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Sex, Money, Power, Trauma & Ethics in Spiritual Communities
Rick Archer: My name is Rick Archer, I’ll be introducing the other people here in just a second. A couple of years ago, several of us, actually, I think all of us have been on this spiritual scene for a long time. And we all independent of one another, had become very concerned about a lot of the behavior in spiritual communities, especially by spiritual teachers. My personal concern is that I feel very deeply that the upwelling of spiritual awakening in the world, which many has been alluded to many times, so far, during this conference, as being critical to the survival of the world, was being sabotaged or handicapped or shot in the foot by this behavior, sometimes very egregious, within spiritual communities, primarily by teachers, primarily by male teachers. And I felt like perhaps I can play some little role in helping to raise awareness of what may or may not be appropriate behavior. For a spiritual teacher, it’s pretty common sense, actually, because it’s appropriate behavior for a human being. But sometimes spiritual teachers are presumed to be wiser or more enlightened or something. And they’re given a pass when they behave in certain ways that, you know, ordinarily, people wouldn’t be called the carpet for behaving. So in any case, a couple of years ago, I gave a talk about this, and Jack O’Keefe attended, and Craig attended, I believe, and afterwards, we had lunch. And we said, you know, we have to get together some kind of spiritual, some kind of organization, which would try to establish a code of ethics, such as lawyers and doctors and therapists and many other helping professions have that just kind of lays out some guidelines of what would be appropriate, whereas shouldn’t be appropriate behavior for spiritual teachers. And I want to say from the outset, because often the knee jerk reaction when we mentioned this endeavor, is that we have we’re this these judgmental people who expect to wield some kind of authority over the spiritual community and, you know, levy fines or penalties or something, people, there’s no such thing. We’re not like the AMA, which could grant a revoke licenses. But we just, we’re just a bunch of people who are, like all of you, who would just like to see the whole thing be neater and cleaner and stop seeing people being injured, sometimes quite severely, by the way, some teachers have behaved. So after a year or so this organization had been formed and had been established as a 501, C three, a nonprofit. And in the next year, we were honored by having Mariana Kaplan and Miranda McPherson join us. In fact, Brandy came to our presentation last year, and she was came up afterwards. Yes. And then she ended up becoming part of our board of directors. Okay, so I mentioned them in passing, just want to read a little bit longer bios. Before I do that, I just want to ask, how many in the audience here actually serve in the capacity of spiritual teacher in some way, shape or form? What have you. Okay, very good. Thank you. Is there anything else I should say, before we do the bios,
Mariana Caplan: I curious how many people have been impacted by trauma and unethical behavior on the spiritual path?
Rick Archer: Again, quite a few. All right. So. So most of you, some of you many of you know, by firsthand experience, why we feel this need, and I think others have read enough of the accounts of the scandals that come up weekly to acknowledge that yeah, there’s some sort of need for some greater impeccability and the end the spiritual community. So let me just introduce our speakers. To my left is Jack O’Keefe. Jack is a spiritual teacher who focuses on on prior to consciousness or beyond Non duality, she pioneers non traditional models of spirituality as a founding member of the Association for spiritual integrity. She’s also been like our main engine in terms of she dedicates a whole day of each week to focusing on it and she’s worked very hard to get it together. Okay, and Jack’s second book, How to be a spiritual rebel rebel was released this week. Mariana Kaplan, I remember running into Mariana sand up in San Rafael a number of years ago and I had already read a couple of her books such as halfway up the mountain that error or premature claims to awakening. And Dewey was a great title. Do you need a guru and I started named Mary Catholic God, I love your books. And so it’s wonderful to now be you know, a friend and involved with her. Marianne is an author, consultant, psychotherapist and yoga teacher who brings over 20 years of research teaching and the publication of nine books on topics related to the intersection of psychology, spirituality, yoga, world religions, and contemporary spiritual traditions. Cut these a little short rant Craig holiday, I asked for one sentence BIOS Craig gave me one. Craig Holliday is a spiritual teacher and therapist and founding member of the anti. Random McPherson is a spiritual teacher, author and founder of the one spirit interfaith foundation in London, or she trained and ordained over 600 ministers. Today she leads the living Grace Sangha in Northern California, and leads retreats internationally sharing a feminine approach to non dual realization. Okay, so where shall we start? I’ve talked enough for for starters, and who would like to plunge in and we have a number of specific topics we’re going to cover, which I could read the bullet points up, but you guys know what they are and what you particularly want to cover. So who would like to go first on one of these points?
Craig Holliday: Why don’t you start with one of the questions? Okay.
