Never Look Away- Reflections on Food Inc. and the Louisiana Oil Spill

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(First published April 2010)

I’ve been noticing a certain sorrowful response to the Louisiana oil spill. In overheard conversations, on article-1271740-096e532d000005dc-571_634x479Internet article comment sections, on Facebook and elsewhere, there's a certain authentic depth of sadness being expressed that I’ve never quite heard before. It’s coming from somewhere deep in the guts. It sounds slightly winded, heartbroken. It’s hard to say what all the contextual coordinates are of this collective response to this latest environmental disaster, but it strikes me as important. But as ever in our troubled world, this sensitive response is in danger of retreating into denial and the comforts of distraction. We turn away for many reasons; it hurts too much, it’s too frightening, or it rakes too hard at our conscience. But it’s now more than ever that we must never look away.

Kanto earthquake, 1923The ethic to never look away comes from the legendary Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa. In a documentary on his life, Kurosawa retells a story that had a profound impact on his life and work, and that’s been seared (sometimes uncomfortably) into my brain ever since I heard him tell it. When Kurosawa was a kid there was a devastating earthquake in Tokyo, Japan, one that reduced buildings to rubble and killed over 100,000 people. Kurosawa walked through the aftermath with his brother- “I saw corpses charred black, half-burned corpses, corpses in gutters, corpses floating in rivers, corpses piled up on bridges, corpses blocking off a whole street at an intersection, and every manner of death possible to human beings displayed by corpses,” he writes. “When I involuntarily looked away, my brother scolded me, ‘Akira, look carefully now’” (1).

Kurosawa’s brother Heigo explained to him, “If you shut your eyes to a frightening sight, you end up being frightened. If you look at everything straight on, there is nothing to be afraid of” (2). It’s a powerful ethic and one that had a direct influence on Kurosawa’s own unflinching look into the human condition. Martin Scorcese has praised Kurosawa for being, “a great humanist, with a fierce, even desperate desire for humanity to abandon its endless resorts to terror, destruction, fear, and intimidation” (3). It appears that Kurosawa put this ethic into practice in his monumental body of work.

food inc2But it’s easier said than done. Another issue that’s currently in danger of the turning away is industrial meat production. Despite the huge amounts of positive energy that’s been swelling behind the alternative food movement in recent years, I’ve also heard many people say that they don’t want to watch the documentary Food, Inc. because they just can’t bear to witness the animal cruelty they know they’ll see. So instead, they turn away.

What exactly is happening in this process of turning away?

Surely one part of what’s happening is that there’s a part of ourselves that’s implicated in the destruction and brutality we’re witnessing, and this part isn’t interested in owning up to this fact or to giving up the lifestyle that this activity provides us with. This is especially true of the West, particularly North America, where the majority of the world’s resource use takes place. What would happen if I truly opened to the scandalous and torturous conditions that industrially raised animals live in? I’d probably have to stop eating all that cheap industrial meat, because there’s another part of us that is profoundly connected to how unethical this is. Or when we see that well unstoppably gushing all that oil into the Gulf of Mexico, soiling so much life around it, there must be an unconscious part of us first worlders that knows all too well the lifestyle that such oil is providing us with. So instead of heeding the faint traces of our deeper connection, we quietly look away.

But this ignorance is no longer bliss. This ignorance is increasing environmental deterioration and increasing chronic disease in our societies (4). Ignorance is coming at greater and greater costs. This is one reason to no longer look away.

sacred heartThere is, however, another part of this story that’s arising from a different and vitally important part of us. Behind this sad, sensitive reaction is also a big expansive heart that cares so profoundly about the world and its inhabitants that it can sometimes hurt too much to feel the full depths of its compassion. When we really feel into that love that wants to radiate out and embrace and protect all of creation we can feel utterly overwhelmed by the strength of emotion that pours itself forth. We can also feel trapped and helpless in the face of the enormity of the problems we witness, especially when it seems like there's nothing we can do about them. The turning away is thus also hiding an enormous center of compassion, and one that most of us have yet to open to in its fullest potentials.

