“With great power comes great responsibility.”
These are the timeless words of wisdom spoken by Peter Parkers uncle of Spiderman notoriety (Uncle Ben – not to be confused with his rice counterpart – probably didn’t advise Peter to keep it zipped in his trousers) Three years ago my interest in Spirituality became more than just a hobbie. Shortly thereafter I became involved with a well known Teacher who taught people how to Astral Project within the Spiritual community in London.
We fell in love almost immediately, behaving like young mischievous children reliving shared lifetimes together. This spellbinding happiness was short lived however. The relationship quickly digressed into what some refer to as “shadow” due to a lack of self-love and responsibility on both parts. Clearly one of the reasons we where brought together again during this lifetime. Having started out as one of his students, thrust into the limelight of ‘lover’, only to then be ‘hidden’ from view created an imbalance of power very early on in the relationship.
I learned (the hard way) that this Teacher went through women in his group like the different days of the week. It was not what I had envisioned from a being who taught ‘How to to be your Higher Self’. In public radiating warmth to his admirers, behind closed doors emotionally devoid of accountability for his actions and their consequences. Yet it’s not uncommon to hear about the conquests of Male Teachers with students.
One wise friend who works in Mediumship confided “My Teacher who’s a woman advised me not to get too close to Male Spiritual Teachers, inevitably their egos get the better of them. Eventually they fall pray to their lustful desires.” That’s not to say Women aren’t susceptible to taking advantage of male students either.
Facing the Repercussions
More recently whilst studying Qigong in China one of the Teachers dropped a bombshell confessing his feelings towards me which weren’t reciprocated (this caused considerable anxiety and stress) On some level it was flattering, but mostly it felt like an uncomfortable feeling. It’s that awkward moment you might experience over a family Christmas dinner party. A hand felt patting your leg from beneath the table, only to find it’s uncle Baljit who’s as drunk as a skunk!
Only the Teacher isn’t inebriated unlike Uncle Bal (at least not on alcohol) he’s fully cognisant and aware of what he’s saying, sub-consciously he refuses to take responsibility for the repercussions of his actions. The off shoot of being favoured by a Teacher has enormous consequences which I learned the hard way. One of which was the feeling of being labelled as public enemy number one, under the watchful glint of jelousy (particularly by the women of the Qigong group who accounted for 70% of the group)
I don’t blame the students for feeling the way they did, upon reflection I might have felt similar had the roles been reversed. Who doesn’t wish for the affection and merit of their Teacher? But the ramification of my Teachers attachment towards me came to dictate the experiences I had during those six often lonely months in China.
Sacred Trust between Teacher and Student
The role between Teacher and Student is stuff of legend. Sigmund Freud for example was Carl Jungs mentor who went on to carve his own path. As Teachers we hold a shared responsibility to safe guard the vulnerability and trust of our students. When we don’t answer to anyone and act selfishly it’s always at the cost of someone else.
It’s normally a woman who bares the brunt of these indiscretions after which no-one dares to speak out about. As such the word inappropriate doesn’t begin to convey the depth of betrayal these acts invoke and further trigger from past experiences. Especially when you take into account the sheer volume of people who had suffered at the hands of sexual harassment or abuse.
I wish to make clear that in my case nothing untoward happened to me physically, but emotionally and mentally I felt boundaries had been crossed. I was confused and felt unsafe questioning what the role of a Teacher represented. With the recent outpouring of misconduct within the Catholic Church, and for the first time accusations levelled against Buddhist Lamas one wonders what length people will go to to defend their “right” to sleep with their students.
Teachers aren’t the demi-gods we place upon unattainable pedestals. It doesn’t matter which lineage your Teacher hails from, spend a few weeks in their company, splintered cracks and contradictions will begin to surface everywhere at once. By our design we are flawed (part of the charm of being human in this lifetime) Spiritual Teachers are every day people with every day problems but they’re also guardians, stewards of Conscious Awareness.
But it’s not only the Teachers who sometimes delude themselves. Often students will project onto a Teacher their expectations and desires only to feel let down when they fall short. From my own experience there are some men who find young, attractive, intelligent women destabilising (even threatening) I found this to be the case whilst working as a Graphic Designer for several high profile companies. Unsurprisingly the objectification of women doesn’t seem to be any different within the Spiritual field.
