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The Guru Question: The Perils and Rewards of Choosing a Spiritual Teacher Paperback – June 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Caplan believes that most people eventually find themselves on a spiritual path, whether they seek it out or not. Once that journey begins, the issue of working with a spiritual teacher---a guru---arises. In Western culture, the relationship between spiritual teacher and student is complex and there are few resources available to help people decipher that relationship. Caplan has been working to fill that void. This book, originally her doctoral dissertation, brings the rewards and pitfalls of what she calls conscious discipleship into the light in order to distill them into a set of basic guidelines. It is an in-depth study, tackling issues such as psychological sanity, assessing spiritual authority, false complaint syndrome (valuable for customers who teach), sex in exchange for teaching, and defining true power. She has reprinted some of the interviews with spiritual teachers that she did as part of her original research in 2000.

Whether your customers are looking for a long-term relationship with a teacher, or seeking to understand how to separate the wheat from the chafe in short-term study, this book provides the information they are looking for. --Anna Jedrziewski - New Age Retailer SpiritConnectionNewYork.org

About the Author

Mariana Caplan, PhD, has spent over two decades researching and practicing many of the world's great mystical traditions. She is a psychotherapist and a professor of yogic and transpersonal psychologies. The author of seven books on cutting-edge topics in spirituality and psychology, including Eyes Wide Open (Sounds True, 2009), Mariana lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Sounds True, Incorporated (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604070730
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604070736
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #966,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The subject line doesn't have space for the full quote, so here it is: "For the Western mind, making a distinction between the guru or teacher and what he or she represents is one of the most fertile grounds for misunderstanding." Although we're told "the guru is none other than the conscious Self," this is a big hurdle for those of us not used to the idea of a living person as an embodiment of the divine that can transmit enlightenment or spiritual realization. Some people will not go down this path, but for those who will, books likeThe Guru Question: The Perils and Rewards of Choosing a Spiritual Teacher can help pave the way for an aspirant.

THE GURU QUESTION is Mariana Caplan's second edition of Do You Need a Guru?: Understanding the Student--Teacher Relationship in an Era of False Prophets which I bought back in 2002 and so can compare them side by side. Basically, THE GURU QUESTION contains an expanded version of the original text and a change in format whereby the interviews with various spiritual teachers (three of whom have passed away in the meantime, including Caplan's own guru, Lee Lozowick) are now collected at the end of the book rather than one accompanying each chapter. If you already own the earlier version, the question would be: is it worth acquiring the second edition? One reason for doing so is that Caplan writes THE GURU QUESTION with an acknowledgement of the time that has passed since the first book -- in effect, providing a wider contextual framework.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tom T VINE VOICE on July 26, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Having read a great many books on self help (psycho-babble BS), spirituality, and religion in general; I have found most authors to be lacking in one or more of the many necessities required to write a helpful book. "The Guru Question: The Perils and Rewards of Choosing a Spiritual Teacher" is an exception. The author is not only a decent writer but is down to earth (on the subject of the spirit)and appears to know what she is talking about from experience. So many authors are just rehashing the information they read elsewhere or bubbling all over with the emotional "feel good and think positive" mantra and everything will be okay "stuff". There also seems to be a great number of enlightened pretenders out there who want to make money by writing a book.
I found Mariana Capland's writing to be knowledgeable, insightful, and most of all useful. She writes without the "I am so enlightened and so intelligent" attitude. Her stories of her early experiences are humorous and enjoyable to read. Her descriptions of others that she has personally known to be on the "path" show a compassionate and humble attitude on her part. The descriptions are an easy read and yet have depth. I recommend this book for those seeking the spiritual path, looking for a teacher, or just one who enjoys the psychology of the quest for happiness. It was nice to read a book that was thought provoking and with new insights.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Edward J. Barton VINE VOICE on October 4, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A thoughtful and personal look into the psychology of the guru-student relationship by a best selling author. Dr. Caplan guides the reader through the psychology of the guru relationship, including the importance of selecting a spiritual teacher, the pitfalls, the power dynamics, the nature and types of spiritual authority, understanding the role of disciple and student, discernment and what happens when you discover the teacher is human and imperfect.

Her common thesis is that a spiritual teacher, or guru, is critically important and almost completely necessary for the true student. Dr. Caplan provides autobiographical examples of her own search - as well as the challenges she personally faced along her spiritual path. The intesnely personal side of the writing blends nicely into the well written psychology - resulting in a very approachable book that has much wisdom and can provide useful guidance for anyone in a teacher-student situation.

A great resource for anyone who is thinking about an active spiritual life and who may be looking for a teacher to assist them on their journey. Read this book before you decide - and you will be well informed and well prepared to undertake a complex life journey akin to marriage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Janne Rice on October 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I would recommend this book to any spiritual seeker. It defines just about any pitfall on the path while at the same time encouraging one to keep going. I feel so fortunate to have found my teacher, but surely met some charlatans along the way. Thank you giving all spiritual seekers a guidebook.
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Format: Paperback
The question of gurus and the issue of spiritual surrender are as dogmatically taken from one set of students as they are dismissed in contempt by others. This is a useful book, if only for posing the issues a 'seeker' should consider with considerable caution. Books on gurus from the New Age jet set who have celebrity access to famous spiritual gurus of note are apt to generalize from an experience noone else will have. One should be wary of 'disciple games' at a distance from 'gurus' who have no knowledge of your existence. And it is a myth that everyone should have, surrender to, and be passive to a guru figure on the 'path'. The reality is that very few will ever have close contact with a spiritual teacher and must find their way alone.The temptation to pick up a book by someone five thousand miles away.
In the final analysis it is a disservice to harp on the guru question, and a second look shows clearly that many 'gurus' achieved realization alone. Osho Rajneesh is a particularly clear case. And the figure, Lozowick, behind this book was himself pressed to an emergency match up with an Indian guru to save the appearances, I presume. His ambiguous relationship to dark figures like E.J.Gold and/or Da Free John don't inspire confidence in trust with respect to spiritual 'authorities'.
Beyond this lies the situation suffered by many of experiencing the almost fatal danger of 'surrendering one's will' to a predatory operator, dead guru, and/or crypto-fascist figure. In this general context it is essential to warn against 'surrender' of any kind in a stance of defensive caution.
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