Rick Archer: So here’s why I’ll just take him from the top. What characterizes what qualities characterize a psychologically healthy teacher, student and spiritual community? We’d like to take that
Mariana Caplan: question. The qualities that characterize a healthy spiritual teacher is somebody who, in their specialty in their internal identity and heart of hearts is is a student of the path and is a servant of the path. And as a function as a teacher. It is somebody who ongoingly pursues their own, not only spiritual growth, but psychological growth, that pursues knowledge of trauma healing, whether it’s for their own trauma, or because most of the people that will come to them have been impacted by trauma. And those are just a couple of qualities, but in terms of, of students and students who are willing to be empowered to be adults in relationship to their spiritual teacher and not defer authority or assume that because somebody is a spiritual teacher, or as so called awakened, that they either have the answers should be given control for their life, especially in areas that are not directly related to their spiritual growth, like relationships, money, sexuality, having children Worst of all, and healthy spiritual communities. I am fortunate to be consulting for one of them right now. And it’s, it’s a community that says like, we need to continue to, just like a teacher and just like a student, pursue our ongoing growth, get external feedback, have external checks and balances, where the teachers are not live, living and practicing in isolation and without feedback and peer support.
Rick Archer: I should add that Mariana says that for quite a few years, she has been consulting with both teachers and students who have been embroiled in various kinds of scandals and misbehaviors, and so on. So she probably knows more about the dirty secrets of the spiritual community than anybody.
Craig Holliday: I’d like to maybe add something, as one of the big things that I see is, you know, if someone’s looking for a teacher is the teacher, and adult, are they mature? And do they walk the talk? Do they live and then by the truth and you can see really quickly, you know, just spending a little bit of time with someone, you know, do they embody and then beyond that is do they have a sense of humility? Are they willing to receive feedback, we are all human, we will all make mistakes. We’re all works in progress. And so does one have the humility to continue to grow to look at their shadow? Like Marianna was speaking? Have they done their trauma work? Are they continuing to do their trauma work? Do they receive feedback just generally, for friends, for family, from you, from their neighbor? Now, what kind of person are they? And then a great question as a student, you know, I often asked myself, this is, am I showing up? As an adult with my teacher? How much am I projecting onto them? Because sometimes it’s, you know, us, the student that’s projecting, and we’re wanting the teacher to be our father, our mother, our best friend. And of course, they can’t be all this. And so to have that sense of taking accountability for oneself, so both both ways, and that’s one of the things we invited at the ASI is have, you know, a general standard code of ethics for teachers, just a general code of good practice and conduct, but then an accompany code and guidelines for students? How should I behave in relationship? Should I throw myself at the Guru’s feet? Or, you know, can I show up as a psychologically mature individual? Can I also get, you know, go see a therapy for therapeutic support, and see my spiritual teacher for spiritual teachings? And also, it works both ways. I think.
Miranda Macpherson: I’ll jump in on the next question.
Jac O’Keeffe: Could I just add, add, just on that, if I can just add another layer to build on what Mariana and Craig have said, you know, Craig was saying in a few days, you know, you’d have a sense, he has an intuitive sense of a teacher, but how many students here would be willing to ask a teacher? Are you open to feedback? What do you do when a crisis happens in your own life? Do you have professional support when your own psychology is up for growth? I would love to have these questions asked to me, and they’ve never been asked. Never,
Miranda Macpherson: to me, that’s huge. And one of the things that I would be looking for, and that I think, if anyone is teaching, it’s really an integrity issue to make sure that you build support, so that you come out of the teacher position on a regular basis with somebody else, who you’re willing to allow him to call you to account. And who isn’t just going to idealize you all the time. And to put that in place as a structure in your life to me as part of the embodiment of integrity and what humility means, in taking on the role of teacher that you’re not always the teacher.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, Miranda, don’t you go to other teachers on a regular basis, I just sit there as a student?
Miranda Macpherson: I do that every two weeks, every two weeks, every two weeks. And I have a relationship with this to people where I have said to them, please anything you can see in me that is not entirely integrated, or any shadow material, anything you think I should be looking at, please bring that to my attention helped me look at it, go to the root of it. And I do at least two, sometimes three retreats a year with other spiritual teachers. So I’m just an ordinary person, just a student in the field with everybody else.
Mariana Caplan: And I would say that being privy to really hundreds or 1000s of spiritual scandals, the teachers that have been in that position, almost none of them do what what you’re saying that you do as a spiritual teacher,
Miranda Macpherson: this is why I do it. Because I’ve seen that too. I’ve seen that it’s very easy to get caught up in a teacher shell, you know, for your ego to just get off on the idealization that being a teacher becomes and start to buy your own propaganda a bit too much. And that’s a really painful thing for everybody.
Rick Archer: When I was trained as a TM teacher in 1970, Maresh, he specifically said to us, don’t go and see other teachers, because if you’re seen sitting in the audience, people will presume that you’re still seeking, you know, you’re not already, you know, you don’t have all the knowledge you need, you know, so that’s it. I bought into it. And now it seems crazy.
Miranda Macpherson: I completely disagree with that. Yeah. Because believe of what it embodies is that’s a trust with a teacher. That’s a teacher who’s willing to come off their place, and just be a person and acknowledge that no matter what we might have realized. There’s more to learn. There’s more we can learn. And, you know, it also keeps one in touch with the vulnerability of The student and the beauty of the VA. It helps me be more respectful and honorable in my work as a teacher with others.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I should add that I got booted out of the TM movement for seeing another teacher. Okay. Good, good thing to that. But I still respect and admire and appreciate and honor all the benefits derived from that. But it was a nice way to make the transition. So that’s the next point we should consider here. Well, here’s one. What defines a healthy teacher student relationship? What does it play when the what is at play when the teacher consciously or unconsciously cultivates dependency in their students?
