I Am Not Your Guru

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Figure out what you really want. Work out what’s stopping you from getting it. Decide what you are going to do about it. Don’t get distracted. This bit of apparent common sense has been the core of Anthony Robbins’ testament for the duration of a hundred books, CDs DVDs etc, padded out with basic business and relationship advice from an array of deputies. Nevertheless a cult like hysteria has developed around this guru you have when you’re supposedly not having a guru.

I Am Not Your Guru covers a five-day event in Florida called “Date with Destiny” in which Robbins promises an excoriating rebirth to his needy flock. No one gets out untransformed. He encourages a commitment to change on site by having his troubled ones encamp for five days straight and charging them upwards of US$5,000 a head to attend. That should weed out the shirkers and the merely curious.

Signs of a cult do manifest. As the healing begins, there is the clapping of hands, the  corporate inspirational themes and Robbins hails some of them with a rousing “Welcome home!” Throughout the proceedings there is borderline emotional abuse and a surprising surfeit of expletives from Robbins.

We witness some harrowing case histories from among the attendees, which are submitted in writing to Robbins’ crew in advance and Robbins singles out these individuals for  special attention and maximum drama. Their stories engage and fascinate, despite an uneasy ambivalence about the whole affair. It would certainly be easy to view the events depicted here with a lot more cynicism.

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