What Hope said is 100% right!
Date: January 23, 2003 03:14AM
These New Age teachers and cults always, always start with a kernal of truth, a glimmer of beauty. Very often they appropriate wonderful teachings from a variety of valid spiritual traditions, then take the teachings out of context (usually by discarding the moral guidelines and humble daily disciplines that were supposed to accompany the teachings. For example, some of the most advanced Tibetan spiritual practices were only meant to be practiced by monks who had spent years living in community, had earned the trust of their peers and teachers, and who had undertaken extensive intellectual preparation and demonstrated that they were stable, moral people who wanted to be of service to others. This doesnt fit the profile of most Westerners who attend tantra workshops!)
It is incredibly seductive to be told 'You are special. You have a special destiny, just because you are at this event. You are about to live a life charged with glory that most people are too crude and unevolved to care about.'
And some of these teachers really can trigger bliss states, altered states of consciousousness. In a group of super-charged people, some very astounding, amazing things can happen, things that are very hard to discuss with friends and family who do not share your interest or who were not at the event. It's especially difficult if you have these yearnings, then have these experiences and must go home to a partner who isnt interested in these matters. It then gets very tempting to clam up around one's partner and become emotionally dependant more and more on fellow seekers. If it turns out you're in a badly run group or sect, you're in trouble. You dread that questioning the group means you must then go home, tail between legs to your skeptical spouse.
Here is a small example of what can happen in a group. Last Saturday I attended a peace march and then sat in silent meditation with a spiritual contingent.
No one chanted or lectured us. A totally unprogrammed environment, with lots of noise going on. Usually I have a lot of distraction when I meditate. But on this occasion, as soon as I sat down, my mind went lucid. I had my eyes open, was aware of everything around me (I saw a tiny earring fall to the ground when someone stood up and I picked it up and handed it to her). For two hours my concentration was stable and unbroken--as though my usual neuroses had gone on vacation. This persisted the rest of the day. I mention this as an example of how influential it can be to join a group where all the participants have cultivated a similar mental state. THis happened to be a very healthy, sane group of people that sat in silence, surrounded by a noisy crowd in an outdoor setting. So imagine how influential it could be if several hundred persons were segregated in an auditorium, and were led through a series of guided visualizations by a charismatic speaker.
Most subtly, your own deepest, most heartfelt yearning for Divinity can easily become linked to experiences triggered by a charismatic, but money-grubbing entrepreneur. They've ripped off valid spiritual traditions, without submitting to the spiriutal and ethical disciplines of those traditions. [i:5d552d65ed]Still operating from ego, but with powerful techniques at their disposal[/i:5d552d65ed], they are hustlers, pure and simple, impersonating spiritual teachers.
You feel ashamed and humiliated that the person was a faker but nevertheless aroused your body, even your soul. You can then easily come to hate and blame your own capacity for pleasure, and spiritual aspiration - a tragic response to someone elses crookedness.
They attach good things to an exploitative agenda--beautiful bait on a sharp steel hook. They do not see people like your sister as beings who deserve respect and care and protection; they merely see one more check, one more face in the crowd.
So to question the integrity of the teacher, to suspect that he was unqualified, that he hurt you and ripped you off, can feel as though you're being told to give up your soul and regress to an inferior life that is grey, flat and colorless. The saddest thing in the world is to have loved, and to find that the person you trusted to love you merely looked coldly at you and saw you as an object.
The hard thing in recovery is to take what was good from the trama and chisel it free from the exploitation and bullshit that was dumped on you. Your sister can live a spiritual life, but she will have to combine that aspiration with discernment skills. It really can be done, but admitting its necessary hurts like hell.
It is really a greater achievement to be human than to be special.