Sarlo's Guru Rating Service
MIDDLE PATH

This is the most difficult category to describe, occupying the middle of the devotion/advaita spectrum. It can partake of both, denying neither, both in theory and practice. It is an attempt to go beyond the dryness and intellectuality of advaita and embrace some of the juiciness of ordinary life, without losing sight of the truth of non-duality. It goes without saying that there are lots of contradictions and paradoxes. The best of these masters have a big tent where all are accepted and anything that might be useful as a device to help us wake up is considered. Methods, often taking the form of meditation techniques, may be many and varied, and will usually be quite central to daily practice in the master's "buddhafield," although they too may be dispensed with according to the master's perception of what is needed in the moment.

    The ratings are:

= 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, no redeeming value

Unrated 

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

If your favourite figure is not here, send in the info and i'll be happy to include, although i will keep it short. (Feedback) And if your favourite figure is here, but underrated or wrongly categorized, let me know and i'll have another look. No flamers please.

Name, M/F, b/d, aka, rating, links, 
* = suggested or located by visitor          shtick, principles, rap (+ / –)

Acharyaji*    M  b1950? 
aka Rev. Fr. Anatole Ruslanov, Shri Acharya Abhidhyanananda Avadhuta    Modern Seers / Abhidhyan

Russian-American (PA). Monastic training in India, guru Shri Shri Anandamurti (apparently the Ananda Marga guru, but A talks about a different experience and milieu than the AM org). "Lineage-holder of a living spiritual teaching that has been transmitted from guru to disciple for 7000 years" (disputed by AM org). Tantra Yoga (here = celibacy with acceptance and awareness). Garden variety teacher.  

Swami Sri Adhyatmananda
  M   b1945
  Adhyatmananda

Sivananda lineage. "As an organiser par excellence, he is in great demand . . . In the final stage, when the main ceremony starts, he will act as a compere, carrying with him the guests, learned speakers, musicians and performers in a very lively and efficient manner." Whatever. Benefit of doubt. 

Adnan Sarhan  
 M    b1945ish

Adnan

Iraqi based in US. Member of five Sufi orders. "Rapid (Shattari) Method." Drumming, dance, breathing, movement exercises, meditation, chanting, whirling, etc. Brings together material and spiritual sides. Hearing him drum has "cured addictions including alcohol, smoking, drugs and overeating, and diseases as well." No doubt drums on water as well.

Robert Aitken Roshi
  
M   1917-2010
aka Aitken Gyoun Roshi

Aitken

American, introduced to zen in POW camp. Nakagawa Soen Roshi, Yasutani Haku'un Roshi, Yamada Ko'un Roshi. Buddhist Peace Fellowship, etc, "writing reflects his concern that Buddhists be engaged in social applications of their experience." Gave full transmission as independent masters to many, Diamond Sangha. Wife Anne was also a respected teacher. The dean of American zen, ret'd but still active for years, right up to death.

A.H. Almaas  
   M   b1944
aka A. Hameed Ali
 
Ridhwan School
 
Alt site

Kuwaiti based in US. "Diamond Approach" and "Diamond Heart" this and that. Academic background in physics, mathematics, and psychology, Oscar Ichazo. "Ego, or personality, is not only an impediment to growth and happiness, but also covers up vital aspects of us that we need if we are to feel fulfilled or at peace or to acquire the ability to be present and operate in the real world." Works on personality structures, Alt site has interviews, glossary etc. Not flashy but said to be effective and, by some, not too expensive. OTOH, rumours of overpriced advanced or local events.

Arjuna Nick Ardagh 
 
M    b1952ish 
aka Swami Shantamo

Living Essence
Translucents (interviews with lots of teachers)

American author of Relaxing into Clear Seeing. "In 1991 he met his True Teacher, Papaji, [ditching Osho] in India. . . In 1992 Papaji asked him to return to the West to conduct Satsang." Living Essence applying for 501(C)3 status with the IRS as a church. Now morphed into "Journey to Awakened Love," with partner Chameli, less emphasis on guru on podium, more on deepening relationships – cancel that, now into Kalki deeksha offerings (moved away from Advaita on that account).  Wavering benefit of doubt.

Sri Aurobindo
  M  1872-1950
aka Aravinda Akroyd Ghose

Aurobindo
MORE (Links)

Westernized Indian brought up in England, "All beings are united in One Self and Spirit but divided by a separativity of consciousness, an ignorance of their true Self and Reality." Integral Yoga not described. Big Auroville international community. Also, The Mother, F, 1878-1973 French aka Mirra Alfassa, Mirra Morriset, Mirra Richard. Goal of "Supramental Consciousness" said to be something not yet ever accomplished on this planet, with  physical immortality said to be a "minor consequence," leading many to fixate on that and get disappointed by deaths of A and M. Political / social / collective org subsumes individual. Wide respect offsets impenetrable website, benefit of doubt.

