also by skeptics who criticize the whole concept of the guru-disciple relationship. This extensive criticism should hence be treated here. Not to treat this criticism here would be advocacy and against NPOV rules. And believe me, I am not ant-guru, I only have problems to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. Andries 22:04, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)

If you presented to RfC, how come you don't announce this here? That is disingenous. If you were not impressed by my rebuttal, then you engage me in a conversation about it. That is what we do here at WP: we discuss, give and take, collaborate. I am with you that the aspects of false gurus is both fascinating and worthy of study (I mysefl added tet from Gita regarding this aspect), but it needs to be placed in the correct context, and a minority viewpoint it needs a worthy mention but no more. After all you don't define something by what is not. At ninght I will attempt to incorporate your text additions (some of which are very good, btw) to the original structure. --Zappaz 22:12, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I did not have time yet to make a good announcement of the RfC. I talked and talked to you but you did not seriously reply to me. Andries 22:15, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)
False gurus a minority viewpoint? The vast majority of people have a healthy distrust against most gurus. Andries 22:17, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Of course it is a minority! Your attitude is exactly what I am dsiputing: The attitude that a Western viewpoint can override other viewpoints in which the West is clearly a minority. --Zappaz 22:52, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Everything indicates that the assessment of gurus and their criticism is an issue in India too. Both authorative Hindu scriptures and influential gurus have commented on the problem. How do you think that people in India thought about Osho/Rajneesh/Bhagwan? He received trenchant criticism there too, probably even more than in Europe and the USA. If you think that assessment of gurus and their criticism isn't an issue in India then may be you should have a look at the front page of the Kannada/Karnataka version of Wikipedia where the critic of gurus Narasimhaiah (sp?) is prominently shown. Andries 08:31, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Edits Apr 25 by Zappaz

  1. NPOVed and expanded intro to include true/false guru in the context of religions and Western perspective
  2. Restored original structure of article, now in RfC
  3. Expanded Guru in Sikihism and Buddhism
  4. Provided background on some of the Western critics
  5. Restored text from Andries edit where appropriated
  6. Did not include "List of gurus independent from traditional religions", because it is not a taxonomy supported by a reference (i.e. original research)

Hope I did not leave out any valuable new text added by Andries. --Zappaz 02:37, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Andries, read the article as it stands, disspasionately if you clould, please. It is a good article and presents all the points. It is alreay 33 K so we will not be able to add much more text. The dilemma is that I want to expand the section on Buddhism and Sikhism, and surely you want to heap on the critical aspects of guruism so we will be busting the 32K limit soon. Any proposals about a non-POV split in the article? --Zappaz 03:03, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I do not agree with your edits you removed important information about assessment of the guru in Hinduism and India. I restored this information more or less within the old structure. And for example, Osho is universally described as a guru but cannot be listed under "Hinduism" or Buddhism etc. That warrants a separate list for these kind of gurus. I propose making an article Guru in Hinduism which is a big subject. Andries 05:49, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
You think that the Kannada version of wikipedia is a good indicator of popular sentiment in India?! If that were true, then the Western World would be a bunch of Ayn Rand devotees. (OK...bad example) --goethean 11:45, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
-:) --Zappaz 15:01, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Thanks Andries, for chosing to collaborate. It is appreciated. Regarding your latest edit, I am 90% OK with it, I will make some minor changes later on that I will fully substantiante here. --Zappaz 15:07, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Here they are my edits of today:

  • NPOV'ed the section about assessment of the guru. Finding a true guru is one of the tenants of Hinduism, so it fits nicely on the section about the importance of guru in Hinduism;
  • Debunking of gurus, godmen and fakirs by Indian skeptics warrants, and now has, its own section that could be expanded if needed;
  • moved text from Freunstein to western section as it is an excellent preamble for it, showing the East/West context dilemma (that by the way was also highlighted by van der Lans.)

Some other issues/concerns:

  1. Article is perilously close to the maximum size
  2. Too many citations from Kranenborg. Can we find another scholar to cite from?
  3. I think that a section on the guru/disciple relationship could be a worthy addition.
  4. We need to expand a bit more the Buddhism and Sihks sections
  5. Western section is becoming too big

