Wherein Sarlo Expounds Further on the Ratings' Significance

I have received feedback on occasion about the words used to characterize each of the different rating levels. It seemed that these tiny phrases were inadequate to describe the whole range of all those hanging out at any one level. The change from a five-bud to a three-bud system has interestingly made it all easier, since not so many different hair-splitting phraseologies are needed for the different higher levels.

Also included below are discussions of two ancillary issues:
1) Why rate one teacher and not another 
2) Whether to have fewer ratings levels, ie merge the top levels

So without further ado, the NEW IMPROVED Guru Rating Characterizations, which most will have seen already in other pages. Elaborations follow. The old version, in the five-bud system, including the hair-splitting discussion of the meaning of the higher levels, is preserved at R5.

= the greats, helping many

= limited, some handicaps, or maybe not yet full stature *

= very limited, narrow approach or ideology, or still developing *

= suspect but on balance positive

= suspect

= bogus, may have some value, who knows

= worse than bogus, scary, no redeeming value


= too new, too old, too retiring, not enough info, or a "teacher" type

As stated elsewhere, consideration of "greatness" in the deemed-enlightened group (two or more buds) revolves around assessments of "accessibility," "capacity" and "flexibility," not around any idea of levels of enlightenment. "Red flags," negatives which suggest problem areas, are addressed in their own page.

Regarding "accessibility," discerning readers will note the presence of more than a few "dead" masters in the highest rank and may wonder how accessible they can be. The unfortunate fact is that it may take many years for a master to demonstrate her greatness, by which time she may be unavailable in the usual sense of physically incarnate. And the importance of a living master cannot be overrated.

How can this be reconciled? How can these "famous dead guys" be rated so highly, ie of significant value to the seeker?

Answer: Downline as they say in MLM or Lineage, is one way they can still be available. This does not mean their org, but the master's enlightened disciples. They carry the flavour and energy of the master and can make it available. And if a master is only recently disincarnate, less distortion will have occurred, and she can be available even through her unenlightened disciples, who have known and absorbed her directly during her time on earth.

The words "capacity" and "flexibility" have some degree of overlap having to do with how great an impact a master is going to have. Capacity refers in a more general sense to how much volume they can handle capably. Of course a master may have many disciples and still not have "the right stuff" to be able to help them to realization. My rating Sathya Sai Baba and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at a low level reflects this opinion. Conversely an effective guru with the right stuff may not be suited to taking on loads of disciples. This does not detract from her/his greatness or truth, it simply means her/his ability to help many is limited.
Flexibility is a narrower concept as used here. It addresses the question of whether the master has sufficient variety of methods / approaches / flavours to suit a wide variety of seekers or if most will have to adapt before entering or look elsewhere. 

Still, a strict application of these ideas is not useful either, the great counter-example being Ramana Maharshi. He is long dead, body-wise, had few methods and only a few close disciples. But he did have people coming to him from all over the world even though he did not travel outside his ashram, and he remains universally respected (outside the entrenched theocracies). Not only that, he has not purchased this respect by selling out to any lowest common denominator, and his influence has grown to tremendous heights, so this must be acknowledged.

* . . . These ranks are where the majority of truly worthy and accessible gurus will be found. The higher-rated ones are mainly dead or otherwise relatively inaccessible in a direct physical sense. Those at and have not yet collected the crowds that can accrue to the exceptionally great to which status they may yet rise or to the more than a few who have attracted their hordes solely through good marketing. They are for the most part original, have something to impart, and can still be related to on a one-to-one basis, at least at times.

. . . Moving down the ranks, these three could be further characterized as/by:

May be quite a few worthies in this group, may be only my prejudices that blind me to their greatness

I have my doubts about these guys but cannot know for sure; especially since there are so many i must be wrong about some

I wouldn't send my dog here but still ya never know

And then there's To-Rate-Or-Not-To-Rate

Adapted from a conversation in the GR Forum:

You write about the gurus you have chosen not to rate, "The overall commonality is lack of Western market share or desire thereof." I can see that the lack of Western market share is relatively easy to evaluate, but what do you use to determine a guru's desire for market share? One could easily base it on what the gurus say about themselves. Someone who claims to be the one and only universal avatar of our era is trying to corner the market whether saying so explicitly or not, it's obvious. It's also obvious that people who humbly declare that they are One with Guru are, denials or not, aiming for as much of the market as they can get, and therefore deserve to be rated. It's much easier to justify not rating those who explicitly present themselves as "ordinary", even though [some are] really working a soft soap while burning with desire to gobble up that guru market share.