Babaji
  
M   b203(!)
aka Nagaraj
 
Babaji
    MORE

"Met his gurus at age 11, enlightenment at 12, physical  immortality at the age of 16. Has remained in the same body near the Himalayan temple of Badrinath ever since. Disciples include Adi Shankara, the 9th century reformer of Hinduism, Kabir in the 16th century . . . Yogi S.A.A. Ramaiah . . . Paramahansa Yogananda, etc." Kriya Yoga. Unbeatable story, limited availability and methods.  

Michael Barnett
   M   b1936ish
aka Swami Anand Somendra
Wild Goose   MORE

Brit based in Germany. "You choose your dream state  rather than simple reality. It is like sitting at the dinner table, seeing the food laid out everywhere, and then closing your eyes, imagining some dishes, and then imagining eating the imaginary dishes. . . Meet, digest reality – and you become a Buddha." A long history of imagining himself enlightened.

Yogi Bhajan 
   M   1929-2004
aka Sardar Bhajan Singh, Harbhajan Singh Puri, Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji et al
 3HO   Anti

"Kundalini Yoga strengthens the nervous system and balances the glandular system for stability and vitality. Meditation improves mental concentration, sharpens awareness and gives the direct experience of consciousness. Draws from all yogic systems and techniques." Healthy Happy Holy Organization. Guru Sant Hazara Singh declared him a yoga master at age 16. OTOH, meditation methods said to be dangerous (insufficient guidance = kundalini blowout). Clean, bland. 

Bodhidharma
   M   470-543

Bodhidharma
 
(See also Zen, for some contemporary heirs)

Wild man brought Buddha's teachings to China, where they crossbred with Taoism and then traveled to Japan to become Zen (Dhyan –> Ch'an –> Zen). Unbroken succession of masters from Buddha to today – many mutually tolerant lines, also in Korea and Vietnam and some still in China – create devices to shatter conditioning and limitations. No beliefs or deities. Has spread to the west now, with many teachers. Stay tuned.

Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati   M   d1993
aka Ramamurti S Mishra, MD 
Brahmananda 

Indian. Yoga-Vedanta, medical doctor, yogi, Sanskrit master founded Yoga Societies in NY (1958) and SF, integrated Yoga and Vedanta with both Eastern and Western medicine and psychology. "Yoga is the holistic way of life, where union and harmony of the body, the mind, and the soul or consciousness, 'I-Am,' are fundamental." Benefit of doubt. 

Master Charles
  M   b1945
aka MC Cannon, Swami Vivekananda
Synchronicity
    MORE

American. Synchronicity Contemporary High-Tech Meditation. "Meditation increases neurochemical opiates, the 'feel good' chemicals within the brain. A peaceful, blissful, opiated state of awareness results from the release of significant levels of neurochemicals . . . His earliest years were marked by spontaneous, metanormal [sic] experiences." 12 years with Muktananda. Trendy lingo, snake-oil vibe. Raised Catholic, now offering channelings of the Blessed Mother. 2006 featured the "Three Gurus" tour with Chetanananda and Shankarananda, all Muktananda-associated

Suma Ching Hai
  F   b1950
aka Supreme Master CH, Ching Hue

Suma Ching Hai
 

Anti
(Archived)

Vietnamese-Taiwanese, disciple of Thakar Singh, though not stated. Work. Dedication. Meditation. Vegetarian. Quan Yin Method (Sound and Light). "You only know real meditation after you are awakened by transmission by a real Master. Otherwise, it is only a waste of time wrestling with your body and mind." Getting grandiose, bleaches hair, but fees said to be free-to-reasonable, sponsors SupremeMasterTelevision.com, a free access global TV ostensibly for any spiritual group, promotes vegetarianism and environmental awareness, no strictures on sexual prefs. Clean. Appeals mainly to Asians, benefit of doubt. Anti site has disappeared, preserved at Archive.org, but later versions (>2004) are only domain place-holders.

Dalai Lama  M   b1935
aka Tenzin Gyatso, Lhamo Thondup 

Dalai Lama
  (See also other Tibetan teachers)

"Ordinary guy" Interview
  Anti*

14th in a series of reincarnating Bodhisattvas, renouncing the big E to look after the temporal and spiritual welfare of the people of Tibet. "By developing a sense of respect for others and a concern for their welfare, we reduce our own selfishness, which is the source of all problems, and enhance our sense of kindness which is a natural source of goodness." Looked up to by all the Tibetan teachers. Nice guy, wisdom, compassion, etc. By (usual) definition not enlightened. Anti site a long intellectual / sociopolitical analysis more on Tibetans in general, seasoned with salacious rituals

Huzur Dayal Sahab  
   M   b1930 
aka Dr. Agam Saran Sahab
Dayal

"The uniqueness of Radhasoami Faith lies in transference of NIJ DHAR that is the Name and Sound Current to the successive Master of the Time by the previous Master before the departure . . . Radhasoami Faith emphasizes that man should aim to develop his faculties of mind, body and spirit under the Guidance of the True Master only." Lots of stuff about obedience and True Faith. Scary black sheep of SantMat family. 

