Friday, February 18, 2011

Diane Musho Hamilton - Simply Uncool

In the aftermath of Genpo Merzel's sexual transgressions (Wild Fox Zen has offered good coverage of the events), Diane Musho Hamilton (who often teaches with Merzel and is [was?] one of his dharma heirs) has offered a good post on the issue - from her perspective as a teacher.

It's worth noting here, as Brad Warner has pointed out many times, these behaviors (reckless sexual involvement and misuse of donated funds) go back almost 20 years - see this letter re: Genpo's behaviors from 1992. He apparently has not worked hard to hide these affairs or the possessions he has accumulated - so why did anyone allow him to continue teaching? Why did Integral Institute make him a central figure?

In his defense, Merzel has handled this with much more integrity than Gafni exhibited in his own sexual ethics transgressions (denial, threats, and defamation are his patterns). Of course, one wishes Merzel might have shown integrity in NOT doing these things.

Anyway, aside from all of that, I highly recommend this post from Hamilton . . . . Here are a few small bites from the larger article that resonate with me. I offer some additional thoughts below.
Diane Musho Hamilton - Simply Uncool

. . . . The heated complaints elicit an outcry of responses calling for the development of standards, guidelines, sound and consistent ethical policies which can provide oversight and accountability to the teachers in the Zen world. This is so that teachers and students everywhere are held accountable to the impacts that their decisions and behavior have on the communities in which they practice.

* * * * *

These guidelines, written policies, and legal contracts provide the basis for durable structures that can outlast the unruly behaviors and destructive tendencies of the humans who inevitably pass through them. And who among us hasn’t contributed to some mayhem among our friends?

Formulating these policies is natural, necessary, and even admirable, when you realize that we are capable of holding each other to higher standards of conduct.

* * * * *

In the meantime, however, while we are learning and while these policies are developed and implemented, I would like to introduce a handy word that may help guide you in your decisions until the ground rules are put on paper. The word that I want to offer to you in your search for integrity is simply “Uncool.”

“Is this cool or uncool?”

* * * * *

Sleeping around. Students bring a tremendous amount of vulnerability to the spiritual search, it gets very confusing and harmful when the student’s spiritual aspiration and their un-clarified sexual desire is mixed with the erotic impulses of the person in power. If you are a teacher and want a relationship with a student, change the agreement, acknowledge your position, and cultivate one with some consciousness and integrity. It doesn’t even have to be long-term. But habitually sleeping around with the people who are studying with you? Uncool.

Please go read the whole post - and if you are a part of the integral community in any way (as are both Genpo Merzel and Diane Musho Hamilton), please leave her a comment in support of taking this position into the wider integral community as well. I have been a bit of a gadfly in this realm, so my voice will mean nothing.

For reasons that fail me, this is a hugely ignored area of shadow in the integral world. There have been several big names involved in "sex scandals" - Genpo Merzel is only the latest. But aside from an initial stand against Marc Gafni when his little sex circle in Israel became public (and international news) - and which they have subsequently been misled into retracting - the central integral leaders have allowed this element in the community to remain a big freaking elephant of a shadow that lurks (silently) at every integral event where Gafni, or Beck, or now Merzel attend.

It's too bad no one in a leadership position in the integral community has stepped up to deal with this ethically and responsibly as is being attempted by the Sangha of which Merzel was a part - but then Merzel and Gafni are meal tickets for the Integral Institute, so maybe money beats ethics.

In AQAL, it's all a matter of perspectives, right?

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