« Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

#143: Scott Edelstein, When Spiritual Leaders 'Stray'

2018-07-11
Spiritual leaders often have great influence over their followers but there are times, author Scott Edelstein says, when some leaders will use their position of power to manipulate, shame and abuse others. Edelstein discusses how spiritual leaders can "stray," even become predatory, and suggests ways for a healthy student-teacher relationships, which he lays out in his book, "Sex and the Spiritual Teacher."
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
For maybe see ten percent happier vodka Dan There's a scandal of sorts brewing in the buddhist world that involves a former guest on this show sack Young me palm Rinpoche. Shea who wrote a book about the art of conversation, and as the leader of Shambolic International was on the show couple months ago, and has subsequently announced that these stepping aside amidst investigation into his alleged sexual abuse of students- and it goes beyond that- from international, which is a big organization and and even in the least by meditation standards
the big urbanization has centres all over the place, all over the country and in Canada and perhaps even beyond, but according to try circle, which is a buddhist publication. The the entire governing council of of Zimbabwe is stepping aside and suck young himself is gonna. Stop teaching in step away from here administrative duties until the investigation is finished. So this is quoted a compelling peg. That's a term of art from the news a world We will use this term news peg, which is out of it And in the news that gives us a reason to do a story: s birth. Every any specific story it we might be it. in we, we tried a peg it to current events. So rich, now, for example, right around the Supreme Court nomination that President Trump has just made. We might do stories pegged to that looking at say the
of abortion or campaign financed. So I just throw that by way of an example that the this what's going on with our former guessed, the sack young is a good peg for our current guest this week. who is Scott Edelstein, who has written a an entire book or two entire books, about the issue of spiritual teachers and their behaviour and what you as a practitioner or potential packaging we need to know he's written a book called sex in the spiritual teacher and also the users guide to spiritual teachers. So's, we could hardly have found a more timely guest I will. I will say before we play his interview, that the interview was recorded before this headline. broke, but at where were we ve expedited the posting of this interview? Because of the aforementioned news so we'll get to Scott in a minute. But first though, let service do some
some voice. Males, and let me just give you my little caviar, which is that, as you know, I'm not teacher, not a spiritual leader, not a mental health expert, just a guy who writes books about meditation and does a it, and so I'll do my best to answer these questions, which I have not heard in advance, so here he's gonna ruin housing, and this is gonna win from southern California, you briefly mention a lot about the research you gave habit formation in behavior change. I was wondering if you share authors are book recommendation you have for years listeners portraying to form better habits or change habits for different areas In particular, I have young toddlers at home and I'm curious if there's any books for a research about Heather formation for little ones to make sure we still good at it as they grew up thanks. So much and love all your work
Thank you. I probably overstated how much research I did into behavior change. I did do a little bit, but it wasn't super exhaustive. That said, the book that comes to mind is one from a former guest on the show whose ashes she's been on twice Gretchen Reuben. She wrote a book called them we're tendencies which I have found to be really useful and she comes up with this classification All human beings had tea. She she's the view. There are four types that when it comes to have it our mission, therefore, for types I can't call them all right now, like their one of them's, a rebel and others and oblige her. Anyway. I found a very useful to think of two class, I myself within that and to then think about the Tipp she has for each type of person about how to to instil healthy habits, given way
ever, your tendencies are- and she does talk of if memory oeuvres about being able to how to diagnose That might be the right word, but diagnose what? What? What? What tendency? your children might have and how to then work with them so check that out. The four tendencies call number two This is shown for steering organ, and I'm not sure this is really a question but who shaken expand on that road? They was coming home moment I had while reforming from each year pockets interview with Catherine Price happen. For the intro regarding, for example, your phone, I really want to listen, because I really dont care for my phone already and I just can't see it as a necessary evil. My aha, however king, as that, he week trying to figure out. How do I warrant had premeditation when China as a common question and Armenia?
I knew that I wouldn't voluntary pick up my phone ticket social media. Surely out of order and not even to be an actor purchase deterrent, just a boy you're? In fact, only conscious, like I allow myself to be bored with my power, I would give myself the excuse that just a team, I just want to check out the day after me. I think I can already see the aha that I had from that thought. So now we check out tameness meditation time, because I have no excuse. I, previously discover, Jeff worry ten brought meditation higher. Ten percent happier out, which I love, and I mean that just taking him brought sometimes can be enough, but you now have the team in it. Then I think it is really they get an x ray hopeful fell
I just want to say thank you for that, and you never know when you stick random, listen to another family, my gleam from, and there were many more gems in Catalan present here. So I just want to say thank you so interesting that you bring it Catherine prices. I happened to be re. Listening to that episode, because I've been a lot of my own relationship in my phone, and there are so many gems in that episode, she's, really smart, so Katherine Price wrote a book called how to break up with your phone and we we posted a few episodes ago, if you're confused. by the reference worth going to check that out and so yea its it. I think your ahem moment he tell me the in the in the world of habit formation. Theirs, expression. I think its cue routine. In reward. I think that's what it is. It did you when you're thinking about creating a habit. You there's the cue
or maybe this is already true- just have your existing habits, there's the queue. So in your case, it's you feel on board there's the routine reach for the phone and then the reward is you get the little hits, it doesn't mean of novelty from whatever social media like have crude or your actually you're, not posting your bed. Whenever new pieces of content have been posted by the people, Europe digitally stocking, which we all do so you have to that end. you found that the q is revealing board and you change your suit substituted. the routine with I'm gonna meditate and you have an entirely different reward, and that is textbook awesome and that's that That is something at scalable into somebody for twelve scalable and adaptable by somebody, people listening, but also its global and other aspects of your life. Let me just say what so bravo.
