Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
What happened to David's Integral Islands? I wanted to blow him and Lisa some crap about this...jeez did they ever give me resistance about this guy back on gaia. There is a super obvious reason all these gurus fall. They may have had an awakening experience but they aint fully awakened.
Hi, e, long time no see! I believe David finally closed Integral Islands; I'm not sure if he ever opened something comparable to it elsewhere.
It has been interesting to hear some folks, like Tom Huston, commenting on this recent turn of events. Years ago, I started a (controversial) thread on the Zaadz Integral forum called, "There's Something About Andrew," voicing some of my concerns about him as a teacher (which outweighed my feelings of appreciation, which I also expressed). At the time, Tom joined the discussion to defend Andrew rather vigorously. It seems now he's had a rather decisive about-face (based on my reading of things he has said on Facebook recently).
I've been relatively quiet so far about the defection of students and Andrew's stepping down, partly because I've already expressed a number of criticisms over the past 10 years and at this point it is (too*) easy to say, "I told you so!" But also, more importantly, because I feel for Andrew as he enters this very vulnerable phase, and I have some hope that this could mark a good turn for him. There's no need to pile on and kick him while he's down. With the degree that things are apparently disintegrating right now, this has got to be painful for him. May this be a fire that heals and refines even as it burns.
* I say "too easy" because I don't think I can fully justify saying it even now, not knowing the full story of what is happening, why the defections took place, etc. I'm an interested and concerned outsider, but undeniably still an outsider.
Maybe Cohen will discover this forum and see what p2p spirituality looks like?
We can hope!
Maybe Cohen will discover this forum and see what p2p spirituality looks like?
Well it's good to see this place alive and kicking! And I am with you Bruce, I'm not wanting to kick anyone when they are down. Besides karma works itself out in the end. It's interesting to see it working itself out for Andrew in this lifetime. :-) I just wanted to see if two old friends (David and Lisa) had learned anything? Ask them why seemingly intelligent people have this need for their spirituality to be gift wrapped in a cult of personality? In a way this is kinda good...a reminder to people to not get duped into credulity when a teacher's actions are suspect. I guess each new generation of seekers needs this reminder. So thanks Andrew for the poignant reminder.
>Ask them why seemingly intelligent people have this need for their spirituality to be gift wrapped in a cult of personality?
To paraphrase my remarks on this topic from Integral Life Community:
This issue is not particularly related to the field of spirituality. It shows up here because it is a normal part of human social relations -- until it is personally accounted for and relinquished.
The impoverished members of society suffer disproportionate amounts of physical and mental illness even when they receive comparable medical care. Aside for the real and deleterious general effects of economic inequality there is an equally devastating effect from the internalization of the performed presumption of status.
In many respect it does not matter whether we are exploiting the existence of status to assist ourselves in our evolutionary work OR using it to play out self-destructive patterns OR taking a critical stand against its ability to "sucker" gullible others. These are all ways of keeping the presumption alive. Tall men are, on average, paid more in most professions -- and not because of superior ability. Tall men, men up on stages, men with titles or fancy suits, men who proclaim their uniqueness and even men who are authentically unique in certain areas of development (even awakening) are no reason for anyone to internalize the higher/lower pattern.
Yet to do so is as natural as breathing for socialized human beings. Most guru-defenders & guru-critics are revolved around this common notion that the presentation of "status" is significant. We are as naturally dumb in this matter as when we simplemindedly categorize people's religious affiliations according to their claims about themselves. No decent biologist would accept a turtle's claim that it was a sparrow. But humans take communications as data for categorization. This is usually a mistake.
Naturally, we expect everyone -- even "spiritual teachers" -- to be bound by the more sensible of the common laws of the land. And we expect every human being, no matter how realized, to be exerting their own drives in every situation. We hope to cultivate a culture which makes balance and accountability easier and more common (as Andrew's current gesture certain does...) but what will make a real difference is the renunciation, by people in general, of the unreliable feeling that status is being conveyed by its signs. As long as we go for it -- and that includes going for it in the form of verbally struggling against its "perpetrators" and "gullibles" -- the basic pattern will be reinforced rather than rendered progressively obsolete.
Bruce, Layman, Theurj, et al. -- an honor to be back at IPS!
Brother e, first of all, I think it's usually better if we don't point out when people are wrong, if in fact they have been wrong or we perceive them to have been wrong. It makes people defensive; it makes people reluctant to share their true beliefs; it makes people pose as experts rather than learners. It creates an environment that isn't conducive to learning. In informal, social settings like this, I think "right speech" usually has us ignoring it when people have been wrong or have changed their minds or we perceive them to have been wrong or to have changed their minds. We all just learn and go on and don't "cut the railing of the boat" to mark some place on the shore, as Shunryu Suzuki put it.