Miranda Macpherson: Narcissistic issues, narcissists have this, if there’s a need on behalf of the teacher, to have idealization. And you have to really look at what’s at the core of that was usually the teacher trying to get some kind of narcissistic supply some kind of support for their self image is some superior person. And, you know, but what I think is a little delicate is that the process of idealizing, our teacher is a natural process, it can’t not be them. So I think the conversation about students behaving like adults, I agree with that. And just as children, it’s a natural phase about development, to idealize our parents until we grow out of that phase. It’s also a natural part when we’re opening into new dimensions that are really beyond what we even understand, to lean into our teacher and their body of wisdom and look up to them. But the role of the teacher is not to abuse that, to understand that process, and not to take advantage of it. And also to tolerate when that idealization breaks down as it inevitably will. And to be humble enough to, to relax and be okay with the student coming to see, hey, you go feet of clay, you have arguments with your spouse, you lose your temper, from time to time, you’re not perfect at everything. And to model that this is not about spiritual perfection, it’s about spiritual practice. And that includes us all going.
Craig Holliday: Also, I think there’s just a basic ignorance that, that people have just lack of training. You know, if a teacher hasn’t been properly trained, you know, then oftentimes, we just fall into the same traps that a beginner therapist would fall into a beginner massage therapist, whatever it is, it’s people get, it’s easy to get caught in projection transference countertransference, on the path, if you don’t know how to spot it, if you have no idea, even what that is, or what that means, you know, it can be a beautiful thing as you come forward and your gift to get all kinds of great feedback from others. But then if you have the shadow and a need in there, you know, a narcissistic need, or I could even take that down a notch just a human need for friendship or relationship. You know, oftentimes, you know, the same kind of interplay, that happens, say, in unhealthy marriage, where you know, husband or wife is not receiving, you know, good healthy sense of love. And sometimes that teacher or therapist or whoever they’re, they might receive that need from their students. And if they haven’t been properly trained, if they don’t have, you know, a clear code of ethics, you know, to fall back on, then we fall into these traps, a lot of times teachers who get involved with scandals, when there’s big or small, they’re good, they’re good people who got a little bit confused, and then a little bit more confused. And what you know, like Miranda said, you know, if the teacher has greater humility, they get a little bit confused, and they realize, oh, I need some support, I need some supervision, I need some help, I need to receive some feedback. If they are lacking humility, and they have a high degree of arrogance, you know, then that they can get in a lot of trouble.
Miranda Macpherson: Or even shame because sometimes when we make mistakes, and all human beings make mistakes, you know, can we own their, you know, in a spirit of compassion for ourselves, and, you know, and use it to go, Oh, what do I need to learn here? You know, where do I need to go in order to learn that what, what’s the gap and address that? But I think because of this strange idea that if you sit in the teachers to see that nothing should come up out of you sideways, which isn’t realistic anyway, then there’s not the appropriate Good attitude, the mature attitude that when we do make mistakes and those mistakes become apparent, you know, often we feel ashamed about them and then hide them which is very dangerous, rather than bring it out into the open and address it.
Rick Archer: You know, more or less or another point in the regular world, non spiritual world, you know there’s only one example. So, for instance, we may have had, there might be an expert physicist Einstein was said to have been a bit of a womanizer Ulysses S. Grant was a drinker Lincoln once said, find out what kind of whiskey is I want to give a bottle to all my generals. We don’t expect people in various relative fields like that to necessarily be paragons of virtue or to be sort of perfect behaviorally, and so on. And yet, somehow in the spiritual world, we associate higher consciousness or awakening or something with more ideal behavior as well that there’s a correlation between being in a higher state and not acting like a jerk. But I’ve had people tell me, Oh, no, you will be you could be, you know, raging alcoholic, or, you know, and yet be enlightened. Or, you know, I heard a spiritual teacher recently give a talk, who claims to be awake, advocating adultery, especially for men, because, or something. So is there a correlation, or should there between higher consciousness however, we want to define it, and more impeccable behavior,
Mariana Caplan: that by choosing the function of a spiritual teacher, there’s not an inherent correlation, and like Miranda saying, like spiritual teachers are absolutely as human as anyone else. But to take that function, which, you know, I have my case, I’ve never wanted that function, because I believe that, not because of that, but that you you have a higher degree of accountability and your blind spots are going to be magnified by your position magnified by the projections that come on to you. So to take that function is to, not to take the responsibility to not err and not to show your errors and apologize for them, but to, to choose to align your life with, with a kind of integrity, especially in relationship to sexuality, that topics of today’s sexuality, money and power. It’s not that you know, those things from the beginning, but you take it on to, to pursue that diligently and to keep pursuing that because it’s your application.
