Dear Integral Friends and Family,
I hesitated a few days before posting this. I felt that the tone was too preachy and righteous and didn’t take into account Genpo’s suffering and the responsibility of the other adults involved. And, when I chuck rocks, I am well aware of Jesus’ injunction, “He that is without sin…” Nevertheless, I feel there is enough in the article below that merits reading and deserves to be a part of this ongoing conversation. We are all One, your sin is mine, and mine is yours, as well as your glory and beauty. My request is that we hold this deep knowledge and compassion as we skillfully and courageously sort out this relative fur ball. I feel there is a great gift through and beyond all this hurt, anger, and pain. God bless us, One and All.
As I’m sure everyone knows by now, another one of our founding Integral teachers imploded under the weight of a sex scandal (not his first). When I heard this, I was completely underwhelmed and had a “What else is new?” attitude. In fact, when someone told me he had been “disrobed,” I quipped, “That’s a double entendre, right?”
Our meditation group was discussing this after our sit on Sunday and I said, “I would prefer my spiritual teacher to be a little less screwed up than I am. These teachers can’t seem to teach us anything about ethics, skillful means, or self-sacrifice, so what the hell can they teach us?” This latest hero is, I believe, somewhere in the vicinity of 67 years old. I guess we could infer that meditation practice keeps the libido alive and well and generally out of control! So, if one can’t teach wisdom, morality, or compassion, what’s left? Non-duality? Big deal. I got it. If that is what you’re after, I recommend that you practice meditation an hour a day, using the meditation technologies that we now have at our disposal, and that stuff will come online of itself.
As Ken and the AQAL map show us so well, there is the little matter of levels and lines, as in, well, he had a deep or high spiritual realization or line, but didn’t do the emotional line work. Well, why the fuck not? I have to. What makes these folks so damn special? I was a wilderness guide for years and often led groups of beautiful young women through the wilderness for weeks, if not months, at a time, not to mention the beautiful young staff members I worked with. Am I gay? Most certainly not. Did I find them beautiful and attractive? Most certainly. Well? They were my charges—my job was to lead them, teach them, keep them safe, and help them heal. Would I have laid down my life to fulfill these responsibilities if I had to? I think I would have. Because that is what good leaders do. They put those they serve and lead before themselves.
Am I without sin? No. Am I at risk of falling on my own face? I am. But I think I can safely say that I will not have sex with any of my students! God helping me. The power differential thing is a mess and simply undeniable. That is why it is off limits and strictly taboo to have sex with children, for crying out loud! Maybe if you claim to be a Grand Poobah, you necessarily no longer have a peer group and the only suitable or desirable partners are your lessers, as in less enlightened, or your students, and your wife or husband doesn’t seem so desirable anymore. What to do? Well, you could start by renouncing your claim of Grand Poobah-hood or keep it in your robe or pants. Radical, huh? If you do not care about your people enough to renounce some of your own lusts, then you have no business being in the spiritual Poobah business. And, if you are a spiritual teacher, then you better initiate a practice that is Integral and includes and deals with your emotional, shadow, and sexual issues or you are a disaster waiting to happen. To paraphrase Ken, “Sex is not bad; bad sex is bad.”
We simply must negotiate this thorny and horny issue with more intelligence, honesty, a sense of responsibility, and, OMG!, impulse control. As one of our prominent Integral spiritual teachers said, you can sense the appropriateness of a liaison by the aftertaste. But by then, of course, the damage is done.
One final word. If you spiritual teachers don’t want to misbehave yourselves out of your jobs, and become clichés and objects of derision (look at the Catholic priesthood), you will work on your stuff. I have a young colleague and student, Shachar Erez, who is starting an Integral Practice group at JFKU, and he came up with the slogan “Practice is the Guru.” I like it a lot. Teachers take note and beware.