I began to think again of my irritation at spiritual teachers who claim that prayer and meditation are what we need to reconcile the pain of this world. This, in my opinion, is utter bullshit, and serves to reveal the low level of psychological development that most spiritual teachers have, in that they cannot accept the fact that the pain of this world is unreconcilable but that does NOT mean that we as a species reach our highest evolution when we cease to involve ourselves with those who cannot free themselves from it. In fact, if we deny our human connection to those with "negative karma" we are denying the most basic and fundamental and simple potential of human life, which is compassion and love. How will we find out how human we are without feeling helpless and stupid? I believe it is surely impossible, and furthermore realizing our humanness is our only hope for any type of realization. For what humans became other than human when they realized the Truth??
A particular source of irritation for me (and I have many as you will see as this blog progresses) are "spiritual" teachers who charge exorbitant rates for their teachings, like upwards of $3000 - $4000 for a retreat that they claim is the only way their students can receive the REAL spiritual truth. This is simply not true and never will be: No one individual has the corner on the truth, or anyone's individual path of the unfolding of their wisdom. Luckily this unfolding comes in as many forms as there are sentient beings. When a teacher says, 'But you must come to this retreat. This is where it's happening. Don't think about the money. The money will come." What about lowering the cost of the retreat? Evo Morales, Bolivia's president who calls himself an "Amerindian President," immediately cut his salary by 57% in the old way of teaching by example. But also there was a razor sharp practical edge to Morales's salary cut. In order to accomplish his aim's, the people needed more money. In the Buddhist world, I think there is a major slip up by teachers who have accumulated fame through their albeit genuinely helpful teachings: They seem to feel that fame, and the current rate of inflation, justifies giving teachings that are only accessible to a certain socio-economic group. This group not only has lots of disposable income, but they also have the ability to leave their job at a whim and spend weeks or months even on a retreat. Or conversely, they are willing to risk being homeless and jobless to spend all their savings, and leave their job for too long. This is a select group of people, many of whom have family who will help them, or nest eggs set aside in the 80's, or are self employed. Interestingly, many jobs that bring people closer to society and it's needs and ills, those who work in the trenches (yes I am in this group working at a homeless shelter) who are spiritual in their desire to serve, are the very ones' stuck in a working class category that looks at this other socioeconomic world through a bit of glass. Sure I would like to go on a retreat for a month that costs $3000, but I am a bit concerned with losing my health insurance. And since I only make $35,000 and have large student loans from my Master's in Buddhism, I have no real savings to speak of, so hopefully I won't lose my job.