David Deida*
  M   b1957ish
Deida 
  Parody (404'd, but Archive.org'd)

American author of many books, especially on tantra, associate of Ken Wilber, endorsed by many hip spiritual "authorities." Org = Plexus, expensive workshops. TM = Truth, chutzpah. Teacher was the mysterious "Mykonos," according to himself, others point to Adi Da. Parody page by another Da ex sends up his over-the-top essay "She Sucks Me Into Love." Dynamic, benefit of doubt.

Swami Guru Devanand Saraswati Ji Maharaj  
 
M    20th c
Devanand

Indian was in Trinidad, many centers in NY and Latin America. "Yoga is the suspension of the transformation of the thinking principle." Mantra Yoga Meditation and hatha yoga, International Divine Realization Society, based on traditional principles. No bio, new site, new HQ in Miami. Gurus were Mauna Swami and Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, though rumours cast some doubt on this. Copying of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi also alleged. Benefit of doubt.

SN Goenka*
(Satya Narayan)
  M   b1924

Goenka

Big Indian / Burmese vipassana teacher known for strict discipline, teacher was Sayagyi U Ba Khin. Has trained over 700 teachers, rigorous ten-day courses done by over 100,000 people a year, etc. Multilingual site, lots of big centers around world, everything run on donation basis.The King of Vipassana.  INTERVIEW

EJ Gold 
(Eugene Jeffrey)
  M   b1941

Slimeworld/Galaxy

Eclecticity and humourous approach to everything make him impossible to categorize or summarize. Does jewelry, comedy, set design, illustration, SciFi – Dad was a SciFi mag editor, grew up surrounded by SciFi greats – many different kinds of books, all over the place. Sufi/Zen/wild man/shaman, etc. Sort of Gurdjieff's unofficial heir, though indirect, difficult to rate.

Marshall Govindan Satchidananda
   M  b1948
 
Govindan - BKYOA
   
Anti 

American now based in Canada (Que) did Kriya Yoga for 18 years, 8 hrs/day, Yogi S.A.A. Ramaiah, helped him establish his centres, started Babaji's Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas, an evolving collective offering Kriya Yoga around the world for a "modest suggested contribution" (flexible). Also direct Babaji connection, said to be humble,  organised major new translation / commentary on Tamil Yoga classic, Tirumandiram. Hard-working 3-career overachiever. Benefit of doubt. Anti page is a FACTNet forum series of posts of disputed legitimacy (Rebuttal). Large site in 13 languages.

George I Gurdjieff
  
M    1872?-1949

Gurdjieff 

"The Work is about making personality passive, a servant rather than a master." Gurdjieff investigated many spiritual practices deeply. His distillation remains offbeat and original. Difficult to get a consistent picture from the many schools established in his name. Tremendous influence but no enlightened successors, it seems, and influence waning.

Yogiraj Gurunath Siddhanath*
  
M    b1944 
aka Sidhoji Rao Shitole

Gurunath
   Anti (Wiki "talk" page, lots of argument)

Centers in US, Europe, HQ in Pune India. "A Living Master can be known by three distinct Graces he bestows upon his disciples. 1. Shivapat, 2. Shaktipat, 3. Pranapat, 4. Hamsa." Offers Mahavatar Babaji Kriya Yoga (Shiva Shakti Kriya for the Evolution of Human Consciousness)  and Siddhanath Healing Enlightenment (the feminine Kundalini Energy S H E), some breathing techniques  "which flower into Siddhanath Samadhi Yoga." Some pages have lots of jargon. Said to have been initiated by Hariharananda, just below, then "empowered" by Babaji.   Benefit of doubt. Anti page (opp) deleted Apr 4, 2007.

Paramahamsa Hariharananda 
 M  1907-2002   aka Robindranath Bhattacharya, Brahmachari Robinarayan
Hariharananda
  Anti    MORE

Recently mahasamadhied disciple of Sri Yukteshwar Giri et al, taught full spectrum of Kriya keys. Based in Florida, disciples all over US, Europe and India. Lots of centers and parallel websites, big org. The *real* Kriya Yoga? Impressive roster, benefit of doubt. Successor = Paramahamsa Prajńanananda Giri. Anti page raises questions about lineage and poseurhood. "More" page a positive though unaffiliated personal experience feedback.

Steven Harrison
   M    b1952ish

Steven Harrison

American, teacher was RP Kaushik (L). "What do you do after you've tried everything to find enlightenment . . . Do nothing . . . As it turns out, nothing is a surprisingly active place, but it is here that we discover who and what we are." Author of: Doing Nothing: Coming to the End of the Spiritual Search and two other books. Charitable stuff. Doing lots of nothing. Benefit of doubt.

Hazrat Pir  M   b1945
aka Pir Oveyssi,  Molana Salaheddin Ali Nader Shah Angha
Hazrat Pir

"42nd in continuous succession of Sufi Masters dating back 1400 years to the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him)." Discourses on relevance of Islam for contemporary life. Banks on pedigree, adherence to past. Benefit of doubt. Was a 17-language buggy Flash site, now i can't be bothered to get past the enormous legal notice on home page. 

