In my last article, we began to consider the need to re-vision spirituality in light of present-day reality. Today’s article completes our discussion, for now.
We’re considering problems that result from spiritual organizations led by a “teacher” who controls all matters from a Divine Right Monarch authority position. The DRM model is no longer workable in the 21st-century Western world. The record is clear: It breeds problems that repeatedly put spiritual students, teachers and teachings at risk.
So today we dig a little deeper to understand more clearly what the real issues are. Consider that our mind lacks a mirror for us to see all that’s in it. Some things inside of us only become known when triggered by an outside source. Spiritual energy is a powerful force that lies hidden in our psyche; it’s wired into the deepest levels of our being. Yet it’s unconscious. But when triggered, it explodes into awareness and grants us a glimpse of the sacred. Then, it’s as if we suddenly awaken from a dream into a greater level of reality, one in which we, for an instant, become who we deeply are.
Unfortunately, until we understand that the source of this spiritual energy is within us, we are prone to make dangerous errors in judgment, errors that involve “projection.” A problem with the Divine Right Monarch model of a spiritual teacher is that it is a magnet for projection. Imagine this: A friend invites you to a teaching given by a spiritual teacher from an authentic spiritual tradition. And while listening to his or her words, a part of your soul catches fire and you begin to weep — unexpectedly.
Through projection, you could mistakenly account for your experience by attributing its source to the teacher. Unfortunately, the DRM model positions the teacher as “The One Who Knows,” a position that attracts projection. And if we are among a community of people who share the same projection, then make the error of believing, beyond any doubt, that the teacher is indeed “The One Who Knows.” We become “infected” with a shared delusion. Spiritual teachers can become hypnotized into nasty narcissism by their followers’ projections. Once this mutual hypnosis takes hold, there’s double trouble.