Let me just say one last thing, which is that I am not a luddite, nor is Catherine Price interesting I am the ito allowing yourselves the luxury of fifteen minutes of looking at Instagram. I do not begrudge, that, however, what I think you ve wisely scene. This is something we all need to examine. Is that those fifteen minutes probably warrant making you happy and that if there, if the fifteen minutes or make you happy that iced I say, go for luxuriating. Those fifteen minutes are not anti pleasure, but I am as I you know voluntary misery and it sounds like you had the wisdom and the self awareness to see that those fifteen minutes could be better more fruitfully used. so like ire and I'm not anti indulgence its, but it's it's worth seeing that these little indulgences its people, ask me all the time about the fact that I give up sugar and age
came to the realisation that this thing that I thought was an award a reward was making me miserable. So it's not that I'm and an aesthetic. It's just that I am stopping the process of banging my head against the wall. Hey my love. I know it wasn't a question, but I love what you had to say. So, thank you for calling an end saying it. And it's interesting that I've been thinking about same stuff. All right look. get onto the topic that we did rather juicy topic that we brought up at the beginning, which is that sometimes the people who put themselves or find themselves the position of being spiritual life there is a merged in love with the term spiritual, but people who teach us meditation or teach us also. Two things in this space that is often referred to, the spirituality. Sometimes they abuse their power and it's a good thing to know, if you
gonna be if you're sharpened fur for lack of a better term guru and Scott. Steam, who is a writer freelance editor? He has also been a practitioner for a long time of meditation, has followed a couple of prominent spiritual leaders He has taken it upon himself to write a couple of short Slim slim volumes on the subject, as I mentioned at the top of the show, their second spiritual teacher, and then he followed up with the users guide to spiritual teachers, which just came out in two thousand seventeen and had has a lot of provocative things to say so here is Scott Edelstein you're a little bit about war and to talk about today, but I want to start where always star, which is how did you start meditating, ah, actually started in nineteen? Seventy four I was a student at Oberlin College and
Oberlin? These two may still have this for all. I know, there's something called the experimental college remember. This was the seventies. So, in addition to college of arts inside To this end, the music conservatory. You can get up to five credits in these alternative classes, some of which were taught by faculty by students and so on. And there was something tat causes then meditation, and you got your credit for it, so I learned it there. What what why? Why did that seem attractive to well I'll? Give you two reasons. Ok, the first is a non verbal reason right at just attracted me why? Yes, you are attracted to your wife yes, I was attracted to my wife and I could give you reasons, but IP mostly pulling those out of my. But the fact was, I felt at the attraction, so I felt an attraction I buy that America I buy it, but over and above TAT. I had, I would say you don't
in any way. Equate myself with you, but I will say I had a high energy nervous son of New York, Jews personality and that's it you got it created Strasser, created anxiety and her. So you know and lighter like to see what this is about, and I took two: it immediately made to if senses the wrong word, but it felt right in the body of felt right and heart. The mind in the gut did you see any changes in yourself as a consequence, you I mean yes, but you know this whole culture looks at everything in a kind of either dissimilar prophylactic way either preventing something or improving something are fixing some modern culture. Monoculture, yes point taken, so I never lie did it that way I mean yes, I could raw and all the benefits of all the ways that indispensably made me better. Better When being
made me more human made me who I am, but you could argue that it wasn't so much the meditation and I would say who cares you know you could make a great argument for how sex reduce stress, but that is not the best, argument for sex right. Let's talk about procreation of the speech we'll talk about intimacy. Let's talk about joy and so on so sure or I experienced all the things that you and others talk about in terms of how did this improve you? How does it make you healthier? Happy more connected. How did improve your life but honestly Dan? I think that selling meditation way short you baby an excellent point and I feel this is one of the shortcomings not only of my public messaging but of my personal practice that you know that at some point, maybe just meditate for the joy of getting in touch with
you exist and my co author book, I wrote about this Jeff WAR and has made this point to me quite effectively well effectively in that I heard him not effectively and that it made a difference in my package. You still occasionally a little striving utilitarian, but I thought I it's it's, so voting here you make that point. Can we go now that wrote a little business I'd like to go in into different directions. The first as you know, you hold a unique place in in our culture in terms of food, are, and who will listen to you on wider, listen to you so also don't wanna pathologies, people who are in work you said, quote selling meditation short, because in fact what you have done is brought a whole bunch of people to something that they would never have cancer. and so I want to thank you and give you credit and and onto my hat, for they think you appreciate, and so what were they mine's, almost everybody
its into meditation for the in quotes wrong or less reasons, and, of course you don't expect a a twelve year old, understand all the things that a adult would understand, or you don't expect an old person like me, whose now sixty three to have the same understanding, life of someone who's forty or of someone who's, eighty five, so that over time and meditation almost everyone starts out with it as in a kind of utilitarian way. Oh, I feel better when I, when I do it. Oh I'm a nicer person when I do all that stuff, so so the end and Britain people in in that way is wonderful that said over
years? Other things start to show up. Other things start to appear, and some of them are even nonverbal and some of them- and you know I'm going to say it. Some of them would be classified by some people as mystical, but they're not remotely mystical there absolutely realistic, but their aspects of life, human life and just life as a being that start to show up and become clear and so is as we do this longer, we have more wisdom to share and that's exactly what it will be doing Europe a year is as having a deeper wisdom to share and communicate and other people will be broadened behind you and the best part. Is that because use- started where you started. People will not accuse you of going off the deepening it. So it's all it. A wonderful arguments has that believes that an and I'll be what would you say stuff that people are tempted to call me
What are you talking about? Well, ll give you an example all right so there there's a writer name, Steve Hagen. Now, full disclosure he's an old friend of mine and he wrote the book the best selling book Buddhism plain and simple. That came, when you were just a kid came out. I think and ninety ninety nine and still doing very well, and then he wrote a sequel couple of sequels, but one is called meditation now or never it's it's. A quite wonderful book is about better meditation and it teaches the same kind of meditation that you practice and that you teach, but then it goes into all of some of these other things that start to show up, like you start to recognise that this whole motion will, of course, you're gonna recognise this. This whole notion of what we call a self this, this idea of eye you start to see what the crazy construct that isn't it starts to break down. Subject an object start to break down you started, and- and this is not some wooed thing- you don't have some experience like flashing lights. Are,
events stuff. So it's the exact opposite of mysticism because you you're looking not at some other thing, you're looking at the reality that was are all along, but you start to see nuances of it and you start to see. For example, we want a common things that you have no control in, but many adults start to realise that they thought that this particular moment is the result of hundreds of thousands of foreign forces they come together and that no matter how much you try you're not going to be able to control it, but over and above that, you start to see that that's that move this this, this idea of being a self moving through life, is not what's going on, something else, much less explicable, much less quantifiable going on at the same time. In other words, these two things are not opposites. We're not you not flipping from
the deluded state to the enlightened state. The two things are the same. Now I could cite people I quite Paul. I could cite people I krishna Murky, but I won't bother. as this is what's going on. You asked for some examples. I hope those will suffice for its great it and I think anybody will have heard you just talk preceding paragraphs which were so well. Stated will now will understand that you got pretty deep into the practice. Posting Oberlin, so give me give its assent of what that entailed. You know how what were you doing to get so deep, but one of them. I will say that one of the things you understand over time is the deep. a completely inappropriate word for of Erin, I know just like when, if you were to start talking about sexism as just it says so good for your for your elders, cholesterol and stuff, I mean- might be good for all these things, but I mean, after a short time, it just became part of my life. So I would never think of. It is
deeper shallow. I mean something I do on an almost daily basis. I did it while way in the lobby from fruit for you to meet. you today. I do what routinely actually one of the things that that then I would say is a result of it is that I just say you can call it a prayer. If you want, I would call it just a simple acknowledgement. Over and over and over throughout the day. I say to myself: not you not in control this.
