A few days ago I sat with a spiritual community in trauma. Their spiritual leader was in disgrace from allegations of sexual impropriety. The hall that is normally full was half-empty, and of those attending, half were quietly weeping. The session was taken by the leader’s life partner, the woman sweetly and affectionately known as Divine Mother. She was left to carry not only her own pain but that of the community. Such pain, such grief, such betrayal.
Together with the community, and particularly through the years of hard work by his partner, the spiritual leader had built up something magnificent… hundreds of people were devoted to him and had been moved to spiritual life by his weekly teachings and other course-based programs. The ashram grounds and buildings were beautiful, all brought about by his followers, with the enthusiasm that comes of love and devotion. But now some were possibily feeling that, if it the allegations were true, such cheap behaviour cheapened them all. His insensitivity towards those with whom he had sexual relations showed a level of lying that revealed also his insensitivity to each person in the community. And a terrible suspicion was dawning on some that perhaps it had all been a beautiful fantasy. Some were in denial. Some were feeling a hollow in the pit of their stomach knowing that their associates would now deride and disparage them and their avowed convictions.
In our small community of Classical Yoga, we are a hardy lot. What I teach and what we all practise is spiritual realism. If you feel angry, do not push it away and focus only on good feelings. Rather, sit with your anger. Sit with it until you begin to see where your anger is coming from. Not by projecting it out and blaming. Just sit, feel the anger – the hatred, the desire to attack, the desire for revenge, until you see where such bile is coming from. You will find that the source of it is not in another person, or in a situation. It is in yourself. You have created it out of fantasy and illusion… creating a sweet illusion that you are a perfect human, or that someone you love or loved is a perfect human, or that some perfect person should carry your imperfections for you and transform them. Perhaps you have an illusion that what has been built must never be destroyed. You create an illusion that says reality has an obligation to be the way that makes you feel comfortable. Only when you have accepted yourself as the source of your anger will you be able to choose a proper spiritual response to your situation.
The Pain of Disillusionment
Here at Classical Yoga, we sit with pain rather than push ourselves into a nice space. Diving deep into the pain, down to its source – with loving companions who do not shy away from the ugliness of it – we allow ourselves to discover the source of psychic pain. It is in yourself. More particularly, it is the exquisite pain of a pricked illusion. The loss of the beautiful illusion tears up your life view. All the things you marked on your personal map now invalid, you feel adrift without guidelines.
Worse than that, the bursting illusion makes you feel so horribly vulnerable. Were you a fool? And the weeping desire that it cannot be your fault, it cannot, it cannot, you trusted, it is not your fault, you cannot be so foolish and vulnerable. Can you? Yes, you can. It is, you can, and you were. And you just have to accept the horror that you can’t undo.
Getting Something Much Better
It is so hard, so hard. But here is the good thing about it, if you will do the work. Don’t just push away anger and pain. Once you truly find what is real, your taste for illusion disappears. Once you really find that anger, hatred and contempt have their source in your own vulnerability, vulnerability disappears. Once you find that, you cannot be manipulated or hoodwinked. Your insight grows clear and acute, with no vested self-interest.
And here is the most amazing discovery, if you are on a spiritual path: You find that, no matter what the horrors of the person you chose for a guru, God is there all along.
Good Luck Story
My own experience of relating to the guru was harsh and lonely. I wanted an idealist to match my ideals. My personality, intellect and values were totally opposite to his. I shot off all of the arrows of my dissatisfaction with him, and felt vengeful satisfaction when each found its mark. If I had had the ideal teacher of my dreams, nothing would have changed my self-righteous illusion of being the centre and arbiter of all things good. But the guru I got bruised my illusions over many, many years. And surprisingly, one day the illusion of personhood just disassembled and fell away. I am life-experiencing and life-affirming.
Now i honour the iineage that brought me the opportunity of a yogic route to such a deeply satisfying experience of life and self. I also see the way some men in that lineage have besmirched the devotion and respect of those seeking their spiritual guidance, and my heart aches for those hurt by their self-centred actions. At the same time, I find God or Shiva wherever I look
Keep at it – but shift your focus
You just have to stop looking for Him in the fantasy of a perfect man. You have to stop looking for Him in doctrines and theories and mantras. You can only find God in reality. You become self-realised instead of looking for your realisation through otherness. The work is yours to do. So explore reality wholeheartedly instead of resisting and shying away from it. Plunge to the bottom of anger and pain. And be free, and be loving – for your own sake, not for the abuser’s sake.
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