The first several posts of this blog were written as part of a personal creative push last fall, partly inspired by NaNoWriMo, but mainly inspired by the thoughts that kept churning inside my head about spirituality, group dynamics, sex and power. I wanted to get those thoughts out of my brain, so I could stop feeling bothered by them.
While all my writing was posted online and obviously public, I did basically nothing to cultivate comments or readership and didn’t share the posts with anyone close to me. I wanted some time to make sure that I really did want to open up this discussion with people I know personally. I questioned whether my interest in these topics is just evidence of my hang-ups about the past, about my inability to just move on.
And that might be true. But the more I continue to delve back into spiritual practice and community, the more I feel like the conversation I want to have is an important one. The conversations I do hear, or more honestly, overhear, could be higher quality and better informed. For example:
- Within spiritual communities, everyone seems to have a personal history with bad student/teacher relationships or know someone who has such a history. Even still, the main advice to students is, “Be careful what group you join and what teachers you follow.” Look for these warning signs. There is very little acknowledgement that communities can start out helpful but become destructive if members stop thinking critically and group think takes over. Choosing a community is not the last decision you make, it’s just the first one. Where are the articles with bullet points on how to speak up when you notice unhealthy dynamics inside your current group?
- There are so many awesome websites exploring the issues of sex and power exchange and what it means to consent. These topics need a wider audience in general, including inside spiritual communities.
- The teachers that are actively engaging with these topics are not actively engaging in a public conversation, online or off. Jack Kornfield has some some of the best writing on these topics, but not enough people are going to read to the end of his books to get to the good stuff, no matter how skilled of a writer he becomes.
- The conversation needs to expand across traditions and disciplines, so that we can learn from each other’s mistakes and successes. As soon as we dismiss issues as “problems inside the Catholic Church” or “issues with Zen teachers,” we lose an opportunity to learn more about human dynamics in general.
My goal with this blog is to get this conversation moving, not to monetize it, but just so I can participate in it. I find these topics both interesting and important and I’m tired of working it over and over in my own mind. So if you are reading this, welcome, and let me know what you have to say.