Q2, if you feel confortable about doing so, could you describe some of this infilitration?
You're not alone in noticing this. Do a search on the RR.com message board for Seung Sahn in the all dates option
and Genpo and Big Mind in the all dates section.
But if you have seen additional examples of this, and feel able to describe it (if concerned about retreat centers, you need not name the place, just describe the process)
One way to identify beyond doubt that its an LGAT is whether it fosters a collective high, people are socialized to become emotionally invested in the mythologized story of the Great Teacher.
And especially if one must sign paperwork such as this:
I have a sense that another sign that Buddha Dharma is being distorted into LGAT form is a clear departure from how Buddha told his followers to take refuge in the teachings after he died, and that he had promised he had taught them all they needed and had held nothing back.
Buddha emphasized the teachings not his own Personal Story. He did not mythologize himself or turn his situation into a Heroic Quest.
By contrast, troubled teachers tend to mythologize themselves. Being human is not enough. They turn their own lives into a Great Epic a Big Story and con others into propping up the leaders mythomaniac Big Story.
This is afflictive emotion at work--unexamined afflictive emotion at that.
Heavy media advertising and PR are also examples of this--these work by massaging afflictive emotion so you will buy into the leader's Big Story.
I wrote a rather long winded ramble on mythomania here. It may be a way to get people 'through the door' and away from Dharma and into LGAT land.
(tiny quote from a longer piece)
IMO one mark of an actual cult is that it exploits and inflames mythologizing tendencies a seeker already has--and conceals this regression by using bliss technology. The person gets hooked both on the bliss and on the mythomaniac leader or (in some cases) the mythomaniac organization.
By contrast to a cult, an emancipatory teacher/therapist would
1) Not be a mythomaniac. Real therapists do not fill the room with themselves and their own Big Stories. The real ones create boundaried space so that the seeker can come home to his or her own yearnings and bring them out into conscious awareness.
2) The real teacher or therapist, in addition to not filling the room with his or her story, listens more than speaks and tries to find ways to assist the client to become conscious of his or her yearnings for a Big Mythical Daddy. This is done to free the person from yearnings that are a source of suffering and that trigger hurtful patterns of behavior.
Real therapists and gurus demythologize. This will not kill wonder in life. It opens us up to a quieter and more human calmness and agency.
This cannot be done on a mass industrial scale, in workshops. Close and undivided attention is needed.
IMO, the crazy wisdom alibi or the 'sorcerer's way' as actually practiced in Castaneda's cult, is a preframe to mythologizing.
IMO the cultic milieu/new age scene can be distinguished by its mythologizing mindset. If you are unwilling to mythologize, you are not a member of the tribe.
I remember finding myself in the midst of such a gathering. Felt like the only sober person in a roomful of people who were stoned.
They were stoned on mythologizing and the lecturer, whom I thought was a legitimate person, turned out to be a mythomaniac.
I could see, and later verified that he was a cruel person. But the mythologizing audience were blind to all this.
IMO and I speak as a private citizen and sometime Dharma practitioner--this kind of mythologizing is an intoxicant, and incompatible with Buddhadharma, period.
If you sense this vibe it will not support genuine Buddhist practice which includes the Four Brahmaviharas:
loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity
Equanimity is never a product of an LGAT
Time spent in an LGAT tends to inflame craving and one either becomes greedy and secretive in relation to its teachings (greed and delusion are afflictive emotions)
Or one becomes dismissive of those who refuse to take the LGAT or Better Buddhist Method or one prosyltizes, which disrupts the harmony needed for a community and workplace to support practice.
LGAT methods are like Agent Orange, they will ruin the habitat that supports true Buddhadharma practice by introducing secrecy, greed, discord and by clouding insight and inflaming afflictive emotions.
If you feel able to describe instances of this that you have witnessed, please feel free to do so. The more of us who can describe instances of this, the better.
Many Dharma Centers are vulnerable because they need to raise cash and are willing to rent their space to anyone who can pay. Few think to do background checks.
An especially adept LGAT ambassador may charm and beguile a teacher or retreat center administrator.
And sadly, few think to fact check because too many Buddhists are afraid to violate right speech by speaking up about potential trouble.