And and every moment is you can be fresh new and you don't know what it's gonna be an you need the help of the entire universe for it. Now you could call that occur to God, Ipod. I don't see any need to use those words, but you could you could use them if you wanted to, I don't mean you would particular I mean any one, but it's the acknowledgement that the whole universe is coming together in this moment and this world we live in is being created freshly every moment and that there is no. There is no script for it. We we just have to be as present as we can and live into it, and so that is that awareness and that living some people would call going deeper into meditation. I would say it's what life calls of us may ask us to do at all times it simply a way of living. Nodded meditation get me there. I have to go back in time machine be me before not meditating see what happened can't run that control
I don't know whether was age or meditation or who knows what I talk? I've talked about, and personally I don't know why. I'm less of it. Now that I think it's probably a mix of maturation, meditation marriage, its multi sectoral here here does help to marry someone who s the best of you and that's my case yeah. Well, we we have, then common right, So, but I guess what I'm getting at more is in. When I talk about the going deepen the practice, I just meant that it, you really committed yourself to it, and I wanted to get a sense of what. What that look, but did you stay in the sand school? Did you go off to a bad one? like how did you organize your your meditation career while in terms committing myself to it in committee. This true commitment is, is an ok word to use or discipline is an ok word to use. I could I said in my own case. I never thought of it that way.
In the same way that I you know, I go to the gym, but I don't I don't think of going. the gym as as I'm doing this, because it's good for my health, Do it because I got older, my body started feeling chromium felt better when when it when I worked out so after I took this course, I moved. to Minneapolis, an actual I was, I was just graduating college. Why Minneapolis? Well I'm betting? Okay! Let her go. Oh, I was up for a screen. Writing fellowship as a fine was first remaining fellowship in ally, and I figured I asked a friend the person who would talk this meditation courses so well. If I wanted to get to Know- about meditation. Where should I go and he recommended as an teacher in in Minneapolis and his antiques, in allay, both of whom later got caught up in scandals in their students and vote. Yes, we can come back to that. We will be, but because it get the fellowship. I went to Minneapolis and show and wrote the Zen centre there, and
teacher there any, and he was a big provided, a great introduction to me. His name was dining category and he he ran the meat or he was the head teacher at the Minneapolis and Centre, and so that was my kind of graduate school. I went there for a couple years and they have what they call tray, I'm curious, where you do, I think for medication periods a day and a talk, and so you roll out at about three? I am it's not monastic, but it's not exactly like going to. The coroner church or synagogue either. So I think I was. I was meditating, maybe three hours a day and doing other things talks. Listen, he talks. Writing some talks as there is a cohort of us that did this on and off and I did get official what they call lay ordination, but it should end. You know it's it's the wrong, the very rough equivalent of bar mitzvah or confirmation in in the days and Buddhists, but that's a pretty big commitment. I mean you graduate from college and you know off get out of it,
in the morning, and that that's you I mean you may quibble with this, but that sound like going pretty deep, ah well at the time in the great things about being young, as you don't have enough to compare to right. Although now that I'm older and I compared to the life of a news anchor god- that's ways, you can up at every possible our plane and flooding all over. The world may pass better dead at point taken. Yes, I'm so I do tat for a couple years pretty seriously and and then felt artist it's time to two to move on, but I've continued practice ever since then, and since then I have wound up being the editor or literary agent from many spiritual teachers and got to be friends with many of them. And in many different traditions and either though I seriously got into that later on. Thank God in Judaism, rediscovered meditation and then many other traditions over the last thirty years have rediscovered it after kind of push
away, and so it's been a pleasure to see that its showing up now axiomatically as well as secular, early yeah yeah. That's really! That's really true. So correct me. If I'm wrong, your first book was second spiritual teacher, while I'm a writer by trade. So my first book came out in nineteen. Seventy five or seventy six came out a long time at all, but my first book in this area, the first book on the subject with sex and spiritual teacher in two thousand and eleven- and why did you want to write that Because I wanted to make a difference because what goes on, when, when spiritual teachers stray- and I should be There- be clear here that others, those spiritual teachers, are like members of every other profession. They range from really wonderful to really terrible and abusive here. Somebody who people bowed down to who people will get on their knees before who people will follow, but Not only will these people follow you wherever you go and do whatever you say
But they have no way to cross check you. In other words, if you say I am the best hairstyle us than the world locate, show me what you can do with Dan's hair and they better do a good job. But if you're a spiritual teacher, you can go way off the rails and people will follow you. The Netflix, it's a wonderful, it's very while allowing countries wild wild country. I have spoken about it on the air. No, I haven't please, let's, which would you tell you into Tell your listen, there's a little bit about it and then I'll add more sure must see so this is not in the buddhist tradition. It's in the hindu tradition. It involves spiritual teacher came to be known as o show at its multi part. I think six part Netflix years. I think very well done and tree. They find all this contemporaneous footage of him he started in this in the seventies in India. Well, I don't know he may be restarted before that, but the story really starts in the seventies in India, where the very popular teacher attracting a lot of westerners,
He runs into some trouble that I fully understand in India may be having to do with bookkeeping or whatever goes with his followers to a remote patch of land in Wyoming Organ organ lorry right, of course. How could I forget that organ and immediately tensions flare up between the locals and oceans file worry, and it also comes out nuts and am I can only tell a fraction of the story, but also comes at that there's lots of weird sex, tough going on and drugs and it ends in your bioterrorism. He was the first bioterrorist in America he poisoned the salad bars at a bunch of rest, now? Was it hammer was it is hence woman. So let me be clear: there were two people now is known as OSHA, but he was then known as Rajasthani Sri Bog, one resignation and he appears, B and you know if you're, a therapist you're not allowed to diagnose someone with any kind of mental illness. However, I am not.