Vernon Howard   
   M    d1992

New Life

American. "Broke through to another world in 1965 . . . books and classes . . . Nothing will change, really, until you change yourself. I am talking about changing your actual nature. Without ruthless self-honesty, nothing can be done. With it, everything is possible." Said to have been very conservative, but with integrity. No successor except org. Extensive uninformative site filled with superficiality but good feeling.

Maharishi Sadashiva Isham*
  M   1949-1997
aka Robert Vaughn Abrams
Ishayas' Ascension
    
FEEDBACK

American disillusioned TM "governor," got techniques from "Ishayas," a Himalayan monk sect descended from the Apostle John, now revealed, though with suspect history. Org based in NC teaches "Ascension Attitudes," to create resonance with positive emotions that make us ascend, + left-right brain alignment. Impression of pyramiding created by aggressive expansion methods. Benefit of doubt. 

Ishvara 
 
M   b1945

Enlifement*

American now based in NM. Owned a metaphysical bookstore. In 1987, "had a profound experience of awakening, never to return to the conditional way of life. Since then he has been focused, moment by moment, on fully expressing his life as an unlimited, unconditional being with an awareness to which anyone can awaken." No teacher, tradition or lineage. Was in Advaita section, new shtick "beyond enlightenment" into neverending evolving, new url. Whatever

BKS Iyengar 
  M   b1918 
(= Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja)
Iyengar 
MORE
 

Indian very sickly as youth but became influential exponent of hatha yoga, author, brother-in-law of T. Krishnamacharya, harsh and exacting but considered the Big Kahuna of today's yoga scene, still energetic in old age, tours. Teachings said to consist mainly of "bend and stretch" asanas, little overt "spiritual" component but ya never know. ("Disciplined asana practice essential for acquiring a strong body capable of the higher teachings of yoga.") Denver Post story 

Philip Kapleau Roshi
   M   1912-2004

RZC 
Memorial Page

American. 13 years in Japan under three Zen masters, ordained by Hakuun Yasutani-roshi in 1965. In 1966, after publishing first book, The Three Pillars of Zen, founded Rochester Zen Center. Other books include The Zen of Living and Dying. Painful break with master over "westernizing" Zen. Various heirs. Not flashy but alert, solid.

Gyalwa Karmapa (16th)*
   M   1924-1981
aka Rangjung Rigpe Dorje

"Official"
"Unofficial"
 

Tibetan widely loved lama who introduced Tibetan Buddhism to the west big-time. Left Tibet in 59, established new Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, spread teachings to West. Lineage now split as there are two claimants for the title of 17th, the "official" being supported by the Chinese, the "unofficial" by the Dalai Lama. Links here lead to sites in both camps. Inexplicably omitted here, though many listed in Tibetan page in his lineage, among which are both claimants.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso  M    b1928ish
 
New Kadampa

Anti (1)    Anti (2)
   MORE

Tibetan largely outside of Tibetan mainstream, more or less  "anti-Dalai Lama," no biodata, guru Trijang Rinpoche was also DL tutor. Big western-based (England) org = New Kadampa Tradition, not much in East.  Benefit of doubt. Anti sites are (1): in-depth balanced scholarly presentation of NKT/Shugden "controversy" and (2): NKT survivors' discussion group. MORE page delves into Intolerance.

Sant Kirpal Singh
   M    1894-1974
 
Ruhani Satsang
*

Indian mid-20th c giant of Sant Mat stream. "I spread the message of oneness in life and living. This is the way to peace on earth. This is the mission of my life, and I pray that it may be fulfilled." Heritage marred by succession battles, traditional attitudes a tough sell. Lots of material on new site. Best of the lot, may not be so accessible.

Shri Swami Lakshman Joo Raina  
  M    1907-1991

Kashmir Shaivism

Indian. Last(?) of a long line of Kashmir Shaivism. "If you have got $1000 in your pocket, well and good. If you have nothing and you are a pauper, then, well and good. Think like that. Then you'll be liberated from the repeated births and deaths." Yoga, tantra, etc, many methods enumerated in Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. No bio, succeeded by John Viresh Hughes, a young American. Inaccessible opaque jargon, nice pictures.

Paul Lowe*
  M   b1935ish
aka Swami Ananda Teertha

Paul Lowe

MORE

Brit. From his former Bio page: "The facts about Paul Lowe are not really important. . . Paul and his partner, Ava, are loving examples of being together in harmony and joy – without compromise." From his Who Are page: "Ava and Paul Lowe live each day in harmony and joy, without compromise." Now "personal life coach" shtick, Ava gone? Ex-Osho therapist exposed by Osho as only being a disciple to learn the master game. Blather, doesn't acknowledge his master.

