Cover image for The guru papers : masks of authoritarian power
The guru papers : masks of authoritarian power
Kramer, Joel, 1937-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley, Calif. : North Atlantic Books/Frog, 1993.
Physical Description:
xix, 385 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF698.35.A87 K73 1993 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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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 people try to live by. The book unmasks authoritarianism in such areas as relationships, cults, 12-step groups, religion, and contemporary morality. Chapters on addiction and love show the insidious nature of authoritarian values and ideologies in the most intimate corners of life, offering new frameworks for understanding why people get addicted and why intimacy is laden with conflict. By exposing the inner authoritarian that people use to control themselves and others, the authors show why people give up their power, and how others get and maintain it.

Author Notes

Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad are co-authors of The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power . They have written and taught together since 1974 on evolution, spirituality, relationships, values, awareness, yoga, and social issues. Their Web site is Kramer, the author of The Passionate Mind , did post-graduate work in philosophy and psychology and was a resident teacher at Esalen Institute (1968-1970). He is a pioneer and legend of modern American yoga whose evolutionary vision of yoga freed it from its authoritarian roots, re-visioning it for the West.Diana Alstad, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, received a doctorate from Yale University in 1971. She taught in the humanities and initiated and taught the first Women's Studies courses at Yale and Duke. She envisioned the Yoga of Relationship and developed it with Kramer.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Ever since the publication of The Authoritarian Personality by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, the concept of authoritarianism has had a profound impact on the social sciences. There are literally thousands of publications that focus on the topic and The Authoritarian Personality is one of the ten most frequently cited books in the history of the social sciences. The title of the book under review implies that it is an addition to this important literature. Not so; surprisingly, it totally ignores the literature. In fact, it contains no bibliography or reference list; its only references are to itself. The authors' idiosyncratic conception of authoritarianism essentially equates it with traditionalism. However, they implicitly define the concept in a number of different ways throughout the book; the same inconsistency of definition applies to their use of other concepts as well. The entire volume is a series of unsubstantiated assertions, generalizations, opinions, and banalities (often loosely based on Eastern thought) designed to release readers from authoritarian "gurus" or manipulators. It is most doubtful that these critiques of karma and channeling, among others, will be effective in enlightening, much less liberating, many readers. Not for academic libraries. D. J. Hanson; SUNY College at Potsdam

Table of Contents

Preface and Map of the Book
Introduction: Why Focus on Authoritarianism? Authority, Hierarchy, and Power
Part 1 Personal Masks
1 Religion, Cults, & the Spiritual Vacuum Religion and Morality The Challenge of Science Who Defines Reality in Religions and Cults? Reexamining the Sacred
2 Gurus and Times of Upheaval
3 The Seductions of Surrender Control and Surrender Scandals, Saints, & Self-Centeredness Recognizing Authoritarian Control
4 Guru Ploys Inducing Surrender Maintaining Dominance
5 The Assault on Reason
6 Stages of Cults -- Proselytizing to Paranoia The Messianic Phase The Apocalyptic Phase
7 The Attractions of Cult Hierarchy
8 Gurus & Sexual Manipulation The Betrayal of Trust Spiritual Hedonism
9 Gurus, Psychotherapy, & the Unconscious
10 The Traps of Being a Guru Narcissism and Adulation Deceit and Corruption
11 Jim Jones & the Jonestown Mass Suicide
12 On Channeling Disembodied Authorities Assumptions about Channeling An Example of Channeled Writing: A Course in Miracles What Are Channels Channeling?
13 Do You Create Your Own Reality?
14 Healing Crippled Self-Trust
Part 2 Ideological Masks Introduction:The Morality Wars
1 Fundamentalism & the Need for Certainty The Essence of Fundamentalism The Quandaries of Revisionism Revisionism and the Need for Identity What's at Stake?
2  Satanism & the Worship of the Forbidden: Why It Feels Good to Be Bad Good and Evil The Problem of Evil Satanism as an Avenue to Power The Divided Self: Good and Evil Internalized Satanism as the Dark Side of Monotheism
3 Who Is in Control? The Authoritarian Roots of Addiction What Is Addiction? The Divided Psyche: Symptom of a Dysfunctional Morality Taming the Beast: The Inner Battle for Control Addiction as Revolt Against the Inner Authoritarian The Failings of Disease & Responsibility Models Twelve Steps to Where? Developing Wholeness and Self-Trust
4 Love & Control: The Conditions underlying Unconditional Love What Is Unconditional Love? Love, Time, and Timelessness Self-Sacrifice, Power, and Passion Control and Boundaries "Love Addiction" Measuring and Roles Forgiving and Letting Go The Religious Foundation of Unconditional Love Timeless Love through Time
5 Oneness, Enlightenment & the Mystical Experience The Mystical Experience Dualism and Renunciation The Function of Enlightenment The One-Sidedness of Oneness Holism and Interconnectedness Renunciation as Accumulation
6 The Power of Abstraction: The Sacred Word & the Evolution of Morality Abstractions and Power From  Animism to Polytheism: The Concrete Abstractions of Idolatry Monotheism: A Universal Abstraction Oneness: The Culmination of Religious Abstraction Abstraction, Either/or Thinking, and Dualism Symbol Systems and Power Transforming the Symbol System: A Dialectical Perspective