There, so I'm come out there and say I believe he gives every appearance of being a malignant narcissist or having been won. and then he had a second in command, who also appeared to be either some high conflict person, maybe maybe not, just maybe sociopath, who knows when her name was sure and they're, both opportunities and viewed widely, and I am grateful that you gave these interviews in the documentary, but there was all kinds of criminality going on within that group and all kinds of that he was not, and indeed, in the hindu tradition, his was a a it's just a mix, a mash up of a bunch of silly little things. But the point is that people followed him in droves, in a very in a way, similar, there's other people who are being followed. That way. Today, perhaps you ve heard of children trunk PA, This teacher so. We ve had a lot of followers of trunk, but on this podcast, including his son, yeah so now. I want to talk about him. You know so the same kind
and, of course, like situation, same kind of followers who would let him get away with anything who didn't question him, and we see that over and over with political figures, and it's the same thing going on with with some spiritual teachers, not talking In our system sociopaths here there are lots of great spiritual teachers out there and some mediocre ochre ones of talking only specifically about these people. Now and I was very concerned that there were so many of them out there. No one had written anything other than theirs oak of very good, but I almost unknown book called safe harbour written by some Buddhists about buddhist spiritual teachers who go astray sexually with theirs and you can get it now- you can download it look at says, safe harbour. You can download it for free, but no one had written about it extensively. And to be one or two percent clear here. The book was originally planned to be written by my assistant at the time she had been made
penetrative assistant, the Minnesota denser, and when things went down with some scandals about category who is the teacher there she said. Oh, I want to write this book. I said, go for it and then after a while, I don't want to anymore. I so can I write it. She said sure: go for and so you, a publisher, wisdom, publications in India, and I give them a lot of credit because they are a buddhist publisher at heart. They do other things, but that's their their central focus and they didn't they. Let me go ahead in and speak about buddhist teachers and other teachers who who go astray, now let me say one more thing, and that is what I say a stray. I actually separate the categories is not one route. There people who go astray and then there's some who were predators from the beginning I actually make,
eleven different distinctions between predators, narcissist, false brahmins falls from, and what does that mean? Somebody who thinks there entitled there not a real brown, but they think they're entitled to whatever it is that they want to grab or take and how you defining brahmin o the Brahman as it is. That is the kind of upper class from India and we may call false promises it. It's a full brahmin nicely who say rightly cast up. Well, it's a class that says I can do anything I want ice because I'm a brand new rules don't apply to me and then there's people who just lose their way. I call them arrogance and then there's people who say You call them so I call them exception. Was people saying what wouldn't normally do that, but and they make excuses- in all these, I'm talking about people who could got in some way a sexual relationship with with one or more students and then the case, the predators
liberties, it's usually with a whole string of this, doesn't mean that spiritual teacher should be celibate. I mean if your catholic- one yes related, but doesn't mean you have to be, it doesn't mean you can't have a partner, doesn't mean you can't be having great sex. your partner of your half the day this isn't about sex. This is about abuse of power and oh, the years between that and the new book. The users guide to spiritual teachers, I learned a lot more about personality disorders of particularly sociopath, a narcissist and malignant nauseous, and has recently have made the connection that those are the most dangerous people and those are the ones who, in large numbers, really kind of tend to become spiritual teachers. One way to do get deeper into his actually would be to pick up on what He said about to go, but let me just set em for people. Yes, don't don't know we is, although there are plenty, a pike ass where we talk to his followers and if listeners want to go back
we talked to his son on one episode. We talk to the editor or the publisher of Mindful magazine a follower as other reading it into too much detail. Illogical learn yet a popular buddhist teacher, Ethan Nick Turn, another popular Buddhists teacher, all of whom are followers of this guy trunk so he is a Tibetan actually escaped from to bed in a quite dramatic fashion. during the chinese invasion and and on to go. To England were eventually took off the robes and when to a certain tie and was in wrote, wrote a bunch of book sitter I admit I actually read any. The habit are widely well regarding including spiritual Materialism cutting through spiritual cuttings areas, the virtual materials and so He then went to the United States and Canada and build something called
the shambolic school and they now have Neuro by university and symbolic publications and asylum and teaching centres in major cities all over the United States, as a really well subscribed lineage and has gone on to actually be quite a kind of straight laced from what I can tell organization, although trunk by himself with anything but straight laced, he embodied what he called crazy wisdom. He drank himself too. from what I say, tell Correct slept with a lot of his followers. Including married follower, correct and and Here is where I get to the the nub of it. For me is the
difference between him and OSHA and again, I'm just saying this is one led sky observing but oh show at least from what I could tell watching that document, or I didn't mean any of his other look out. If I just watch a documentary, he didn't say anything enlightening to Oh, she said nothing that I found a compelling indeed show him trooper membership Clearly new a lot and wasn't smart but seem to be wise. and seem to at least to me as again as well as the guy was not an export weapons. going around in around round around guy would done some deep meditation
So to me, is such a mystery and I would differentiated from Ojo, I'm ready to believe could be some of the things you said about him, but but trunk I don't know. Why would love to speak too, that it actually did you ve brought up a really important point that I am delighted to have the chance for us to talk about. So the first is here here on everything you said about social verses Trump, because tromp was you can argue that he was a spiritual gene whereas for ocean had not had nothing of substance to offer, the here is the part that so you. People have trouble with, and this is why I wrote those two books, because this question comes up over and over. How can you be so wise, so insightful, possibly be a spiritual genius or enlightened and will yes, indeed enlightened and although enlightened is such a loaded term there.