As with everything else connected with the proposition that gurus are rateable by me, this question leads to subjective areas. With the ones i do rate, i try to compensate for my Ignorance, for this subjectivity, by being open and flexible regarding feedback, though not poll-driven. I always thought it would be simpler with the unrated ones: no value judgments, just (mostly) non-loaded descriptions. But . . .

For me it is a question of determining the guru's desire for market share. As you observe, this is not easily done, so for precisely this reason, slack is given. That something may seem like an intense desire for market share, on the part of X, for example, is a not baseless psychological inference, but for me slack is still preferred. By this i mean the inference should be stronger than based on their words in this guru-testing, somewhat reactive milieu [GR Forum]. More confirming "evidence" should be provided.

I have my opinions of X and Y, but they do not include that they are overly ambitious. Defensive, yes, but the "why are they here if not to increase market share" presumption has limited value imo. Or to put it another way, they may be trolling for disciples, but the evidence of big-time is not really there. They look to me like they are aiming for small-time. 

Perhaps some other examples might illustrate better, though approximately, where the necessarily fuzzy line might be drawn. Three others who either appeared here or were discussed here, and who started off unrated but ended up rated, and not because they actually *are* big-time, but demonstrated imo big-time ambitions, are Louix Dor Dempriey, Dave Oshana and Donald Schnell.

LDD's site and self-pronouncements became self-evidently grandiose: Avatar, birth of Ganesh incarnation daughter, etc. Here we are in thought disorder country, thought disorder being a polite term for psychosis. DS's site and aggressive self-promotion are so full of marketing, deals, and hype that he is the poster child for this kind of ambition. And about good old DO, so much has been said it's hard to know where myth stops and reality begins, but his web persona is so intricate and (was once) omnipresent that the stunning lack of correlation to any discernable carbon-based sangha suggests also this kind of ambition.

IOW there are other clues besides their (self-serving) declarations of who they are and what they are doing in the guru bazaar.

Merging the Top Ratings

Adapted from an email conversation, edited for clarity and flow. As the direction suggested in this conversation has been adopted, it is here for historical interest only:

I think all the no b.s. and above categories (i.e. 3 to 5) should be merged. Who are any of us to try to judge who has "limits"? It's vague and a tad arrogant. Separating the disasters from the corrupt and the hazy, and separating all of those from the good guys, is more than enough. The way you've got it makes it look like (as you surely are) you're a follower of Rajneesh (who I like just fine, btw). 

Yes, i point to this fact on the home page in the Where I'm Coming From section, though the word "follower" might be quibbled with.

Also "vast enough for most, some reservations" is confusing. A lot of the site is about calling out fakes and tyrants (and it's amazingly, phenomenally useful as such). "Reservations" sounds like there's possible taint, though everything above three is "no bullshit". It's weird and confusing and off. I think everyone who's "no bullshit" should be thrown together. The site's super strong on the bottom, but it gets weak at the top.

"Reservations" in that context is not about taint, just limitation, such as the physical death of the master.

To run it another way, I think it boils down to a question of the Central Purpose. As a user (actually, long time user), for me it's about plugging in names unfamiliar to me and learning if they're jive or not - not figuring out if good guys are REALLY good or pretty really good or really really good in the humble opinion of Some Dude Running a Web Site (nothing personal, please don't be offended, I'm just honestly describing my user experience). In other words, it's a site that separates wheat from chaff (and lets me go deeper by reading "anti" materials). At the lower end, there's some objectivity, because you offer the weight of anti-materials....so your rating is less personal/arbitrary, and more supported by facts and preponderance of allegations.

