OBC Connect

A site for those with an interest in the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, past or present, and related subjects.
HomeHome  CalendarCalendar  GalleryGallery  FAQFAQ  SearchSearch  RegisterRegister  Log in  

Share | 

 10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases - Excerpts - Mariana Caplan

Go down 


Posts : 1617
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 67
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: 10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases - Excerpts - Mariana Caplan   Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:22 pm

from Huffington Post

Mariana Caplan

Psychotherapist and Author, Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path
10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases
Posted: 06/15/10 

It is a jungle out there, and it is no less true about spiritual life than any other aspect of life. Do we really think that just because someone has been meditating for five years, or doing 10 years of yoga practice, that they will be any less neurotic than the next person? At best, perhaps they will be a little bit more aware of it. A little bit.

It is for this reason that I spent the last 15 years of my life researching and writing books on cultivating discernment on the spiritual path in all the gritty areas--power, sex, enlightenment, gurus, scandals, psychology, neurosis -- as well as earnest, but just plain confused and unconscious, motivations on the path. My partner and I are developing a new series of books, courses and practices to bring further clarification to these issues.

Several years ago, I spent a summer living and working in South Africa. Upon my arrival I was instantly confronted by the visceral reality that I was in the country with the highest murder rate in the world, where rape was common and more than half the population was HIV-positive -- men and women, gays and straights alike.

As I have come to know hundreds of spiritual teachers and thousands of spiritual practitioners through my work and travels, I have been struck by the way in which our spiritual views, perspectives and experiences become similarly "infected" by "conceptual contaminants" -- comprising a confused and immature relationship to complex spiritual principles can seem as invisible and insidious as a sexually transmitted disease.

The following 10 categorizations are not intended to be definitive but are offered as a tool for becoming aware of some of the most common spiritually transmitted diseases.

1. Fast-Food Spirituality: Mix spirituality with a culture that celebrates speed, multitasking and instant gratification and the result is likely to be fast-food spirituality. Fast-food spirituality is a product of the common and understandable fantasy that relief from the suffering of our human condition can be quick and easy. One thing is clear, however: spiritual transformation cannot be had in a quick fix.

2. Faux Spirituality: Faux spirituality is the tendency to talk, dress and act as we imagine a spiritual person would. It is a kind of imitation spirituality that mimics spiritual realization in the way that leopard-skin fabric imitates the genuine skin of a leopard.

3. Confused Motivations: Although our desire to grow is genuine and pure, it often gets mixed with lesser motivations, including the wish to be loved, the desire to belong, the need to fill our internal emptiness, the belief that the spiritual path will remove our suffering and spiritual ambition, the wish to be special, to be better than, to be "the one."

4. Identifying with Spiritual Experiences: In this disease, the ego identifies with our spiritual experience and takes it as its own, and we begin to believe that we are embodying insights that have arisen within us at certain times. In most cases, it does not last indefinitely, although it tends to endure for longer periods of time in those who believe themselves to be enlightened and/or who function as spiritual teachers.

5. The Spiritualized Ego: This disease occurs when the very structure of the egoic personality becomes deeply embedded with spiritual concepts and ideas. The result is an egoic structure that is "bullet-proof." When the ego becomes spiritualized, we are invulnerable to help, new input, or constructive feedback. We become impenetrable human beings and are stunted in our spiritual growth, all in the name of spirituality.

6. Mass Production of Spiritual Teachers: There are a number of current trendy spiritual traditions that produce people who believe themselves to be at a level of spiritual enlightenment, or mastery, that is far beyond their actual level. This disease functions like a spiritual conveyor belt: put on this glow, get that insight, and -- bam! -- you're enlightened and ready to enlighten others in similar fashion. The problem is not that such teachers instruct but that they represent themselves as having achieved spiritual mastery.

7. Spiritual Pride: Spiritual pride arises when the practitioner, through years of labored effort, has actually attained a certain level of wisdom and uses that attainment to justify shutting down to further experience. A feeling of "spiritual superiority" is another symptom of this spiritually transmitted disease. It manifests as a subtle feeling that "I am better, more wise and above others because I am spiritual."

8. Group Mind: Also described as groupthink, cultic mentality or ashram disease, group mind is an insidious virus that contains many elements of traditional co-dependence. A spiritual group makes subtle and unconscious agreements regarding the correct ways to think, talk, dress, and act. Individuals and groups infected with "group mind" reject individuals, attitudes, and circumstances that do not conform to the often unwritten rules of the group.

9. The Chosen-People Complex: The chosen people complex is not limited to Jews. It is the belief that "Our group is more spiritually evolved, powerful, enlightened and, simply put, better than any other group." There is an important distinction between the recognition that one has found the right path, teacher or community for themselves, and having found The One.

10. The Deadly Virus: "I Have Arrived": This disease is so potent that it has the capacity to be terminal and deadly to our spiritual evolution. This is the belief that "I have arrived" at the final goal of the spiritual path. Our spiritual progress ends at the point where this belief becomes crystallized in our psyche, for the moment we begin to believe that we have reached the end of the path, further growth ceases.