But in this case I don't think Lisa and I were wrong or have even seen reason to change our minds. We always had criticisms on this subject; we just kept most of them to ourselves. We both like Aurobindo, and he said things like, "Do not dwell too much on the defects of others. It is not helpful." And: "It is the petty ego in each that likes to discover and talk about the 'real or unreal' defects of others -- and it does not matter whether they are real or unreal." We take that seriously. I also have a tendency to be an advocate for those who I feel haven't been treated fairly. I supported Rupert Sheldrake when I felt he had been mistreated by militant atheists at TED; I once stood up for a militant atheist who was being excommunicated from an integral forum.
The discussion was always so out of balance, I always felt a need to say something positive and try to encourage fairness. I would say things like, "The anecdotes in those 'What Enlightenment?' blogs don't sound good to me either, but there is a reason Ken Wilber does these guru-and-pandit discussions with him." This has long been my favorite case study for AQAL, and I could talk about my criticisms for hours, but I never saw that doing so in public would do any good. I tried to work toward an integral discussion about it -- seeing it from all perspectives, noting good points as well as shortcomings, and trying to be fair -- which is why I came to integral forums. I don't have much interest in discussions that fall short of this.
I do regret not posting one blog about evolutionary enlightenment and shadow at Beams and Struts; I think it might have done some good. But I didn't have the time and wasn't sure how it would be received. But maybe it would have helped. In any case, I don't have time for discussing this much, but I will just say that I think we can profitably divide this issue into three categories:
They are related and overlap in some cases, but it's worth pointing out that, while I do have some criticisms of 1, most of the problems were with 2 and 3. If Andrew had been a wandering sage as he had originally intended, just giving talks and retreats but not taking students or starting an organization, the most that would have happened is a few people might have gotten their feathers ruffled or thought he was being too overzealous about evolution or that he wasn't accepting enough, etc. But there would be no real scandals. This is one of the things I always tried to point out, separating the evolved lines from the not-so evolved.
I had many criticisms that I would have loved to share in private with people who wanted to take a sympathetic and integral view on the subject, but I didn't want to simply throw more chum in the water. I did feel, however, that he was sincerely doing his level best to be a good teacher and improve himself, and his apology proves that was right. I think it also shows that Wilber was right in engaging with him rather than ostracizing him as so many in the integral community called for. Andrew ended up becoming more aware of himself using Wilber's interpretive frame, which the two of them always discussed. If the integral community wanted to help that situation, they might have done so by having an integral discussion about it; that might have rubbed off.
Integral discussion is tricksy. The evolved and non-evolved lines are not just a reasonable way to assess teachers... they are an essential way to comprehend ourselves in communities of discourse. In our zeal to hold people to a higher standard, one that we associated with higher wisdom and spirituality, we often become sub-integral in our speech patterns. David is here presenting one excellent example of standing on behalf of a more integrative communication. We thank him for that.
The use of virtues (such as wisdom or status) to put someone in a box (such as "good teacher") OR the use of vices (such as ego) to put someone in a box (such as "bad teacher" or "cautionary tale") may be based upon a higher ethical feeling but it is not being expressed in a manner equivalent to that feeling.
7 Lessons have just popped into my very dubious mind:
1. There is a huge appetite for more trustworthy teachers of a particular kind.
2. Integralites need to get over both our positive and negative reactions to the symbolism of spiritual status.
3. We need groups that mobilized higher degrees of collective intelligence -- operating and deciding in ways that exceed the limitations of: individual leaders, mere consensus and predictable waves of reactivity.
4. We need to stay engaged with, critical of AND encouraging of the different parts within people.
5. We need to remember that participation with is not endorsement of. That is a notably "amber" sentiment.
6. We need to think in terms of the practical necessity of being allied with all sort of individuals and groups which are attractive to integrative souls -- without getting fixated on their unpleasant or disreputable parts. Every alliance is definitely going to involve people that are behaving in ways that we find upsetting.
7. We need to get over the instinct to find other people to have been "dupes".
Amen and thanks, David and Layman!
I'm going to copy and save that first paragraph that you wrote above, David. It speaks to other thoughts, musings, and conversations that have been simmering within me and some friends lately -- particularly on the subjects of spiritual arrogance and humility. These past years I've noticed, for example (with a kind of sadly chuckling chagrin) my own feelings of self-righteousness and "superiority" when some new scandal or unveiling of flaws among integral &/or spiritual leaders emerges -- or that haughty voice of "well, hmmph, I knew that all along," when a former "adversary" apparently begins to agree with me on something. [I liken it to the stance of the "righteous stay-at-home" son in the parable of the prodigal son]. Of course, I generally won't outwardly express such feelings -- but I notice that even a hidden subtle attachment to (and secret savoring of) these feelings can also poison social spaces, clogging up the atmosphere, keeping people from a deeper sharing.
Layman, I love your recognition of the practicality of alliances across our varieties of "self-satisfied" boundaries. And: "We need to get over the instinct to find other people to have been 'dupes.' " (Because, really: who has never been duped?).
