The Guru’s Touch: a novel

| May 1, 2019



A coming of age novel about blind faith, spiritual betrayal, and abuse of power.

In the heyday of the New Age movement, after the deaths of both his parents, troubled college dropout Doug Greenbaum seeks the meaning of life at the feet of charismatic Indian meditation master Swami Rudrananda. With just one touch, his followers say, Rudrananda has the power to awaken a spiritual force within his devotees known as kundalini, and can guide them all the way to enlightenment. But as Doug travels with the swami’s entourage to India and back during the early 1980s, he discovers that life at the ashram contradicts his preconceived ideas about spirituality. VIPs get special treatment, and the higher-ups live in luxury, dress in designer clothes, use foul language, and never meditate. The guru’s core disciples appear certifiably nuts, but have one thing in common: a fanatical and unwavering devotion to Rudrananda, whom they call “Baba,” or father. The cult will stop at nothing to protect his shocking secret.

With a rickety roller-coaster ride of a journey, and a cast of unforgettable characters, including the beautiful American girl Doug falls hopelessly in love with and idealizes as “the Angel,” The Guru’s Touch will beguile, thrill, horrify, and leave you wanting more.

“Robert G. Schneider has written a fascinating tale of a young man’s quest for enlightenment in the ashram of an Indian guru, revered as a saint by his thousands of followers in the West. This compelling tale of spiritual seduction and betrayal, of ecstasy and trauma, is riveting, surprising, and most importantly, deeply authentic. If you were enchanted by the mystical mystery of the ashram in Eat, Pray, Love, this is the book that describes the other side of such groups – the corrupt, abusive world of the inner circle of a powerful, charismatic, traumatizing narcissist guru. This is the story of the dark side of enlightenment, and it could not be more clearly portrayed or better written.”
—Daniel Shaw, Author, Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation, and psychotherapist in private practice in New York City.

“For me, it is not plot that is compelling, it is good writing, and Robert Schneider’s novel, The Guru’s Touch, is a beautifully crafted story. It is in many ways a page-turner, which is not to say that it is an “easy read” or that it lacks depth. Rather, it is a story in which the characters come to matter greatly to the reader, and the reader wants to know more. But characters come to matter only because of the writing with which they are created. The reader must marvel at Schneider’s writing. I found myself re-reading passages asking myself, How did he do that? The story is told in the style of a memoir, which gives almost every passage, every chapter, the quality of delicately managed irony. The narrator of this book is a solid, highly complex presence who speaks as no other writer I have ever read. This is a remarkable novel.”
—Thomas H. Ogden, author of the novels, The Parts Left Out and The Hands of Gravity and Chance.

“No one intentionally joins a destructive cult. Robert Schneider’s novel realistically depicts how anyone under the right set of circumstances and conditions, from troubled school dropouts to successful business people and celebrities, can fall prey to undue influence. This poignant and gripping story of a young man’s spiritual seduction by a charismatic spiritual teacher, followed by his ultimate disillusionment, offers a vivid look into how cults recruit, the psychological forces that compel their members to stay, and the consequences of their participation. I am the author of 3 books about cults, am a former cult member, and a therapist who has been working with ex-members for 41 years.”
—Steven Hassan, author of the best-selling book Combating Cult Mind Control.

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