Sunday, July 21, 2013

Kumare and Insight

Recently, someone recommended the movie Kumare to me. It was an interesting movie and has some valid points for discussion. First off, this isn't a review of the movie. There are plenty of those on the internet. Also there will be spoilers, so if you are planning to see the film, you may not want to finish this article now.

Basically, this is the story of a 2nd generation Indian living in the United States who decides that he is going to become a guru. And he is going to really do it up - the big indian beard, the accent, the meaningless teachings that sound wise, the colorful garb. The whole works.

He manages to get himself in front of spiritual seekers by putting on special events at Yoga centers and develops a following. All of this we have to take with a grain of salt since it is all being filmed. What are all of these students thinking with all of these cameras around? But, we will put that aside for now. He starts to develop a following of people who think they have found a genuine teacher.

Kumare is filling the role they expect of a teacher. He listens to them. He does Yoga and mediation with them. He gives them spiritual talks. Some of it is stuff he made up himself. Some he has taken from other traditions. At the end, he has the big reveal - he is not a guru, just pretending to be one. It was all a put on.

The problem is, Kumare or Vikram has no insight. Yoga and meditation are genuine spiritual practices. They work when people do them. Kumare, in his guru role, was spending time with people. Listening to them, making them feel like someone cared. This is what spiritual leaders do. So, what a surprise, if someone pretends to be a wise, caring guru he will end up with students looking for help on the journey.

So, yes, people can be fooled. Yes, people are looking for guidance on the spiritual path. Yes, people can get taken advantage of, and, unfortunately they do.

So what is the takeaway from this? If we are helping people on the spiritual path, we must be sincere. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard. And most importantly, we must let people know the answer is inside them. Each person has Buddha nature. Each person is a Buddha.

It reminds me of the story of a novice monk asking a Zen Master for help. The Zen Master said something like: Why do you waster your time with me? You have the greatest treasure of the world already within you!