But it’s precisely this brave love heart that is so needed in our world right now, and we can hear echoes of this ethic in some contemporary spiritual teachings. In Andrew Cohen’s teaching of evolutionary enlightenment, the third of his five tenets is to “face everything, avoid nothing” (5). In theologian Matthew Fox’s latest book on men’s spirituality and the sacred masculine, he devotes a chapter to the archetype of the sacred warrior. According to Fox, the sacred warrior is capable of going “into the darkness, the wounds, the pain, and also the silence and solitude of existence to learn what’s in there”. The warrior is “so much in touch with his heart that he can give it to the world” (6). These and other spiritual teachers are currently challenging our compulsion to turn away, and they are stepping forth with a variety of tools for facing our situation straight on.

earthThere’s one last layer of context worth adding to this overall story, and for this we can turn to the work of the philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976).  For Heidegger, a passionate critic of modernity, modernity and the modern subject are both characterized by our separation from the world. In the process of becoming modern individuals, in the individuation process at the core of this interior development, a certain dissociation from the world also took place. From our new distinct, separated interior worldspace, modern humans started to view the world as simply a store of material reserves to be moved around and used for our own material pleasure. There was no longer any meaningful connection to the world; it was now seen as merely a storehouse of resources (out there) to be dominated and used by us with maximum efficiency.

It’s arguably this mind that’s responsible for so much of the environmental carnage in our world. There's indeed something strangely detached and brutal in the operations of the industrial food supply. And perhaps some of the authentic response to the Louisiana oil spill is a new wave of the continuing struggle to finally break through and burn off our dissociation. Somewhere deep down, our heart is continually being broken by our continued separation. Somewhere deep down it’s no longer ok to keep going on this way.

So we have a separated and solely self-interested modern self, pulled in one direction by the pleasures of the material world, and we have this deeper part of ourselves that's calling for the overcoming of this separated existence.

The eco-theologian Thomas Berry often spoke of The Great Work that was ahead of us. The Great Work consists in “the task of moving modern industrial civilization from its present devastating influence on the Earth to a more benign mode of presence” (7). It strikes me that this big awaiting love heart of ours will be central to this transformation. And so will the post-postmodern ethic of never looking away.



No more turning away

From the weak and the weary

No more turning away

From the coldness inside

Just a world that we all must share

It’s not enough just to stand and stare

Is it only a dream that there’ll be

No more turning away?


-Pink Floyd, On the Turning Away










(2) Ibid

(3) Ibid.

(4) “The chronic diseases that kill most of us can be traced directly to the industrialization of our food. The rise of highly processed foods and refined grains; the use of chemicals to raise plants and animals in huge monocultures; the super-abundance of cheap calories of sugar and fat produced by modern agriculture and the narrowing of the biological diversity of the human diet to a tiny handful of staple crops, notably wheat, corn or soy. These changes have given us the western diet that we take for granted: lots of processed foods and meats, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of everything- except vegetables, fruits and grains”. Michael Pollan, Vancouver Sun.

Also: “Cancer and heart disease and so many of the other Western diseases are by now such an accepted part of modern life that it’s hard for us to believe this wasn’t always or even necessarily the case. These days most of us think of chronic diseases as being a little like the weather- one of life’s givens”. Pollan, Michael. In Defense of Food. US: Penguin Books, 2008.

(5) Having me interpret and explain Andrew Cohen’s teachings is somewhat akin to watching an episode of Ernest Goes to Camp, but I feel I should say a few words about how I currently understand his teaching to ‘face everything, avoid nothing’. For Cohen, this teaching is not so much a practice to engage in (although it’s that too), but a pointing out exercise for a dimension of ourselves that's always already facing everything and avoiding nothing. What Cohen calls our ‘authentic self’ is still, present, free and fearless, and it’s the goal of his evolutionary enlightenment to learn to live from this Self (or at least that’s how I understand it). However, as always with deep spiritual matters, they're difficult to express in words and impossible to understand in a solely cognitive way. For a way to practice and experience these teachings directly, Cohen’s former student Craig Hamilton has a series of free guided meditations on his website that are very lucid and helpful.

(6) Fox, Matthew. The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine. California: New World Library, 2008. p.90-96.

(7) Ibid, p.77.

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  • Comment Link never Saturday, 20 August 2011 15:23 posted by never

    "Never look away."

    Right, Trevor.

  • Comment Link Lindsay Saturday, 20 August 2011 21:55 posted by Lindsay

    Wow, some pretty heavy criticisms and accusations in that link provided by 'never'. I haven't independently verified any of them, but I believe they are well worth looking into by all folks who are followers of these guys.

    I can see why you'd post this on a Integral site, but I don't see the link to Trevor's article. Are you suggesting that Trevor is aware of all of Andrew Cohen's (and the others) abuses, and chooses to look the other way?

  • Comment Link never Saturday, 20 August 2011 22:28 posted by never


  • Comment Link Lindsay Saturday, 20 August 2011 23:48 posted by Lindsay

    Interesting. And just to clarify further. Are you saying that Trevor (and/or the 'integral' folks of this site) know about these accusations, believe them to be true, and still look the other way?

