The Guru recipe

[I just read a self-help book and, like Don Quixote, need to vent…]

My 10 rules for becoming a successful guru:

  1. Appear popular at the start: humans are just like dogs that follow other dogs. So have a legion of disciples and followers. Make them up when you start out. Don’t hesitate to hire actors and internet helpers.
  2. Give the audience the keys to the universe: flatter your audience by giving them a story wherein they are the heroes capable of great feats as long as they follow a recipe that you are a part of. A good guru knows the secret worries and desires of his audience and orients his stories towards those. If the audience fears asteroids, spin them a story about how the mind can influence the forces of the cosmos responsible for the trajectory of asteroids. If the audience secretly wants to control the weather, tells them about the magical rain dances. If they want to be healed, tell them your theories cure cancer or whatever else they worry about.
  3. Fit the story within the culture of the audience so that the mechanisms sound familiar and validated. Truth is completely irrelevant for this and is often a hindrance, so you only need to use familiar words and concepts, replacing the actual theories with whatever suits your story. When you talk to a Western audience where science is the source of truth and power, you thus stack your story full of the latest terms in Western science, whether that is gravitational waves, Higgs-Boson particles, intergenerational epigenetic transmissions, blockchain, Modern Monetary Theory, or whatever it is that your audience is likely to have heard of in the news. Use those terms, explain them in a way that is roughly right, and then claim some theory about them that is complete nonsense but suits you.
  4. Do not tax the intelligence of the audience for if they were smart enough to understand all the things you refer to, they wouldn’t be interested in what you had to say in the first place. So explain things in a very light and emotional storytelling manner. Speak of quantum waves as if they are friends with whom you can have a conversation. Talk about the mysticism of the carbon cycle as if your audience was born with the buttons in their hands that ruled the minutest details of that cycle. Your audience will love you for it because it will make them feel they finally understand these things in a way that makes them feel smart and powerful. Indeed, you basically cannot overdo this part: all that happens if you are spectacularly wrong in one story about some part of modern science is that you lose those members of the audience that really know that part, a negligible number.
  5. Set your audience up slowly with a hook: offer them something cheap that draws them in and only when they are in so far that they become slightly dependent on more do you increase the demands on their purses. The key thing here is that the audience will trust you if they want to trust you and hence only after you have managed to create a continued need for your message. This is a subtle game of hints, ‘proof’, personal ‘testimonies’ of your previous disciples, stories of how you really are uninterested in money, etc.
  6. Your appearance is everything so look the part and be seen to believe yourself, ie walk the walk. Whether you truly do is irrelevant because what matters is the appearance. Truth is no obstacle at all. If your audience needs you to have travelled the stars, simply tell them aliens abducted you and took you for a ride. If the audience wants to hear you spent 10 years in a cave in Tibet, then just tell them that is what you did. If they need you to have 100 kids and 50 wives, just make them up. If there is too much well-known information out there to prove you couldn’t possibly have done what your audience wants to believe, pretend you were in contact with someone who did who was your guru and that you are now following in his footsteps. Similarly, dress and behave the way the audience expects you to, whether that means you must have an enormous beard or a weird antenna sticking out of your behind. Remember the important lesson of Machiavelli: people believe what they see and hear. Don’t worry about the very few who look at your actions and deduce who you truly are: they are not into gurus anyways so you lose nothing by not appealing to them. Your potential followers resent such skeptical characters, so they are no threat to you at all (indeed, the more noise skeptics make about you, the better).
  7. Entertain and be charming. You have to make the audience want to be you or sleep with you. If you can’t be entertaining and charming, don’t even start.
  8. Have a bible. If need be, you can have a follower write that bible, but you need a holy book that people can pick over and worship.
  9. Be ambiguous: no two people truly want the same thing. So in order to have many followers you must create enough ambiguity in your story such that they can all believe something different. Like the bible, tell many different sides of the same story such that different members of the audience can buy into different aspects.
  10. Be scarce: a guru is like a Ferrari and must not be seen to be available to everyone because that limits the value to the audience of having one. They want to feel special. So when things take off you must become sparing with your time and your new public utterances. Indeed, the best thing is then to die.
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18 Responses to The Guru recipe

  1. Matt Moore says:

    Paul – I think you’ve nailed it.

    But what can all of us who seek to educate and inform learn from gurus (even if the gurus take it in a direction that we disapprove of)? Which of these 10 things do you think you could be better at? I should probably work on #6.

    What was the book that prompted this BTW?

  2. Matt Moore says:

    Joe Dispenza has to be a made up name surely?


    Paul, a great piece. I think number 6 gets it right.

    The 10 years in a cave in Tibet would convince me that the speaker is a true guru, and I would sell my wife, 2 kids, house. car, shoes, bird, cat, dog and budgie to follow him/ her. I am already practicing the chant . . . . . uuummmm, uuummmm.

    Matt MOORE, see
    You can become supernatural.

    • Matt Moore says:

      I already am supernatural. I was going to be the third Winchester brother until The CW got cold feet about my raw sexual charisma.

  4. derrida derider says:

    Sadly, Paul, you seem to have fallen into a deep swamp of unbelief. I feel for you, but the good news is that the condition is easily cured. For a mere $37.50 you can buy my book showing the true path to healing …

  5. Curt Kastens says:

    Wanted Field Grade Officers with discernment and experience dealing with Gurus.
    To work with an international real estate agency.
    If you meet the prerequisits and have a desire for a change in your surroundings head to the blog of Locate the sandpit from 18 March 2019. Then scroll down to the help wanted ad.

  6. Josephsnisk says:

    vlfc zvs tracking

    • paul frijters says:

      eh, interesting (reminded me a lot of Syria) and I didnt know about the importance of this battle, but what on earth has that got to do with gurus?

  7. Ken Oliver says:

    Of course, you can always take the Joanna Southhcott approach. Joanna was a very popular 19th century prophet who announced she would publicly walk across Lake Windermere. When her huge crowd of followers had gathered by the lake, she preached a sermon on the power of faith and unquestioning trust in prophets. At the end of the sermon, she raised great cheers from the crowd, finally yelling:
    “Now are you all true disciples who have the power of faith that I can walk on the water?”
    With one voice the crowd yelled “Yes!”
    “Then there is no reason for me to do it” said Joanna, and walked away.

  8. eve green says:

    Well i have to say that it is more than the we all are expect and have a great impact on us..surely you have good
    source of information out there..
    Entertainment Unit

  9. Paul what on earth caused you to read this crap in the first place, we’re you stuck in a airport lounge or what?

    BTW it’s not foolproof but gurus that set out to be anyoying ,aka Socrates etc ,are often a better bet.

    • paul frijters says:

      I have a professional interest in the emotional skill / meditation area. There are valuable lessons and skills in that area, but boy is it flooded with quacks!

      • Paul
        Funny thing is its all about simplicity. (hardest thing in the world, simplicity) .

        There was a Indian guru who one day got bored, so he levitated of the ground and flew over the Himalayas and eventually landed on a road in China in front of a Zebra priest. The guru said to the Zenith priest I’ve just flown here from India, what can you do?
        The Zenith priest said, when I’m tired I sleep, when I’m hungry I eat, when I’m happy I laugh. The guru thought about it for a minute or so, then bowed deeply, turned and flew home.

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