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The Guru is an individual who possesses some degree of knowledge that most people do not, and who is usually thought of, but is not always, a teacher. The Guru, as opposed to other types of purveyors of knowledge, is suppose to possesses an understanding of philosophy, wisdom, spirituality or Consciousness, all of which may be outside the mainstream of social awareness and acceptance. The Guru is usually associated with the teachings and practices of things like Yoga, disciplines of Meditation, Buddhism or Zen, Enlightenment or Mysticism.

For the superficial student, the Guru may be expected to correspond to an authority such as an image of what the Guru should look like, how the guru should act, and what the Guru should have to say. This propensity is described by the concept of the Authoritative Imperative. The Guru represents what this kind of student is looking for, such as progressed ideals like perfect love, higher knowledge, wisdom, and maybe the solutions to the worlds problems. If the Guru does not correspond to these expectations, then this type of student may go away disappointed or may decry the Guru as false and deceptive. Thus it is said that for the superficial student, a phony Guru may be necessary. For the insincere Guru, it is necessary to play the role of the type of Guru that the novice is looking for, and perhaps expects to be paid for such services handsomely. Of course the insincere student in all probability may not recognize a real Guru, who it might be added, may not want to spend their time baby sitting the superficial novice anyway, and may lead a secret and private life, unrecognizable to the insubstantial seeker. Or they may prefer to spend their time teaching those capable of recognizing what they have to teach.

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