Pacific Totem Song # 3
Drawing by Lee van Laer, 2016
Created in Procreate, with iPad pro and apple pencil
A question came up today from one of my long-time readers about group leaders and other power-possessing beings in spiritual works who ostracize, punish, bully, or otherwise spiritually terrorize followers, all the while claiming that they occupy a moral or spiritual higher ground.
I've been fortunate to avoid exposure to abusive types of these kinds; but abuse is abuse, no matter where you find it, and so is bullying. What one ought to do is look at these things directly in the eye when they come up and call a spade a spade. Too often, excuses are made for spiritual teachers, as though they should be allowed to do horrible things to people that others shouldn't do.
This isn't a compassionate approach to bringing people along within themselves; and I reject it wholeheartedly. If one comes under a right solar influence, this kind of behavior simply isn't possible; and yet there are so many ways of coming under influences in an incorrect manner. Gurdjieff called it wrong crystallization; make no mistake about it, even being at very high levels of spiritual development fall prey to very grave error. Gurdjieff’s own magnum opus Beelzebub’s Tales is in fact about just such an individual; so how much further do we need to look?
Here is another incontrovertible fact. The awakening of objective conscience—an instinctive and essential property of man's psyche—makes manipulation and bullying, as well as the excessive use of force and coercion, quite impossible. Anyone who has had true contracts with higher energy of a finer kind and knows what objective conscience consists of will know exactly what I mean. Others can be left to freely manufacture excuses for such misbehavior, which they will; but these are utterly transparent lies when viewed from a correct understanding, and we should just leave it there.
My old teacher Betty Brown told me, in regard to having a personal force, use it or lose it. And indeed, there are times when we need to use personal force to put a point across in one way or another. But this should never be done in a damaging way, as a personal attack or an attempt to destroy another person's self-esteem for Being.
Destruction from outside never really helps the spiritual aspirant. What we all ought to do is take responsible for our own inner condition and bring ourselves to destroy the negative properties in ourselves— which doesn't actually consists of destroying them, but coming into an entirely new and different relationship with them.
Our negative properties can’t actually be destroyed. We were intentionally put on this level in order to be placed in a position where there are very difficult choices to be made; and we’re all under the pressure of forces that urge us to do wrong. We’re under the pressure of forces that tempt us to be selfish and follow our own desires. Beelzebub himself fell under this compulsion, which was the reason for his banishment to the solar system.
Only we ourselves can take responsibility for this and change our inner attitude towards life. If a guru or teacher tries to do this for us by forcing us into one position or another, it will always be ineffective in the end. As Gurdjieff out it, he could raise a pupil’s temperature to 100°; but as soon as he was gone, they would cool down. If we want to engage in a fusion of our inner qualities, we have to raise our own temperature to 100° on our own.
I've said it before in this space, and I'll say it again. Teachers who manipulate and bully, teachers who coerce and criticize and are cruel and manipulative, are not real teachers. There are masochistic types that enjoy this kind of behavior and become enslaved by such people; and there are sadistic types who like to pattern themselves after such behavior and propagate it. But it's all wrong.
Evil is like water; it seeks its own level. If we stay at that level with it, we participate in its action.
One must first come under the influence of a higher energy and a finer kind of energy; then one can properly understand why all of this behavior is actually destructive—hatefully so.
Coming into relationship with a higher energy offers us the possibility of an awakening of conscience, which can change everything within us. This is a delicate matter, involving a very intimate action within the soul itself, and can't be bought or sold over-the-counter. Nor can it be injected into us with spiritual hypodermic needles.
Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.