Lee Lozowick
  M    b1943

Interview
 
Hohm Press
 
(house pub)

American (AZ), teaches and performs mostly in Europe. "When the disciple wakes up it's because they've assimilated the guru's grace, not because they've done sadhana. Paradoxically, one has to do sadhana to create the kind of resonance that allows the assimilation to occur." Silva Mind Control, Bauls, Yogi Ramsuratkumar. Blues/rock band, eclectic publishing, big on sadhana, compassion, doesn't go for big numbers.  Good feeling, benefit of doubt.

Shri Paramahamsha Mahendranath*
M  1911-1991/2
aka Dadaji

Mahendranath

Alternate site*

Brit, hung with Aleister Crowley, after WW2 30 years as penniless sadhu in India and all over southesast Asia, initiated in many trads. 23rd Adiguru (chief guru) of the Adinathas, a long-time Indian tantric sect. Site has a massive collection of tantric texts from many Indian sources. Impressive breadth. Alternate site more Crowley-oriented.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
  M   1917-2008
aka Mahesh Prasad Varma, Mahesh Kumar Srivastava  TM – Maharishi   FEEDBACK (includes pro and con)   Anti Blog
Sympathetic Bio
 

"Founder of Maharishi Thousand-Headed Purusha... Transcendental Meditation®... discovered the Constitution of the Universe... Yogic Flying to create supreme mind-body coordination in the individual and coherence in world consciousness... Absolute Theories of Government, Education, Health, and Defense to raise every area of life to perfection." Guru was Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math.  Tripletalk, enormous money, but benefit of doubt. Blog (startup Jan '07) collectivizing prominent critical exes, links to other MMY Dirt sites + regular general cult news 

Maitreya Ishwara
   M  1949-2012
aka Wayne Anthony Unsworth, Swami Anand Bhaskar

Maitreya     MORE

British disciple of Osho. "All functional  systems erased so that he can be used as a clear channel for God. God, the beyond is the author of every word. The transmissions herald the Time of Great Change, the transition from darkness to light . . . Unity is the only religion for everyone. Finally the time of division is almost past. The way of the new millennium is Unity." Creepy ad: "Jump. I am waiting. I will catch you. I am love." Delusions of grandeur, aggressive self-promotion, sexist drivel, ketamine overdose. Ah well, benefit of doubt.

Master Mantak Chia 
  M   b1944


Universal Tao


Plagiarism allegations

Chinese, based in Thailand, graduated from Buddhist meditations to Taoism, with White Cloud Hermit, Master Yi Eng, integrated with western-style anatomy studies to make a system more accessible to westerners, called the Universal Tao. "Once the energy channels of the body have been opened and energies harmonized, this unique integrated energy becomes available to heal others." 1000s of Certified Instructors. Alleged to have plagiarized GrandMaster Choa Kok Sui, of Pranic Healing. Big operation, benefit of doubt.

Paramahansa Muktananda
 
M   1908-1982
SYDA    
New Yorker article
 
Successors Dirt

Succeeded by – well, whom? Officially, it's Gurmayi Chidvilasananda. Swami Nityananda, her younger brother and at first co-successor, now on his own. Siddha Yoga (org = SYDA). Shaktipat tricks. "Chanting stills the mind and the heart opens. Then, quite naturally we can enter and enjoy meditation." Sexual abuse (teens, natch), impotence and violent harassment allegations, by himself + org. Many successors down the lineage also troubled. Benefit of doubt.

Sri Gary Olsen*
  M   b1942ish
Masterpath    
Anti
    MORE 
Plagiarism

American. Light and Sound. "Transformative nature of the spiritual energy known as sound and its derivative, the spiritual energy of light." Historical blahblah . . . "notably the female saint Mirabai – born 1498." Preaches tolerance, compassion, but nasty reports from exes suggest otherwise . . . lots of uninformative mumbo-jumbo, plagiarism. (scroll down at linked page to choice of view or download)

Osho   M    1931-1990
aka Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Rajneesh Chandra Mohan Jain

Osho's org
    Calder Anti 
General Anti
   MORE 
Calder debunked 
Lineage 

"Truth is what works." Developer of myriad devices and meditations to provoke consciousness, over 450 books transcribed from spontaneous talks. Since 1990 his org has expanded and made overtures to the mainstream put off by his fierce iconoclasm and controversy. Despite this, the Pune Commune and other hubs of activity of his people remain some of the most alive spots on the planet, though some schisming evident between mainly Indian more devotional centers and zen-austere (ideologically, not materially) Pune "Resort." Big money, body gone, divisive politix but still . . . Further update: schisming (driven by his org, aiming to eliminate all traces of bhakti, organized religion and hassling dissidents) has proceeded to the point where the org does not even link to "opponents." See "MORE" link.

Yug Purush Acarya (Maha)mandaleshwar Swami Parmanandji 
 
M   b 1938
asa Paramanand
Parmanand 
FEEDBACK

Indian, service / Advaita hybrid said to have hundreds of thousands of devotees, now touring regularly in US, service org (Delhi-based children's and women's empowerment, schools and hospitals, etc said to be thriving) = Akhand Paramdham, guru Swami Akhandananda. Benefit of doubt.  

