What Makes A Bad Ashram?
In the 1960s onward many students of you went to Ashrams in India and in America for advanced training. By the end of the twentieth century, many dark hidden truths about many ashrams and monasteries had come to the surface. The practice of bowing to, worshipping, and deifying teachers, drunken poets, and so-called masters was common. Sexual misconduct, financial mismanagement of monastery affairs, and generally poor behavior had become acceptable and these led to many scandals involving respected and important teachers. In recent decades many of these spiritual communities have come to struggle with their own “self-medicating” issues. The joke told concerning this is pattern is “meditation — 5:00 AM, self-medication — 6:00 AM, Alcoholics Anonymous — 7:00 AM.”
The source of much of this drama and unnecessary struggle comes partly from the idea that spiritual masters transcend all good and evil. Many spiritual seekers base their practices on teachings that evolved in a time when Monasteries were disconnected from the ordinary life of society. As profound as these traditions can be, the inner politics within monasteries were often horrifically violent and competitive. In the past and even today moral precepts were considered very important for students to follow, but masters were allowed to ignore them since they had seemingly transcended good and evil. This is nonsense. In our modern times, ethical accountability is essential. Can one have consistent compassion without ethics?
The purpose of the Wisdom Path, a Facebook group I formed with many of my students (is to reframe and adapt many classic spiritual practices to a modern age without destroying the core message that these classic teachings have to offer. It is absurd, silly, nonsensical and the antithesis of the intention of these traditions to assert that a so-called “enlightened being” is not required to behave within the very same ethical standards that would be required of their unenlightened assistants, students, and disciples. To do this is an invitation to scandal, chaos, and unwanted struggle for the entire community.
In the digital age, all those who consider themselves to be authentically spiritually driven must surrender useless conversations about gurus, masters, disciples, Shakti, Tantra, Qi, Kundalini, proper interpretation of sacred texts, and repressive rules. What they must do is to reframe the entire conversation by applying conservation and balance to the process of finding a teacher who can guide one to a path of love, freedom, happiness, emotional balance, clarity of thought, and spiritual contentment.
As part of this practice, it is invaluable to create or become part of a Wisdom Path Community — a true Monastery of the Social Network. This will support your spiritual awareness on a daily basis.
Author: Lewis Harrison is an Independent Scholar with a passion for knowledge, personal development, self-improvement, and problem-solving. He is the creator of Harrison’s Applied Game Theory. His website is AskLewis.com
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