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 Myth Making, Brian Williams, and the guru game

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Myth Making, Brian Williams, and the guru game   Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:10 am

Right now, there is a huge scandal here in the U.S. engulfing Brian Williams, the news anchor at NBC News.  For nearly 12 years, he has been telling a story about how the helicopter he was in while he was covering the Iraq war for NBC News was hit by rocket fire, and how harrowing it was, etc.  He often retold the story in great detail.  It was a big badge of honor for him.  Well, it is all coming out that most his account is fabricated, exaggerated.  He was in a helicopter covering the news, but he wasn't attacked by enemy fire, nothing special happened.  This syndrome is not that unusual... exaggeration is a common practice, but for a news anchor, whose brand is "the most trusted man in America," well what is now unfolding presents a special disconnect.  Also, if he confabulated this account, it is likely he did it many other times, in small and big ways.  Reality as it is - well, it's often humdrum, rather ordinary, just daily life, so why not amplify, expand, make it bigger and louder and fill it with grandeur, appropriate other people's experiences.  Put yourself in danger, get shot at, be more hero-like. 

For much personal myth-making, many people don't wait for their friends and relatives to do this after they are dead.  They do it on the spot.  We are the editors of our own movie and we are the star.  We certainly selectively edit our experiences and memories - we have to - our brains can only hold a tiny percent of the information we process, the words we say and hear, images, events.  Read a book - how many words can you quote back accurately - probably not even 1%.  But there is the common normal reality and then there are folks who very consciously, deliberately become myth-makers, mostly consciously I think - although there are unconscious factors clearly at work. 

I bring this up here specifically because I think it relates to many gurus / masters / spiritual leaders... as well of course other leaders.  But the guru / master role is particularly prone to myth-making and self-grandiosity.  This relates to the recent sex brouhaha at Zen Mountain Monastery, but applies even more so to Shimano, Sasaki, Genpo, and of course Kennett.  You sit on a throne, wear special robes or a really cool hat, people bow down to you, and all the rest - and you experience what we can call inflation.  What inflates is not some grand buddha mind, but your very ordinary sense of your self, who you think you are, your role with all the people around you, your place in the world, universe.  You go from being a spiritual friend and mentor to a teacher and then to a guru and then to a grand master or even living Buddha.  You anoint yourself and your students are encourage to worship this process and the grander you are the more grand the students feel - they made the right choice, they are all blessed and special and so on.  And this state of inflation does feel special.  You are adored and you revel in the warm adoration cloud created by this ping-pong process.  And so we see personality cults and churches like the small example of Kennett or the bigger examples of the Mormons, Rev. Moon, Scientology and even the bigger religions.  The same process is at work - the precise expressions might be more or less extreme of course, but the dance is pretty much the same.  

Two factors especially important with eastern religions / Zen, etc.  The spiritual breakthrough / kensho / awakening experience gets inflated and confabulated... and the lineage approval gets amplified.  Spiritual "experiences" are actually much more complex and varied than most people realize - from hallucinations to altered states to what in Buddhism are called "corruptions of insight" that include feelings of bliss, wonder, absorption, and breakthroughs like what are usually called kensho or satori.... but they often get all lumped together into the big story of the "one great experience" that makes you enlightened or fully enlightened.  The one great experience myth is the cause of much confusion and suffering.  Experiences can be all over the map - and many are fine - naturally occur while others are visualized or imagined while others are momentary but grandly expanded in the telling of it.  It is the story telling of it, the holding on to it, that makes them obstructions, corruptions of insight as the Vissudimagga describes it.  This is the Brian Williams syndrome. The key insight here is that when you hold on to any experience, it becomes poison, an obstruction, a gold glittery blinder.  So even an authentic breakthrough can quickly become toxic, more self-creating myth, more look how special I am.  You have a wonderful glimpse of the mountain top and pretty soon you think I am the mountain.... and you're not. Mostly what you have is a memory of seeing the mountain top which you try to convince yourself is constant and that it is you. 

And so you have all these "masters" and gurus who are quite convinced they are far more enlightened than they are, who think they are the mountain, who no longer have any self-awareness of their personal issues or shadows, because by definition, because of their grand story, they no longer have any "self" to be aware of, no shadows, no personality, they are the perfect mirror that only teaches the truth.  So in that narrative, they are very heroic, like Brain Williams, they are beyond the ordinary, and all their needs now become divine.  They have become the bamboozle and they sell the bamboozle.  Until it falls apart - which is mostly does, but not always.  Hence we have the Mormon church.  But we just saw that at Zen Mountain Monastery or with Sasaki.  The shadows are pointed out and it can get very painful for all those who lived in that enchanted distortion field.  

The Buddha said that his disciples should scrutinize his behavior carefully to make sure that he was authentic, that his actions in every aspect of his daily life were in sync with his teachings.  And he specifically told them that they did not have to have some special psychic abilities to read his mind.  Just ordinary observation they could really see for themselves if he was for real.  He did not say bow down and shut up.  He did not say, how dare you examine me.  He said watch me carefully.  That's how you know how awake a person is... not if he or she glows in the dark or has a certificate or claims to be holy or wise. Don't look at their resume. See for yourself.  How dare you judge?  The Buddha said - judge.  So that's how we can know how enlightened any teacher is - like Sasaki or Kennett or Eko or this guy at Zen Mountain Monastery.  Use common sense and keep your eyes open.  So a teacher uses his students as sexual toys or dolls, i say not so enlightened.  I saw Kennett frequently rage, bully, fearful, jealous. talking to imaginary cosmic buddhas.. i was not projecting... i was using my faculties to notice that her behavior was not out of sync... and not beneficial to her students and certainly not for me  - not saying she didn't have some insight - at some point - but the idea that she was very or "fully" enlightened - really not possible.  At least that was my conclusion.  And of course, many people on this forum, you each have your own experiences and insights and none of them will be exactly the same.  

So back to myth-making.  That's a big issue with most gurus/masters.... the inflation... the creation of the bigger myth.  What we need now, after all these various scandals and unsustainable communities - are spiritual friends who are self-aware, who come down from thrones and take off their fancy hats, who are aware of all the potential bamboozles.  and stop babbling about transmissions and grand enlightenments.
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Myth Making, Brian Williams, and the guru game   Sat Feb 07, 2015 1:17 pm

@jcbaron

You really have a gift with the word.

Excellent points about almost everyone's myth making which is really just another day in the life of our identity propagating itself.

Not tough to point out over there but oh so much more difficult to do right here.

I do think such a teaching might be more comprehensive if accompanied by a demonstrate of such scrutiny about your own practice today or of your own guru.

respectfully H
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tufsoft



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PostSubject: Re: Myth Making, Brian Williams, and the guru game   Mon Feb 09, 2015 3:33 am

The Chinese have a saying "beyond the man there is a man, beyond the sky there is a sky", it means that no matter how much you know there will always be someone who knows more.

Confucius said "when three people are together one of them must be my teacher", meaning that when I am with other people how can I possibly be sure someone else doesn't know more than I do.

If a guru doesn't know this, then he isn't a guru. If a guru does know this, then how can he possibly continue to claim to be a guru?
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Myth Making, Brian Williams, and the guru game   Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:27 pm

Yes I like that Tufsoft,I wonder what the Chinese  is for
Authority and Power
Even a blind man
Can see
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