Sant Rajinder Singh
  M    b1946

SOS/SKRM

SantMat type, Sikh-influenced Surat Shabd (sound and light) meditation. Org = Science of Spirituality / Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission. "Seat of the soul will come in contact with the stream of Light and Sound. It can then travel on the Light and Sound through the higher planes back to its Source, in the purely spiritual realm." Grandson of Kirpal Singh. Benefit of doubt.

Sri Swami Rama
 
M   1925-1996
aka Brij Keshore Kumar (Brijkishor)

Himalayan Institute
 
Anti
*    Court Case* (pdf)
Swami J homage

Breath control, hatha yoga, ayurveda. "Demonstrated under lab conditions precise conscious control of autonomic physical responses and mental functioning – feats previously thought impossible." Supposedly paid serious dues in Himalayan caves, with many teachers, etc. Succeeded by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait. Institutional, methodological approach. "Impressive knowledge" offset by sexual abuse and other stories. Claim of renouncing "Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham" gig bogus, position not officially recognised. Disciple's homage page has lots of +ve info, downloads

Rev Swami (Baba) Ramdev 
 M   b1953 
aka Ramkishan Yadav 

 Ramdev    Anti

Indian pranayama specialist, Sanskrit Grammar, Ayurveda, cow-breeding, Vedic Philosophy, huge TV show in India, "celibate since childhood," bit of a Hindu chauvinist, guru was Acharya Shri Baldevji. Official sites low-profile, big on health benefits of yoga. All-things-Hindu site, IndiaDivine.org/, has his ads everywhere but otherwise no mention of him; its forum, Audarya Fellowship, lifts material unattributed from other forums. Story: Tries to grab yoga asana patents. Anti-site a collection of Guruphiliac stories. High-rolling political manipulator.  Story: Seeks death penalty for fraud Babas 

Yogi SAA Ramaiah   M   1923-2006
aka Yogiar


Babaji Yoga Sangam

Big Indian Brit-based living exponent of Kriya Yoga got system directly from Babaji, traveled extensively, many centers, site is inexplicably unprepossessing and hard to navigate, not much info, some dirt rumours re sex, paternity, exploiting young impressionables. Said to have exaggerated "centers" extent, CV, but "for our benefit," falling out with Govindan over copyright etc, siddhis + wisdom + human error + ego-crushing = small committed cadre. Still, influential, benefit of doubt. 

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar  
  M   b1956

Art of Living
   TALES 
Anti
(re commercial and self-promotional aspects)
and FEEDBACK (+ve)

"At four recited the entire Bhagavad Gita . . . Ancient sciences to suit present day life." Political activities – hanging with President of India, United Nations, self-promotion re Nobel Peace Prize, etc – detract from reputed solid work in yoga, meditation (Sahaj Samadhi), and breath (Sudarshan Kriya®). Said to be Mahesh Yogi-derivative, though he does not acknowledge this on site. Service-oriented as well. Non-serious rep offsets stolid institutional site. Guru aspect more evident in Yoga Journal article. As of 2010, dirt sites of disgruntled exes emerging, allege corruption, Wikipedia censorship, etc.

Richard Rose
  M  1917-2005

Tat Foundation 
Rose-related Downloads

"A simple, humble man, who had the determination, inspiration, and dedication to discover, possibly by accident, the total answer to the riddle of life." Zen / Gurdjieff / Whitman country, American (WV), arrived independently at truth, survived by org, but . . . "Not a path for the masses." Interesting man, last years in Alzheimer's. Whaddya think?

Seung Sahn
    M    1927-2004
kwanumzen

Korean, started as political rebel, then Buddhist monk, then extreme (100 days) retreat on pine needle diet. Koan training with Master Ko Bong, enlightened age 22, came to States in 1972. Many disciples in the teacher biz. Fierce dude, impressive succession roster.

Sangharakshita
   M   b1925 
aka Dennis Lingwood
FWBO
Anti

Brit author, translator, Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, big in promoting synthesis of different strains of Buddhism in UK and elsewhere. Order based on segregated sexes, anti-group claims excesses of authority and homosexual bias and some casualties, though much of that is the org rather than him. Ret in 2000, org still big. Plagiarism and fiddled history alleged, benefit of doubt.

Saniel Bonder
  M   b1950


Saniel Bonder


Matter Magic
* (defunct, now stored at Archive.org)
Heart Circles

American. Two decades with Adi Da. Left in 1992 to "rediscover his personal integrity at all costs," finding "grace in my own Heart-conscious Self-nature, and from there rocketed into the Onlyness of Being." For those who "have tried much and, even if they succeeded, still feel somehow empty at the core." Lots of disciples in the biz, "adepts" who "co-create" with him. Original, benefit of doubt. But on second thought . . . "Matter Magic" site, a "mysteriously effective love in action" program where Saniel and wife Linda Groves B pray and bless and you get your heart's desire fulfilled. Also golf, tantra, herb and Linda singing. Next! MM gone, now "Heart Circles of Grateful Mutual Support," still suggest "manifestation" but less tacky, straightforward sustaining donation quid-pro-quo.

