The Followers and Their Fallen 🙂
It is better to do one’s own duty, however defective it may be, than to follow the duty of another, however well one may perform it. He who does his duty as his own nature reveals it, never sins.
There has hardly existed a prominent philosopher or spiritual teacher who has not had some taint. Scandals and peculiarities dog many of their lives. Neurosis and anxiety, not to mention addiction and abuse of intoxicants and sexuality, seems to have been the driving force behind many of the great thinkers, such as Rousseau, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Sartre. As Descartes said, ” The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues.”
And yet it is to such people we often turn when exploring and clarifying our own ideas on spiritual matters. People whose lives were hardly a reflection of their lofty Teachings. “It is difficult enough to devise a philosophy – one cannot be expected to exemplify it as well.” (Schopenhauer)
Just a very brief run through the lives of some of the more famous people of wisdom who we tend to quote and look up to…..
Osho (Bhagwan Rajneesh) has written much that is beautiful, philosophically speaking, and his left of centre approach and ready humour remains very attractive. But by the end of his life he was dependent onvery high doses of Valium and had been the subject of many financial and sexual scandals.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who wrote such interesting books as Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, and Shambala: The Secret Path of the Warrior, was known for his ”crazy teachings”, and ”being creative to wake a person up”. Some say he was an alcoholic, and used vast amounts of Cocaine, and he certainly cultivated sexual relations with his female followers which was at least an abuse of his influence over them.
Carlos Castaneda has been a very popular teacher of south American shamanism, ever since he began writing his anthropological books based around the teachings of the Yaqui Indian Don Juan Matus. They were certainly an interesting rendition of Toltec traditions. They have since been queried as to their authenticity, but perhaps more remarkable was a book written by Amy Wallace where she describes Castaneda as a very abusive guru. He insisted that his followers cut all ties with their families; he had his female followers recruit new members, preferably intelligent, beautiful, but vulnerable women, whose initiation was to sleep with Castaneda. And so on and so on.
Examples could run into hundreds, from the exalted televangelists who have hoist themselves on their own petards, to ministers of all religions who have preyed upon the children in their communities sexually, to those who have financed lavish lifestyles through donations sought from followers, etc. etc.
The point perhaps is, what is it about the seeker (or at least many seekers) that has this need to follow? Regardless of the compromising situations they can be put in. For none of these so called Masters could ever have tangoed alone.
And was it not the wall-eyed adoration of their followers that somehow connived in their fall from ”grace”…..that somehow made the master folly to his or her own innate lower nature…. is the follower in fact not just as culpable as the fallen?
I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and isn’t of much value. Life hasn’t revealed it’s beauty to them.
Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you ?
People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”
You thought they were all kiddin’ you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.
How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone ?
‘We are a puny and fickle folk. Avarice, hesitation and following are our diseases.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Perhaps we should seriously question our own desire, however modest, to be led? To be guided? Our own desire to lead? Because who can walk the path for us, who can even show us truly the way, for who knows our heart and soul better than we ourselves?
‘The end of life is to be like God, and the soul following God will be like Him’
Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow.
And who in fact is ever fit to lead us?
To inspire, yes; to assist, perhaps;to show example, undoubtedly; but to lead……..?
Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself.
He who has great power should use it lightly.
If the mighty are fallen is it not because those who followed them have been complicit in both their elevation and their downfall. We feel sorry for those whose lives are left in tatters when their Guru is proved to be a man of clay, when their priest has molested their children, when their great teacher leads them into foolishness, but are they/we not equally responsible for our own blindness.
To thine own self be true
Follow your Bliss.
Yesterday we obeyed Kings and bent our necks before emperors. But today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love. ‘