How to gaslight like a guru

True wisdom can only be found if you drop all pre-conceived notions of the world, look within, and engage in years of meditation and introspection. But sometimes it can also be found on Spotify.

I recently heard a podcast between Joe Rogan and Sadhguru on The Joe Rogan Experience, and it was as uncomfortable and cringe-worthy as you’d imagine. It is lazy (albeit correct) to dismiss Sadhguru as a con-artist, and carry on with your life. What is perhaps more productive is to try and learn something from him. This is my humble attempt to do so.

Leading questions

Want to convince someone of your point? Ask them questions with obvious answers, and then prove that those answers are evidence of the fact that your skeptic in fact agrees with your point.

“Can I know you by dissecting you and observing your organs?”
“No.”
“Then you also agree that intellect and sense perception are vastly limited, and that only spirituality can help us understand the universe. Hence, my stories of meeting extraterrestrials on Mount Kailash are actually true.”

Build authority by telling tales

Want to appear important to someone? Tell stories in which you were treated as a venerable authority by others.

“When I was in Silicon Valley, software engineers would tell me,
‘Sadhguru, we can make an app for your mission.’
I would tell them apps are fine, but technology can only help so much. We need spirituality.”

Note that Trump would also do the same. When he was talking about how the election had been stolen from him, he would tell tales of how some White House officer would call him and say, ‘Mr. President, this election is a disgrace….’

Build authority by pulling down your skeptic

Want to show dominance over someone who is questioning your claims? Question their credibility in return, and state that you are doing them a favor by even engaging with them.

“When I said that I would go on the Joe Rogan show, people started calling me frantically and saying, ‘Sadhguru, don’t go on the Joe Rogan show. He is a bad man. He has said this and that.’ I would only tell them that I have, in the past, gone to jails and spent time correcting criminals. I can definitely go on the Joe Rogan show, despite his reputation, and spend some time talking to him.”

Note that it was Rogan in fact who was doing him the favor: giving him an audience of millions of listeners who could then purchase tickets to Sadhguru’s yoga camps in the future or whatever. Sadhguru, in fact, spent a lot of time dismissing yoga as was done in America, probably so that he could create demand for “real Yoga” from India.

When asked hard questions, respond in stories

When someone asks you difficult questions such that answering them in a straight fashion would hurt you, respond to them with a weakly-related story such that it is now your skeptic’s job to extract the answer from your story.

“How did you know that you would find extraterrestrial beings on Mount Kailash?”

“See. I was once traveling on a motorcycle in India. I was doing an all-India tour, and would travel around 1000-1200 kms every day. Once, the motorcycle-chain came off….”

Also, you now have plausible deniability: whatever they say your answer was, you can just say that they misinterpreted your story.

A long story can help you wriggle away from difficult questions

Don’t like the direction the conversation is taking, where you’re being asked tough questions? Tell a long-enough story such that you can completely change the focus of the conversation.

“Do you think you could recovered from your illness by taking medicines and resting, instead of meditating on Mount Kailash?”

“See, yoga is about connecting to the rest of the cosmos……and that is why soil is so important for providing proper nutrition today.”

State that your point cannot be communicated in words

Do you want to convince someone that you’re telling the truth, although all your words are making you sound like a liar? Just tell them that you are in fact telling the truth, and it’s just that it is impossible to communicate your truth in words.

“How did you know that there were extraterrestrials on Mount Kailash and that you could connect with them?”

“See, the words are very limited in their ability to help us communicate. Whatever I experienced, it has to be experienced to be believed.”

Note that he has again bought plausible deniability for himself. If someone does take the initiative to go to Mount Kailash and try and connect with extraterrestrials, Sadhguru can just claim that they didn’t do it the “right way”, and that is why they failed to connect with extraterrestrials. If someone asks Sadhguru to do it the “right way” and help them connect with extraterrestrials, he can make up any number of excuses to not go, or perhaps claim that the person needs to first do yoga for 15 years with a “pure heart” before this becomes possible.



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Graduate student

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