Note: To eliminate problems of different kinds, I want to alert you to the fact this
Claire D. is a Content Crafter and Marketer at Digitalogy — a tech sourcing and custom matchmaking marketplace that connects people with pre-screened & top-notch developers and designers based on their specific needs across the globe. Connect with me on Medium, Linkedin, & Twitter.
All too often, as Ryan Fan’s article on the rise of self-help guru James Arthur Ray makes clear, someone with a lot of charisma can cobble together a platform easily with some spiritual tidbits from here and there. In most cases, the problem is that spiritual wisdom becomes distorted, leading people to use spiritual principles to bypass or manipulate others. But in others — as was the case with James Arthur Ray, which led to the deaths of several followers — the consequences can be devastating.
It’s not about burning calories or getting your heart rate up. It’s not about anything. Use that time to empty your mind, to notice and appreciate the beauty of the world around you. The Buddhists talk of “walking meditation,” or kinhin, where the movement after a long session of sitting can unlock a different kind of stillness than traditional meditation. Walk away from the thoughts that need to be walked away from; walk toward the ones that appear in their place.Life on a spiritual path is fraught with pitfalls. We need to be able to find teachers who can guide us. A true teacher guides us to be a more authentic version of ourselves. I have learned an enormous amount from several teachers, and while none of them was perfect, they were trustworthy and had my interests at heart. I also trusted myself when it was time for our relationship to evolve beyond that of teacher and student. An authentic teacher will let you go. A fake teacher will berate you, force you to sign an NDA, or threaten you with litigation.Among the most damaging ones are those who engage in sexual misconduct, often wrapping their actions in spiritual tenets and using their authority to cover up the abuse. Unfortunately, such scandals are all too common. Bikram Choudhury, who fashioned a brand of yoga, was exposed by a Netflix documentary for his multiple sexual abuses and fled to Mexico. After Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga yoga died in 2009, many victims came forth to share their stories of abuse. Eliza Griswold, discussing Pattabhi Jois in the New Yorker, bluntly stated, “This is only the latest in a string of scandals involving powerful men within the yoga community that date back decades.”
Claire D. is a Content Crafter and Marketer at Digitalogy — a tech sourcing and custom matchmaking marketplace that connects people with pre-screened & top-notch developers and designers based on their specific needs across the globe. Connect with me on Medium, Linkedin, & Twitter.The spiritual world is witnessing a proliferation of spiritual teachers. On the one hand, this is to be applauded, as spirituality loses its stigma, and people increasingly challenge conventional ways of thinking about life. On the other, it is easy to put up some slick images on Instagram and post memes, derived from someone else’s material, with an unfounded sense of mastery.I am not advocating some kind of regulation or a certification process for mediums, healers, and spiritual teachers. But you have to be willing to study and undergo training with qualified teachers. You also have to ask yourself, with humility and honesty, if you’re ready to be a teacher.
When you are walking the spiritual path, in a world of sometime advantage-takers, occasional frauds, and not infrequently unprepared students who call themselves teachers, you must arm yourself with one vital question: Does this person deserve my trust?
If you can teach yourself to be grateful for and to enjoy the ordinary pleasures, you will be happier than just about everyone. A bowl of cereal. A good sunset. A nice conversation with a friend. These are the moments to treasure. We have so much available to us, even right now — the only catch is that we have to be here for it. To be present, and grateful. You have to understand that every day you wake up alive and well is wonderful.
Well-meaning individuals often want to spread spiritual wisdom far and wide after beginning to study. They might be meditation instructors who offer dharma talks after a six-month teacher training course. They might have read The Power of Now or spent some time in a Facebook group and then begin to offer advice online. There are lots of people promoting certification programs, promising to teach people to be healers in days or weeks.
Sadly, the history of Buddhism confirms that yoga has no monopoly on sexual abuse. Ösel Tendzin, the successor to Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in the Shambala tradition, contracted HIV and transmitted it to students he had sex with and did not forewarn them of the risk. In 2018, Mipham Rinpoche, the current head of Shambhala, was found to have abused female members of the sangha for several years; the scandal led famed Buddhist nun Pema Chodron to resign from the organization. As Mark Oppenheimer detailed in a compelling exposé in The Atlantic, three of the four Zen masters who came to the United States in the 1960s were found to have engaged in serious sexual misconduct; the fourth was succeeded by his student, who soon enveloped the San Francisco Zen Center in its own sex scandal.
There are lots of warning signals, once you scratch the glitzy surface of a charismatic guru. Horowitz points to several disturbing tendencies — demonization of outside authority, a disconnect between word and action, and pressures to undertake practices that are extreme. Fake teachers, he reminds us, will often not be transparent and attempt to amplify their image with false stats or conjured miracles. A true teacher should be open about their wisdom and shortcomings and should never try to manipulate you into staying with them.