Craig Holliday: Yeah. Why. And one of the things just, you know, I was trained as a counselor, and as a teacher, and so I just projected, you know, the basic, you know, codes of ethics, on to spiritual teaching. And so when you do that, when you have that training in the beginning, it’s so helpful, it’s just helpful, it keeps things simple to say, I’m agreeing to these basic rules going forward, when you don’t have that. And you jump in, and you say, Okay, I’m supposed to live by integrity. Things can get messy, real, real quick.
Jac O’Keeffe: And when the teacher stops becoming a learner, I’ve seen examples of that with the idea of transcendence. I think I could probably count on one hand, the amount of people who actually authentically have convinced me that they understand what transcendence is. And words like this have are easy to glean from Scripture. They’re bandied about very easily, and they’re not understood at all. And so what happens then is that there used to create a blind spot. So the teacher can imagine yeah, I’ve transcended such and such, this is the movement of your consciousness. And it’s bullshit. Because they don’t realize they must keep learning there will always be blind spots by virtue of being beautifully evolving. Hoban, homosapiens. That’s the deal. And why do we want to hide in the first place? You know, why do we want to hide behind anything? What is that? And how do we change our culture to throw off what we’ve inherited for 1000s of years about the impeccability of a teacher? How do we throw off that false goal, which was really used to control in a way that religions control? Why would we subjugate ourselves to something that is so inherently about suffering and power in a negative way? But it’s for each of us to embrace a lifelong learning? Be it seeker be a teacher in whatever capacity? There is lifelong learning? Are you denying your humaneness you’re stopping evolving, you’re pulling out of the ecosystem, whatever lens of perception you want to look at, it’s the same gig.
Miranda Macpherson: I’d like to say something that links what you’re originally asking with what you’ve just said, Jack. And that is that, you know, I think we’ve all been around, you know, teachers. And the whole reason we’ve been inspired to sit with them in the first place is because there’s something coming off them, that we recognize is just beautiful, it’s very refined, there’s these essential qualities that they radiate. And naturally, we want to be around that, and we want to learn, how do we allow those beautiful qualities of our true nature, to shine forth in us as well. But my own experience, so I’ve seen this in my students, too, is that there’s not just one great big spiritual orgasm, and then you’re done. You know, there are many different levels of awakening and different kinds of awakening in, you know, the awakening to deeper realization is the easy part, in my own experience, that actualization, the integration of those states takes years. And I think that’s, again, coming back to humility, why we need to really put in place some actual structures of support, to help us work through the kinds of issues that deeper realization will push up in us. And it forces us to really deal with and teachers who don’t, it comes up in their communities, it shows up as problems for the students, or places where that teacher just can’t actually take feedback in and utilize that feedback to grow and learn. So I think that there needs to be a little bit more understanding in the wider community about that balance between the realization and the actualization, and what is actualizing, what we realize and embodying it into every moment and interaction that life brings, and complex situations such as what we’re dealing with now, what does that look like? And what does it involve? And what supports are needed for that to actually happen?
Rick Archer: I’m very uncomfortable with the word enlightenment or awaken, they have this static superlative connotation, you know, and it’s kind of like the word education. Would you ever say, I’m educated? You know, that’s it. Obviously not. I mean, I’m standing in a house nearby, then the son, I’m in the son’s room, there are all these books on the shelf about calculus, and C++ and advanced chemistry. And I don’t know anything that’s in the book. So I’m kind of educated in certain ways. But there’s a vast world of knowledge out there that I’ll never tap into in this life. So in terms of spirituality, I think there’s something comparable, even though we might think of it as a specialized field, I don’t know if there’s any end to the depth of it, or the embodiment of it. There’s a Sufi saying that there’s an end to the path in God, but no end to the path. Has it? No, there’s no path to God, but there’s no end of the path in God. And so if anybody ever says they’re done, run for the door.
Jac O’Keeffe: But however, like, on one type of the past, for sure, there is a phase because it happened to me, there is a phase of where you can only abide in the non dual awareness, where you haven’t matured enough to actually have multiple lenses of perception available to you at the same time. That’s a tricky spot. So even though we’re talking about exceptions to that, that type of awakening happens for many people, you know, where it’s generally two years, and you’re primarily your primary way of perceiving everything is through the unified field. It’s through knowing that this is illusion. And then of course, with some maturity comes back in. Oh, it’s real, and it’s not real. I see. There’s separation. And there’s, it’s the same and it’s different, really, and how do we mature in to be able to hold and honor both lenses of perception without judging one over the other?
Miranda Macpherson: Yeah, well, maybe it’s not both. Maybe it is. It’s a spectrum. Yes. Right. And, again, I think that challenges us even to not presume that the models of the East unnecessarily complete. And, I mean, that’s a bigger conversation, but I think it’s a really interesting one to consider. You know, how do we really come back down for the mountain maybe Mariana you have something to say about that?
