Monday, August 29, 2011
Of all life's challenges, betrayal is one of the most difficult to deal with. Whether it comes from lover, family, friends, teacher or guru, it leaves one with a sense of being bereft of something very valuable in one's life.
I think that when we offer trust, to whomever and to whatever degree, we then become vulnerable to possible betrayal. The lover may leave, the friend may become less than friendly for no apparent reason or may make a remark that wounds, the guru may turn out to have a very dark shadow.
Indeed, books have been written about the "corrupt gurus" (or shamans or "spiritual authorities") who misuse their powers to gain wealth or sexual favors. The problem is that the flawed guru (or lover or friend) is often extremely charismatic, perhaps bestowing great gifts such as constant bliss states or feelings of oneness with the divine, or, as with friends or lovers, a sense of total acceptance and love.
The guru as master is a prime example of the abuse of Kundalini power, for who does not love to receive shaktipat, or enter into states of unending bliss. Further, at such times, one often experiences periods of altered consciousness, in which judgment is impaired. When the rupture occurs, we feel as though part of our own identity has been ripped from us, and we are left to try to build a new life within and without. Sometimes physical illness may follow, as we try to console our "within" for the trauma it has suffered. It is as if we are "punishing" ourselves for what, at some level, is like a "self betrayal." Our pain is an expression of our grief.
These are indeed terrible life lessons. However, one good result may ensue. We may come to realize that we ourselves were likely to undergo this kind of experience at some point in our lives, for we were vulnerable as long as we were willing to give so much power to another. In fact, the inner guru is the more reliable guide. The inner guru (higher self, guiding spirit, intuition) will not betray, it will not wound, and it will listen whenever we pause to speak to it and tell it what we need. We will be healed when we realize our error and rebuild our inner spiritual voyager to avoid such excessive "surrender of the self" to others in future.
For this reason, I prefer teachers to (external) gurus. We attend, we listen, we gain whatever wisdom we can from the teacher, but we do not put our whole lives hostage to his/her dictates. Contrary to what many think, no external guru is needed to undergo spiritual transformation or to awaken and nourish Kundalini, once we are ready. Spontaneous awakenings are occurring at (what seems to me) an every increasing rate.
This path is difficult. It is indeed a lonely path, for we all yearn for the external authority or master to lead us ahead. We long for the community (the sangha) of like minded seekers. Yet the price of such connection is often severe disappointment at the end. Yes, teachers, especially those familiar with Kundalini and its processes, can be extremely valuable, but we must exercise caution in our selections.
And there will also be those near us who truly deserve our trust. It may be that "faithfulness" rather than "exciting charisma" will be their earmarks. We should treasure these for who they are, dear friends who offer some stability in a world of chaos.
I think we must all be teachers and students of one another. We must pool our collective wisdom to progress, for we live in the heart of mystery.
Buddha said "Be a light unto yourself." We should listen to what he said.