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The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  97 ratings  ·  12 reviews
The Guru Papers demonstrates with uncompromising clarity that authoritarian control, which once held societies together, is now at the core of personal, social, and planetary problems, and thus a key factor in social disintegration. It illustrates how authoritarianism is embedded in the way people think, hiding in culture, values, daily life, and in the very morality peopl ...more
Paperback, 408 pages
Published May 20th 1993 by Frog Books (first published 1993)
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4.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  97 ratings  ·  12 reviews

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Jul 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this book useful when I was attempting to understand how I had gotten myself involved in a cult-like group. The authors are very thorough in their deconstruction of the dynamics of authoritarian relationships both in spiritual groups and in society as a whole. In reading it, I gained a great deal of insight as to my own relationship to those tendencies.

Nov 29, 2010 marked it as to-read
I have to read this book... some quotes of it:

"True healing can be accelerated by understanding the deep mechanisms of what happened, and of authoritarian dynamics in general. Then people can be more confident they wonât be taken in again."(p.154)

Being a guru "...creates a feedback-proof system where the guru always needs to be right and cannot be shown to be wrong - which is where learning comes from." (p.107) (No itÂs not about people in management positions...)


"Why would even the most r
Joel Friedlander
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a very unusual book that is aimed at pretty much only one audience: people who have been influenced, directly or indirectly, by an authoritarian group. Sometimes these groups are called charismatic sects, sometimes they are called new religions, and sometimes they are called cults.

Through the arguments in the book the authors, experienced writers and yoga practitioners, show the fallacies that lie at the basis of coercive authoritarian relationships. In fact, this book is a powerful cura
Dana O'brien
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life - after reading this I was finally able to let go of all my Christian guilt over my questions and doubts and move on.... what a relief it was and still is!
Veronica Torina
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I found this book inclusive. It did explore the dynamics of cults but it went deeper into the dynamics of indoctrination itself and suggested that we have all been indoctrinated in one way or another. Moreover, it realistically questioned such sacred concepts as unconditional love. If some of the more vociferous atheists and evolutionary biologists have left a void, this book fills it in the sense that it recognizes our selfishness but it also recognizes our desire to find a sense of morality an ...more
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, political
Interesting general philosophical concept, though perhaps lengthy and drawn out in order to reify the idea. Applicable to many situations, but perhaps it would have been more interesting to hear more case studies where it can be applied.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Some interesting insights with some more questionable parts e.g. quasi-satanic panic stuff, speculative psychologizing on the historic development of religious thougth.

Nov 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wish it had bibliographical references. Not having them detracts from an otherwise great book.
Mar 23, 2007 marked it as to-read
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“Buddha initially excluded women from his monasteries. When pressed, he made their entry conditional upon perpetual subservience to the lowliest (newest) male monks. Was this an example of unchanging wisdom? Or were some of his ideas not so enlightened, but rather a function of his place in history? His agenda to end suffering has had millennia to test itself and has failed. Are people just not good enough or smart enough? Is there something wrong with people or is something wrong with the agenda? His methodology for ending suffering was tied to the concept of enlightenment, which involves renouncing both the self and self-centeredness. So as an essentially renunciate religion, Buddhism is also essentially authoritarian, with Buddha being the absolute authority on what to renounce and how to go about it. Some modern Buddhists would bristle at calling Buddhism renunciate. They would say that through dis-identifying or detaching from the illusion that there is a self, self-centeredness effortlessly leaves. We view this as their illusion.” 0 likes
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