I strongly feel many have chosen to incarnate as women at this ‘turning point’ in human history to challenge societal perceptions of the role of women which have largely been defined by man. Regardless of whether you’re reading this as a woman or a man, the Universe extends an invitation to you to be a seed of change. The question is whether you’re prepared to choose consciously and challenge the status quo?
Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself – Chinese Proverb.
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I’m glad you posted this as it still a hard subject for me since I haven’t been in a relationship for so long. I am a healer and teacher and sometimes I mistake love for personal love. But to be aware of it means you can do something about it. I would never intentionally hurt someone so I do my best not to. It’s something I teach as well, you have to be aware of what’s happening within yourself if you run into these issues. For me as a teacher, I have an enormous responsibility towards my students and people that come to me for healing. I have to take care of them and myself in all of this. My desire is to having a wonderful fulfilling relationship with a beautiful woman.
As I’ve said to you last Saturday, people mistake universal love with a personal interest. These are very different, although they might feel the same sometimes. Once you realize it says a lot about yourself, you can learn to acknowledge the fact that it’s happening. In my opinion, that’s the first step in protecting yourself from doing something hurtful to others. Fear is a big factor in this. My advice would be for everyone who is in these kind of situations : Feel what is happening and recognise your own processes and fears. Only then you can really keep everyone safe. Be open to yourself. Sometimes it’s the teacher and sometimes it’s the student that misinterpret what is happening. People should be safe when coming to teachers for healing. So do your utmost to make people feel safe and secure and know what your issues are.
I’ve had attachment problems with my teachers as well. And also women felt attracted to me during courses for the wrong reasons too. It’s very tempting to focus your love onto someone else if you can’t give love to yourself. Be aware of what’s happening and give love to yourself. Once you are able to love yourself, you won’t need anyone else to make you feel loved. And that’s when you are able to resonate with a possible match in this life. It’s about sharing your love, not being dependant on another for love.
Thank you Honovi 🙂
Great piece, Honovi. I think you raise some great points and it is clear that power is indeed an aphrodisiac to those who have it and to those who want to be near it. However, I don’t think simply urging spiritual leaders to keep it zipped is a good solution since it’s not that realistic even for leaders who have sworn vows of celibacy. We know enough about human nature nowadays to know that sexual urges are strong and that denying them will more often lead to problems than solutions. I’d urge you and others to instead urge leaders to adopt a voluntary code of conduct, which applies to students as well as leaders, but also stresses that those in positions of power have particular responsibilities to abide by the code. The code should be posted publicly and should be addressed on a regular basis and not simply allowed to be covered in dust and forgotten.
Very interesting and very brave. definitely resonated with me deeply. many of the self-labelled ‘sants’ who are sometimes held in awe especially by female Sikh followers came to mind when i read this…
oh i forgot to say within the Sikhee tradition there is no reliance upon human intercessors, male or female. only the spiritual collective i.e. the sangat (spiritual collective) is venerated, alongside the teachings/vibration i.e. GurbaaNee are the Teacher. no other hierarchy is present. but alas, this isn’t the way it turns out in many situations and scenarios…rare is the person who pursues Tatt (quintessence) of spirituality…
Dearest H. Thank you for having the courage to share your story, which is not just your own. How many times, how many women have been in the same exact place. When we share these stories; speak this truth and expose this pain; we liberate each other from the endless guilt we carry. Thanks to you, I understand more, and breath easier knowing that I am not alone.
This is a well written article that took courage to post, that is evident to any one with a bit of common sense. Thanks for sharing this with us and opening up a debate.
In reply to Ian
Love and compassion are commendable divine attributes, Ian, but I think Honovi has been very honest about her personal affairs, and I didn’t find any bitterness in her words, just honesty.
Her experiences and truths about these men are reality, and exposed realities are infinitely better than hidden deceptions!
Of course, it does take two to tango, and Honovi’s good looks, femininity and allure are surely partly to blame…. Honovi attracts attention to herself, perhaps somewhat naively, and she has been attracted to supposedly spiritual men, so it is natural that such men would be interested in more than just her thoughts.
However, I really don’t think she has let herself down… quite the reverse…. she has uplifted herself, by exposing her truths and sharing them, which is a very courageous act, to warn/help any females out there who may also have the same problem… regardless of their charms and flirtations with any spiritual teachers they may come across.
Everyone has to take responsibility for themselves, and I totally agree with you about that… but sometimes the charisma of certain individuals, whether they be politicians, doctors, teachers, gurus etc., can overpower the more vulnerable and impressionable ones, whether they be voters, patients, students, learners et al.
Thus, a good politician would not sexually seduce his voters, a professional doctor would not molest his patients, a good teacher would never have sex with his students, and a true spiritual teacher/guru who became attracted to one of his female students would express his love/lust for her openly and publicly, with tenderness and with words… true spiritual teachers would not have any secret lovers… but would treat all females as sisters (with no hidden incest)!
In reply to Ian
I don’t sense that she’s let herself down – I sense she’s shared something difficult. Perhaps there is a bit of bitterness in the article at times. But I also feel that is understandable if one feels they were loved by someone and then cast aside – as the writer says she was. That is a painful experience. However, I do think there are other emotions in the piece and it is an experience that cannot be oversimplified using just one word. I am not saying a woman doesn’t have work to do when it comes to self-responsibility in relationships. I am saying this woman has a right to express herself in this way. She is being honest about her experience and actually, I do think there is some courage in that. Lord knows how long these kinds of dynamics have been occurring in relationships in humanity where the woman suffers in silence and is expected to “just get over it”. Also, reaching love and compassion is a journey….you have to get through the uncomfortable emotions that may not look pretty, before reaching that state and often having and expressing these kinds of emotions is less tolerated in a woman. If this article is a part of a process for the writer, then so be it but I do feel she is making valid wider points, too. Unfortunately, some people often want to discount the uncomfortable truth of how men are very much lusty even in the guise of higher consciousness. I don’t know the details about this lady’s experience but I feel the piece is addressing something more than her experience. I do know that this is a valid issue to bring up as religion and spirituality is dominated by men and it is not surprising that some of them may be prone to being self-centred or careless with others’ feelings. This article, in its own way, is attempting to redress a balance and for that reason it should be welcomed.
Bravo for your boldness Honovi – agree or disagree makes no difference you shared something of yourself there and I felt it – thank you Xxx
btw… the owner of the bookshop was reluctant to sell me that old paperback called “How to Choose a Guru” (choose/find… don’t know the correct title, but on reflection now, I think the word was ‘choose’) as it was not new and had no price! (priceless indeed!) … Perhaps the most valuable book in his whole shop? So, after some cajoling, and the fact he would have difficulty selling it in his shop full of new books, he gave it to me for free… and I forced him to take a few rupees for it. What a bargain! I will try to find it on google for you if you are interested, as I’m sure it went out of print years ago. 🙂
Hi Honovi…. Thank you for your refreshingly frank discussion about some truths concerning male spiritual teachers and their female students… I have come across their “secret” worlds many times before, and thus, the fakery of such teachers has been obvious to me by their blank dismissal of me, simply because I am a man and of a certain age, and thus, of no lustful interest to them…
Sai Baba (the one with the big hair who performed magic tricks and who died recently) was found to be of the same ilk, but seduced foreign boys and young men as well.
Osho was a bit different as he declared that if you fall in love with someone then why not enjoy sex together? However, full sexual intercourse should be a big nono to all spiritual teachers, but any MUTUAL intimacies without penetration would seem perfectly acceptable in some cases, where deeper forms of human love and kindness are the route to healing in many cases… rather than just cerebral exercises and meditations.
.. But God does not judge any of these things… after all, apparently Lot was the only man in Sodom whom God felt worthy of saving (and his wife and two daughters, of course)… but Lot then promptly allowed his daughters to get him drunk, which gave him the lame excuse of having sexual intercourse with them both [to produce two new tribes of Israel!]. Incest would seem to be an acceptable practice in the Old Testament!!! I get assaulted whenever I tell Christians this! However, I make no judgements about any of these taboos and my empathy is with Lot’s wife… I believe the pillar of salt is symbolic of her tears.