Sri Swami Satchidananda
  M   1914-2002
Yogaville
Anti (Operation Pink Igloo)

"Had the opportunity to be associated with some of the great sages of the 20th century, including Sri Ramana Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo." Master = Sivananda. Came to US in 1966. Org/process = Integral Yoga, now ®, but ripped from Aurobindo. Given the "Juliet Hollister Interfaith Award at the United Nations in October 1996 . . . religious harmony." Blather, little bio, sexual abuse dirt on him and org officials.

Helen Schucman
 
F   1909-1981
and partner 
William Thetford
  M   1919-1988 
ACIM

American psych profs, little personal info. She channeled "A Course In Miracles," he transcribed.  Eastern outlook and methods made palatable for Xians. "Standardized" course varies greatly around the world, incl sectarian bickering. Said by enthusiasts to be the real Jesus, updated into 21st c. "Official" site run by Ken and Gloria Wapnick, who also assisted Schucman, and are said to have altered some text and be hassling other presenters. Endorsed by Oprah, many teachers incl Marianne Williamson. Benefit of doubt for making advaita and meditation accessible, if distorted. Some other ACIM teachers (such lists come and go, this one fairly small)

ShantiMayi
    F   b1950


ShantiMayi

American. "In 1991, under the guidance of her master, Hansraj Maharajji, awakened to the Truth . . . The Gayatri Mantra is so intimately entwined throughout the spirit of existence, that upon hearing it, or chanting it, we receive something of our Self. To chant it for the whole of existence gives us a link with all of consciousness." Gayatri Mantra pervades everything here. Hard to categorize, but simple.

Swami Shyam
  M    b1924
aka Shyam Srivastava
Shyam Space 
Dirt

Left home at age nine. Householder, etc. Sole method seems to be mantra, "Amaram hum Madhuram hum." Rebellious youth against stifling tradition was endearing but apparently now preaches sexual morality with rather lower standards for himself. Homepage does not mention his TM history. Chorus of detractors is growing.

Sri Swami Sivananda
  M    1887-1963

Sivananda

"Synthesized the various forms of Yoga (Karma, Bhakti, Jnana, Raja, and more) into an integrated practice," created Divine Life Society. "Attached so much importance to dissemination of spiritual knowledge that in a financial crisis, he would shut down the kitchen but not the press." Disciples in the biz include Swami Vishnu-devananda (M 1927-1993), H.H. Sri Swami Krishnananda Saraswati Maharaj (M b 1922), and Swami S. Radha (F 1911-1995). Many claimed awakened in this stream. Baggage, big business, outmoded misogynist brahmacharya trip but some good people.

Guru Ram Lalji Siyag
  M    b1926

 
Guru Siyag

Indian based in Rajasthan founder-patron of Adhyatma Vigyan Satsang Kendra (AVSK), "Siddha Yoga" purports to be Patanjali-based but mantras are big. Major spontaneous fear-of-death episode in '68 sparked long spiritual trek, eventually met guru Baba Shri Gangainathji, who told him (posthumously) to start guruing in '86, unfortunate grandiose language: "ordained to lead a spiritual revolution to transform the entire mankind," but seems more incidental language than messianic delusions, claims of curing chronic and terminal diseases, rumour of marrying Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Oh well, no one's perfect, benefit of doubt.

Rudolph Steiner
  M   1861-1925

Rudolph Steiner

Austrian founder of Anthroposophy. Some mystic experience but mainly philosophical. Greatest impact was in understanding the importance of creativity and its relationship to spirituality, and devising a system/movement to actualize this, in the form of (Waldorf) schools that really help kids to explore their creativity. Could be worse.

Pak Subuh
  M    d1987
aka Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo
Subud
Anti

"All the teaching necessary for mankind has already been given in the great religions of the world . . . The latihan, the basis of Subud, cannot be taught or imitated, arises spontaneously from within after the contact with the Power of God has been received, different for each individual according to his or her needs." Nice guy, sincere, could not escape organised religion.

Lama Surya Das    
  M   b1951ish
aka Jeffrey Miller

Surya 
Anti
(Archived)

American (MA). Thirty years in various streams of Buddhism, particularly Dzogchen with Kalu Rinpoche, though name and spiritual career began with Neem Karoli Baba. Big author, solid rep but dharma talks seem to consist mainly of quotes strung together like platitudinous prayer flags. "Buddha said: 'If there are no seeds of anger in our hearts, no one can make us angry.' " Benefit of doubt. Anti link, archived by Archive.org, deals with perceived lack of Buddhist authenticity.