--Zappaz 15:33, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I strongly disagree with using the extensive unsummarized POV of Dr Feuerstein as a preamble to the Western section. His POV that he himself more or less contradicts in his encylopedia is just one of many POVs and should be treated as such. The section should started with undisputed facts and not with one of many viewpoint to give the reader the "right" perspective. I consider doing so POV pushing and against the NPOV guidelines Andries 17:02, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
How can this be POV pushing? Feurstein's text is an excellent way to start this section as it addresses one of the fundamentals of that section: the difficulty to understand the concept of "guru" from a Judeo-Christian perspective. -- Zappaz 19:40, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Feuerstein's POV is a minority POV in the West. Distrust of gurus is widespread in the West. It would be more NPOV to start with David Lane's POV and even more NPOV to start with the facts and leave all the different POVs till later. Andries 19:48, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Distrust of gurus is widespread in the West - exactly. That is why Feurstein's opening sentence of his "Understanding the Guru" is such an excellent opening for this section. --Zappaz 19:55, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
A minority opinion has only minority space and prominence. Those are the Wikipedia rules. The only thing you can do if you want to convince the majority that they are wrong is to use that limited space at the maximum by providing concise convincing well referenced attributed arguments. Andries 20:15, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
A minority opinion? Can you substantiate that? How can you assert what is a minority or a majority opinion in this case? Are you sure you are counting the billions of Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs in your equation? --Zappaz 20:23, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The Hindus etc. are not relevant here because this is about gurus in a Western context. Feuerstein's opinion in the West is a small minority opinion. Andries
And how do you know that? Have you run a poll? Your assertion about Feurstein's being a minority opinion has no basis in reality, even when speaking in a Western context. --Zappaz 20:37, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
You implicitly admitted yourself that Feuerstein hold a minority opinion when writing that gurus in the West are widely distrusted. Hence such a pro-guru quote by Feuerstein is a minority opinion. Andries 20:41, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The quote by Feuerstein sounds like an advertisement for his yoga school. Andries 20:50, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
And how is this citation "pro-Guru" exactly, Andries? And please do not disparrage authors because you don't concurr with their opinions. That is not right.... --Zappaz 20:53, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I do not disparage the author Feuerstein as I said before but I disparage only that article by him on the website of his yoga school. I find his encyclopedia a lot better. An analogy, it would be unacceptable to use an article on the website of a travel agency to write an about Hawai here in Wikipedia. Andries 21:03, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Really, Andries, the only reason you disparrage this article is because somehow you perceive it as "pro" Guru and against POV (although I do not understand why you see it that way). We cannot be judges here, Andries. Neither we can advocate. --Zappaz 21:07, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
After re-reading the article, I have to admit that the article as a whole is not very strongly pro guru. But the quotes that are now in the article are very much pro-guru. Andries 21:30, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The quotes by Feurstein describe a highly subjective perspective on the matter and the section cannot be NPOV if it starts with a highly subjective extensive quote instead of more or less undisputed facts. An analogy, it would also be against NPOV guidelines to start the section with Storr's subjective POV. Andries 22:55, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I disagree with the title for the western section. The title should be "assessment and criticism". If you read David C. Lane's excerpts from his book Exposing cults then you will see that it is not just criticism but more an assessment of the guru's authenticity. Later Lane became more critical about gurus. Andries 17:22, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Lane is one scholar. Just one scholar. The fact that he wrote one book about exposing cults, does not mean that we have to create a section just for his POV. In any case, I don't think it is a big deal to leave your title as is. --Zappaz 19:40, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I disagree with the title for the western section. The title should be "assessment and criticism". --Andries
Why? This is an assertion that needs to be argued for, rather than baldly put forth. --goethean 19:53, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Goethean, Lane clearly tries to assess not just criticize, for example he writes in his essay

If after taking the "spiritual crucible" you find out that your guru charges money for membership, lives an unethical lifestyle, self-proclaims his mastership, encourages proselytizing, alleges to be God-incarnated, emphasizes pre-rational practices, and demands total obedience, it can be assumed that you're on the wrong path and that your guru is a charlatan. On the other hand, if your guru/path scores positively in all areas (such an accomplishment, by the way, is rare), then you are very fortunate to have been led to a beneficial and legitimate spiritual movement.

Andries 20:07, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
So what is your reasoning for wanting to call the Western perspectives section "assessment and criticism"?--goethean 23:29, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The reason is that Lane describes a method to distinguish false from true gurus, in other words, an assessment. Andries 23:54, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Sorry Andries but this is unacceptable. The section does not mention anything to do with "assessing" the guru. It is all criticisms of various kinds (religious, secular, anti-cultist, skeptic) and that's it, so it needs to be call just that "Criticism of the guru by Western scholars, theologians and skepctics". Renamed as such.-- Zappaz 00:32, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Nonsense, just read Lane's article carefully and dispassionately. And also the Christian viewpoint about judging a teacher by his fruits is an assessment, not criticism and even Storr tries to assess the guru apart from his criticism. Andries 04:48, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Difference between the two structures for RFC

Existing structure before changes by Andries - supported by Zappaz

Reasons stated

A Western perspective and a Eastern perspective is a very needed distinction. We assess our world around based on the cultural context from which we observe. Would you say that the perception of the world of a Australian aborigine and the perception of a New Yorker are the same? Is it possible to say that one is more valid than the other? Attempting to "mix" both perspectives in one article would be very, very strange and unusual. More useful to readers will be to show both perceptions from their perspectives. That will be very interesting material, rather than a confusing mishmash of POVs. Same here. For a pious Sikh, there is no higher being than his Guru. He will compare Guru with God, sing the glory of the Guru, pray to his Guru, etc. For a secular person living in Paris, these statements could be seen as ridiculously backward. So, how do you present an article on this subject in NPOV? By clearly making a distinction. This issue is one that most Westerners have a problem with. We somehow think (with no little amount of arrogance, IMO) that our Western perspective is the only one. Now, Wikipedia is not an Western encyclopedia, thank god. This is what is so wonderful about this project. --Zappaz 16:49, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Article structure

1 Guru in Hinduism

1.1 Origin and understanding of the term Guru
1.2 Devotees' views on Guru and God
1.3 Importance of the Guru in Indian culture
1.4 List of notable gurus

2 Guru in Buddhism

3 Guru in Sikhism

4 A taxonomy of gurus

5 "Guru" in a Western culture context

5.1 Additional meanings in contemporary western usage
5.2 Criticism of gurus in Western society

6 Other uses of the word 'Guru'

New structure supported by Andries

Reasons stated

There is no such thing as a "Western perspective" or "Eastern perspective". There is a perspective of the followers of bhakti movements, Christians, Skeptics, humanists, traditional Hindus, Radhasoami adepts etc. regardless where they were born and grew up. Some Indians are skeptics. Is that an Eastern persective? Some Westerners follow bhakti movements. Is that a Western perspective? Very artificial and very inaccurate to use the terms Western and Eastern perspective and context. Andries 17:41, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Article structure

