Shame, Guilt and the Guru's Blood
The sense of guilt and shame, and the feeling that one was constantly “betraying one’s Master” could inspire the willingness to make sacrifices that seem extreme and irrational from the outside. Andrew seems to encourage this behavior, even relish it. Some years ago at Foxhollow, a student named Jeff, a very good writer, was having a great deal of trouble with a writing project he had been assigned to do. He was supposed to write an introduction to a book Andrew was publishing, but he was having no success. Feeling terrible guilt about this, he wrote in a desperate letter to Andrew that “if I don’t come through, I will cut my finger off.” Andrew seemed to like this idea. When Jeff still did not succeed at his writing, Andrew called for Michele, the physician, to come see him. My informant was present when Andrew instructed Michele what to do. Andrew told Michele to go to see Jeff, and to bring her medical kit. She was instructed to tell Jeff that Andrew was taking him up on his offer to sacrifice a finger. She should take out her scalpel, her mask, her gloves, a sponge—everything she would need for such an operation—and lay them all out. She was told to carry through the charade up to the very last minute, and then stop.
When Michele visited Jeff, he had barely slept in about a week. He was in a desperate state. Nobody was there but Michele, who is still a student of Andrew, and Jeff, who I do not know how to contact. But Michele confirmed to another informant of mine that she had followed Andrew’s instructions precisely. Jeff was severely and obviously shaken by the incident. He left Andrew and Foxhollow a few weeks later.
When I left the Andrew Cohen community in late 1996, before its move to Lenox, Massachusetts, Andrew had already begun to speak openly of his fondness for guilt. It went along, in his mind, with his emphasis on conscience and “doing the right thing.” I remember Andrew saying at a special retreat of close students in Mill Valley, California that I attended that while other teachers talked of unconditional love, self-acceptance and forgiveness, he did not agree with such talk. “I’m not into unconditional love or forgiveness,” he said. “I’m into conditional love and guilt.” Andrew would say that while it was not his preference, if that is what it took to force change, using guilt and shame was perfectly alright.
Over the years, Andrew instilled a sense of guilt and shame in various ways, as he deemed necessary. He would often highlight student’s weak points by giving them an embarrassing or insulting name. A student who received such a name could only use that name in the community, and community members were required to use that name when addressing or referring to that person, until Andrew said it could stop. Some examples of these names include Vacance, Mad Dog, Raging Bull, Furious, Dizzy, Casual, Unreal, Mephisto, Q the Clown, Sherma the Tank, Tamasa and His Greatness or “HG.”
The shaving of heads was also used to mark someone who was in trouble. While it was sometimes a voluntary act symbolizing renunciation, shaving one’s head became more and more something that you were required to do when Andrew was unhappy with you.
These devices of inducing shame were already in force before the move to Foxhollow. But after the move to Foxhollow, the use of guilt and shame as a teaching device seemed to increase dramatically.
At Foxhollow, Andrew also began to speak openly of what he called “healthy shame.”
Professors Richard Boyatzis and Anthony Jack at the Weatherhead School of Management have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show neural reactions based on different coaching styles. Their research has shown that coaches who use encouraging and inspiring language that points out strengths and the potential for improvement precipitate neuro-endocrine changes in the brain that make people think and feel positively. These people are more likely to work hard, give their best and function at their highest level of creativity. When the coaching language emphasized weaknesses, flaws, or other shortcomings, the coached person was affected in the opposite way. Being judged made him defensive and aroused negative thoughts and feelings with reduced motivation to work and reduced creativity. Brain imaging reflected coaching tone.
Their paper Coaching with Compassion: An fMRI Study of Coaching to the Positive or Negative Emotional Attractor was presented at a recent Academy of Management Annual Meeting in Montreal and was awarded as a Best Paper.
The language you choose to communicate with your clients, colleagues, associates, staff, and family, affects your emotional state and their emotional state as well.
If you want to be of use to your client, then speak with him in a respectful, caring way laced with wise, practical advice.
If you prefer to serve your own ego needs, then speak down to your client in an authoritarian, bullying way. The language sets the emotional dynamic. You have the power to set an intention for the interaction and choose the appropriate language or you can operate on autopilot and let whatever language comes into your head dictate the emotional dynamic.
Graf board of inquiry to convene Tuesday
By David Larter - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Nov 29, 2010 21:13:14 EST
A cruiser skipper who was fired for cruelty and mistreatment of her crew will go before a Navy board of inquiry Tuesday that will recommend whether she can continue her Navy service.
Capt. Holly Graf was relieved as commanding officer of the Yokosuka, Japan-based cruiser Cowpens on Jan. 13 after an inspector general’s investigation found problems with her “temperament and demeanor.”
If Chopra and Cohen are the future of spirituality, I'd rather live in the past. Chopra is just another self-help guru shamelessly distorting modern science to make a quick buck, and Cohen is widely considered an ego-maniac with a messianic complex. His own mother disowned him after years of being his student. I'll pass.
..and Urban Zen hosted a dialogue with Andrew Cohen and Deepak Chopra, entitled “Creating a Spiritually Empowered Future.”
The dialogue was moderated by Arianna Huffington.