Mariana Caplan: Yeah, I think as you mentioned, Rick having having worked with so many enlightened fallen teachers and communities Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, deeply hold to like the possibility of Endless awakening and that it belongs, you know, it’s inherent in each of us, it is our birthright. And at the same time, any fixed notion of arrival is a deterrent. And, and, like, I’m glad you made that point check, but a couple of years of non dual Biden’s what happens, you know, somebody becomes a teacher, somebody starts gathering their students, they write their book they proclaim, and the greatest danger, I mean, besides to students is to oneself, because, because then you you stop the process, you know, of not only the endless possibilities of awakening, you know, the, I love how the yoga scriptures, they detail this what, what what kind of passes for awakening and much of western culture is is like, but the first level, you know, of awakening in the yoga sutras and the next and you know, those people at the seventh level, I’ve met one of them in my life. And that’s not even about the embodiment of that, and how that applies, right, because then not only the possibilities of awakening are endless, but the possibilities of, of embodiment are endless, that says nothing to do with still are how we show up ethically, our capacity, our whole, so our emotional development, our development and our relational capacities. So so we, I think we really hurt ourselves as a culture, to, to, to hold to this notion of, of enlightenment, while at the same time, not diminishing, which I fell into the trap of I heard so much disillusionment that it was furthers the time that I almost gave up on my own awakening process, because it was there was so much damage and futility, right. So the flip side was that I had to call myself again, like this is inherent in each of us. And that that the notion of arrival or calling anybody enlightened or themselves calling themselves enlightened or awakened, it just seems so useless to me unnecessary. Here.
Rick Archer: The one problem with regarding a teacher is having arrived at the pinnacle of enlightenment is we’ve discussed that quite a bit. But But what a problem with the student thinking that there is such a pinnacle is that student is never going to feel like it’s reached it. And therefore his there’s a certain sort of under mining, of where one is actually at, at the at the moment, which can be really quite nice if you relax into it and realize that, you know, everyday is life, and we don’t want to pass over the present for some glorious future. And, you know, we can really be in a nice state. But if you’re always sort of pining for something other than what you’re experiencing, it can keep throwing you off,
Miranda Macpherson: It keeps you in the search
Rick Archer: In the search. Yeah. And the people that give up the search. You may find that time may come when you feel like you’re not searching anymore, but you certainly are still learning and exploring and discovering and deepening and all that and I don’t think that ever ends. But the, the emptiness, the sort of, Oh, I’m gonna die if I don’t get this, that that drops off and this contentment dawns, but that’s definitely not the end of the journey.
Miranda Macpherson: Didn’t Dogen say practice is realization and realization is practice?
Rick Archer: Another point we have here on our list is group mind. Groupthink, you know, and within spiritual communities and how it contributes to unhealthy behavior or cult like tendencies. And I’m reminded that that story, which is kind of horrific, but about putting a frog in water, and you know, heating it gradually, as opposed to throwing a frog into boiling water, hot water, in that case, the frog jumps out because it notices the contrast. But if the water heats gradually, the frog doesn’t notice and it and it just eventually dies in the hot water. So you can be in a spiritual community, it can go farther and farther off the rails and you don’t realize it because you’re in the group mind or the group think. And you kind of just go along with it to absurd degrees, sometimes.
Craig Holliday: I’ve traveled around a little bit to different communities. And it’s always been interesting to walk into the community and see, you know, what are the rules here? What are the games, you know, all the unspoken stuff. And sometimes it’s really clean and clear. And that’s nice. And sometimes it’s really weird, and bizarre and neurotic and, and crazy. And one of the things that I’ve seen just you know, in my work because I work with so many different students from different traditions is the amount of pain that people have experience, not only from the teacher, but say from the group from the Sangha, and the games and the power structures that jockeying to get too close to the teacher to be in the inner circle, the outer circle, you know, getting kicked in or put in and you know, all that stuff. And then when some When you know when those communities fail, or when someone loses, you know, their relationship with their teacher, all the great pain because then they lose the relationship with that community. And it’s a breath of fresh air, because then they get step into something saying, but they’re also, there’s great grief there, as well. And so I’ve always found it fascinating because when you step onto the grounds of an ashram or a Zen Center, Tibetan Buddhist center, whatever it is, you’ll notice almost like this little bubble, you know, as you go over the gates, I just had this happen. When I went to Christ in the desert in New Mexico, I felt the rules of the silence of the monks, is pretty, pretty healthy. But still, I felt that bubble, and the groupthink that was present there. You know, and it’s within all communities is not necessarily bad, but some of its really, really unhealthy.
Mariana Caplan: Well, so many times when students have have come to me with their complaints, the first thing I say has, have you talked to your teacher about that. And more often than not, they will give some version of I can’t, you know, I just know that I can’t, it’s in the structure of the community, I know, my teacher will be defensive. And, and I say, Well, that may well be possible. But have you tried? And, and you know, what, what often prevents us from trying? Well, we are scared, right? We want we are afraid that we might lose some closeness or we might lose some specialness, or we might be disillusioned by what we find. But that’s where we circle back to the absolute necessity of being an adult in relationship to our teachers. And at the same time, not expecting our teachers to be perfect. So it’s not challenging our teacher like you guys, but But letting ourselves have the questions, letting ourselves wrestle with them, and taking the courage to bring that to our teachers, while giving them permission to be perfectly imperfect teachers. And, and I feel like that’s like a very healthy part of the student teacher relationship. It’s the student raising the teacher, right, and not just the teachers raising the students. And I think just the element there is really our own courage and, and being willing to risk, you know, whatever it feels that we have, in order to, for truth, right for real awakening.
