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Gauging Gurus

“In the East, a guru never calls himself a guru.” —Marianne Williamson

Title: Saffron Sadhana | Author: _william | License: CC BY-SA 2.0
Title: Saffron Sadhana | Author: _william | Source: Flickr | License: CC BY-SA 2.0

We are bombarded these days by opportunities to transform our lives by attending on-line seminars sponsored by organizations like The Shift Network or Mind Valley Academy.  They usually profess to have found the leading experts in energy healing, Super Operating Systems, chakra alignment, enneagram types, etc.  The question is, how do we determine the real value and potential benefit each of these gurus may want to teach us. 

Below is a simple (well, not so simple) scale to measure the effectiveness of gurus, leaders, and practitioners on different levels of effectiveness – or of ourselves for that matter.

All of us encounter a variety of stimuli that lead to a particular Response.  The stimulus can be as simple as a bell causing the classic salivation response in Pavlov’s dog.  Or the stimulus can be as complex as a warning on global warming causing world governments to come together on a Global Climate Change Agreement.  The stimulus can even reach esoteric dimensions when a deeply engrained trauma is overcome with a cosmic embrace or when the material becomes ethereal.    

We know that each day will bring new stimuli and new responses. What this Scale helps us to do is to understand the range of possibilities of what might occur between the stimulus and the response—from an unconscious philistine at level 1 to a super-conscious guru at level 7.  It’s what happens between the stimulus and the response that makes the real difference. 

Credit: Erich Ferdinand (License: CC BY 2.0)
“Emptiness I,” by Flickr user Erich Ferdinand (License: CC BY 2.0

Guru Gauging Scale*

7.0:  Stimulus – Cosmic Processing – Response
6.0:  Stimulus – Spiritual Processing – Response
5.0:  Stimulus – Environmental Processing – Response
4.0:  Stimulus – Organizational Processing – Response
3.0:  Stimulus – Human Processing – Response
2.0:  Stimulus – Discriminative Learning – Response
1.0:  Stimulus – Conditioned Reacting – Response

Let me explain from the bottom up.

Response 1.0: When we react automatically or involuntarily to a particular stimulus, we are much like Pavlov’s dog. There is very little between the stimulus and the response beyond our conditioned or habitual behaviors. We are not choosing, we are not thinking, and we are not exploring our feelings. We are simply reacting. There is no consciousness at this level…and it’s where most of humanity operates. 

Response 2.0: When we review the repertoire of responses we have learned over time before we respond to a given stimulus, we are engaging in discriminative learning. The stimulus occurs, we think about the choices that might be most appropriate, and we respond accordingly based on past experience. At this level, we are more conscious about lessons learned and skills acquired in the past, but we aren’t creating any new responses to changing conditions or standards. For example, when someone yells at me, I can yell back or I can take a deep breath.  I decide which response would yield the best results. The move from a level 1 automaton to a level 2 learner is the first step a person, who wants to grow, must make.    

Response 3.0:  When we create a new response to a given stimulus, we are engaged in human processing. We let the information in, we think innovatively about it, and we tailor our response to satisfy the requirements of the situation.  At this level, we are conscious about whether our ideas are fresh and new or whether we are simply hoping that old responses will solve new problems. For example, instead of choosing Yoga, meditation, or exercise as a way to handle a stressful situation, we may choose to re-frame the problem in a way that frees us to find entirely new solutions. Being able to respond at level 3.0 is a prerequisite for moving up the scale and discovering what truly makes us human.   

Response 4.0:  When we take into account the organizational or situational context in which a particular stimulus occurs, we are expanding our response options. We consider all elements of the problem, the purpose we are trying to achieve, the processes we might employ to get there, and the cultural norms we will need to deal with in order to be successful. This level of processing requires higher order skills. With organizational processing, we understand that the content and process for our individual responses is not enough. We must consider the context as well. 

Response 5.0:  When we broaden our perspective to include the network of relationships involved in any substantive and systemic response to a particular stimulus, we are seeking to create an interdependent web of constituents and looking to find grow-grow solutions. For example, any viable effort to address global warming requires the active collaboration of governments, corporations, educational institutions, and local community organizing initiatives. This level of processing requires deep knowledge and broad skills as well as the willingness to collaborate.

Response 6.0:  When we factor into our responses the spiritual requirements to implement a solution to a particular stimulus, we need to read accurately how much the guru/practitioner values growth and how much endowed and embodied spiritual energy they have in their heart and soul. We need to determine if the primary values are self-aggrandizement, self-actualization, or selfless service to humanity. As Lao Tzu suggests, “when a person crowns himself as a guru, he is not.” At level 6.0, a spiritual practitioner needs to have a growth orientation, a pure purpose, and an abundant aura of healing energy. Gurus typically “bill” themselves as at least 6.0, but rarely fill the bill.

Response 7.0:  Responding at this level requires deep mastery of healing skills and a perspective that goes beyond planet earth. It is the ability to tap into universal energy and transform trauma into a joyful and harmonious dance with life. At this level, we can learn to find a bounce in our step and music in our veins as we walk down the street with compassion in our heart.  We may even experience the joy of dancing with others with ecstatic energy. We get a glimpse of what it feels like at this level when we are a vital part of a larger whole, whether it’s joining the women’s march or participating in Earth Day. We celebrate our wholeness as a community and our connection with all of humanity. With cosmic consciousness, we rejoice in the dance of the stars and the planets in our galaxy. We welcome a Divine Embrace and feel at One with All. Energy’s Way (  is all about this dance.

Author: Insomnia Cured Here on Flickr | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source:
Title: Wizard of Oz (1939) | Author: Insomnia Cured Here / tom-margie | Source: Flickr | License: CC BY-SA 2.0

So, as we evaluate gurus, leaders, and practitioners, we need to ask at what level on this scale are they really operating. Are they putting new names on old practices or are they creating something truly new, thus empowering us to create newness on our own? Are they taking into account organizational and environmental factors or are they simply teaching a slick content or a fancy process without due consideration of the context in which new skills need to be applied?

Do they truly value growth and embody energy, or do they simply inflate their egos and their bank accounts through manipulative marketing with no substance behind it?

In short, are they commercializing, innovating, or generating new models for healing and harmony? Indeed, do they offer a Conduit for the Cosmos or are they another incarnation of the Wizard of Oz?

Making accurate discriminations on level of functioning is not an easy task.  Many appeals are tantalizing but empty. Many require real work but offer true possibility for growth. Choose wisely.   

In summary, those of us on the path to spiritual growth are struggling to be more aware of our level 1 behaviors, to broaden our repertoire of level 2 behaviors, and to improve our level 3, 4, and 5 skills. People who claim to be “gurus” or “leading experts” present themselves at levels 6, and 7, but few have the substance to back up their claims. Using this scale, you can do a better job of tuning into their real level of radiant energy and healing power. You not only can guage the guru’s real level of functioning, but you can also measure your own spiritual growth. 

For fun, you may want to consider the following questions:

  1. Who is your guru? Why? Where is he or she on the scale?
  2. How would you rate these world leaders on the scale: Barack Obama? Martin Luther King? Donald Trump? Angela Merkel? Why?
  3. How would you rate yourself on the scale? What is your aspirational goal on the scale? Why? What would happen if you moved up the scale?

Care to comment?

*scale adapted from Carkhuff Thinking Systems

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This post first appeared on Perspectives & Possibilities, please read the originial post: here

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Gauging Gurus


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