Anyway -- sorry for going a little off-topic. Just wanted to express gratitude.
One thing we need to consider is that by being too forgiving we may very well unintentionally support bad behavior. Some sociopaths know how to manipulate our emotions in that way and admit to wrongdoing specifically and consciously for that purpose.This is not to say Cohen is a sociopath but he could be given his past behavior, so caution is prudent.
Another element required is proof over an extended period to demonstrate a change in behavior and attitude so that one earns forgiveness. A huge factor in enabling his past behavior is the very model of the guru-student spiritual relationship, an outdated model that needs to go. Recall this from Edwards:
"To unwrap this a little let's take the student-teacher relationship as an example. From the stage-based view the teacher is at a higher level and the student is at a lower level. The relationship is one of expert to apprentice. There is a qualitative difference in their identities such that the student does not understand what the teacher is taking about until some dramatic mysterious transformation occurs. We see this, for example, in stage-based model of spiritual development where we have the wise guru teaching and assisting the development of the devoted student or disciple. This is an ancient model that goes back thousands of years and is the prevailing model of the he student-teacher relationship used in the AQAL-informed writings and research.
"The weakness in the stage-based view is that the teacher can all too easily become the master and the student becomes the servant or slave. This relationship can obviously go very astray very easily and, by itself, this lens is an inadequate model to use for the development process in contemporary society. In my opinion, there is far too much reliance on this model for explaining the he student-teacher relationship in AQAL-informed circles. Particularly when applied to the area of spirituality the stage-based model suffers from serious shortcomings. First, the use of the stage-model needs some serious updating to contemporary views about stage-based development. Gurus and teachers who support evolutionary and stage-based view of development are very prone to overestimating the importance of the guru-devotee model and the qualitative differences that they assume exist between teacher and student. When practices within insular settings and non-traditional environments, these kinds of gurus often fall into all the traps of abusive power that many of us are aware of.
"My view is that the archaic view of the teacher-guru and student-disciple has done its dash and can only be defended by those who are so immersed in stage-based development that they see no other meta-level possibilities for articulating growth (this is one of the many forms of altitude sickness that I wrote about in my last blog). I see development and learning relationships moving way beyond these limiting views of guru and student and engaging much more with the language of relationality, situational choice, shared play, communal learning, distributed intelligence, collective wisdom, reflexive learning, and action inquiry. The defence of the ancient models of student-teacher relationship, particularly where development is focused on the stage-based lens, seems to me to be a sign of regression rather than evolution."
well ,theuriji, this depends .
andrew unfortunatly misunderstood his gurus teaching right from the start
i met poonjaji too and i know that he only taught this message :
no guru no student no teaching
so , you see , there is no guru disciple relationship anywhere because
both do not exist from the beginning, like 5 minutes into the discourse......
anybody who didn´t understand the joke......
that might sound crazy , could be , BUT it was the message of andrews guru also to him.
total equality as the same wet ocean....: )
so , poonjaji ,pretty soon after andrew started on his teaching spree ,
gave indications of andrew having basically
misunderstood, but andrew couldn´t be stopped ,so much did he love the power of being a guru,
someone sooo special.
wasnt that a famous song in the 80´s " i wanna be so special" by the pretenders ? : ))
like hmm , enlightened , wow. can´t beat that in specialness wow..yii
and then once his jewish bagshas got the better of him, which was quite funny to see from the outside, especially as they mixed with the predominatly christian protestant bagshas of most of his students :
all this work ethic to kill the evil ego so you earned the paradise of rightousness hahahaha
all this stuff had nothing to do whatsoever with poonjajis original messages or advaita etc....
all just a big moral trip of andrew, and where did that come from ???
so one can see andrew as a kind of spiritual globalization accident , there is lots and lots to learn from it
its a prime example of east meets west : )
so poonjai send some other enlightened gurus of the poonja school like gangaji
trying to clean up andrews mess......
but andrew was pretty persistant, as we all noticed.......and he attracted all those western moralists and
enlightenment is soo special types.......you need to suffer to get it , etc. types : )
so maybe we should just wise up a bit and understand what kind of mechanisms are at play here, instead of immediatly calling for the abolishment of the ancient ,and quite complex, guru function.......
in any case guru just means teacher : do you want to abolish all university teachers
just because some cant keep their pants on ??
and who would abolish them evil gurus anyway ?
the integral maha guru police ???? : ))))
get away : )
who do you think you are anyway
the cosmic anti fraud justice department ? : ))
here it is
oh uups that was the wrong one .....
oh here it is :so special by the pretenders
yeah andrew just hit a lucky strike in lucknow in the middle of the 80´s : ))
well life can be a really wild thing can´t it just
what a bitch , even false gurus exist........... huuuhu who would have thought that ,hmm