Tuesday, December 05, 2006

On Abusive Gurus

I posted a while back on Sogyal Rinpoche's issues with sexual abuse back in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. In the comments at least one person suggested we could separate the man from the teachings if the teachings felt like they were authentic and free from "contamination" by whatever personal issues plague the man.

This made sense to me and felt useful -- until I read the new post by M Alan Kazlev, The Teacher or the Teaching? Kazlev makes some very good points.
Faced with the guru who acts egotistically, or selfishly takes advantage of their disciples for financial gain, or abuses their position of trust by selects teens or twenty-something devotees for sex, or cruelly plays with their devotees feelings using the excuse of "braking down the ego", yet at the same time says things that are inspiring, what are we to do?

The common approach in the West, among those who are not locked in a sado-masochistic co-dependency relationship with an abusive guru, or who - if anything even more appalling - rationalise and justify their guru's abusive and selfish behaviour and attack or denigrate the victims, is to take the teachings for what they are worth and reject the teacher.

My approach, ironically, is the exact inverse of this. It is not that one should adopt the teachings and reject the teacher. Rather one should adopt an authetic teacher (very rare and precious indeed!), and thus go beyond the mental limitations of the teachings.
Kazlev makes a valuable distinction between the average brilliant but flawed teacher (Intermediate Zone Guru), and the pure teacher, which of course so very rare in our world today (or any day for that matter).
To ignore the (abusive) guru but concentrate only on their teachings is to be stuck in the thoughtform of the exoteric reality, but substituting words (teachings) for reality (the Divine Presence). Worse, much much worse, you are using the words of an imperfect teacher, and thus attuning to their presence on the subtle realms. In this way one can be misled. So rather than chasing the real state of the Supreme, one becomes lost in the beguiling half-lights and hall of mirrors that is the Intermediate zone.
The role of the guru is to be pure enough to assume the role of the divine and to channel that energy into the teachings. A flawed guru, or at least one with poor boundaries, cannot do this cleanly without being corrupted by the power.

This helps me clarify the issue to a large degree. I want to study the work of teachers who feel integrated and who do not carry the baggage of abuse in any way. I want to avoid -- as much as humanly possible -- being subjected to subtle energies that may not be pure.

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