The Guru Question: The Perils and Rewards of Choosing a Spiritual Teacher

Mariana Caplan, Author
Mariana Caplan. Sounds True, $16.95 trade paper (417p) ISBN 978-1-60407-073-6
Open Ebook - 403 pages - 978-1-60407-464-2
Paperback - 594 pages - 978-1-4596-2327-9
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Caplan (Eyes Wide Open) examines the disappointment and elation that can be found in the quest for a spiritual master, and urges seekers to use discernment when searching. She does well to move the discussion of gurus beyond merely pro or con, and eloquently calls a guru "a human being who represents a body of teaching." With this definition, and regardless of what tradition the guru imparts, issues such as understanding the dynamics of power, building trust, and meeting an authentic teacher are investigated. While Caplan approaches her topic from all angles and is excellent at revealing its many complexities, her observations rely too heavily on Freudian psychoanalysis. In her reading of the subject, a bad guru "does not consciously break the student's positive transference" and students should first have "some basic handle on our mommy-daddy issues." This approach to the guru question will reduce the number of readers who will find value in this work. Her writing tends to be imprecise, and harder editing would have helped. More problematic still is a lengthy and unnecessary epilogue that refutes sexual misconduct allegations raised against the spiritual teacher who is her partner. (June)
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