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  • Writer's pictureToby Marshall

Taking responsibility

I am concerned that many so-called "spiritual people" defend a model of spirituality that is outdated and even obsolete.

We would hardly go back to medieval medicine, ancient scientific thought, flat earth geography or Old Testament penal practices, yet many seekers here and elsewhere, discussing spirituality, unquestioningly defer to traditional devotional models of relating to teachers and gurus and placing them on pedestals, accepting all they say without an iota of critical discrimination, subjugating themselves in all kinds of ways in shows of absolute obeisance to "spiritual authority".

We are, I believe, well beyond the era where the master/slave relationship is an accepted form of human interaction, and yet so many students and seekers I have observed have no problem endorsing spiritual slavery, ceding absolute authority to others who claim to be "enlightened" or "awakened", referring back to traditional models of the spirituality as their justification for this abrogation of personal responsibility.

Please, enough with Arjuna and Krishna, enough with Zen masters striking and punishing students for their own good, enough of Bodhidharma cutting off his own eyelids so as not to fall asleep. There are better and more benign ways now to foster awareness. Not many non-Christian students are going to accept immaculate conception or turning water into wine or the raising of the dead, much less the Resurrection as literal events, but as "spiritual seekers" they have no problem swallowing the fables of other religions and disciplines as both fact and rationale to continue with practices and hierarchical structures that not only do not honor contemporary consciousness, but which allow and even encourage teachers to abuse the positions in which they find themselves.

Blaming teachers after the fact is a convenient way of not looking at our own complicity in their harmful behaviors, and more, a way to deflect looking at our own responsibility to do no harm and to not allow or condone the harming of others.

Toby Marshall


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