and a lot of people misuse it and a lot of people who are sociopath and Narcissus use it to manipulate other people, but the? How can you have all that wisdom, and at the same time, such a lack of wisdom that you're just cut touching student on the on the shoulder say? You're gonna get me tonight, Guy I'll see you in there in an hour I'll expect you there. How is that possible? And the answer is I'll- give you a couple of answers, number one: how is it possible the cute little kitty. That's purring in your lap we'll get up in five minutes and tear they head off a mouse and have the best time of its life, but the real answer. Of course, but where human beings were contradictory, this is that is who he was stopped, trying not you anybody should stop trying to, think that you're either one or the other. It is entirely possible to be quite wise and quite foolish. At the same time, I mean think of all the all the people- the British
people who got swindled out of all their money by Bernie made off right. You think they would be smart enough, not not to know that. So, if that that is, the history of rule of religious experience, is people who are often very wise and sometimes very unwise simultaneously and that's not going to change, And you know you're looking at me with a kind of bewildered expression and when people do that, I am I answers you need not viewed and in particular, but to everyone you need, We can pass at bewilderment because, if you're stuck in as long as you stay stuck in that bewilderment, you give those kind of people pat potentially give better than power over you, I'm not I shall not that bewildered. I just end corrected and no no! No! No! No! I may I add that that was not meant to be. A critique is more that. How can I say this so I dont know where I feel about enlightenment, about the description
of it in the scriptures. The buddhist scriptures is quite comprehensive. Digging up rooting of greed- hey uttered an illusion, and so, if you got these people No, what trunk I said- or did you say about the extent of his enlightenment, but the advertised benefits of enlightenment, I'm ready, panoramic and so to me surprising on them, one level that you could still be capable of such bad behaviour and the end. Of course. The answer is yes: they can that that that that we have been fed a bill of we ve been fed bs about enlightenment, being a threshold that is crossed and, yes, you can read some Buddhist scriptures were Buddha talks about never return errors and things like but it isn't true it's enlightenment is is- is not some permanent state because nothing's a permanent state and think about it. So to say that some
somehow wasn't enlightened and now today is another. They ve crossed that first public losing your virginity. where are you know you had that you had that experience in that counts as ok, I'm not. Under a I'm be so you can have this profound enlightenment experience and then slipped back. It happened happens all the time, and you can go back and forth and back and forth, and that's what all experiences just like we can. With all other experience, we can be happy, we can be sad, we can swear we'd, never do something and then we end, then we find ourselves doing it out of their condition you're right, you just like no matter how much meditation I do. If the conditions are right, I will be capable of heinous baby, I'm well. I don't know if I will do what
I don't want to take a stand on that here's. What here is what I would say. I suspect that's true. Why don't you worry about that little bit, because I think you I think you do. You have, would have some wisdom to offer, and I mean dementia, you define heinous, but if somebody were trying to or succeeding add, harming my son vehicle yeah. I don't I don't know what I would. I follow the buddhist precept. Non harming in that moment, I think, probably not. I think I would probably want to harm whoever was attempting to or succeeding at our my son, so I sat like you know, or if you gave me a ton of power immediately, how would I would that go in Irish have now or privilege of migrants Jason no question about it, but you gave even more what I misuse it in. is it I can't foresee right now. I guess your ruling.
