MY FATHER'S GURU by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson


A Journey Through Spirituality and Disillusion
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 In Final Analysis (1990), Masson attacked those who trained him as a psychoanalyst. Now, in a kind of prequel, he seeks to debunk Paul Brunton, a pioneering popularizer of Eastern thought who for years was the live-in guru to Masson's childhood family. Masson's impulse to illuminate shadowy spiritual practices goes awry, however, because Brunton appears here as gentle and forgiving, while Masson seems suspiciously vengeful--a Harvard- educated bully picking on a frail, self-educated old man who once tried to help him. When Masson was five, growing up affluent in postwar California, his father, a restless, spirituality-aspiring gem dealer, found a guru in Brunton, a slightly built European who'd authored several popular books about the spiritual life. Brunton was elusive about his real background, telling young Jeffrey that he'd been born on Venus and had attended ``Astral University.'' The guru claimed to have been sent to America for a great, secret purpose, and he dwelt in a fantastic world of spiritual conspiracies, of battles between light and darkness. The end of the family's infatuation with Brunton began in 1956, when the teacher became convinced that WW III would break out in the early 60's. He persuaded the Massons to uproot their lives and to seek refuge in South America--but he never followed them. From Uruguay, Masson went to study at Harvard; there, encountering the hard, slow work of real study, he began to see Brunton's stature as a figment of his own imagination. At age 26, Masson exposed Brunton in an act of fraud (``I am, I finally realize, unusually sensitive to pretense, fraudulence, and lack of truthfulness,'' crows Masson here)--only to see Brunton act almost relieved not to have to play the role of guru anymore. Masson eloquently portrays the pretense and vanity of a would- be spiritual teacher, but it seems that he doth protest too much- -and, not for the first time, his words come off as more arrogant than wise.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-201-56778-4
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1992


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