How to navigate in a quagmire of questionable "gurus", "teachers", and "healers"

image credit: colorbox

image credit: colorbox

Article by Mark Prince 3/5/18

The world is a vast sea of complexity, built on top of even more complexity. Scales range from the microcosm to the macrocosm, and our capacity to take it all in or process it is very limited. How do we manage to sort it all out? In a word, the answer is "narrative". The most complex concepts ever devised by humankind are generally expressed or described in that harrowing world, known as "mathematics". For many, (in fact most of us), this can be a daunting if not impossible barrier to comprehending the structure of space-time, matter, energy, and the Universe as a whole. Why does that matter? Because it would be pointless to approach questions like, "Why are we here?", or "What is the nature of the Universe?", without understanding the underlying fabric of reality and even existence itself.

In order to wrap our minds around these ideas, it has been necessary to create stories and narratives to explain them in simplified terms. This invariably leads us to an entirely new set of problems. My favorite example of this is "atoms". Atoms, we were taught, are tiny little orbital systems of particles which make up all matter in the Universe. This description serves us well in getting a general idea of physics, and gives us a visual model, which helps us to understand an extremely difficult subject. There's just one problem. It's completely false. Matter isn't composed of atoms, but instead is made up of quantum fields which interact with one another, weaving "reality" out of these interactions. The electrons in your body aren't even fundamental to your "atoms". That's far more complicated than little "Lego bricks" put together to make up the structure of matter.  If this can happen to such an extreme degree to science itself, what pitfalls lie in the path of those who seek answers to less concrete concepts like, "existence", "consciousness", "spirituality", or "reality"?

How can we navigate in a quagmire of questionable "gurus", "teachers", and "healers"? The answer is simple. Return to reason. Your own natural faculty to reason is your best guide to achieving a positive life experience. Keep in mind that the narrative is always being deployed to convey a higher concept. Just like the poor atom, it can sometimes fall outside of what is "true", while still preserving the intention and integrity of the information. It can serve as a guidepost, but we must push beyond it to find higher meaning and deeper truth. Self-realization doesn't lie on the other side of a rigorous yoga regimen, or copious time sitting in the lotus position. These are simply tools which can allow us a space for clarity. They can give us a moment to live in the "now". This is key to opening the mind to the reality behind the narratives, both of ourselves and of the world. If something serves your rational mind, then use it for your benefit. If not, then reject it. This is our best defense against misunderstanding the meaning or intention behind both good and bad narratives.