Rick Archer: I’d like to open it up to audience participation now and somebody has a mic and said, there’s this. Oh, would they have to use Miranda’s mic? Okay. If Miranda wants to say something, we’ll get back to her. So maybe can somebody could run around with the mic? And please be sure you have the mic before you ask a question or anything.
Audience Member 1: Very interesting to hear you all. I’m a recovering addict. And I must admit, I have been recovering guru addicts as well. I’ve been I’ve probably seen like 32 gurus, I’ve had like 12 of them living in my house. And I’m very touched hearing what you say. And I can say a lot of things about this. But it’s fantastic what you do now because you know this is otherwise to get the new church or whatever out of this whole thing. So appreciate so much here and I I read your Marianna Kaplan’s books when I got very hot by Indian guru, the one that you need to go halfway up the mountain. And that was that was so important for me to read those books of you. So thank you so much for writing these books. Thank you. But please, Guru addiction. Have you heard about addiction, like any other process addiction? The codependency that I think you spoke about that you can be, you know, depending on where you come from, in your upbringing, that you who come to the Guru, I work in the field of addiction. So both ways.
Rick Archer: And some people are saying Go ahead. Some people who say the guru model is over, nobody should go to a guru. I wouldn’t go to that extreme. I think that they’re healthy, Guru situations that one could be involved in at a certain stage of their development. So don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. But obviously, it’s time to no longer tolerate or accept some of the unhealthy group situations that have prevailed. Yeah.
Craig Holliday: I think you and I rec have both shown up the armor many times and received support and a blessing. Yeah.
Audience Member 2: Yeah. Thanks. Thank you very much. Appreciate all your all your comments and some very wonderful comments about some general things. I wonder if you would address them. specifically, economics.
Rick Archer: Money, we’re going to talk about money. Jac’s specialty.
Jac O’Keeffe: That’s the bone I’m chewing these days. I can see some of the faces were at my talk earlier this morning. So I don’t want to waste time saying the same thing. Again, that talk will be on YouTube soon. To repeat the Yeah, but So in a nutshell, we have more work to do around money than flash where we realize it’s going to take us a long time to tidy up that one. And partly because the the the model, as regards ethical behavior, like Craig said earlier, you know, there’s a code of ethics that he used when he was a counselor, there’s a code of ethics in in HIPAA for medical field. So there isn’t positive models of how to have a healthy relationship with money in the world at large. You see, so we’re step behind that positive model isn’t there? So we don’t have that to draw on. So we’ve got to start at the beginning. So this is why I think it takes extra work, to tidy up our own relationship with money, and to use our own discernment regarding what is the financial cost of my spiritual, my spiritual development. And yes, it can be priced, it must be priced, because your money is your energy, and you’ve got to figure out what proportion of your salary you want to spend on it, not just because, oh, I should give everything Oh, my heart is opening with this, this spiritual teaching with legislator in enormous check that the university will will pay my mortgage next month. You know, so So all types of tricks and hacks come in to further obscure economics, we have a long way to go. So I wish I had a solution. All I can do is give tools. Let’s be more aware.
Audience Member 3: Thank you so much. All of you for all of this Marianna, your book, the guru question for me, too, has been hugely supportive. For me in my journey with my teacher, I have a two part question. One is, you know, when I came on the path, and you know, we talk about it a lot, we feel we’re in pain, right? Many of us who come on the path I was, I thought I was mature. But I wasn’t. And so we can talk about ethical behavior. And although also and you did in your book, you talked about being a responsible student. But can you give a little bit more detail? Just around things for ourselves to really question and look into? Then my second question, second part is actually kind of bigger. I’m hearing jack, a completely new paradigm for spiritual communities. And so when I see in that, and I would love a more, more dialogue in my community more given take evening, the playing field a little so that we’re practicing together so that when my teacher practices, I really get the benefit of that practice. Right, as opposed to it being removed from me. But there’s a dissolution, dissolution of our current spiritual communities that sounds like that has to happen a bit. In order for this new period, can you kind of speak to what that transition might look like? Things?