Vasant Swaha  
  M   b1952ish
aka Swami Prem Vasant

Swaha

Norwegian, hangs in Brazil. "Helps people to wake up to their true essence, by sharing in different ways, from Sufi to Zen, from celebration to silence." Martial arts whiz, 13 years with Osho, then Papaji, Ramesh Balsekar to get Advaita. "There never has been any I. Only This: Life, Love, Consciousness, Existence itself. The last shadows of doubt disappeared." Rumoured to be imitative in form and mannerism of Osho. Benefit of doubt.

Sant Thakar Singh*
  M  1929-2005
Sant Mat 
Succession Story 

Competed with Sant Rajinder Singh for Kirpal Singh successor title. Traditional Sant Mat, light and sound, etc. "Act according to [the Master's] instructions and follow His guidance! He is not a man! You will be convinced of this when you go inside and find Him in all His splendor." Said to have been humble, charged no money, benefit of doubt. Succeeded by Sant Baljit Singh. 

Thich Nhat Hanh  
 
M   b1936ish

Thich NH

Vietnamese France-based nose-to-the-grindstone Buddhist. "There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes." Widely respected, engaged, in it for the long haul for the benefit of all setient beings, etc. Org = Plum Village / Unified Buddhist Church. Hopefully has moved beyond political past.  

Thich Thanh Tu  
 
M   b1924
aka Tran Huu Phuoc
Thich TT

Vietnamese zen reformer, returned to Truc Lam roots, enlightened 1968 after "his determination made a harvest as he discerned the concept of 'Nothingness'." Web presence not well developed but many centers / monasteries in AU and US, now travels abroad. Respected, benefit of doubt.  

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
  M    1939-1987
Shambhala
 QUOTE   Anti (American Buddha, see opp)
Chronicles
(Alt +ve)

"11th Trungpa tülku, Kagyü line, succeeded by eldest son, the Sawang Ösel Rangdröl Mukpo (now known as Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche). Vajradhatu path based on Tibetan Buddhism, includes Zen and Theravada elements. Mindfulness-awareness practice." Jargön + ünsavoury succession mess offset otherwise solid rep (enhanced by disciples like Pema Chodron and honesty of sangha in dealing with the mess, that honesty now put in doubt by corporate blandness and whitewash bio). Still, benefit of doubt. A-B site (opp) now for members only, try Bugmenot.com if you don't wanna join.

Sri G Michael Turner
  M    b1958
 
Old Satsangs
* (collected by devotee)
Retirement Letter

Influenced by Ram Dass, Paul Twitchell, Darwin Gross, Harold Klemp, and Kirpal Singh, etc. Surat Shabd Yoga teacher. "Honors all other Sat Gurus and spiritual paths, and stands in competition with no one." Accessible, open teacher in SantMat stream who had lots of relatively honest information about others of his group on his sites, now down. Newly downgraded for alleged problems leading to retirement. Says he is back but no new site yet.

Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
  M    1916-2004

Pir Vilayat

"Rich mystical tradition of the East and the heritage of the West." "Successor to Pir-O-Murshid Inayat Khan in Murshids of the Chisti Order." "Broad spectrum of meditation techniques." "Convenes religious congresses." Educated in West (Oxford, Sorbonne, many sources imbibed but Sufi heart said to have remained strong). Succeeded by son Zia. Nice guy, looms large in 20th c Sufism.

Neale Donald Walsch*
  M   b1946ish


Neale Donald Walsch

American (OR) Media man, author of Conversations With God,  stupendously popular series to be read at random for cool insights. "The Ten Illusions of Humans, Seven Steps to Friendship with God, the Five Attitudes of Godliness, and the Three Core Concepts of Holistic Living," etc. ReCreation Foundation. "Deep in the Consciousness of every Living Human is a cellular memory . . . of Love as the Only Reality, that there was no envy, no anger, etc." Appeal said to reach beyond Christians, not a lot of specific info. Benefit of doubt.

Lama Thubten Yeshe
  M    1935-1984

FPMT (org) 
see also LamaYeshe (wisdom archive)

"The idea of the self is not correct. It is a preconception that must be broken down and recognized as unreasonable. Then we can understand the possibility of ceaseless, infinite development and spiritual growth." Big Mahayana Buddhist, based in Dharamsala, visited all over. Reborn as Tenzin Osel. Psychological work. Sincere but playful.

Paramahansa Yogananda
  M    1893-1952
aka Mukunda Lal Ghosh

Self-Real'n Fellowship
 
SRF-free discussions

  Skeptical* 
Anti 

"Scientific techniques of concentration and meditation lead to direct personal experience of God." Kriya Yoga, chain of gurus from the immortal, eternally youthful Babaji. Early acceptance in America made possible by strong Christian flavour. Classic autobiography. Celibacy claims questioned by alleged 68-year-old "love child," but Y vindicated by DNA tests. Discussion site is about SRF org (anti), Skeptical more about Y himself. Still nice guy, Kriya spreading, body time fading. Anti page from Sw Satyeswarananda Vidyaratna, who also grinds axes against P'hamsa Hariharananda. Kriya Wars also spreading!

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