1 Guru in Hinduism

1.1 Origin and understanding of the term Guru
1.2 Devotees' views on Guru and God
1.3 Importance of the Guru in Indian culture
1.4 List of famous gurus

2 Guru in Buddhism

3 Guru in Sikhism

4 A taxonomy of gurus

5 Gurus in the West and their European and American followers

6 Additional meanings in contemporary western usage

7 Assessment of the guru's authenticity and criticism

7.1 Hindu and other religious views
7.2 Skeptical and miscellaneous views

8 List of gurus independent from traditional religions

9 Other Uses of the word 'Guru'

Other disputes

Use of this article as advocacy against gurus and lack of balance between what the article is about (Guru) and discussion about false gurus/criticism of gurus


use of this article to minimize the documented extensive problems about assessment of the guru's authenticity and use of this article to minimize the extensive documented criticism.


One editor changed the RfC notice to say that it was several editors against one, and assigning a position to those multiple opponents. This dispute appears to be between just two editors. The comment has since been corrected. -Willmcw 22:53, Apr 24, 2005 (UTC)

Hello Will. Your statement is incorrect, the version that Andries changed was a version that was edited by many editors and that was stable for months. As such, Andries changes were unilateral and without consensus. --Zappaz 00:27, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I am mistaken that the comment said that several editors characterized the other editor's work. I see on a more careful look of the now-gone text that it was correct in ascribing that to just one editor. -Cheers, -Willmcw 01:23, Apr 25, 2005 (UTC)
Will, nonwithstanding the fact that the article was stable for months after the contributions of multiple editors, and although it has bee a while since other editors contributed to this article, Goethean helped as well in containing Andries' unilateral changes and challenging some of his edits. --Zappaz 02:48, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
the structure was only stable because I had been too polite to change it because of objections by one persons in spite of my protests for several months against the structure. Andries 05:38, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I think that it is probably always a mistake to assume that past editors, who may have done little more than correct the spelling of a word, have endorsed the facts, presentation, and organization of an article simply by their failure to change them. This is a disagreement between two current editors, not between one editor and all past editors whohave ever edited this page. Further, there are many articles around Wikipedia that are POV, poorly written, or otherwise flawed and they are stable simply because editors have not gotten around to fixing them yet. So this is also not a dispute between stasis and change. This is a dispute between one view of how to write an article and another view. Both views may be right - but let's focus on how to make the best article for Wikipedia in a collaborative fashion. Cheers, -Willmcw 05:54, Apr 25, 2005 (UTC)

Zappaz, can you please find out in what book by Feuerstein his article Understanding the guru was published? Thanks Andries 22:16, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I did. I added it to the Biblio section. Ah, this was not the only article. There is another excellent one on the "What's enlightment" magazine, in which he further explores the subject in an interesting way: He Who Shows the Sacred: The Essential Role of the Guru in Spiritual Life. --Zappaz 22:22, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Andries edits

Zappaz, an introduction to quotes should be neutral. The POV should be in the quote, not in the the introduction of the quote. I consider the following introduction of Feuerstein's quote as an unacceptable endorsement of his very subjective view.

"'Highlighting the difficulty of understanding the role of the Guru in Western societies, Dr. Georg Feuerstein writes in the article Understanding the Guru ( from his book The Deeper Dimension of Yoga: Theory and practice:"

A more NPOV introduction would be

"Dr. Georg Feuerstein writes in the article Understanding the Guru from his book The Deeper Dimension of Yoga: Theory and practice about the role and understanding of the guru in Western societies and states that:"


"Dr. Georg Feuerstein writes in the article Understanding the Guru from his book The Deeper Dimension of Yoga: Theory and practice about the role and understanding of the guru from the Eastern tradition in Western societies and sees a difficulty with this, stating:"

Andries 07:12, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I want to emphasize that the extensive quotes from Feuerstein's article promote a highly subjective point of view on gurus that is non-mainstream in the Western world. I admit that this view should be represented but in a section about "Gurus in a Western context" it deserves less prominence than for example Deutsch' or van der Lans' point of view. Deutsch published his article in several psychiatric journals and a book published by the APA. Van der Lans was an internationally respect professor in the psychology of religion. Andries 11:41, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

And the paragraph after paragraph of anti-guru "analysis" (i.e. editorializing) we are supposed to believe is the presentation of the "objective" viewpoint? Feuerstein has written more books on gurus that all of your anti-guru authors put together. He is a top Indologist. The only thing that makes your featured authors superior in your mind to Feuerstein is that he is not anti-guru. Your whole approach assumes that your POV is superior to (including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Westerners) that of over a billion people. Perhaps this article should be moved to anti-guru. --goethean 15:25, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Goethean, Andries is unable to see this viewpoint. I have tried again and again to make this point but it falls on deaf ears. What is one to do when Andries is so blinded by his POV that he cannot see what it is so obvious (his ant-guru advocacy, for example).
I am not anti-guru. I only have a problem to distinguish false gurus from true ones. In that respect I am more positive about gurus than most people here. Andries 20:34, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Goethean, the fact that somebody writes a lot of books doesn't make him authorative. From the article about Georg Feuerstein I can not read that he is authorative about gurus and Hinduism in academic circles. He may be a popular writer of yoga literature, such as his Yoga for dummies book shows. And remember that the POV by Feuerstein appears in a section about gurus in a Western context and there Feuerstein's and Hindus etc have a minority POV and hence deserve their POV deserves minority prominence. Andries 20:06, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Goethean, and if the assesment of the gurus is not an important subject in Hinduism then why digress authorative Hindu scriptures on this several times? And why treats an influential gurus like Vivekanda this subject extensively if this is not an important subject in Hinduism? Many false gurus in Kali yuga four types of gurusThis is a widespread problem many false teachers false teachers false gurus in ISKCONAndries 21:42, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Andries, just replace "False teachers and assessment of the guru in Hinduism" with "the importance of finding a true guru in Hinduism". The former is POV, the later is NPOV and more accurate a well! --Zappaz 00:15, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I have been cleaning-up and NPOVing a myriad of articles that have been blatantly used for advocacy against religions and new religions and those promoting anti-freedom of religion agendas, witch-hunts, and bigotry. And I will not give up in maintaining and defending NPOV in this article. I will continue re-editing the article until I am satisfied that it respects NPOV and that not a single trace of anti-anything or pro-anything advocay is featured. --Zappaz 16:19, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz, if you want to ensure that no pro-advocacy is performed here then make sure that the quote by Feuerstein stays in the right place i.e. among the other perspectives to assess gurus. Andries 20:51, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Andries questions