Jac O’Keeffe: I’m conscious of those two questions, I just do a quick one for the play. Because I’m a teacher, I think the onus is on us to make the bigger shift. It’s about us doing our work. So I’m interested in mobilizing teachers. I’ve had copious conversations with Rick who, who is, you know, fielding all kinds of painful stories, and real life experiences of students who have been treated so badly. And he’s like, Let’s mobilize the students. And I’m like, I have to do it within my own community. So where I’m working at is like, if we were open to feedback, that’s the step right now is being open to feedback. I want students to to question their teacher so that in Marianas example that she gave earlier, how have you as a student brought that to the teacher? Have you tried, expect if the teacher is full of resistance and assumes that your projection expect that? That’s it? Well, have you considered that maybe this is the projection that you’re standing back on me because to me, it’s a projection. So so we almost need the students to be doubly aware. And I don’t want to put all that onus on the students because I think we’re the ones who are We’re supposed to be sages, we’re supposed to be the elders were the ones who don’t have our chip together. You know,
Rick Archer: just to give you my argument that I sort of feel like students can hold teachers feet to the fire, and that very often students doubt themselves. The there’s a certain, you know, aura around the teacher is being really super special and all that and knowing something which the students don’t know. And so the teacher can do stuff and the students, rather than doubt what the teacher is doing without their own perception or their own judgment, they’ll think, well, he’s enlightened, I’m not, therefore, I guess it’s okay for him to do this stuff. What do I know? So I’m just saying if if students had more confidence and their common sense, then they would say, No, that’s wrong, you know, I don’t care who he is that people shouldn’t behave that way. And if they were to speak up to the teacher, like you’re just saying, then things could get sorted out maybe?
Craig Holliday: Well, and that’s a spiritual path to in and of itself, because what I’ve seen often is, is students actually speaking up to the teacher than the teacher laying it on heavier, their spiritual concepts or defensiveness for the behavior, attacking the students.
Rick Archer: Yeah but numbers, though, then well, the students were doing it, yeah,
Craig Holliday: but what the hold on so so then the student gets doubly wounded, I get deeper wound. But then again, for the student to see this as part of my path, to grow deeper into my own integrity, my strength, my confidence, here’s my teacher, you know, he she, you know, they betrayed me. And now can I continue to go forward on this path, because a lot of students become disillusioned in that moment, and they leave the path. And that’s heartbreaking. I’ve met people who’ve spent decades who’ve left and then come back and said, Okay, I want to give this another shot again. But you know, not to go away for decades to say, Okay, this is the path, my teacher let me down, this is the path, I’m going to go forward and grow in my own truth, my own autonomy, my own authority, and that’s a big step, a big fat for the student,
Miranda Macpherson: I’d like to just come back to what you were raising, because I thought what you were saying was really important, about spiritual maturity, and how inevitably, most of us come to the spiritual path, because we’re suffering and we’re trying to address that suffering. And thank God for me often, it’s the powerful motivator that we need to really dig deeper into ourself and to, to really engage some musculature in our practice, that spiritual maturity, you know, develops, and it doesn’t stop. So it doesn’t stop developing in the teacher, it doesn’t stop developing in the student. And rarely do I find when tough things happen, it’s actually black and white, there usually is some big history in the student that is driving a huge transference, a various, you know, that has a lot of layers of wounding and trauma and pain and confusion in it. And there’s often also something for the teacher to see. So what I’m really interested in what I hope that we can do together and build over the years is a culture where there’s more honesty, and more compassion, and a cleaner recognition that, you know, spiritual maturity is something that continues, and that, you know, a person can have a tremendous realization in some areas that is legitimate and is beautiful, and we can grow and be nourished by but that doesn’t mean that they’re, by definition, integrated in that realization in all areas. And I think that that’s here in the West, you know, what we get confronted with because we live in a much more complex society than the models of the East that have brought with it the guru tradition. So we can’t just transplant something that belongs to a whole other cultural system and expected to work here, we have to evolve with it.
Mariana Caplan: I want to add in here that that spiritual work does not replace psychological work right for the for the teachers or the students. Right we live you can be a therapist in today’s world without ever having done psychotherapy, you can be a psychiatrist with having ever done done a course of psychotherapy, you can be a spiritual teachers, spiritual teachers talk about psychology all the time. I mean, you actually get down on the ground and see how many teachers have done a full course of psychotherapy for myself and committed to doing that at each developmental stage of my life. Because as Miranda said earlier at each developmental stage, new possibilities and and just new material emerges. So I had a 10 year argument with my first wonderful guru about that and I just basically disagreed and I went back and pursued my own trauma training my own my another course of therapy, and this is immune it’s it’s a fatal flaw that that people want to right become with our suffering, we get all of these big beautiful teachings about awakening. And we assume that that’s going to address our psychological wounds and trauma. It is complementary, highly complementary, but also distinctly different. And I will, you know, say again tomorrow and talking about how, you know, my ideas about ending sex scandals on a spiritual path, that there is no alternative other than to engage in, you know, good therapy that is embodied, that has a trauma component, and for every student and teacher to take responsibility for doing that. I mean, we would solve so much of the agony if people would do that simple commitment.
Craig Holliday: It’s just healthy, and it’s wise, it’s healthy, and it’s wise.
Rick Archer: bunch of people on this side
Audience Member 4: Hi, and thanks so much for all that you’re saying. I wanted to ask, is it possible that a teacher could refer a student when they feel that they’re out of their depth?
Craig Holliday: Oh absolutely.
Audience Member 4: Or have you ever done that?
Craig Holliday: Yes, yes, absolutely.