out I've enough humility about nine make up to now, we'll, let me add three pieces to that, anywhere of which could be relevant The first is one of the things that we know about mental illness. Is it can apply At any time in life and there with some mental illnesses, they kick in as you get older, so so I'm just gonna give you one scenario: I'm not I'm not projecting it onto any person in particular, but you Let's imagine You are well known, spiritual teacher at times, that you have pipe. all disorder in your family. Now I've I've had to friends who had bipolar disorder in there in their family who work were they just live? really good same lives until their late fortys and then the bipolar kicked and one of them bought a gun to kill himself, the other one wilder being hospitalized, and that was then only then did I learn that they had this treaty these genes, they told me afterwards, so it could be
but somebody has some kind of gene for some kind of mental illness. kicks in at an older age. So that's that's. One possibility now remember What I don't want to be grasping at a good answers. Gazette could be totally false, but I'm giving you one possibility. Here's an You mention trauma and he was. He was an alcoholic. He drank, as you say, he drank himself to death. Now I've written a lot on addiction because I'm a profession, writer and- and I've done a lot of writing for Hazel Foundation which Does a lot of work on publish books on Egyptians and One of the things you know is that why alcoholism, once you reach a certain point, its it starts to screw up here, brain not be no longer think straight yawning exactly so. That's another possibility, but let me give you a third: which is gonna, come that seemingly I left field. I make most of my even though I'm a writer and I'm a literary ages, I'm an editor and running the Sultan
I they most my living as ghostwriting. So I can tell you you go you will. How was this book so wonderful and yet well, I can tell you that some wonderful books were not so wonderful before they got into the ghost writers have pointed out. The brilliant books could have been written by other people. Well, in trunk wont, let me since, since she brought up in terms of trumpets, they were his actual talks, so that you know that the the centre of what of of what's in these books came out of his and of course he did invent all this. He wasn't go Tom other guy. We, call Buddha. He had a long tradition behind him where he learned some of these things as well. But if you have a good editor or a good coast writer or a good collaborator, then you then that person brings the best out of you could often take material, that's has wisdom in it, but it isn't is cogent and it isn't, as this isn't is that it is successful, and that course that's that's our job as ghost writers right so
so who certainly he worked with somebody on cutting through spiritual materialist. but I'm not so singling out Trump offer that and I'm not singling out that book for that that often the case with books by many spiritual teachers. you. You talk a little bit about the history behind the first book on on this subject and that your system was gonna? Do it then decided not to have you said I wanna do it would do? Did you have personal experience, then that made you really wanting. It did you, have you seen bad behaviour among your teachers? Yes, three other stuff, so caught a category who was my that was my teacher for several years at the Minister Resent Centre, and I want to make it clear: he wasn't a predator. He wasn't inertia, she wasn't a sociopath. He was the real thing, but he's leaped, and he then so he is what I would call an error. It. Ok, you sleep well,
we had a long time relationship with one of his priests and he was married, so the so He was doing this outside of your, so he was encroach cheating on his wife, ok and no reports of other things as well. I more concerned about the one with priests because that that the priest came out and said, look. This is what happened and but then it is the same era. More and more stories were coming out about more and more teachers and one of the things that you just I'm a girl. Again, I dont want to compare myself to you but you're, a journalist you go out EU cover stories that need to be covered. As a writer of books, I cease. thing that needs to be addressed that hasn't been addressed. So I say I want to write a book about it and then I pitiable proposal about it. A publisher, and then I write it and I felt like this could both of these books,
we could make a significant difference, how people keep keep their feet on the ground, help them develop some discernment, but these were also with these books are also not just about protecting your personal borders from from people who will cross them. These are also primarily about people hope to understand themselves, so they have realistic expectations of water. Virgil teacher is isn't and can do and cant do on what ask not ask, and if you, if you get to be friends with any spirituality, you'll get get a beer in them and knelt assuming their allowed, have beer and then they'll talk to you about. Oh the students. have all these crazy ideas about what I can do and what I can't and what I should do you know, should I take this job rose. She should I take this job so and so, Should I leave my partner that is not a spiritual teachers. Job a spiritual teachers job is to help you become more human.
Tat too wise up to grow up to open up to two beach. I wrote you say to be more human and to be clear, you are, call: spiritual teacher Dan because you teach meditation you you go under that category. One of the great things I mean. I have a lot of complaints, but that word spiritual, but one of the great things about the word- spiritual, is. It found a way to reunite the secular, what we call the secular, the false dichotomy, of secular and religious so you're spiritual teacher. So is So, as you, any yoga teacher so is, but who teaches Mdgs are mindfulness based, stress reduction? Much more of our conversation read up. It is with great brought to you by indeed used by over three million businesses for hiring where business owners and H. Are professionals? Can post job openings with screener questions, and sort review and communicate with candidates from an online dashboard learn more at. Indeed.
Dot com, slash higher. there's a lot coming at you right now, turmoil tweets an insane about of chatter, milky with ABC News- and I am here to throw you a lifeline interview, Podcast called start here or our exports- give you on the ground acts the biggest stories of the day. We're gonna give you some context, some clarity among the chaos twenty minutes every week day subscribed now on apple pod, still wherever you get your mad cows and start here to our question, do we have is the need for spiritual teacher. and what kind of damage does it do when they slash victimize? That's that's a wonderful question, so there's two different needs we, of course we all need human connection and of course we
need to grow, we need to grow up. That's that's. How were that's where we are as human beings with potential to keep growing. So what so helpful about it? virtual teacher on him and you I'm I'm talking about someone like you who is at who wants to be of service to other human beings who can help provide guidance and you dont, you not. You dont want Their love. You dont, want their money. You dont want that. You know you you're not trying to get something from them is a true. Well, are you are you? Do you tell me I mean you don't need to be out. There choose job teaching with Joseph Norman. I sell books for wanting honey. You are sure, but are you require Everybody to hear. over money or you now. Here's a good now sure. That's totally fine professional writer. I love it when people by my books right, but you require them to and even
required them to read it. They can go to a library. That's right! I am but other things that it I dont want love, but I do want love. Do you want love from the people you teach? well loved dependent, I define and I'm like any, human susceptible to flattery and praise and like it when people like what I didn't think so, I've, actually that's a fantastic point. So let me let me parts that a little bit if it looks like that with the spiritual teacher want something from you. That is probably the easiest clearest sign that their there something that's a yellow flag, if not a red flag. So who would you rather have somewhat? Is it as a student when you teach meditation someone who kind of comes up to and sit Dan, I like your autograph again, I just think you're, so wonderful or so one who seems to really want to be a better person