  • why do you define a guru as "a spiritual teacher" instead of "a religious teacher" Andries 20:47, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • why do you write start the word Guru with a capital in a section title? I thought this was against the style manual. Andries 20:47, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Guru is not only related to religions. Some gurus are not associated with a specific religion, so the intro can be less narrow by using "spiritual" rather than "religious". Regarding capitalization, I though that I fixed that. Guru shoukd be capitalized only if the section title starts with the word guru. --Zappaz 00:15, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I do not agree. Other meaning of the word guru are explained elsewhere. Andries 04:46, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz is correct. Take Eckhart Tolle, for example, who explicitly denies association with any religion. --goethean 14:38, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Zappaz, You changed the sub section title from

"Assessment of the guru's authenticity and criticism by Western scholars and theologians"


"Criticism of the guru by Western secular scholars, theologians and skeptics"

Hereunder I will show show that the section contains a significant amount of assessment of gurus and not just criticism and that hence the title that you propose is inaccurate

  • "The American scholar Dr. David C. Lane proposes a checklist consisting of seven points in his book Exposing Cults: When the Skeptical Mind Confronts the Mystical ( (1994) to assess gurus ...."
  • "Storr argues that gurus who are authoritarian, paranoid, eloquent, or interfere in the private lives of their followers are the ones who are more likely to be unreliable and dangerous and further refers to Eileen Barker's checklist to recognize false gurus."
  • "A Christian theologian, Bob Deffinbaugh believes that the fact that Jesus said, according to the Bible (Matthew 7), that one should judge a prophet by his fruits, means that this rule of the thumb can also be applied for assessing teachers and not just for prophets. "

Andries 21:10, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The reason for the title is that it is an implied POV statement. The reason it is POV is that you have carefuly chosen to display and cite text of people that are critical of gurus, and hence the issue of "assessement" comes to play. These people are critics and as such they challenge the authenticity of gurus. Simple. --Zappaz 00:15, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I have split the citations between plain criticism and the assessment issue. Hope that this now works for you. --Zappaz 00:33, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)
well, I do not really have an opinion about that for the moment but not to place Feuerstein's long quote under assessment is wrong. He offers also an assessment though a less critical one than e.g. Lane. Andries

Back to square one, Andries. Your edits are totally unacceptable for all the reasons discussed ad-nauseum above. Reverted. Can we just have an article about Gurus without any slant neither pro or anti? And don't tell me that you are writing within NPOV, because you are not. Period. I am trying to reach consensus, but it seems that you are not interested. This is becaming unglamorous, tedious and a waste of my time. --Zappaz 15:16, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I would support an article that confines itself to the historical facts about gurus without any information on assessment, criticism, analysis, accusation, exposé, opinion, editorializing, etc. --goethean 15:35, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz, if you are serious about concensus then it is now your turn to do concessions. I have made a lot of concessions to you. It is true that the controversy has been discussed ad nauseam and that we continue to disagree. Andries 16:33, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz, some subject are controversial and have received trenchant criticism. This subject is one of them, whether you like it or not. Rick Ross is another one. You do not seem to have any problems with much criticism there. As usual with regards to (new) religions you show doubtle standards. Andries 17:29, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)
some subject are controversial and have received trenchant criticism
That's right. But since we appear unable to report on the controversy fairly, it might be better to avoid doing harm. --goethean 18:28, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Rick Ross? What this has to do with Rick Ross? He is a deprogrammer that was found guilty of abducting a person and that charges money to families to extract people from alleged cults. The article on Rick Ross can be discussed there. Here we are discussing this article.

Andries, this is not about making "concessions". This is about not editorializing and not using this article for advocacy either pro or con. I will look into the article again, as dispassionately as I can, to see if there is a way out. --Zappaz 23:00, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I just read the article, and you know what I think? That the Western section is 90% critical of gurus; and that the size of that section in comparison with the rest of the article is way to big. When actually there are many people in the West that think and feel different. I would add any Westerner that is a Buddhist, for example. How are these people's POV presented in the article? What about scholars that do not write critically about the guru? If there is a concession to be made, is to add text to the Western section that presents the other side of the coin that the one offered by skeptics, anti-cultists and anti-guru secular scholars. We should work on that. --Zappaz 23:17, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The big majority of the people in the West distrust gurus because of the many scandals they have involved in and this should be reflected in the article. Most gurus have not broken the law, I admit, unlike Ross, but many did not give they followers what they promised or did not practice what they preached and this should be reflected in the article. May be we should list the scandals and controversy that gurus have been involved in, instead of writing "have been perceived by the media and critical ex-followers as charlatans". And even people who follow gurus in the West tend to distrust gurus except the one they follow. Here is an interesting fair, balanced article from a Hindu point of view [2] Andries 04:57, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz, I have to admit that the section in West should digress more on the question why people follow gurus and that they offer inspiration etc. The section used to digress on it until you removed it because of missing references. Andries 07:48, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The big majority of the people in the West distrust gurus
Please provide a citation for this contention or stop repeating it. --goethean 14:33, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
It is evident from the negative connotation that the word has acquired. Andries 14:41, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Cite sources (citation): provide references that help the reader to
check the veracity of the article and to find more information.
Good citations are critical to help make Wikipedia trusted and useful.

