Kumaré — finding the inner guru

Do you see the inner guru or just the outer one?

Do you see the inner guru or just the outer one?

Kumaré is the fascinating documentary of Vikram Ghandi, a first-generation American, who made a film of his consciousness-raising experiment: could he pass himself off as an authentic Indian guru? Yes, it turns out, he could.

The film is a fascinating account of how people project their inner worlds into their outer reality. The people who ended up following the ersatz guru wanted a manifestation of a wise answer man to help them deal with the stresses and complexities of their lives.

Ostensibly the film is about Sri Kumare and his fraud, an elaborate prank (for a good cause) that reveals more than he expected how easy it is to fool people with his woo-woo impressions. (Ha-ha, look at them!) But as Vikram quickly discovered, which adds great intensity to the project, people opened up to him in astounding ways when they projected upon him with their goo-goo-guru eyes. Essentially the cosmic joke was on him as he encountered communication and intimacy at a much deeper level than if he were in his normal Vikram self. Kumare turned out to be the inner guru of Vikram, and he encouraged people to find their own inner guru.


While it’s tempting to laugh at the people who fell for Vikram’s disguise, the documentary reflects how many among us create everyone in our lives with our minds — with our imaginations, projections, desires. Say that you are wildly in love with someone. Bottom line is that you are making that person up in your mind. You are projecting the qualities you want to see in that person. Those qualities come from within. You may be ignoring other qualities that interfere with your projection of ooh, la-la, this one’s for me.

Similarly, imagine being on the down side of a relationship that was once hot, juicy, spectacular. As we go about gathering evidence to support our feelings of separation and disappointment, it’s not always obvious that we are still making that person up in our minds.  After all, we have evidence of how that person failed us! Now, though, we’re letting other projections and perceptions rule. We simply are not trained to look within at our own inner creep (or shadow side) to see how much of this evidence we created.

The film also points out (without actually bringing the subject up) that just as we project guru status onto someone who looks and acts the part, we do this across the board. How do you feel about your doctor? Your therapist? Your mailman? Your banker? Your insurance rep? Your business partner? Your go-to religious expert? Your favorite sports hero?

The message we often hear to “look within” is all about discovering our inner worlds from which all projections emanate. When you feel yourself influenced by someone in an intense way, either good or bad, look within to see what part of yourself that person is stimulating. See them as mirrors reflecting parts of you.


This is a movie filled with lessons for me. Even though I was never much for gurus, I did grow up in the San Francisco Bay Area with a fascination for psychics like Betty Bethards and Sylvia Browne. I would perceive them as being more connected to the universe than I am. They could see dead people or predict the future. Cool! Wowzers!

I see that I was heavily conditioned to look to the outside world for answers and that much of society sets itself up with authorities and salespeople to provide those answers, often for a price. Learning more about how we project seems to be a great tool for negotiating our journeys through life.

A secret of old(er) age

tvmanI have decided why it is a cliche that older people are filled with fear. Have you paid attention to all the mind food we/they digest?

There is so much fear-mongering that goes on. Some of it is on purpose, like endless TV commercials designed to scare you into making purchases or endless political speeches designed to scare you into voting a certain way.

Some of it is more the habits the media had handed down from generation to generation. We think it is normal to be fed crap that we don’t even think we have a choice. We accept crap.

Last night I was watching “Invisible War,” the Oscar-nominated documentary about sexual assaults in the military. Watching these heart-wrenching and infuriating stories about abusing soldiers who are already victims of sexual assaults was just another case of watching another hallowed institution (be all that you can be) revealed for being a cesspool of tragedy-making.

A roadside attraction for me of watching that documentary was realizing how many documentaries I have seen that quintessentially show shit.

So after hit after hit of that kind of programming, where does it leave me? Where does it leave anyone? Every time I watch something like that I lose more trust in our used-to-be-sacred institutions.

The older I and you get, the more crap I and you see. The more we digest the poison-filled mind food. I start hallucinating that everyone is out to get me. (No, I am not talking any full-fledged paranoia attacks, just ordinary consciousness.)

I see no special rules or regulations in the media that would inhibit someone from programming more solution-oriented films and shows. And there are places on the Internet like ted.com that do just that. So we individuals can find our own solutions, our own healthy mind food. Still, if we want to talk global change, I think it’s time to make we the people — we the audience — more aware of the mind food we are eating. If enough of us decide it’s crap, we could demand something different.

My campaign to save dirty words

Harness the semantic power

Harness the semantic power of naughty words

All right, this is just the salvo, the launch pad of one of my pet campaigns. I will be writing much more about it if I don’t chicken out.

I happen to be a lover of dirty words. I think they’re great inventions. They’re fun. They’re filled with energy. They pop. They squirt. They jiggle. They sparkle.

Dirty words are especially delicious in the creation of erotic passion. They bring focus, clarity, verve, gusto to the fore. When strewn about in poetic ways, they are music to the ear.


So why do we have to use them to express ugly thoughts? Why can’t we save juicy words for producing good feelings?

That is my cause. Save dirty words for creating joy and wonder. Find other ways to express rage, hostility, displeasure.

I believe that it is semantic insanity for the same words to stand in for both the most delicious, ecstatic thoughts and for language that expresses our worst, most violent thoughts.

Recently as a beautiful female friend of mine described a struggle she was having, she used a torrent of f-word technology. I worked hard to listen compassionately to what she was saying, but my brain kept responding with oohs and ahhs with every eff.

We need to rescue dirty words and restore them to the nuggets of bliss that they are.



Rest in ecstasy

Rest in Ecstasy

Rest in Ecstasy

From so many accounts that I have heard or read, the moment of dying is a piece of cake. It is a release of being cooped up inside the body and sprung into a state of extraordinary freedom. It’s like waking up from a dream. One moment you’re here, the next moment youre there.

