Friday, February 13, 2009

Integral Life - How to Deal with Disappointment in Your Spiritual Teachers

Any time we make a guru of another person, we are bound to feel disappointment in that person at some point. No one is ever perfect, and in human relationships (especially teacher-student) there is always going to be disappointment. So how do we deal with that?

In the clip, Tami Simon (owner of Sounds True) and Ken Wilber talk about this topic. The Ken suggests we might experience the flawed teacher's wisdom more fully when we recognize their imperfection.

How to Deal with Disappointment in Your Spiritual Teachers

Tami Simon shares her experiences of being painfully disappointment by various spiritual teachers, as well as her own personal methods of working with this disappointment. What do we do when our spiritual guides don't quite measure up to our own expectations of them? Can recognizing their limitations actually help free the wisdom the have to offer us?

Here is a bit of the blog post that accompanied this video:

Written by Corey W. deVos

By virtue of running a business like Sounds True, which has produced a litany of audio interviews with a staggering amount of today's heaviest-hitting spiritual teachers, Tami has had plenty of opportunities to get to know many of the world's most extraordinary teachers in very deep and profound ways. As she mentions in the interview, when there is a business contract sitting on the table between herself and some of these teachers, she is often exposed to a side of them that many of their own students aren't—a side that occasionally appears to be incongruous with the lofty perceptions that surround them. Rather than being the perfect vehicles of liberation they are often made out to be, Tami has found many of these teachers to be anything but perfect. She has been exposed to their full humanness, and finds that they possess many of the same relative foibles, flaws, and idiosyncrasies that so many of us are subject to. Sometimes this experience can be endearing, but many times it is painfully disappointing—especially when the teachers seem to be so unaware of their limitations, parading their spiritual realization in such a way that tries to mask their own human twistedness.

This sort of disappointment has been felt by a great number of people somewhere along their spiritual path, who have at some point become suddenly aware of their own teacher's imperfections, in ways that can violently undercut the reverence and spiritual connection they feel with them. Sometimes students are disappointed when they hold on to the naive belief that spirituality is some sort of magical elixir, which, when done right, promises to make us happy all the time and cure all of our life's ailments. And when flaws in our spiritual teachers are inevitably discovered, it must be because they are doing something wrong, and are therefore in no position to teach us anything. Other times, this disillusionment is simply a result of the quixotic projections many students unfairly impose upon their teachers—expectations that, since spiritual teachers are here as representatives of absolute perfection, they must themselves be absolutely perfect. And when it is discovered that these teachers still eat, use the bathroom, and have sex, they are immediately stripped of their demi-god status and cast out of our idealized heavens.

Read more of this post.

[Note: I have some misgivings about this post, considering the re-emergence of Marc Gafni (a brilliant, charismatic man with a long history of sexual misconduct involving students) into the integral community. Seems to me a bit of "paving the way" to embrace someone who had been rightfully removed from the community.]

No comments: