Remorse & Change
Like many spiritual teachers, I have had certain aspects of my relatedness with students come under rightful criticism in the past. Foremost in that criticism in my case was the use of tough love in trying to help students break their use of societally sanctioned drugs of solace in order to expose how deeply those kinds of conditionings toxically keep us both emotively safe existentially and in relatedness with others in general. Along with other aspects of my teaching, tough love was utilized to see if how in the same way it is so often needed for addictions of substances it might also apply to breaking these societally supported addictions unseen as such by a mass consciousness world.
But in its clinical trials that students consciously chose to be part of over the last twenty years I learned the hard way to never force a person’s limits in any of the formidable detox domains of life. That phase proved it does not work and actually hinders growth, especially when powered by still-unhealed issues in myself that clouded my ability to see and experience some of the limits of how it did not support healthy self-authority.
In that tough love way, I inevitably became a new authority and reconditioning source telling students what to do just as toxically as parents and societal influences, all the while seeing my methods as their liberation. On the inside I felt I was actually helping people, unaware of how much I was actually confusing them and hurting them, framing their resistance to tough-love dynamics as simply a defense refusing to detox and heal, instead of a heart crying out in pain for a more accepting authority.
I came from a childhood involving a passively over-sexualized household dynamic where my over-yanged mother made me the center of her emotive life in many toxic ways; an under-yanged father who gave me no template for healthy male expression; an extended family mafia-influenced character; and an early wound-based need to both over-criticize and over-caretake my world’s inability to reflect myself to myself. This inability was based on how I was born with both an innate soulful sense already directly experiencing the Divine Being within which everything dualistic in life evanesces as micro-arisings Love, and a direct awareness of the nondual or featureless canvas upon which all the micro-arisings of Love are painted. Access to both of these dimensions of consciousness in the world of nominal western familial, societal, and religious conditioning thus gave me no way to understand myself or my place in the world.
As a result, I possessed a neurotic set of personality accommodations that resulted in a wounded, enlightened, seductive, narcissistic, inspiring, caretaking, and tough-loving spiritual teacher. And lastly, a zen-based enlightenment event late in my thirties that hermetically and impersonally sealed in the entire array. I thus became addicted to being the center of attention in finally being recognized for some of my gifts and both neurotically over-caretaking and over-tough-loving students, but consciously and honestly caring for their growth in between.
This dynamic coexisted with an otherwise novel paradigm-shattering message of how eastern and western versions of spiritual focus and the philosophical basis of psychology in general are indelibly altered and reframed within a larger context of human consciousness’s emotivity-as-essence. In that way, students were incisively educated in metaphysics unavailable anywhere else, all within a dharma on a clinical trial basis to find out what did and didn’t work to attain the goals of the vision.
So despite teaching exactly the opposite, the net result was that I was unable to both emotively and spiritually feel the impact of my neurotic aspects on those I was trying to help. Emotively, from my own unhealed wounds, and spiritually, how nondual-based enlightenment effectively de-personalizes one so deeply, it also de-personalizes those whom one serves afterward. Add to that a deep access to Divine Being that made me love everyone and everything deeply, and the net result was a teacher who gave his students someone who was in different moments equally brilliant, absent, present, personal, abusive, impersonal, and loving, all wrapped in an enlightened impermanence where all three dynamisms would emerge in different ways at different times.
For the students, the net result was confusing as hell, to say the least.
It also must be stressed that all nondual-enlightened gurus are unconsciously nar- cissisized by being impersonally locked into a nondual enlightened state-bunker that then reflexively experiences other people also as mere impersonal or unreal illusions of their own dualistic mental apparati. Such a state allows for a far easier more universal- based care and love for people, but not a closer heartful transactive personal-based empathy, giving room for inhumane treatments of those around them. Followers or students simply cannot know what happens in that way after nondual enlightenment.
For me, the combined effects of enlightenment and the toxic childhood thus supported both the lack of impact empathy and tough-love dynamics, albeit far more benignly than other teachers guilty of physical abuse, sexual relations with adherents, or abiding in renunciative-based ashram communities, none of which ever happened in my work. All of the teaching was based on anti-collectivistic individual responsibility and its inviolability, however my own woundings didn’t always abide with those teachings.
These explanations do not excuse or absolve me of how much I hurt certain people, for whom I made specific and agonizing time to receive any and all of how I made them feel. This was devastating to experience, but the only way I could remorsefully begin to illuminate and heal in the ways I needed to, and to then see if any of what I had spent a lifetime to developing had any reasonable merit. Added to that I have been blessed with a gifted therapist who helped me salvage what was essentially good and real about me and good and real about what I was teaching by effectively putting my complex array of enlightened and unenlightened shadow-based elements on a healing recovery arc, and help me begin to recover to a more emotively and spiritually sober state. And of course, assume i will always be in recovery and so be open in any moment how more subtle shadow aspects may be somewhere in play in some degree.
Having gone through that darkness, therapy helped me see that it was not so much what I taught that was without merit or inappropriate, but the specific ways I inhumanely related to the truths I was offering, and in that way distorting the ways I related to people in general. So for me, the only way to honor those whom I hurt and make atonement in some way is to not let my shadow win, and try to rebase my work from a newer place, no matter how much others are completely certain it is impossible for me to change.
The hardest part of this to bear is that those who still actively hold and express hateful feelings toward me years later are the those who must love me the most, the resentment an unconscious way to keep themselves connected to me, all the while they believe the hatefulness liberates them. Whenever I encounter this, I experience it as love in that way, and as such, honor it and them.
The only example that might complete the picture is how visionaries of all kinds tend to serve the vision they know they were born to serve far more than the people that vision is meant to serve. This impersonalizes people relative to the vision, and makes room for hidden wound-based egoic excess in its delivery. But any true leader or visionary also knows one can’t avoid projections from those they lead or serve, not taking too seriously either overly adoring or overly negative reactions. A genuine visionary is not interested in a popularity contest or looking to be loved, as most of the time what they offer chafes the status quo in some domain of the human condition. In that way, honest leaders and visionaries can only be responsible for what comes out of ourselves and only responsive to how people receive it.
As such, far more people over the years experienced my work with them as good and valuable than otherwise. But just because visionary authorities may draw specific negative projections from students rife with their own unhealed aspects doesn’t mean that there isn’t something in the leader that needs to be looked at and healed. As such, integrous leaders and visionaries must take more of the percentage of the responsibility of making sure we never lose sight of a detached and critical view of our own actions, however appropriate they may seem to us. And in that way neither be emotively closed off to, nor at an enlightened arm’s length from our impact on people, no matter their inevitable projection of maximizing or minimizing the bad or good in a leader.
It’s in that context, as an imperfect recovering teacher, my work with people is offered, wherein neither teacher nor student is ever without shortcomings, but driven to be aware of and on point with them. And to those whom I have hurt in the past, I want to say that feeling the pain I caused you and working through my blindness to it has allowed me to break freer of the prisons of both my own family-of-origin dystrophies and spiritual dimensions of consciousness that precluded realizing the impact of my actions on you. You have helped me humanize myself to myself, and in that way so allow me so much more connection to the humanity of others. For both, I am eternally grateful.