Unless you’re steeped in spiritual literature, the idea probably sounds strange that dying can be considered so much fun. In most media it’s usually portrayed with much agony and sadness. In the minds of many it also ends consciousness. Those who cling to life often cling to the idea that flat-lining means oblivion.

Social media has of course given us more opportunities to hear the classic “Rest in Peace” or RIP. Whenever a celebrity dies I’ll often see the phrase copiously repeated in the feeds. When I see the phrase now, my brain overrides it with “Rest in Ecstasy.”

My own mom died 14 months ago and one of the visions I had of her shortly after she passed was of her as a younger woman dancing in the streets of heaven, ecstatic that she was done with her arthritis and her walker. That’s what I mean by Rest in Ecstasy.

What does sex look like?


Look with new eyes and discover a whole new experience

In our mass-produced media culture, we all think we know what sex looks like. We think it is a no brainer. We have become accustomed to how it is depicted on camera. The people who rate the movies that we watch know it when they see it, and they put it in the box called Sexual Content. And just about everyone alive knows it when they see it, too.

Yet here’s the deal: despite all we think we know about how sex looks, we’re conditioned mostly to see it as an external experience. Sex on the outside. What about sex on the inside?

Besides all the ways sexual activity looks on the outside, on what a camera can capture, the real juice of sex is internal: thoughts, feelings, sense perceptions, extrasensory perceptions.

If we weren’t so afraid as a social norm to discuss the topic of sexuality, we might discover a huge wilderness of blissful exploration available to anyone. It’s free. Just tune in.


When we make love like robots performing much-practiced routines, we miss out. Making love is rich with possibilities, especially when merged with artistic or spiritual consciousness.

For example, I have always loved looking at reflections in water. Totally uplifts me seeing all the beautiful colors interacting with each other. Water reflections are rich with natural symbolism as light makes love with water.

Granted that water reflections are not everyone’s erotic cup of tease, but for me, I often see inner visions of color swirling around. It is an inner language. Thoughts, feelings, and perceptions often express themselves inside these internal visions. For example, a physical sensation that I am experiencing with a lover’s body may show up in my inner world as an abstract work of art.

We are at a time and place where we often have a very materialistic, realistic grasp of our world. That’s why sex is so often shown in such a straight-forward, non-symbolic way. What you see is what you get.

When you see beyond what you see, when you see with your mind, ooh, baby.

Hide your best moments? Huh?


The graphic above was a Facebook post I saw on my newsfeed today. As a self-proclaimed intimacy junkie, I found its implications ironic and sad. I understand that this sign was most likely intended for its chuckle value, a little ha-ha, and that I am definitely capable of over-thinking anything!

Still, consider the philosophy behind this quip. You cannot share the best moments of your life? For whatever reason you need to censor the greatest things that happen to you?

One of the first considerations here is that if your best moments must remain cloaked in secrecy, where do you start sharing? At what point are things okay to share?

Another implication is that if everyone is keeping their greatest moments secret, that leaves the area of safe normal conversation socked deep in the fog of mediocrity, does it not? It means that we have to make up things to fill up the conversation platter while sidestepping the good stuff.

Have you ever wondered why so much ordinary conversation is filled with complaints, with crap? Or have you ever wondered why ordinary conversation is so short on moments of great ecstasy, enthusiasm, juice?

So yeah, this little graphic was intended for a chuckle, but its beneath-the-radar message is don’t be authentic. Hide your best moments.

It seems to me that this world would be vastly improved if we gave voice to our best moments and created more best moments for all.

Express Yourself Day

It's all about feelings!

It’s all about feelings!

Do you want to shoot me now or later?

February 14th is the day for that annual ritual where sweethearts acknowledge one another with gifts of love. All month merchandisers of anything remotely connected to romance have positioned themselves to take advantage of the institution we call Sweetheart’s Pressure Day—I mean Valentine’s Day.

I’ll admit it—I have problems with the connection between romance and commercialism. “What did you get for Valentine’s Day?” filtered through the semantic translator often pops out as “How much money did your honey spend on a payoff—I mean a gift—and is it more than my honey spent?”

It’s not that I am wildly against giving material gifts to show affection. My complaint stems from love transformed into a dollar value in a competitive buying spree. “You mean he didn’t spend half a month’s salary on a gift? Please accept my pity!”

The down side of materialistic Valentine’s gift-giving, of course, is that sweethearts who do not receive shiny new objects often feel underloved and unappreciated. True love may be priceless but keeping up with the Joneses costs money.


I would like to see Valentine’s Day celebrate true love, not true commerce. Let’s get back to basics and express meaning from the heart. Let’s celebrate love by presenting gifts of feelings — Express Yourself Day! Here are some possibilities:

• Take me on a walk in the woods or along the beach, even if it’s raining. Let’s get back to the love of nature.

• Gaze at me with your full, TV-iPhone-iPad-turned-off attention. Focus the love you feel in your eyes and blast me across the room with its power.

• Share one of your deepest secret desires with me. Let me know what’s stirring within the labyrinth of your soul.

• Listen to me. Deeply listen without judging—or panicking! Discover who I really am on the inside.

• Let’s stroll down Memory Lane and recount our stories of how we fell in love. Let’s remember and celebrate what is working right for us.

• Render some art for me. Splatter some colors onto a canvas and show me what your love feels like. Write me a love letter. Bake me something sweet (like water for chocolate). Make me exotic coupons.

• Let’s tune out the rest of the world and pamper each other with a day of candlelight, magical scents, back rubs, hot soaks, and kind words.

• Kiss me as if we had just one kiss left.

Best yet, pick and choose from all of the above.

(See more here. It’s about Christmas presence but the same idea!)