I really do not recommend accepting a teacher and joining an ashram. I did not have good experiences. When someone is placed on a pedestal all hell seems to break lose. But as I have expressed, we can learn many lessons even from a bad teacher. I view everything and everyone as my teacher, good or bad. We all have necessary experiences and for many (including myself) these teacher and ashram experiences exist.
– Greg Calise
“Sometimes Dharma students will… misuse the teacher’s energy as an instant fix to his/her own perceived inadequacies or insecurities. Just as a drug can enhance the user’s sense of well-being and diminish anxiety, a teacher’s energy can serve that same purpose— instantly. In the same way that a person becomes addicted to a drug, a student can become addicted to a teacher’s energy.”
~Myoan Grace Schireson~
Those Misbehaving Zen Monks
It isn’t something we’ve paid a lot of attention to here at Tao & Zen, but it seems worth sharing this information just in case some are not aware that Zen Buddhism in the United States has been going through a bit of a “crisis” in recent years, as numerous allegations of sexual misconduct by respected teachers have been corroborated by members of Zen communities who had helped keep this information “secret” up until very recently.
It’s not just Zen where there have been problems. There are similar reports in regards to Tibetan and some modern Advaita teachers as well. This kind of problem is unfortunately quite common in all the world’s religions, where spiritual teachers and clergy members are thought to be wiser and more enlightened than the rest of us. Related video about Tibetan Buddhist teacher Sogyal Rinpoche:
Awakening is hard work, and when one person is regarded as much more awakened than others and then gathers a community of “followers” around them there is the danger of idealizing and “hero worshiping” that individual. As Grace Schireson points out, this can work like a drug, bringing immediate feelings of blissful joy and a diminishment of anxiety for “true believers.”
One may then forget that we are all equal beings, with equal potential for wisdom, compassion, ignorance and delusion.
Tao & Zen