04/10/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Do You Really Need A Guru?

I was set to interview James Ray back in October 2009, just a few days before the tragic events in Sedona. As the news broke, the interview was cancelled and rightly so. Whether the tragedy was an accident or not, three people died and consequences needed to be faced. In the days that followed, the outrageous comments of a so-called channeller who said that the two people who died had chosen not to return to their bodies because they were having so much fun on the other side was appalling. Did anyone really think that this kind of reasoning would alleviate guilt or hold water in a court of law? That somehow the self help guru would be relieved of all responsibility? On Wednesday, the news of his indictment and arrest was not a surprise.

I think in times ahead many will be asking -- do you really need a guru?

Unfortunately, our so-called gurus of today focus only on enlightenment (the goal) rather than teaching the path leading to it (the process). Anyone can talk about the end goal but a gurus' job is to guide you to self realization. Period. His job is not to dazzle you with promises of more health, wealth and happiness in just 30 days, entice you into believing that spiritual development can be achieved with minimum effort, or endanger your life for the sake of spiritual transcendence. A so-called guru who promises such things in a short amount of time simply takes your money and laughs all the way to the bank. For those who do believe in such a person end up learning a hard lesson.

Lets be clear here, spiritual development is not a five day event, it's a lifetime event. The desire for more peace and harmony in your life should not cost you tens of thousands of dollars. What will give you peace is the honest exploration of your life. Your life is Your Guru. Your life contains all the seeds to bring about healing and wholeness. You need to trust the wisdom of your life rather than the wisdom of a charlatan. You need to empower yourself rather than empowering the ego of a spiritual narcissist.

No doubt, we all have an innate need to worship; we are wired for it. Some choose to worship sports stars, politicians, celebrities but we tend to overlook the fact that these people are just people with human limitations and issues. They may be great at their work but they are nowhere near the likes of Jesus, Buddha or Gandhi. In other words, who are we putting up on our altars? Who are we granting authority over our lives? Blind worship gives rise to false prophets, leaders and gurus who in the end prove they didn't deserve the pedestal in the first place.

In addition, we need to explore why we need a guru. What do we expect to get from them? Are we really interested in spiritual growth or are we seeking a short cut in order to escape the challenges of being human. Our projections onto the so-called guru is the very thing that hooks us -- its not the guru per se -- it is our own projections that blind us. The guru could exhibit questionable behavior but because we are under the spell of our own projections, we do not see what's transpiring right in front of our eyes.

Now I am not suggesting that an authentic guru is not valuable on the journey; on the contrary, it is extremely important to have someone guide your course and help to facilitate your transformation -- but only if they are qualified. An authentic guru will know exactly where you are in consciousness and will help your potential unfold organically. This process cannot be achieved in a weekend and may take years if not a lifetime. Under no circumstances will he invoke, cajole or manipulate your growth prematurely. If anyone advises otherwise, you better make a run for the hills.

How do you then distinguish the real from the false? By the way you feel in your gut. If I had a penny for every person who's told me over the years that despite their gut feeling to leave the group, the ashram, the seminar and for one reason or another ended up staying - I would be vacationing in Fiji fulltime. By going against their intuition, it led them into some traumatic experiences. Always, always follow your gut. Your intuition will never lead you astray but others will.

Bear in mind that the real ones are not interested in anything you have to give them. They already possess everything and therefore won't be tempted by fantasies of power and exploitation. They want nothing from you except your willingness to be guided into truth. You have to ask yourself -- do you want a guru to help you take the short cut or actually guide your journey of a thousand miles?