How am I different from other gurus?

“Would you please speak on how your ‘professional, pastor-teacher relationship with your students’ differs from the traditional Guru/disciple relationship as generally seen in IGM and other traditional paths of Sanatan dharma?”

I see IGM like the Catholic Church and myself like Martin Luther calling for a protestant reformation. I am non-hierarchical and egalitarian. I am one of the people who through practice (sadhana) has attained a certain level of spiritual wisdom and realization. I refuse to allow myself to be put on a pedestal or have gold statues made of me. I walk the path of love with my students as a spiritual guide and friend. Rather than spiritual master, I prefer to think of myself as a spiritual guide and teacher. I am master of no one but myself.

I do not ask to be worshiped, but simply respected as a person who has devoted their life to the spiritual path. I seek to empower my students to realize their full potential as spiritual leaders also. We are all to minister. Some of us do so professionally and others are lay followers. All are devotees and dear to Radha and Krishna.

I have no dogma or creed. I ask my students to agree on basics and on other things they may differ. They should accept the spirit of my teachings rather than the letter. I do not have a cookie cutter recipe for all to follow.

I am a feminist. I believe in elevating the feminine, both in the form of Radha and women as well as those feminine aspects of all life and being. Patriarchal values have dominated for too long. A balance must be achieved.

I especially appeal to critical thinkers (madhyam adhikaris) who do not want black and white answers when reality is more gray. I am not a literal, fundamentalist. I encourage questioning what we believe. That way, we can come to more true belief. Truth is progressive, dynamic and a process. It must be developed and adapted by each generation of seekers. In other words, my word is not final. I am a universalistic essence seeker rather than a sectarian dogmatist.

I have been thoroughly vetted for spiritual, religious leadership in graduate school and a four year ordination process by a leading Protestant denomination. I know of no other guru who is also an ordained Christian trained in the ministry standards of the West which Bhaktivinode Thakur accepted for Westerners. I seek to be a bridge between East and West just as he was. I live a Western lifestyle and encourage my disciples to do the same. Artificial renunciation is not helpful. Enjoy the things of the world in appropriate ways and develop love at the same time. There are no rules for spontaneous devotion (raganuga bhakti).

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