Review of American Guru by Geoffrey Falk

Hi William,

I read your excellent, page-turning book in a single sitting, on the weekend after it arrived. It’s a great reminder that the “seeker myth” was never a mere attempt to shift the blame away from abusive groups which ostensibly merely prey on people at low, vulnerable points in their lives. Rather, that “myth” is the typical motivation for one’s becoming involved in a guru-disciple relationship, with the explicit, conscious goal of transcending duality and the finite ego.

We’ve been taught, by persons with a vested interest in our unthinking obedience, that the shortest way to Enlightenment is to surrender to a “Christ-like” master and his inner circle of “apostles.” That is, to surrender our own often-better judgment to “spiritually advanced” people who are in practice, simply by human nature, concerned with killing everyone’s egos except their own! When that basic tenet of the guru-disciple path is combined with the “crazy wisdom” practiced by people like Adi Da, Trungpa, and Andrew Cohen–and foolishly endorsed from a safe distance by pandits like Ken Wilber–the results are predictably disastrous. But fortunately, because we were not simply passively “brainwashed” but rather share the blame for getting ourselves involved with spiritual leaders and groups who inherently cannot deliver what they promise, and who present often-brutal abuse as being perpetrated solely for the good of their followers, we can also think ourselves out of that bind. Or even better, we can wisely avoid such psychological prisons in the first place, thanks to the fair warning given by books like “American Guru.”


Geoffrey Falk