kirtu wrote: ↑
Wed Oct 17, 2018 10:50 pm
fckw wrote: ↑
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:11 pm
Every practitioner should learn the basics about psychoanalysis. Projection and counter-projection between therapist and client happens equally between teacher and student. This stuff should be common knowledge.
Since I'm rather adverse to what I see as psycho-babble, would you mind outlining what you are thinking about here?
It's very simple, really: The student projects his/her beliefs and needs onto the teacher. Rather than seeing the teacher as s/he is, the student mainly perceives his own imaginary fantasies. Typically, after some time (might be years for some particularly immune students) the student realizes that the teacher is really a different person than fantasized. The student becomes disillusioned at this point. In a positive outcome the student corrects the mistake and comes up with a different set of fantasies that are more healthy and grounded in reality. (There is no situation where the student has absolutely no fantasies, because that's how our mind constructs an impression of reality.)
In a negative outcome the student cannot bear the disillusion and leaves the teacher. Often these students then look for another teacher with whom they repeat more or less the same cycle. They do this so often until they finally manage to work through them. In other cases they start with negative talk about the teacher blaming him/her for all sorts of things - both real and imagined.
It all is really comparable to how intimate relationship with a spouse or husband work.
Now, what few people seem to notice: The teacher does more or less the same with a student. Even very mature persons do so. I cannot say if a "fully enlightened teacher" would still do the same, because I don't believe there is such a thing as "full enlightenment". (If there was, it would imply a person does no longer change at all. Or we would have to come up with all sorts of clever reasoning why the person is fully enlightened yet still doex X, Y and Z and seems to have A, B, and C. You see this type of reasoning all the time in this forum.)
So, the teacher goes through similar cycles of building up fantasies and disillusionment. As I said, for very mature persons the cycles are typically not very spectacular, and often they have developed a good sense for their own projections. Nevertheless, as long as there are any blind spots left (i.e. as long as one is alive in this form body) there will be situations where a projection goes unnoticed.
So far all of this is just too common. But there is an additional problem here: unresolved narcissism. Fundamentally, everyone is narcissistic to a certain degree. It's part of growing up, whether we like it or not. Life usually beats us until we resolved the more acute parts of it. First, let's look at "relatively normal levels" of narcissism, not the really unhealthy ones.
A person who is narcissistic and for the first time encounters the idea that "enlightenment" is possible, has a high chance of falling for it. Most people are not narcissistic enough to dream of getting enlightened themselves (in their fantasy it's some kind of super-state where there exists no more pain and when unicorns fart there are rainbows all around), but they are narcissistic enough to believe that just exactly the teacher and organisation they have chosen is so much better than any other teacher or organisation. As with all things, quality of teachers and organisations probably follows a normal (Gaussian) distribution: few really bad ones, plenty of okay-ish ones, few really good ones. Same as with football clubs. (Or basketball clubs, for all ya US folks out there. Or cricket clubs for all ya Indian folks out there.) Given this distribution, most people who follow any teacher and join any organisation have a, let's say, 95% chance of following an okay-ish teacher and organisation, not a really good one. But in their personal view of course they see it differently. They find plenty of justifications to believe that just exactly their teacher and organisation are the best ones, which is really a pretty ridiculous belief if you think about it. Really same as with football clubs and their fan base. Also teachers tend to believe they are better than others, whereas in reality 95% of them are really just okay-ish, and only few are either really bad or really good.
If practitioners and teachers alike would be more conscious of this whole game they play with themselves and with others, then together we could at least stop climate change, if not bring back mammoths and get rid of poverty once and for all. You get my point.
But for some people narcissism constitutes a real problem. These are the ones that are truly and severely narcissistic. One has encountered them already: They are the ones claiming to be tulkus when nobody recognizes them. They are the ones with golden toilet seats financed by their followers. They are the ones claiming to be super avatars and what not. Some of them (not all) are truly and genuinely abusive. The problem with truly narcissistic teachers are: As pompous as they may seem to outsiders, for those few people who share nearly an identical fantasy of grandiosity, i.e. narcissism, although to less degrees, these people are the ones in danger of falling exactly for this sort of narcissistic gurus. The problem is that some of these gurus are actually not only highly intelligent, but they have - for whatever reason we don't need to discuss here - developed highly charismatic personalities. It's not that they are just stupid charlatans, they are actually extremely successful in what they do. Imagine what these personalities are able to achieve when they systematically develop their skills further with the help of, let's say, tantric protector practice. Typically, these people create a core team of inner-circle members who protect their dark side from leaking out to the wider sangha. Why do these inner-circle members participate? Shared narcissism usually, status through proximity to central teacher figure, co-profiting from money and power inflows etc.
These situations are actually really dangerous, because that's where practitioners can get really harmed psychologically and/or financially. Or even physically, as we have seen enough times.
So, what I am saying is: This cannot be prevented fully in the future. It will happen again, and to many people. But if in our practice we would start more openly talking about these or similar mechanics of projection, fantasies, narcissism etc., then this could help prevent a few things. Note that all these terms - projection, fantasies, narcissism - are terms that have been very well researched in Western psychology and especially psychoanalysis. We don't have to fall back to Freud and Jung, but Western psychology was much more precise than for example Buddhism in recognizing and describing these patterns. It is no coincidence that quite a few Western meditation teachers are also therapists trained in Western psychology. There are many good books now out in the market who in intelligent ways enable practitioners to enrich their Buddhist practice with insights from modern psychology and by doing so getting even more out of it.
That was my point.