Adapted from Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path (Sounds True)
Back to top Go down


Posts : 1617
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 67
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Re: 10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases - Excerpts - Mariana Caplan   Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:30 pm

also from Mariana:

Mariana Caplan, Ph.D.
Psychotherapist and Author, Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path

Navigating the Spiritual Jungle
Posted: 06/29/2012

When I was asked to write a book on "premature claims to enlightenment" for a small book publisher in 1998, I could never have imagined that I would eventually find myself as the psychotherapist, confidant and "go to" person" for spiritual teachers and students, as well as disillusioned former students and ex-wives and partners of these teachers, who are struggling with spiritual scandals throughout the world. Four books and a PhD on the subject later, as well as a psychotherapy practice that specializes in helping people on the spiritual path make psychological discernments, I find myself navigating through new "spiritual pathologies" on a weekly basis.

When I was invited to New York City by teachers in the Diamond Mountain lineage to do a series of talks in May, it was unbeknownst to all of us that the crisis of Ian Thorson's death would arise in the weeks prior to my arrival, marking the newest scandal on the spiritual scene. Since that time, I have had dozens of confidential meetings with individuals who have been impacted by the crisis. I have been touched by the lives and stories of many people involved in this community.

If I have learned nothing else from my years of work in this area, it is the capacity to "tolerate complexity" with respect to these issues. This community is not alone in its struggles -- many, many spiritual communities, as well as religious organizations, experience crises at some point, and many who haven't experienced crises yet will encounter it in the future. To tolerate contradicting emotions, perspectives, and even "facts" about what has happened, and the context in which it has arisen, is a mark of our human maturity and emotional intelligence.

Every human being has psychological blindspots, and to expect spiritual teachers not to have them, even if they are claiming enlightenment, is a set up for deep disillusionment down the road. We can hold a teacher fully accountable for his or her actions, as well as the exponential impact that their errors and human weaknesses might have on students, without destroying the teacher's life and maintaining humility in our perspective.

Here are some key points of discernment to keep in mind when considering not only the Diamond Mountain crisis, but the many other spiritual scandals that have and will continue to arise:

1. Deep spiritual insight and even the mastery of spiritual discipline, often does not touch the psychological level of our experience, and does not integrate our past traumas and shadow aspects of the psyche. Just because someone is a spiritual teacher, or has practiced decades in a tradition, does not mean that they are psychologically balanced.

2. The technologies created in Eastern cultures were never designed for, and never could have conceived of, the challenges of modern Western culture, where many of us wrestle with human relationships, broken families, complex family systems, as well as trauma, anxiety and depression. Theses traditions, even as they are timeless in some aspects of their wisdom, still need to be updated and translated into the Western world with respect to the knowledge and wisdom that exists in the newer Western "spiritual tradition" of psychology.

3. Almost all of the great traditions and texts that come from the East were written, articulated, and passed down by men, but the majority of people who practice them in the West are women. They still need to be further transliterated to address women's wisdom, women's bodies and rhythms of the female psyche.

4. Part of our spiritual immaturity in Western culture is our projection onto spirituality and spiritual practices, including myths like: "yoga makes us peaceful," "meditation makes our mind quiet," or "great spiritual leaders do not experience anxiety, depression, anger, or divorce and breakdown." Oftentimes the spiritual teachers themselves, as well as adoring students, perpetuate these myths rather than address the complex co-arising of spiritual wisdom and psychological neurosis and pathology.

Without these distinctions and discernments, we are quick to voice undiscerning opinions, often based on our own undigested emotional reactivity, that can have lifelong consequences for the individuals involved. I have done depth psychotherapy work with a number of teachers who had fallen from grace in their communities. Even when they had erred significantly, they still revealed themselves to be beautiful and loving people who were struggling to share their great gifts while engaging a shocking encounter with their own unconscious shadow material. Of course there are other teachers who do not use these crises to face their own unconsciousness.

So what are we on the sidelines, or perhaps scorched by the fire, or heartbroken through pouring through these stories, to do? In addition to being discerning regarding what we are reading, hearing, thinking, and feeling -- paying extra attention to seeds of our own emotional trauma and wounds that are activated by these stories -- we need to be compassionate in our viewpoint. We can hold teachers fully accountable for their actions and point out blindspots in spiritual communities, and make intelligent choices who we choose to study with, while diligently tolerating the complexity of these situations. I believe we need to "humanize" our spirituality and keep it as close to the ground as possible so that we can endeavor to cultivate a collective spiritual intelligence in Western culture.
Back to top Go down


Posts : 1640
Join date : 2010-11-17

PostSubject: Re: 10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases - Excerpts - Mariana Caplan   Fri Jun 06, 2014 12:27 am

I appreciated reading that
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content

PostSubject: Re: 10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases - Excerpts - Mariana Caplan   

Back to top Go down
10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases - Excerpts - Mariana Caplan
Back to top 
Page 1 of 1
 Similar topics
» Becoming spiritually weak...
» Other diseases connected with migraine?...
» Medscape's Slideshows Top 10 for 2010 - Diseases of the Nails!
» Tree Grounding
» How much do your dreams affect you?

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
OBC Connect :: OBC Connect :: The Reading Corner-
Jump to: