Today we have a special guest post from Scott Edelstein, author of Sex and the Spritual Teacher.
We’re in the midst of yet another wave of scandals involving sexual misconduct by Catholic priests and institutional misconduct by their peers and superiors.
What is less well-known is that we’re also in the midst of two other, parallel waves of scandals. These involve sexual misconduct by Zen and Tibetan Buddhist teachers, as well as institutional misconduct by their organizations and leaders. The issues, transgressions, and suffering in these communities closely mirror those in Catholic organizations.
Yet none of this dukkha and karma arises from the teachings of Buddha or Jesus. All of it springs from human delusion—most notably avarice, fear, and willful ignorance. These are not abstract concepts. They arise in human minds and hearts.
They can subside in our minds and hearts as well. Each of us can reduce future suffering by paying close attention to our neocortex (our seat of discernment and doubt), not just our amygdala (our seat of faith and belonging). We also need to pay close attention to our heart—our seat of ethics, values, and meaning. And we need to pay close attention to what our body tells us about how safe or unsafe we feel.
In practice, this means speaking up—sometimes repeatedly or loudly—when something doesn’t look or feel or sound right. It means challenging a practice or relationship that everyone in the community takes for granted. It means asking difficult questions of spiritual teachers or community leaders. Sometimes it can mean calling a beloved authority figure on the carpet—or calling the police. And sometimes it means getting the hell away.
Too often we let just our faith—or just our infatuation—guide us. Instead, we need to practice a Middle Way that embraces our full perception: our faith, doubt, observation, critical thinking, bodily sensations, and intuition.
Sex and the Spiritual Teacher is available during the month of September for only $1.99 on the Amazon Kindle.