I digress, but suffice to say I am still a virgin… and all women are safe with me… I decided when I was 30 that I would never marry (and hence always stay pure with women), even though I could have found a wife and had a family, or led a gay lifestyle… I have always been an ethical person, seeking a true friend or partner… and before my gnosis I believed I could have been happy on either path… if I’d found the right girl/woman… or the right man. My “failure” on both paths is a catalogue of unrequited loves. But now, that “failure” has been a blessing and I am free to love anyone I choose, even if it may never be reciprocated… because I will remain a virgin with both sexes… no matter what other types of intimacies may take place… such as hugging or kissing someone when the circumstances require it, or cleaning/washing a homeless person who has lost the capacity to look after themselves properly, or in cases where taboos and society’s heartless and unfeeling rules need to be ignored/overcome… For example, many people I meet have embarrassing ailments, such as a swollen testicle or phimosis or anal rash… deeply personal ailments that they are afraid to see a doctor about, or have no medical facilities to turn to… a simple observation usually allows me to give the person confidence to see a doctor, and I will accompany them, or I can advise them on what to do to resolve their problem. Mental and emotional and spiritual problems can be resolved through any method that may be appropriate for them, such as counselling or love or prayers or teachings, accompanied by comforting touches and warmth towards them. And in the case of men with sexual problems or frustrations, I have no taboos where teaching about masturbation is concerned. I should state here and now, that demonstrations on my part are a big nono of course, but sometimes a male needs to overcome all his fears and anxieties and express his sexual feelings in a safe and relaxed way, without the need for a sexual partner. This can often divert the powerful urges of lust and also the terrible desire some men have of wanting to rape someone.
So thank you for your posting… as I actually wanted to mention a book I was going to write, on how to find a true spiritual teacher… and by “pure coincidence” I found in November 2000 a worn and old paperback, written in 1982, in a new bookshop in Pokhara Nepal, full of new and plastic-wrapped books, called “How to find a Guru” written by an American whose name I cannot recall (I’m in India and do not have access to my copy in the UK right now). But it is an amazing book that has one page for every “tick” a spiritual teacher should have. There is only one page that needs tearing out… the author’s push of a particular named Indian guru, whom I know to be a fake… And of course, it was God’s way of telling me I didn’t need to write that book… it’s already been done! The shop owner had absolutely no idea how that book came to be tucked behind some new books on his shelves in the new bookshop that he just opened!
If you are in south Goa anytime during the next few months, you may like to share a chai with me? God bless, ever John.
Thank you for sharing this intelligent and kind post to us.
Thanks for sharing. This poses interesting questions about the line between teachers and students especially those of the opposite sex interacting. It also makes me wonder about religion and spirituality as these areas are dominated by men but a lot of what we are taught esp in spiritual circles is to connect to the divine feminine. if some male teachers are acting this way, it is a real letdown on knowing who to look up to and trust on our journey. Although, we can also surpass them by evolving through the experience…and becoming our own masters. 🙂
I normally really enjoy reading your posts, but I don’t see much wisdom in this one, just bitterness.
Thanks for your feedback Susan, I believe we see what we wish to see. I come less from a place of bitterness and more from a place of genuine concern for vulnerable young women who are manipulated by those in a position of power. It took courage for me to publish this article. I accept it won’t resonate with everybody. Warmest wishes to you.
I’m going to have to agree with Susan. I think most people who follow your blog, will likely see this more as bitter than courageous. I also hate to point out the obvious about your post, but with the pattern repeating itself with your experience with another teacher in China, it sounds as if less blame towards others and greater self-responsibility should be something of a consideration for you. Whether you are courageous enough to approve my comment or not, I think you’ve let yourself down with this post. Hopefully your past views on love and compassion will be more evident in your future writings. With love, Ian
Hi Ian, thanks for sharing. I value everyones right to express their opinion.
Update: The posters Susan and Ian are infact the same person as highlited to me at my site by the same IP address they share. I also noted this person has tried to post negative comments under a different name in another article. Your anger serves a purpose which I’m sure you’ll conclude when you’re ready.