If you consult an external source while writing an article, citing it is basic
intellectual honesty.  More than that, you should actively search for
authoritative references to cite. If you are writing from your own
knowledge, then you should know enough to identify good references that the
reader can consult on the subject—you will not be around forever to answer
questions.  (Also, this forces you to check your facts, and you
might find that you do not know everything.) The main point is to help the
reader—cite whatever you think will be most helpful.

This applies when writing about opinions, as well—beware the temptation to
write weasel phrases like, "Some people say..." Who said it,
and where and when? (Remember that Wikipedia is not for your opinions or for
original research.)

This applies even when the information is currently undisputed —
even if there is no dispute right now, someone might come along in five years
and want to dispute, verify, or learn more about a topic. For disputed claims,
it is extremely helpful to have a citation so that the issue can either be
investigated (by readers) or resolved (by the Wikipedia editing community).

It is helpelss, Goethean. Andries is unable to listen. His agenda is clear and he is one of these that will spent an inordenate number of hours in WP just to advocate his point of view, robing the fun of editing WP. I am tired of it and I had enough of his game. --Zappaz 15:23, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)

What about the RfC? --goethean 15:40, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Zappaz, I do not understand the point you are trying to make. All criticism in the article is from authorative attributed referenced sources. I admit that I sometimes write from my knowledge about the subject that I have read somewhere but do not remember where. But the critical information in this article about gurus has been meticulously referenced and attributed because you are so critical of my edits when they mention something negative about cults/NRMs, gurus etc, which you seem to perceive as biased, bigotry etc. But it is not bigotry. It is based on years of reading and not just anti-cult literature and also based on my experience with various gurus and NRMs that helps me see what scholars, and anti-cult activists exaggerate and what minimize the issues. Andries 15:43, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The fact that what is supposed to be a general, neutral encyclopedia article on gurus is filled with criticisms of gurus by a few Western anti-guru authors obviously amounts to using the Wikipedia for advocacy, which is explicitly forbidden by Wikipedia policy. --goethean 16:06, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
But there is a lot of criticism of gurus in the West. And with regards to the negative connotation of the word guru, I thought this was common knowledge. Susan Palmer writes this for instance in the book NRMs in the 21st century that the connotation of the word guru is extremely negative in France. Will find attributions and references for that and then re-add it. Andries 16:19, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
France is not the world.... Andries, I appreciate your candor, but note that when editing WP becomes "too personal", the tendency to advocate is almost a given. If you want to put to good use what you have read and what your experience was with SSB, I encourage you (seriously) to get a blog or a small website in which you can do this without the constraings imposed by WP.
At this stage I propose at this stage to do as follows:
  • Keep this article a generic article about gurus, describing the controversy in one or two paragraphs
  • Move all the extensive text about criticism of the guru into an article on Guruism (now redirecting here)
  • Leave a small stub about the Guruism aspects and criticism of Gurus by Western anti-guru authors on the Western section
--Zappaz 16:22, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I have read this so many times that people distrust gurus and not just in anti-cult literature. For example in the foreword of Andre van der Braak's "Enlightenment Blues" he writes that he was very aware that there were many gurus involved in scandals before he got involved in Cohen but he thought Andrew Cohen was an exception, and trustworthy and honest (I think Cohen is honest too). Andries 16:26, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
splitting the article the way Zappaz proposes it sounds to me like a POV fork. Andries 16:28, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
here is an example of somebody (a Hindu in this case) who writes that the word guru has acquired a negative connotation bot in India and the West
"Of course anyone can proclaim himself or herself as Guru. Such fake 'Babas' mushroom in many parts of India and abroad. Such persons have selfish motives as earning money etc., and unfortunately many gullible fools fall a victim to their designs. In fact, the word guru is falling to disrepute because of such self-proclaimed incompetent persons. " [3]

You don't seem understand what Goethean and I are saying. Yes, there are people critics of gurus (duh!) but to have such a large section in which only these critics are cited and in which only "juicy" excerpts are displayed, is blatant advocacy and using WP as a soapbox. It will be sufficient to say that there are some authors that are critical of gurus, that France enacted anti-cult legislation that included groups led by gurus, and that gurus, by its own definition, is a role that is not clearly understood in a western context. Period. That is enough, NPOV and a fair exposition of the controversy. The split proposed is NOT a POV split because (a) we will have a good summary here and (b) the article will benefit from it --Zappaz 16:49, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Let me give you an example, Andries. Will it be NPOV to use 50% of the article about Pope to write about the criticism of the Pope? There are many people that they do not approve of the anti-abortion, anti-gay policy of the church. If I do that to the Pope article I will be crucified (pun intended). So,. you will not get away with a simlar thing here. Yes, there are people critical of gurus, OK. But it is POV to pik and chose citations from anti-guru authors and use 50% of the article for that. --Zappaz 16:58, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Majority opinions deserve majority space. Feel free to add more about reasons why people follow gurus. Andries 17:30, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Majority opinions deserve majority space.
Fantastic. Glad to hear that we agree absolutely and completely. --goethean 17:35, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz, I do not agree with the statement as if it were a fact "that gurus, by its own definition, is a role that is not clearly understood in a western context" That is just an opinion. May be Storr's understands gurus very well. I do agree to write that people have widely divergent opinions about gurus and that their assessment is a very subjective choice. 17:55, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I will add more text about gurus in a western context, that is not critical "picks". Until then, This section deserves a disputed tag. BTW, your other edits in the Hindu section are also POV and have been reverted again. -Zappaz 18:27, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Zappaz, I think that you break NPOV, not me, by making a sub sub section of such an important subject of "finding and assessing a guru in Hinduism" what you euphemistally call "Find a true guru" It should be a sub section. Andries 20:53, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Here is a Hindu view on the guru business

