The exploitation of the gullible and the credulous by gurus and godmen anguished UG so much that he declared, "I'd rather be known as a Conman than a God-man!”
Where does that leave us? Are we stuck? Is there a way out? Is getting 'bitten' or 'conned' the only way to tell the fraudulent from the real?
UG was categorical about our gullibility and credulity. He insisted that the onus is on us, "You are the ones who put the power in the hands of these gurus! They are just like you and me, no different! It is you who put them on a pedestal and then complain that you are helpless!"
UG, time and again said that the intelligent and educated are the most gullible! Unlike most others, they are intellectually aware of the limitations of reason and logic. Perhaps this makes them throw caution to the winds and discard reason and discrimination to surrender to the market gurus selling spiritual kingdom, the Promised Land beyond reason and logic.
Whether we like it or not, collectively and individually, directly and indirectly, every one of us is responsible for this sorry state of affairs.
UG’s recommendation to rid the problem of conmen was ‘uncompromising and uncomplaining self-reliance’ and a dose of ‘healthy skepticism’. UG would often say, "I was a heretic to the tips of my toes!”
UG would often recount an anecdote from his childhood where he was asked to kowtow to a visiting Swami who materialised gold coins out of thin air. When he was pushed really hard to touch the feet of the holy man, UG insisted that he would do so if the latter could materialise a gold coin with the current year stamped on it. This brought down the curtain on the 'miracle' show!
Not everyone is as clearheaded! Many are willing victims among the prey.
What makes us vulnerable?
Desire and fear are the key ingredients of our psychological DNA.
Every one of us without exception desires name, fame, money, position, possession, self-fulfillment and 'happiness without a moment of unhappiness'!
Everyone is equally afraid. There is fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of death and everyone is running after security, certainty, permanence and freedom!
Alongside we carry the psychological burden of guilt and shame.
Behind the façade of our degrees, wealth, fame there lies fear and desire. Any attempt to change this state of affairs is just another desire and any such attempt at change creates fear. So in reality there is no escape from desire and fear. It is a vicious circle!
The hope of getting something, getting somewhere, becoming someone is the cause of our exploitation. Market gurus are psychologically savvy. They are cool operators, ready to exploit the insatiable human desire and insurmountable human fear!
Here is a story from China that paints our dilemma.
A thief was caught while trying to run away after stealing a gold chain from a jewelry shop. This happened in broad day light with many people in the shop! He was immediately nabbed and produced in front of the district magistrate. The judge asked, “What made you do such a thing? There were so many people, didn’t you see them?” The thief responded, “No sir, I didn’t see anyone! I only saw the gold chain!”
Our story is not very different. Our insatiable desire to possess the ‘gold chain’ of happiness blinds us to the traps, threats and the hidden motives of conmen. Happiness, our ‘gold chain’ appears to us as the end goal of all desire and the ending of all our fears. We wish to be happy at all costs.
Were there any pointers from UG to deal with the nuisance of con artists?
Firstly UG highlighted ordinariness! He said, "It is extraordinarily difficult to be ordinary!"
Being ordinary is unburdening. Being ordinary is getting liberated from a thousand needless complexes, pretensions and trappings. Being ordinary is putting an end to all kinds of self-inflicted troubles.
Ordinariness is a stress-buster and relieves one from the tremendous burden of being important and respectable!
Those who bounced into UG, at some point or the other, got ‘pushed against the wall’ and had no choice but to stare at their own ordinariness. UG was a past master in exposing the hidden selfish motives, masquerading as spiritual virtues and values! The ‘self-encounter’ that he orchestrated so well, without giving us a hint, was a cleansing and healing process!
Secondly UG took away all hope, "There is no oasis situated yonder, you are stuck with the mirage!"
This summarily discounts the possibility of striving for some spiritual state or attaining immortality or enlightenment. This debunks the sales pitch of gurus, godmen and conmen of each and every kind. This puts an end to all peddlers of hope trying to lure the hopeful!
Does it mean UG is taking away all hope and choking us?
Importantly UG is jettisoning all false hope, pushing us into a ‘hope-free’ state, rather than a hopeless state. The ‘hopeless’ state would make one helpless, despondent and miserable! On the contrary, with UG one felt liberated and unburdened!
Hope-free state is much closer to the ‘uncomplaining, uncompromising self-sufficiency’ that UG emphasised often! It is about the mind that has completely ‘stopped in its tracks’!
When we are truly hope-free, we are no longer searching or seeking. Tons of psychic energy that is lying trapped underneath the burden of false hope is suddenly released!
“With so much energy at your disposal,” UG asked, “Tell me, what is it that you cannot do?”
The realisation that there is nothing to achieve, nothing to attain, nothing to hope for, is indeed a blessing and would free us of many psychological burdens, making us invulnerable to the lure of conmen!