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Stripping the Gurus:
Barber & Barber, When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth. By far the best book on the interpretation/meaning of myths. It shows convincingly that myths throughout the world have typically “transmitted real information about real events and observations, preserving the information sometimes for millennia within nonliterate societies."
David Fitzgerald, Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All. A very accessible summary of the "Jesus Myth" theory. That is, the high likelihood that Jesus never existed at all in flesh and blood, not even as an itinerant, illiterate, apocalyptic nutcase-preacher.
Richard Carrier, On the Historicity of Jesus. The most comprehensive analysis of Jesus Mythicism, concluding that the "judicious" odds of a historical Jesus ever having lived, been crucified, and given rise to a cult/religion, even excluding all miraculous claims, are less than one in 12,000.
Randall Helms, Gospel Fictions.
Alan Dundes, Holy Writ as Oral Lit: The Bible as Folklore.
Richard Elliott Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible?.
Dennis R. MacDonald, Does the New Testament Imitate Homer?: Four Cases from the Acts of the Apostles.
John Loftus, ed., Christianity Is Not Great: How Faith Fails.
The Thinking Atheist, Bible Contradictions.
William J. Broad, The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards.
William J. Broad, The Oracle: Ancient Delphi and the Science Behind Its Lost Secrets.
Holotropic Breathwork (YouTube). Grof's theories about reliving birth traumas through his rapid-breathing techniques are nonsense, but like deep-tissue Rolfing, the practice has real and beneficial effects in emotional catharsis.
Andrew Newberg, Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief.
August L. Reader, The Internal Mystery Plays.
Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near (movie).
Jonathan Haidt (Twitter: @JonHaidt), The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.
Armed with wit, insight, and truly astonishing research, Geoffrey Falk utterly demolishes the notion of the enlightened guru who can lead devotees to nirvana. This entertaining and yet deadly serious book should be read by everyone pursuing or thinking of pursuing the path of guru devotion.
John Horgan, author of Rational Mysticism
Stripping the Gurus is superbone of the best books of its kind I have ever read. The research is meticulous, the writing engaging, and the overall thesis: devastatingly true. A stellar book.
Dr. David C. Lane, California State University
This gripping and disturbing book should be read by anyone who finds themself revering a spiritual teacher.
Susan Blackmore, author of The Meme Machine
Geoffrey Falk's delightful but disturbing unmasking of religious prophets and preachers who command a vast following is a welcome contribution to the literature on the gurus and god-men of all religions.
Dr. Narasingha P. Sil, Western Oregon University
No one involved in contemporary spirituality can afford to ignore this book. It exposes the darker side of modern spiritual movements, those embarrassingsometime vicious or criminalreports which the leaders of these movements prefer to hide. With wit and humility, and without abandoning the verities of religion, Falk has provided a corrective critique of groups that peddle enlightenment and transcendence. A must!
Len Oakes, author of Prophetic Charisma
Ramakrishna was a homoerotic pedophile.
His chief disciple, Vivekananda, visited brothels in India.
Krishnamurti carried on an affair for over twenty years with the wife of a good friend. Chögyam Trungpa drank himself into an early grave. One of Adi Da's nine "wives" was a former Playboy centerfold. Bhagwan Rajneesh sniffed laughing gas to get high. Andrew Cohen, guru and publisher of What Is Enlightenment? magazine, by his own reported admission sometimes feels "like a god."
These are typical of the "wizened sages" to whom otherwise-sensible people give their devotion and unquestioning obedience, surrendering their independence, willpower, and life's savings in the hope of realizing for themselves the same "enlightenment" as they ascribe to the "perfect, God-realized" master.
Is it for being emotionally vulnerable and "brainwashed," as the "anti-cultists" assert? Or for being "willingly psychologically seduced," as the apologists unsympathetically counter, confident that they themselves are "too smart" to ever fall into the same trap? Or have devotees simply walked, with naïvely open hearts and thirsty souls, into inherent dynamics of power and obedience which have showed themselves in classic psychological studies from Milgram to Zimbardo, and to which each one of us is susceptible every day of our lives?
Like the proud "Rude Boy" Cohen allegedly said, with a laugh, in response to the nervous breakdown of one of his devoted followers: "It could happen to any one of you."
Don't let it happen to you. Don't get suckered in. Be prepared. Be informed. Find out what reportedly goes on behind the scenes in even the best of our world's spiritual communities.
You can start by reading this book.
|I||Speak No Evil|
|II||A Bit of a Booby||Ramakrishna|
|III||The Handsome Duckling||Vivekananda|
|V||The Krinsh||Jiddu Krishnamurti|
|VII||Sex, Bliss, and Rock 'n' Roll||Satchidananda|
|VIII||The Sixth Beatle||Maharishi Mahesh Yogi|
||Ram Dass, etc.|
|X||Scorpion-Man||Satya Sai Baba|
|XI||Even If It Happened....||Swami Rama|
|XIII||Thai Surprise||Thai Buddhism|
|XV||Werner's Uncertainty Principle||
|XVI||Cockroach Yoga||Yogi Bhajan|
|XVII||A Wild and Crazy Wisdom Guy||Chögyam Trungpa|
|XIX||The Mango Kid||
|XX||Da Avatar, Da Bomb, Da Bum||Adi Da|
|XXI||Sometimes I Feel Like a God||Andrew Cohen|
|XXII||Hello, Dalai!||The Dalai Lama|
|XXIII||Up the Asana||Yogi Amrit Desai|
|XXIV||Sodomy and Gomorrah||Roman Catholic Church|
|XXV||Of Cabbages and Nature Sprites||Findhorn|
|XXVI||... To a Nunnery||
|XXVII||Gurus and Prisoners|
|XXIX||After the Ordeal|
|XXX||Make It Better|
|Appendix I||Sam Harris and "Spirituality Without Religion"|
|Appendix II||The "Secular Muslim": Maajid Nawaz|
|Appendix III||Christianity and Islam: Two "Religions of Peace" ... Not!|
|Appendix IV||Trump Wins! The Non-Landslide Dilbert's Scott Adams Didn't Predict|
|Appendix V||Transgenderism: Science and Non-Binary Genders|
|Appendix VI||On Ken Wilber, Ex-Rabbi Marc Gafni, and Integral Blindness|
||Interview with Geoff|
|Essential Online Resources|
|About the Author|
Trademarks: "TM" and "Transcendental Meditation" are service marks registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, licensed to Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation. "Coke" is a registered trademark of the Coca-Cola Company. "Barbie" is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc. "Molly Maid" is a trademark of Molly Maid International, Inc. "Spiral Dynamics" is a registered trademark of the National Values Center, Inc. "Adobe" and "Reader" are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated.
* The inclusion of any particular individual in Stripping the Gurus is not meant to suggest or imply that he or she represents him- or herself as a guru, nor is it meant to suggest or imply that he or she has indulged in sex, violence, the abuse of others, or any other illegal or immoral activities.
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