"In ancient time there were not too many true saints, at the present there are very few. Thus our chance of finding a true guru, a real saint is very slim. At present it has become a profession to become a guru." By Swami Ramsukh Das ji Maharaj of Gita Press, Gorakhpur [4]

Andries 05:26, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

From a German website about Asia [5]

"Warum ist es eigentlich gut, ein Computer-Guru zu sein, jedoch gesellschaftlich kaum akzeptabel, einen eigenen Guru zu haben?[...]
Zwischen Meister und Scharlatan
Hierzulande ist der Begriff „Guru“ oft recht negativ oder humoresk belegt: Die Sinnsuche in fernöstlichen Gefilden ist geradezu eine Einladung an allerhand Scharlatane, die nicht nur ihren Anhängern zur Erleuchtung verhelfen, sondern auch sich selbst zu viel weltlicher Macht und prallen Bankkonten. "
English translation: Why is it good to be a computer guru but hardly acceptable in society to have your own guru?[...]
Between Master and Charlatan
In this country the concept of "Guru" is often meant quite negative or humoristic; the search for meaning in areas in the far east has become an invitation for all kinds of Charlatans who not only bring their adherents to enlightenment but also bring themselves to much wordly power and well filled bank accounts"

Andries 05:42, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Dutch Expression: "Geen goeroe zonder giro", meaning "No guru without bank account" Andries 05:42, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

What is that you are trying to prove, Andries. Of course that there are people in the West (and in the East!) that are critics of gurus, but that does not mean that this article needs to voice that criticism in a way that overtakes the purpose of the article, in particular when there are as many people that either do not care about gurus, or that think highly of gurus (should we have a section with testimonials of guru followers singing the glory of the guru? Don't think so...) We can state the fact that there are critics, yes. Should we write about the controversy, of course. But not making this article one that is critical of gurus. That is advocacy. Same as the examples I gave before:
  • How much criticism of the Pope needs to be present on the article about the Pope (answer: go check it)
  • How much the aspect of false money and counterfeiting needs to be present in the article about paper money

--Zappaz 15:13, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Zappaz, what I have been trying to prove is that the negative opinion about gurus is the majority and hence deserves majority space. And I am certain of that in the Netherlands, France and Germany which was confirmed to me by a relatively pro-guru friend and a German friend whom I tried to ask the question very neutrally. People tend to believe both in Hinduism an outside of it that there are many, many false gurus. If this were the case with money then the section of counterfeit money and how to distinguish genuine money from counterfeit money would be huge.
Zappaz, And I think that the pope is a bad example, I think that Rick Ross in which you inserted a very long critical section is a better example. Yes, I admit that Ross is controversial and that he deserves a criticism section but then do not use double standards and complain about much criticism here. Andries 15:22, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz, wrote
should we have a section with testimonials of guru followers singing the glory of the guru? Don't think so...
I understand that you want to remove the section devotees view on guru. But then why did you insert it in the first place? Mistake? Andries 15:46, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
These are citations from scriptures and Hindu poets and saints. Why should you have a problem with that? --Zappaz 19:40, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Zappaz, you use all kinds of arguments that you break yourself when it suits you. Hereabove I gave two examples i.e. Rick Ross and the section "Devotees views on Guru and God". And I have noticed that you have done this more often. You should ask yourself what this means.You can have an opinion about cults and NRMs but please try to remain fair and reasonable when editing Wikipedia. Ed Poor does a better job than you in this respect. Andries 15:58, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

What are exactly your concerns about these two edits? The former was a total propaganda/advertisement article for Ross business before me and other editors pitched-in and gave some background on this person. The latter are citations from Hindu scriptures and poetry in which the divine aspect of the guru are expressed. Your argument is a poor defence for a poor attitude in this article. --Zappaz 19:48, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  1. Zappaz, you started using the argument that the criticism is not appropriate because the article according to you didn't contain "testimonials of guru followers". And then I responded that it does contain so, a whole section called "Devotees view on guru and God" Andries 20:02, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  2. Zappaz, you started comparing this article with other articles. And now don't complain when I compare this article with the article on Rick Ross please. Andries 20:02, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
So, to summarize Andries' arguments, he thinks that the article on gurus, one of the most important concepts in Eastern religions (which are practiced by 1.3 billion people, not including Western New Agers; for purposes of comparison, nonreligious people number 1.1 billion people), should be comparable in form to the article on Rick Ross, a convicted kidnapper and media whore, rather than to a more suitable religious topic. --goethean 17:16, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Goethean, you are making a caricature of my arguments
  1. Ross never claimed to be a saint unlike many gurus. Even if these gurus did not commit crimes, they are controversial because they disappoint their followers because they often turn out to be very human and incompetent to bring the disciple to their promised moksha in spite of their claims to be saints etc. Besides, I was talking about the level of controversy around it. This level of controversy is both for Ross and guru big.
  2. The concept of guru is very controversial in the West hence the criticism section there can be large.
  3. Hindus are very well aware that there are many false gurus
Thank you for the confirmation of my summary. --goethean 18:13, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Anyone reading the above comments from Andries will see the very obvious and recurring theme of an intent of using WP for advocating against gurus. Only problem is that Andries does not see that, so intense is his critique that he is blinded. The only recourse I see now is to request mediation. I will contact the mediators over the weekend about this deadlock. --Zappaz 19:48, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Page protection

