I saw a facebook post from a respected American spiritual master, in which he called another respected American spritual master as a “rishi”. The former calls himself a rishi too.

I am quite troubled and dismayed by the ease with which people in spiritual circles now-a-days, in India as well as the west, use the word “rishi” to describe someone (or themselves). This is quite unfortunate.

Rishi does not merely mean an impossible genius or an incredibly wise man. The word comes from the verb “rish” (glide). It means someone whose consciousness glides smoothly and lightly like a leaf gliding in air, in an absolute lack of resistance, i.e. someone who has zero individual will and works completely in concert with divine will.

We have geniuses and sages, but no rishis in today’s world. Everyone in this era IS driven by some individual will and agenda.

If we really respect rishis, we should stop using that word to describe great men of this era. Please do not use the word to describe yourself or your gurus or someone you respect and stay away from people who do.