Jac O’Keeffe: Yes.
Audience Member 4: Yeah. That could be an answer, if in fact, that training hasn’t been given, but they identify.
Craig Holliday: Yeah,
Audience Member 4: yeah, I think I’m going to ask about that. Yeah.
Craig Holliday: It’s good to have a network to refer to
Miranda Macpherson: Yes, yes. Even if you feel that you’re not. Sometimes you can just feel that. Sometimes you could feel that a student actually would do better over there than with you. And that, you know, if you really love your students, and if you don’t love it, you shouldn’t be doing it. If you really love your students, you want what’s going to serve them.
Audience Member 4: And I think sometimes as a student, you can, mature student to a degree can tell when you’re it doesn’t resonate. Exactly. The other thing I wanted to know is, is there a length of time that you would have a student come to you? Is there a time? Yours? Would you allow that? When When do they fly?
Craig Holliday: But one of the things that I look at is, is does the student have an actual resonance with the lineage if you are part of the lineage? And so like I was with my teacher for decades, and I feel I’m with me now. And so I just feel like I stepped into that. But I also trained in other lineages where it just felt like, I’m going to study here for you know, two years, five years, get something good, and then move forward.
Audience Member 4: Have you had students that five that do that? Yeah, absolutely. With you? And for what period of time, let’s say how do you maintain them as coming back?
Craig Holliday: Modern day spirituality is a funny thing, a lot of people window shop, and a lot of people come and go, it’s rare that people actually commit to something D and stick around and are willing to do the hard work. That’s my personal experience.
Miranda Macpherson: I, I have different experience, in that I really like to work with people over the long term. And I have to tsonga’s in the Bay Area. And I trained an ordained ministers. So there was a graduation process. And then with those ministers, once they’d gone through a certain curriculum and had been endorsed to go and teach, then they become part of an alumni organization, and the relationship changes, right. However, you know, what I learned going through that experience for 10 years, is there’s no set time limit per person. It’s a very unique relationship that you have with each individual. And so how I work with it now over the long term is we become more practitioners together. There’s always that love for one’s teacher. But there’s more about there’s less asymmetry in the mix. And there’s an encouragement from over here in the one who’s had the teacher role, to sort of encourage them to serve in some way to see how their gifts and their wisdom want to come forth in the world. Whether that wants to happen within the community, by bringing forth and giving that person more responsibility, or meant helping them mentor younger students on the path, or whether there’s some way that they feel called to embody their wisdom and for me to encourage that.
Rick Archer: We have two minutes left. So this woman is going going to ask a question Yes.
Audience Member 5: About 25 years ago, Arnie Mindell said to me, you will always know a great teacher because they are the people who will give their students the very tools and weapons with which to kill them. And I think as teachers, we must do that. And every time I teach a group, I will pass out forms for feedback,
Jac O’Keeffe: great
Audience Member 5: to keep me in my integrity. And I’ve been doing that for 20 years now. And I think we, it’s a great way to do
Craig Holliday: it. That’s that old Buddhist saying, you see the Buddha on the road, you know, it’s like, kill him. Yeah, keep on
Rick Archer: question. Okay. Go ahead.
Audience Member 6: I’m imagining we don’t have time for a full answer. But I was curious what the impact of your work has been in the recent history, and how well is your work being received in our spiritual teachers catching on to what you’re offering?
Mariana Caplan: Yesterday?
Rick Archer: You mean the ASI?
Mariana Caplan: Yeah,
Rick Archer: yeah.
Mariana Caplan: Yesterday, we had a meeting of 45 spiritual teachers and leaders, we created a hermetically sealed confidential space, which was not recorded and without microphones, and we made a really, we made a step toward bringing forth what what, you know, leaders were struggling with, with their vulnerabilities their needs. I was trying to speak for the ASI in general, but it’s you know, we’re new. And I was I was deeply moved and uplifted by the fact that so many teachers were willing to step off of their soapbox or mountaintop or isolation. And, and they were actually, many of us were expressing the need, they wanted connection, they wanted removal from this isolation. They wanted peers, they wanted feedback. So that’s just one example of you know, I think a beautiful step that we
Craig Holliday: And we met for four hours, it was a it was an incredible meeting, people showed up, they were deep, they shared their tears, their open heartedness, their vulnerability, it was really beautiful experience.
Rick Archer: At the end, we taped something for about 45 minutes, which I’ll probably be putting up on YouTube. So you’ll get it was a summary of it. And each person in the room made a statement. So.
Craig Holliday: And by the way, if if you are interested in being a part of the ASI, please join us email us get a hold of us. Yeah, on a website is spiritual integrity.org. And we’re looking for more support, because this is what we’re trying to create a greater change in the, in the culture to create a greater sense of humility, growth, professionalism in this field, so that we can better serve others. So we can better serve.
Rick Archer: Oh, we’re out of time, I’m afraid so. If you had something you want to say, we might have a few minutes to talk individually with people up here before the next thing starts. But thank you for very much for coming. We really appreciate this nice full room of people. Thank you all