Since this page is on my watchlist I can't help noticing the large nymber of reverts in the last few days. Page protection may be helpful to quiet down the situation. -Willmcw 19:58, Apr 29, 2005 (UTC)

I am about to request mediation. Thanks, Will. --Zappaz 19:59, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The two are not exclusive.-Willmcw 20:03, Apr 29, 2005 (UTC)

Thanks, Will. I have requested page protection and mediation. Have a nice weekend.--Zappaz 20:12, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I have also requested mediation

Hello Brian (Corr),
For days there is a revert war going on between user:Zappaz and me :user:Andries with regards to the article guru.
Zappaz and I have discussed ad nauseam with each other on the talk page and we :continue to disagree with each other.
I hereby officially request you as a member of the mediation committee to mediate in the dispute.
I hope you have time to give a fresh look at this subject.
Andries K.D.

That is not the way you request mediation. --Zappaz 20:25, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Requested mediation

I have requested that the article be protected as well as seek mediation to break the deadlock. --Zappaz 20:17, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

4th revert in a 24-hr period by Andries. Requested ban. --Zappaz 20:53, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Three-revert rule If you violate the three-revert rule, after your fourth revert in 24 hours, sysops may block you for up to 24 hours. In the cases where multiple parties violate the rule, administrators should treat all sides equally.

Proving once more Andries disregard for WP policy. --Zappaz 20:58, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

That was a miscalculation and I reverted back to your version. Andries 21:30, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Why gurus are controversial in the West

These are the most notable gurus in the West and seven of 10 twelve (58%) were involved in serious scandal and controversy. But still user:Zappaz says that a large section of criticsm in the section about gurus in the West is against NPOV guidelines. This is a list of the most notable and popular gurus in the West and not a selection of controversial ones. Allegations and controversies are in bold and in some cases mere allegations and not proven facts.

  1. Aurobindo relatively uncontroversial
  2. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche a lama (Tibetan Buddhist religious teacher) controversial [6] [7]
  3. Jiddu Krishnamurti groomed to be a world spiritual teacher by the Theosophical Society Adyar . controversial [8]
  4. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi controversial [9]
  5. Muktananda controversial
  6. Prem Rawat, controversial
  7. Prabhupada who founded ISKCON/Hare Krisna in New York, relatively uncontroversial
  8. Paramahansa Yogananda settled in the USA and wrote the book Autobiography of a Yogi relatively uncontroversial
  9. Meher Baba who had conspicuous followers relatively uncontroversial
  10. Bhagwan/Osho/Rajneesh settled temporarily in the USA , extremely controversial
  11. Sathya Sai Baba controversial
  12. Dalai Lama relatively uncontroversial

So that means that 3 5 out of 10 12 (41%) notable gurus in the West are relatively uncontroversial as a person. This proves my point that gurus in the West are very controversial. Andries 21:04, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

And even Vivekananda, the first guru who came to West has become suspect because of the controversy with regard's to his guru Ramakrishna's playing with the genitals of his close followers with his toes during trance. Allegedly because Ramakrishna himself was sexually abused in his youth. [10] very sad. Andries 21:56, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Requested ban for breaking three-revert rule by Andries. I refuse to answer to your message until you chose to play by the rules. --Zappaz 21:06, 29 Apr 2005


okay, I will revert back to your version. I made a miscalculation. Andries 21:08, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
No, you didn't. You deleted some text and provided no explanation for it.--Zappaz 21:17, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
FYI, Andries un-revert seems to have been complete, except for the addition of a subheading. [11]. -Willmcw 22:43, Apr 29, 2005 (UTC)

I also would like to draw attention to the fact that the criticisms comes from many different sources (Lane, van der Lans, Storr, Premanand, Kovoor, Narsimhaiah) and I tried to summarize as much as possible. For example, the article only mentions three points out of 7 of Lane's article and it summarized Storr's whole book about gurus in one paragraph. In contrast, the long quote by Feuerstein has hardly been summarized. Andries 23:38, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The discussion is not about if controversial or not

Regarding the list presented above, I do not know what is its purpose, (Also, you forgot to add the Dalai Lama to your list and thousands others that do not make it to the news). The discussion is not about controversial gurus, the discussion is about an article that has 50% of it dedicated to criticism of gurus in the West by a small group of scholars and your pick and chosing citations tactics to advocate against gurus. BTW, to almost every thing you have listed you can add the word "alleged", and most of these allegations are made by anti-cultists and/or apostates who's testimony has been challeged quite extensively as you know. For each allegation there we can find 1,000's of people stating the contrary. So, yes, there is controversy, but that is not the issue we are discussing!. In your way of thinking we could go to the article about Catholicism, add a section named "Sexual misconduct of priests in the USA" and use 50% of the space in the article for that. Go try it... claim NPOV, claim whatever you want...but it will not stick because that is not the way NPOV works. Same here. Get it?