and really interested in the meditation down the ladder guy got so I'm not saying you have to pure as the driven snow, simply that your or that you can never have of a selfish impulse. I mean, if anything, teeth education teaches us that our heads are full of selfish impulses. Just walking here right, from that from the subway stop. Oh, I want to do that. Why don't you I want to eat that? Oh I'd like to have sex with her, I mean police these things these things bubble up and put their just? They just thoughts. So it's not about the motive, but it's about is what you could call the prime, moreover, or what's what's going on, if some
you want your money, if somebody wants your attention, if somebody want sure, if they're not putting your, if they're, not first being of service to you something's wrong and that's the easiest and fastest way to tell it Gittha spiritual teacher is somebody worth paying attention to now. Let me speak to the second part of the question, which is why why do people become too voted? Not why do people want? to learn and be better and grow, because we are any adult human being wants to do that and that's why it so important for them to go I'm to someone like Joseph her you just someone who understands the role I his Joseph goals, he s my medication to hear what is truly amazing used is the real thing he's honesty, straightforward, he's he's not trying to get things from people I'm sorry, but I'm told, are mostly just like to write his bike. His head, then right. Yeah yeah is with us
meditating right is by he. Is he not update the vague his he and his co founders of the insight meditating society, which is really flourishing organization and Central Massachusetts and its sister of innovation Spirit Rockin. California, they deliberately did not they deliberately trying to avoid the guru their say. So there wasn't any teachers Nobody was you know the centre of attention because they knew that was a recipe or they thought that might be a recipe for trouble and let me give a shot out here because his his close collaborator, Jack Cornfield here you're in Salzburg and just Goldstein share in Salzburg, Jack Cornfield. They all kind of brought in large part terrified of Buddhism and meditation to America. It was cornfield who published the first thing about sex and spiritual teachers in
nineteen, roughly one thousand nine hundred and eighty four eighty five. I might have the wrong, but it's around there and it was a bad you can google it just do Jack Cornfield Sex guru, and it was a wonderful article published in yoga journal, and so I stand very much on Jack shoulders in writing this book, and that was that was one of the first foray into it. Many years ago, so to speak, to us said about. Why do people follow slavishly? Not follow in kind of saying healthy growth way so for this. I encourage people to look at bill. Eddies blog on psychology today, the new one, is called walls, war, won't wars, walls and parades or something like that. But what in his whole, that's the the newest of them. By the hall, a blog is called five types of people who can ruin your life and he's got a book by that same seem topic, he's probably world's leading experts,
personality disorders and but his whole thing that he's adjusting and right now there's some evidence forward, but it's mostly theoretical is that he suggests you a certain percentage of human beings and he calls it the wanna be king theory, any admits it Stella theory, which we know it's got anecdotal evidence on a little bit of research behind it, but we don't know yet that a percentage of people just who they are that's how their born in that's, that's not how they were raised. That's their natural predilection now? Maybe there's some nurture to it. It's not, but it is at least partly nature. And one of the reasons we know this is that people who are raising the same family. You can have like three simple to them turn out normal and one has there either sociopath or a narcissist or some other person.
I d Sworder, and they want to be king or queen and that's what they do and they become these kind of own compasses leaders. These trumpets, these russian issues. These take take your pick. These Armas there's there's just a thousand there, always there and you always be. There will always be a percentage, and now this suggests he also goes on to say that rough, thirty percent. There is a little bit of of evidence now some studies for this, that thirty percent. This is a kind of lock and key mechanism that is Maybe what eight percent nine percent will turn out to have this personality that may they may become a political leader. They may become a religious leader, but roughly thirty percent of the, the human race seems to have a similar predilection to follow them. So people wonder why is everybody following this crazy person who has got he's? Got fifteen plus roles since this is also now Russia was reached, be called. Russia needs
and he doesn't doing these these naughty things and is poisoning people. Why are people following them in the answer? Is it's not cognitive? It has not, to do with what he says or why or There's just some pre, cognitive, lock and key mechanism. That's been activated You can see it if you watch that Russia needs Documentary yesterday, my cousin, who was One thousand nine hundred and thirty nine KIA just had a birthday, and he was given a New York Times dated from March of two of nineteen thirty nine. It was the day after Hitler had just moved into Austria, and one of the interview lashing. You said I will do whatever Hitler says he can do no wrong. Just like what people said about Russian each just like what people said about trumpet.
and they actually in that same New York Times article they actually get to estimates of what portion of the population believe that one was twenty percent and one was thirty three percent, when spiritual teachers stray to use your term what kind of damage that do now. That's a great question. It obviously depends on the person. I've had people say: oh yeah trunk was seduced me. I really enjoyed it so it necessarily do any damage, but if you know it can it cannot? The biggest thing, though, is a pencil we ve depends wider doing it, how they're doing it because it's rare that thing about trump- and I want to give him some credit for this. He was a liberty. He was now he's too would just say,. He would have one of his father regards one of his assistance tat somebody on the shoulder and say you're having you're sleeping with Trump. Hide it. He exactly so wasn't keeping secrets from anybody. And he wasn't manipulating anybody exactly in that way.
He's just being who we was so that the sub you know a lot of people cause you had the chance to leave and the poet Ws Merwin he Very interesting account of he went up to a retreat with Frank this people and it was all very caught like there and he had his girlfriend, actually wound up even but there was some kind of orgy, asked accepts going on and crazy partying and they invited him down and he refuse and they broke his door, I mean it was not so what all depends. The damage done is a combination of two things number one who you are and your expectation the number two who the teacher is, but the worst kind Sesar, those where a teacher he lets. Imagine you I'm the teacher and you're the student I decide I want to have. I want to have sex with you and I start using my authority as a teacher and I start using what I know I first I start treaty
especially- and I owe you know you could really go far- you could be enlightened in this lifetime and I start really yet, and I make you my star student and I may be give you some. Some position of power may be, or my assistant, my secretary, my attendant my something and its clear I've singled you out is something special, there's an endless array event. In section spiritual teacher. I talk about all the different seduction techniques. There is actually a list sexes especial blessing set sex as a spiritual teaching. I'm gonna teach you something special. Through this. Ok or oh, don't you want to be in light. I have something you don't and can give it to you and guess what that involves
there's a long and venerable list of these because they ve worked generation after generation and the harvest it has to do with the degree to which The person has been violated and both the relationship has been violated I say one more thing, because you brought up crazy wisdom. That's one of the standard things because, like this, you know I'm just practicing crazy. Wasn't you don't see it because you know you you're not advance like I, but I know what's going on, I can see it. It's criticise crazy wisdom. I'm going to ask you to enlightenment. I'm going to you know and to any objection. Is that right eye of crazy wisdom? You don't which boils down to. Unless you do exactly what I tell you you, you are going to be sort of just an everyday Joe blow? scared because that that is people's deepest beer, when they go into this and they get into something like meditation.
