Friday, April 19, 2013

Kumaré

The other night, I went up to bed a little early and decided to watch a documentary on my tablet. I zipped through the offerings on Netflix and discovered one called Kumaré. The IMDB describes it thus:

"A documentary about a man who impersonates a wise Indian Guru and builds a following in Arizona. At the height of his popularity, the Guru Kumaré must reveal his true identity to his disciples and unveil his greatest teaching of all."

It sounded intriguing and not too pressing. I thought it would be amusing if nothing else. I had been looking for an easy watch, something that I could relax and just soak up. This was not that movie, but I don't regret a single moment of watching it. Indeed, I ended up staying awake almost an hour later than I should have, to watch the end of it.

Our story's "guru" grew up in a Hindu household, attended many rituals, studied religion in university, and discovered that he might just be an atheist.  He did a lot of background research, visiting religious and spiritual leaders around the world. He then set himself up with a couple of pretty young ladies to become Kumaré.

They start with a detailed background of coming from a small village in India, and move on to getting him teaching time at a variety of local ashrams and yoga studios. He speaks in a fake Indian accent (though it's well done), punctuated with foreign words. Honestly, at the very beginning he does look rather fake to me.

Still, what he's teaching isn't wrong. He teaches that religious and spiritual leaders are all fakes, himself especially. He's not trying to dis ministers and priests and such, but more to point out that they're just guides and the impetus and spirituality comes from within. He continues his teachings, getting deeper and deeper with his students.

There's a point at which he's a well accepted teacher, and his core students begin to seek him out for counselling. He does what all good counselors do - he says things like, "Hm... and what do you think of that?" He answers questions with questions. He challenges the students to find their own answers. And they thank him for his deep wisdom and feel that they've gotten something incredibly potent.

The documentary is fascinating, both in its coverage of the students and how they integrate themselves into the practices of Kumaré, and Kumaré himself and how he finds his own way thanks to his students. The ending was surprising, not in its function (he reveals himself to his students eventually) but in the response of the students to that revelation.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone who has an interest in religious or spiritual leaders or teachings. It's incredibly well put together, and is very touching. Kumaré holds nothing back at the end, and talks a lot about how his "expose" film turned into a spiritual journey for himself.

     Five stars!


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