For a reminder of what we are discussing here, read the request for mediation summary. I am tired of repeating myself. --Zappaz 23:51, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Regarding the list above, you better add the disclaimer "alleged" before each one of these statements. Although this is a talk page, please remain civil and don't write allegations as facts. Thanks. (If you don't do it, I will delete the list.) --Zappaz 23:51, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Zappaz wrote:
Regarding the list presented above, I do not know what is its purpose
The purpose of the list "here is why gurus are controversial in the West" is to show that seven of the twelve most notable gurus in the West are involved in serious scandal and controversy and that hence the criticism section of gurus in the West can have a correspondingly big size. Note that I only included in the list the gurus that are popular and notable and I did not select the controversial gurus. Andries 07:38, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Okay, I forgot the Dalai Lama which means that four out of eleven gurus that are or have been the most notable in the West are relatively uncontroversial. Andries 07:19, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz wrote:
most of these allegations are made by anti-cultists and/or apostates who's testimony has been challeged quite extensively as you know
The controversy with regards to the reliability of the testimonies by apostates is not so much about facts but about their interpretations of facts. Andries 09:12, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The analogy of Gurus to the Catholic Church is incorrect. The correct analogy would be to priests. In fact, now that I look I see that the article, Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal is longer than the article on priests. In that instance, there is a type of abuse which is common to all cases so it makes sense to treat it together. In this instance, it would be better to handle the criticism of gurus in one article since there are a variety of different abuses or failings alleged. -Willmcw 04:54, Apr 30, 2005 (UTC)
I have proposed that several times but Andries thinks otherwise. I am going hiking today, I am tired of Andries stuborness and lack of manners. He asks for mediation and continues to revert edits. Apalling behavior. I will not engage him any longer until the mediation happens, and will remain reverting my 3 allowed reverts until then. See ya!--Zappaz 14:48, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Sorry, what was your proposal? I do not understand. I think that other people think that splitting of all the criticism would be a POV fork (and there is some truth in it). Andries 14:54, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Waste of time, Will. Andries does not listen. --Zappaz 14:58, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz wrote
He asks for mediation and continues to revert edits.
Pot kettle black, Zappaz, as usual. Andries 14:54, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Childish Andries: I have not reverted. I have added a header and the totally disputed tags. Bye for now.--Zappaz 14:57, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz, what facts in the article do you dispute? Andries 14:59, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

More bad manners? Please do not change the tags. Selective inclusion of information is the same as factual innacuracy. This is my last communication with you until some one comes and mediates. I had enough of your stuborness, lack of manners, unilateral approach, lack of willingness to seek consensus, and your use of WP for advocacy against gurus, new religions and related subjects. --Zappaz 15:18, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Wrong Zappaz, you have no right to give a factual accuracy warning unless you explain which facts in the article you dispute. Andries 15:20, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
He just did. Would a article on the catholic church that consisted of attacks on catholicism be neutral or accurate? Or an article on Hinduism that consisted solely of a list of crimes that Hindus had committed? The facts may be accurate, but the article is not. --goethean 15:26, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
If you cannot point to a certain fact that is wrong but think the article does not following NPOV guidelines because of selective information then the NPOV tag is appropriate, not the factual accuracy tag. Andries 15:28, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
It'd be better if talk page aditions were not removed by other editors (unless they contain personal attacks of course). Regarding complaints about gurus, compare the articles priest/holy orders and Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, in which the critical material is far greater than the laudatory material. It'd be possible create a separate article under a title like "Bad Gurus", but it'd be better to handle both critical and favorable material in one place. In general the best way to balance (sourced) critical material is not by trimming it, but by adding more favorable material. I am not passing judgement on the material in this article, but your analogy is incorrect. -Willmcw 19:42, Apr 30, 2005 (UTC)
I think an article Allegations, scandals and controversies with regards to gurus in the West falsely suggests that these gurus have much in common. Andries 20:10, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I'd agree. In that respect gurus are different from Catholic priests, enough of whom were guilty of a common crime to make a special article worthwhile. And of course, since many significant gurus have their own articles, specific criticisms and allegations can go into those articles. What is appropriate here is a summary and characterization of the criticisms, and any discussion that is general or pertains to all gurus or to gurus in the east or west. -Willmcw 20:38, Apr 30, 2005 (UTC)
I think the article is already quite mature in that respect. The only thing is that I still want to include something from Agehananda Bharati's book Light At the Center but I don't have the book. Andries 20:47, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Mature yo say? You must be nuts to think that way! The article is a bloody NPOV disaster since you got involved, and you have the chutzpah' to keep talking as if everything is fine and no dispute is in place? BTW, Will your logic does not work. I cannot add "favorable" material. What should I write? that these many people think that guru so and so is a great person? Is that encyclopedic? is that NPOV? The fact is that this article in the current shape is not NPOV.

In regard of the list on this page, the text needs to fixed or excised from this page because as it stands its libelous and not NPOV. These pages get indexed by search engines as well and it is against WP policy to use its pages for these type of accussations. I will not allow it. --Zappaz 22:34, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Zappaz wrote,
The article is a bloody NPOV disaster since you got involved
I was involved almost from the beginning, before you. There was no serious dispute then. Andries 12:03, 1 May 2005 (UTC)
Zappaz wrote,
I cannot add "favorable" material. What should I write? that these many people think that guru so and so is a great person?
You can write about psychological benefits of following a guru. Dr. Jan van der Lans wrote about this, I think. These benefits are very real, I believe. Andries 08:52, 1 May 2005 (UTC)