Is that why you know it really turned out that it was just? Take your pick, Jesus or more amateur or Moses all along, and I should have just done whatever. My parents did because they're telling me I'm I'm the one who's done, some weird thing, so the the was it before we close here. Let's talk about the the sequel, which is good news for you. This guy to spiritual teacher, so yeah you're, not saying don't hook up with a spiritual to mean link up with it, nature and study with them, because I am, I'm sure you would say, there's an enormous amount of value to be torn loudly. But what were we? How do we get? How do we choose so what you first, our motion need to build your own discern what you need to get in touch with? What are you feeling? What are you watching so and what you want, and what do you want? That's wonderful, thank you, and so let me this year, I mean your son still much too young for this, but
Certain point your sons going to say I want, I want a girlfriend or different depending on how he would he grows into and he sat and you'll see what you know. What do I do? What do I look for and one of the things going to say is we'll, take it slow, don't jump into anything which is then so I'm drunk analogy here to say these are the same kinds of things you would say: don't go just on if you feel strong, pull that means fund. I pay a little more attention. There don't run away from the pole, but don't just go with it, because you feel because you feel Paul because the pole could be could be good. It could be bad watch the other people around this person. You know what are there was their students, if they're a teacher. What are they like? one of the things that happens? If you look at Josephs students there, not crazy people, they're, not they're, not in it's gotten your appeal. Obviously, as but who teaches with him, is here's a guy who, with his feet, you
feet on the ground? These not crazy, he's not he's a guy. We can trust, and he's got a family? He doesn't have a harem, he doesn't have seventeen rolls Royce. None of that Oh, so, look at look at how the personally, Look at the people around them, whether it's their friends or their students. What are they asking of you? Do they put your interest? first. In fact, the reason I wrote both of these books was so that people wouldn't just go. Oh my god, it's all too scary, or it's all too. It's too dangerous right. If people had been hurt, much I'm just going to join the Lutheran church where my parents go. No, I want people to explore. I want people to investigate different spiritual traditions and by spiritual traditions. I mean everything from the supposedly secular, like my fullest Bay stress reduction all the way up to serious Catholicism, serious Judaism, miss
go Christianity, whatever they feel call to sue if there, if they feel called that, but All the same rules applies first, while trust yourself build your discernment, don't run, don't just go by feel. Don't just Oh oh, I feel pull so I will run. I will run after it because that is probably and we feel the pool go ahead and feel the pole, but just take your time and if there is something real, that's being offered, then that would then feel it you'll know it more over a period of months. Just like you would wish you well which, if your friend said I just I just met this wonderful man or woman. We ve been for two months, but I know it's the real thing I'm gonna get married. You gonna, clap your hands on your forehead and go oh, oh, my god. Don't do that! Don't do right now is to it. I haven't thought deeply about this, but
one of the things that it strikes and one of a rule of thumb I use when it comes to spiritual teachers is: do they have a sense of humor about them? So that's a great one. Yes, do they in fact, in both books. I have a long list of how to of what things to avoid and want things to work for just like that. Yes sense of humor if they're willing to say I was wrong and I'm sorry They can't say I was wrong just straight out or I'm sorry or I made a mistake runaway that's the first and foremost if they can't laugh with themselves absolutely and there's a once again. There is a long list if they asked for a lot of money if they, if they buy a wall off their community. the rest of the world in any way, shape or form if they develop their own kind of inner language that only they understand if they, if they want you to sacrifice so much further for the group or for them that it hurts you.
our health or mental health. That's also a problem, of course, if they demand strict obedience, that's an issue too and so on, but I love the sense of humour when that that is one of the most important as we close here. Let's go into what I call jokingly the plug zone. Can you just plug I here shamelessly tell us about where we can find you. the social media, if you're their website, which you want to know about you just give us everything short so first for the boy are sex and the spiritual teacher and the users guide to spiritual teachers and, of course you can get them anyway, on the on line or in bookstores. Any bookstore can order it if they don't already have it in, and the website that supports them is called the vast spiritual teacher site, dot com. Then it's it's some interviews with me. Look knit has information about both of the box. I wouldn't courage.
people. Also too, I mean use use the internet to google anybody that they're interested in whether there teacher writer or spiritual leader, and if you see you see the same kind of comment appearing trust, those because there is wisdom in many people's comments. Over and above that Social media- I confess that I have to I- Haven'T- taken them down yet, but I presume You ve heard about during the nearest Juno Journal near he invented he's been along. I'm visionary he invented virtual reality. I mean literally invented it so he's a long time. Techie I think he works for Microsoft now, but his new book is called ten arguments. About to or something like ten arguments for, leaving all social media and he's off and their very compelling arguments so myself Media sites are going down, but the website is still there and people can contact me through it and yet
you know some of you were going to send me hate mail, because I've said something bad about your spiritual teacher, but that's the other thing we all have to do. We all have to tell the truth to each other. We all have to be discerning and not just take everything we hear at face value. Yes, we need to end stagnated for ourselves, which, by the way, is what Buddhist set on his death bed right. He said, Dante! Don't follow anything just because some particular person said it or you read in a book question tested out about against your own experience and then, if it, if it looks and feels and demonstrated if he wholesome follow, So that's the advice I would give to everybody and that's the advice that under birds of those books. Thank you, sir. Thank you so much, Ok, that does it for another edition of the ten percent happier podcast gas. If you liked it, please take a minute to subscribe rate us also. If you wanna suggests topics, you think we should cover or guests that we should bring in hit me up on twitter at Danby. Harris importantly, I want to thank the people who produce this podcast Lauren effort,
on George cohesion and the rest of the folk tyranny BC who helped make this thing possible? We have tons of other projects. You can check them out at ABC. She podcast dot com, I'll talk to you next Wednesday. There's not a person in Amerika who hasn't been impact it in some way by the corona virus pandemic, but it every community there are pockets of people, we're suiting up every day. This is my my day last day of the cylinder stretch of quotas from one of our time, these or America's essential workers, the people who are keeping moving. I turn into a homespun mom and now in a new plants from ABC News. You gonna hear from damage I actually went back to my office on cybercrime because it's not fair. He inherited sorry that our community has itself faintly moraine. This is the essential inside the from the
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