Spirituality, Sex and Abuse
Noah wrote: I have been thinking about Joshu Sasaki Roshi as an example lately, myself. So, in your opinion, a teacher who is capable of (sexual) abuse of students has not completely finished their insight training? In other words, at the highest levels of enlightenment, conduct is necessarily and automatically purified? This has been my thinking, as of late: that there are levels of attainment in which things like emotion and motivation to act do get 'integrated', but that these are waaay down the line.
This is a wonderful topic. Not often talked about. I have also not talked about this because sexuality is a big taboo.
To me it looks like this. There is nothing wrong with teachers having sex with students if this is done in mutual understanding, agreement and openness of all the parties concerned: teacher, student and possibly teacher's spouse and student's spouse.
However, this is usually never the case. Teachers are not able to see their and other's sexuality in this light because they obviously have blind spots in their sex impulse and emotions, possibly feelings of guilt or something else attached to it, that hey have dissociated from in their minds. So sexuality to them is a blind spot. I think cultural and religious upbringing has a lot to do with this. The world is a pretty supressed place when it comes to sexuality. There are so many problems created by this. In the mind training/spiritual scene there are also powerful taboos such as awakening/enlightenment and human sexuality. But anyway.
When a respected, possibly charismatic dharma teacher with energetic presence, seduces his or her student, and if the teacher does not explain his or her view of what is going on, the student is mislead. This creates the karmic backflow that will follow. By karmic backflow I mean deep stress, trauma and loss of faith towards the dharma. A dharma teacher or a guru has a special place in the student's mind and heart. Sexual abuse is one of the worst things to betray the trust of the student.
Evidence of this karmic backflow is seen from several public testimonies that we have seen in the media by people, usually women, who were abused sexually by their male gurus. We can find these examples from every tradition and religion. Joshu Sasaki is one of them. These testimonials say that the relationship was not equal between the two parties. The other party, the student or students, were abused. In case this had been done in openness and clarity, being aware and awake, the outcome and the testimonies would have had a different tone altogether. There would be no grudge, no need for healing. But we never hear the students say that "Oh yes, we had wonderful and intimate time together with my teacher. Sex with him or her, gave me a new perspective of who I am, who my teacher is and what sexual awareness is". I have never heard anyone say that. We keep hearing that someone got hurt bad and that it has taken many years or decades for them to heal and re-gain their faith towards the dharma. I am sure many of these abused people left their dharma practice for good. That's one of the real bad mistakes a dharma teacher can do. Karmically speaking, that's when the shit really hits the fan for him (or her).
If we speculate that Shakyamuni Buddha, this mahasiddha who started buddha dharma, would have had sexual encounters with his students I am sure that it wouldn't have been in avoidance of the sangha knowing it or in secrecy in any way from the concerned parties. It doesn't make any sense that there'd be a living buddha, a true master, who has this immense clarity of mind and awareness when he teaches and is a stainless and pure celibate monk among people but that when he goes to this quarters after his talk and takes his robe off, there's a well known Bollywood actress giving him a blowjay at the same time when he watches TV. For a real mahasiddha this would never happen, as it did to a famous guru in India a few years back (while a hidden camera was filming).
When one has really meditated and recognised the awake awareness in bone and marrow, the clarity of mind comes together with natural ethics that you don't need to carry in your mind or recall anymore. When the conscious recognition is thorough, ethical behaviour becomes natural. You can't hurt or purposefully mislead others at that point. This is because the bodymind, including the sex impulse, is permeated with this open awareness imbued with the spirit of compassion, selfless love, nonviolence, truthfulness and freedom. At this point it is impossible to purposefully harm or mislead others, be it through sexual abuse or other forms of abuse. But most teachers or gurus are not there yet and so, they create harm to many. This is very very unfortunate for all the parties and the dharma culture in overall. The karmic reverberations extend to so many directions.
But yeah, sex and sexuality are taboos in the world. When writing this, I consider not publishing this text because being a spiritual teacher myself and talking about these things publicly, I might be be labeled as some weird sex guru, **simply because I am talking about these things** which are never talked about.
But that's the whole problem, isn't it? We are not taught about sexuality, about us ourselves as sexual beings. Instead the world culture makes us feel awkward and strange about our sexuality. "Forbidden fruit", you know. "Don't, don't don't. Put a lid on it. Pure mind vs. Dirty mind. Heaven vs. Hell" et cetera. I am sure this supression still practiced by many religions has done much more harm than good during the known history.
But anyway. My main point is that it is not the actual act of sex that is the problem in these abuse cases. It is the mind and conditions imprinted in it, as it always is.
Open Heart, www.openheart.fi