If you agree that's the site's strength, then the change to make, IMHO, is the one suggested above. Focus the distinctions on the lower end, and put the upper guys in a big "no b.s." category (and continue to offer all the great supporting materials and links and cross-refs you do for those guys).

If you disagree, and that's NOT the central purpose of the site, fine. In that case, then make it a highly opinionated rotisserie guru league. Flesh out those higher categories much more, and put a lot more effort into making them smart and unconfusing. And don't slant the site so much on its "wheat from chaff" aspect, because then readers will carry that up the chain and think that anything but the top dog guy (i.e. rajneesh) are at least somewhat corrupt and screwed up - not your intention, I believe.

No. Above the level of two buds, the issues are not, except rarely, corruption or screwed-upness, just those of accessibility, flexibility and capacity, as expounded above.

I'd personally hate it if you went with #2. I love the site for #1. But that's your call. Right now, you're doing a good job with #1 and a (sorry) lousy job with #2. And if it's site #2, my first (and probably last) feeling would be a wrench of mild disgust in my gut that this is 1. all an effort to gather Rajneesh partisans (and I'm unusual in that I deeply respect Rajneesh - most americans are leery 'cuz of the rolls royces - so I'm unusually disinclined to think poorly of you on that score) or that 2. the Dude Running The Website places himself on any even higher rung above all, hence his vast omniscient ability to distinguish and judge between guys you yourself describe as legitimately high level. I'd hate for myself or others to take away that feeling from the site. Presently, I more take away a "wow, what an incredible resource!" as my feeling, with a small taint of "what's all that screwy confusing stuff on the high end about?"

The Dude emphatically does not place himself above all but in fact anticipates this criticism and rates himself, as bogus. And i appreciate and value the present feeling taken away but consider the "small taint" as the price of an important quirk, which is just not valued by all.

To elaborate, it is not an effort to gather Osho partisans, more just to restore him to a place of sanity in the halls of the great, his reputation and life having been savaged by authorities in America. That i put him at the top is a disciple's enthusiasm, arguably justifiable by application of criteria such as his reach and influence. One can overlook and forgive that enthusiasm or not. More about this below.

But, again, it's your site. However you choose is up to you, but I strongly feel that you need to choose. Either do a better, clearer, and more extensive job on the high end (and shrug your shoulders at people's reaction), or knock out all distinctions above "no bullshit", accepting that the site has turned out to focus and be used in a different way from your original aim (as is true of so many things).

This has been a well-put approach to this issue, and has got me putting my "considering" cap on. A few things have come up concerning this, in which there are some cross-currents:

1) It is not a site with one Central Purpose, so the logic that flows from that is, though not thrown out completely, less applicable. 

2) That and the other exceptions about details i have taken above to my correspondent's (hereinafter "MC") points aside, this idea has much merit. This leads to:

3) The main purpose the site has come to serve is in fact the one MC appreciates. But this does not mean other purposes need to be thrown out. They still have value, if not in the ways pointed to by MC.

4) One of these ways is to entertain. I think few people are misled into taking the site seriously beyond agreeing or disagreeing, LOL! about the low-end losers. The continuum of more-to-less corrupt is not how most people experience  the site. The "screwy confusing stuff" at the top will for the most part not be off-putting. 

5) In fact, i enjoy that the site provokes a few people, not just for the buttons pushed at the low end but for the feedback generated by my screwy presumptuousness, which may be valuable for its help in the processing of my own life.

6) And OTOH, it is important to me that the site not be taken too seriously. I believe that since most people see my screwy presumptuousness but are not put off my it, it enhances that non-seriousness. 

7) All of which leads to a position which is not permanent but for now will stay it as it is. I envisage a possible eventual shift to the idea of all the "greats" (3 buds and up) in one category, as i have come to appreciate its general soundness. And perhaps for aficionados and historians  Ha ha! Dream on! a reference page which preserves the subdivision into "REALLY good or pretty really good or really really good ," but with the main page limited to 0 to 3 buds.

To view a list of all the rated gurus organized by rating, Click here

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