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The Guru Looked Good Paperback – January 30, 2009

3.4 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Tinker Street Press; First Edition edition (January 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057800626X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0578006260
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,369,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marta Szabo is the author of the memoirs The Guru Looked Good and The Imposters. She is co-director of Authentic Writing, a memoir-writing studio founded in 1993. Marta co-founded The Memoir Festival, which she curates and hosts at The Omega Institute. You can find her most recent writing at Experiments in Memoir online. Marta lives with her husband, the writer Fred Poole, in Woodstock, NY together with a number of much loved animals.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Marta Szabo's The Guru Looked Good is essential reading for anyone once involved in Siddha Yoga, a similar spiritual group, movement or organization they questioned, corporate culture, or dysfunctional relationships where they gave their power away, betrayed themselves or felt betrayed.

Without knowing anything about me personally, Szabo clarified most of the nagging questions I'd had about the organization - I was involved in Siddha Yoga for over fifteen years and know friends and family who were involved much longer - and helped me put together a puzzle I believed unsolvable. Szabo brilliantly lays bare (without pointing fingers or attacking anyone else's "experience") the dysfunction festering at the core of Siddha Yoga, and the troubling dynamics surrounding it's charismatic leader.

In the past, almost everything I'd ever read about Siddha Yoga that was "critical" (mainly the magazine articles in the 1990s, in particular The New Yorker piece, O Guru, Guru, Guru by Lis Harris) seemed laced with a nastiness that felt personal and led me to question the motives of the authors. Szabo's book is the opposite - not an attack against an organization but rather one individual's personal account.

In a straightforward, here's-my-story-draw-your-own-conclusions way, Szabo inspired me look back at my own experience with Siddha Yoga and trust teh things I'd always felt intuitively but couldn't articulate - suspicions and secrets I'd buried as successfully as Siddha Yoga had buried the truth of its own history.

Szabo helped me finally reconcile the disparity that was always present between my own personal experience (which was overwhelmingly positive) and the things about Siddha Yoga "the organization" that continued to gnaw in my gut.
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Marta's book brought back so many memories of my years in Siddha Yoga. I got shaktipat (kundalini awakening) from Baba Muktananda when I was only 16 years old. I traveled with him, I loved him, I knew Gurumayi as Malti and her brother, Nityananada as Subash. I knew their family in India as well. And I loved them all. Very much. Still, although I was not exactly in Baba's inner circle of young women, I was known by Baba and cared for by him. In Ganespuri, I lived just above Baba's house in a room exactly as Marta describes. I had my own room, and when Baba died (took Samadi), somehow, some way, I was there (with Gurumayi, with Nityananda, with Baba's nurse and attendant and just a few others)in his bedroom, alone with his body. I stayed in Siddha Yoga for 20 years until I finally allowed myself to face the fact that Gurumayi was not my Guru and that the teachings of Siddha Yoga were no longer a match to who I had become. I have had so many questions over the years about the organization. So many people around the Guru had horribly dark, dangerous energy. And when Gurumayi and her brother broke apart, I knew we were being lied to, as I knew the same during Baba's lifetime, with certain events that had occurred. Yet there was an undeniable power and bliss in Baba's presence for me. At times, I could see the energy field surrounding him and other times I would completely disappear and merge into all that is, in the most blissful of ways. Still, there was this nagging feeling that something was wrong, that the message of God within was somehow in conflict with the constant pressure to worship the outer Guru. My whole life is different now. I don't believe in karma and the Siddha Yoga doctrine anymore.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
The booked looked interesting. It was okay. As someone who has spent time in Siddha Yoga I was interested in a personal, inside account of someone's experience. And that's what I got. On a personal level I enjoyed it but I wouldn't recommend it unless you've got some experience of the setting, scene and theme.

It's obvious from the beginning of the story that the author is dealing with low self-esteem and involves herself in the ashram life in an attempt to escape rather than overcome her issues. In the end she runs away from her escape to begin where she left off and seems to blame her place of refuge for her delusion rather than taking responsibility. The author's tone has an undercurrent of bitterness and complacent naivety throughout.

The writing style is frank and open but the point seems lost. The story takes the reader into the middle of the authors life but never comes to any sort of purposeful recognition. It's a bit bland in that way. At the same time, it conveys clearly how the writer felt within her ashram life; lost. A lot of people will resonate with that, especially those who've walked on a spiritual path.

The title suggests that the guru did something wrong; that she "looked" good but was "bad". The story shows no such thing. I understand that there are a lot of stories out there about the dark side of Siddha Yoga. Some of which may be true, I don't know. But in TGLG there is no ground for this reasoning. The title is misleading in this way. The author was welcomed into the ashram, having no money and few skills to offer. She was housed, fed, valued and trained and almost always given what she asked for. What she wanted and didn't get was the kind of experiences and relationship she wanted, things that cannot be manufactured.
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