  • Comment Link never Sunday, 21 August 2011 05:27 posted by never


    The fiascoes associated with Cohen and Gafni are old news and very, very well known, as a simple Google search will show. Every writer at this site is fully aware of them, and took sides long ago.

    Smallest tip of the iceberg.

    You can also find material about Gafni’s scandals easily enough on the Web.

    As the finessing here soon begins—and it will--ask yourself why you haven’t heard anything about Cohen’s or Gafni’s history on this site during a year of Trevor’s undiluted praise of both men.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Sunday, 21 August 2011 09:58 posted by Chris Dierkes

    I maintain there's a difference between a teaching and a teacher. I don't really see that as finessing--but then again when did finessing become a dirty word? That distinction does not destroy ethical standards we all need to be held to--while recalling that all humans are deeply flawed beings. (Which is itself not excusing unethical forms of behavior).

    For example, Trevor also mentions Martin Heidegger in this piece. Heidegger was an unapologetic Nazi collaborator (unapologetic to the day he died). Does that mean no one should ever read his works or learn from his philosophy? I've had deep openings in my mind through meditating on Heidegger's writings and insights.

    If you maintain a difference between Heidegger and Cohen and Gafni, what's the basis for that difference?

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Sunday, 21 August 2011 21:01 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    I'll post on this thread tomorrow, I got some projects that I need to finish today, and I'd like to give this some time as I got lots to say here.

  • Comment Link never Sunday, 21 August 2011 21:12 posted by never

    1.Distinguishing between the validity of a philosophic or scientific argument and the ethical life of the thinker a common argumentive ethos (e.g., no ad hominem). But even this is not uncontroversial; there are very acrimonious debates about the extent to which Heidegger’s philosophy does or does not covertly encode the fascism which he supported in life. And of course the distinction would be complicated by the entire field of cultural and ideological studies, but “integral” has dismissed this field as green-meme relativistic “postmodernism.” But say we concede this point.

    2. You try to extend this binary from philosophic discourse to spiritual practice and leadership. Seriously? The integral golden rule is “do as I say, not as I do” rather than “by their fruits you shall know them"? This is wonderful.

    3.Heidegger exists as a text. The political confusions of his life exist as history. The teacher’s “behaviors” do not now place anyone at risk. Heidegger does not run seminars where he oversees deindividuating, group-mind practices which are entangled with quasi-political seminars teaching color-coded hierarchies which flatter the participants that they in a “second tier” unfathomable by lower orders. He does not have disciples making a hundred prostrations in freezing lakes screaming “I am an asshole.” He does not make disciples dig ditches while he derides them in order to regain entry to his cult. He does not subject women who challenge him to isolation in rooms with misogynistic writing scrawled on the walls. He does not engage disciples in Taliban-like theater making them think he is going to amputate a finger. If he were alive and doing any of these things, if he was getting his Nazi hands into living people’s interiorities, your cavalier life/teaching distinction would collapse pretty quickly. That you are an ordained priest and sniff away such ethical considerations is immensely telling.

  • Comment Link never Sunday, 21 August 2011 21:18 posted by never

    4. Trevor’s glowing reports of the “fire” and “passion” and “energy” of the conference speakers are clearly claims of spiritual authority, of the embodiment of a immediately recognizable and transmissible ethical energy that come not from the “teaching” but from charisma and personal presence. They function as testimony which puts to rest any doubts about reputation. And his heroes collapse the distinction unambiguously: Hubl’s notion of “transmission” recognizes no distinction between teaching and teacher. The teacher is everything, the teaching otherwise a dead letter. And Hubl has it both ways: while the performed embodiment of enlightened energy is self-authorizing, only another *awakened* individual can reliably recognize or judge an awakened guru. Hubl is quite explicit about the closed-cult circuit of moral judgment. The small provision made for students challenging the teacher’s shadow is only vetted from within the established deference of contracted submission. A guru is *admonished* not to indulge his shadow or abuse his power, but the student is *blocked* from registering any complaint if he does. The student is required to surrender completely to the guru, but the student is still held fully responsible for the relationship and cannot claim to have been wounded and abused no matter what happens. It’s fascinating to watch him build the rhetorical structure.

    5. Look at the response of Trevor’s heros like Terry Patten to the issue. Patten exerts a mild gesture of wrist-slapping critique toward Cohen, assuring readers that Cohen responded well to a sermon on his karmic responsibilities toward the wounded. After this bit of theater—-Cohen, in his own statement, of course takes no responsibility and shows no remorse, and Patten is very clear that beyond this casual ‘discussion’ any further discipline of Cohen is unwarranted—-Patten then fires up the usual sneering disdain toward the “victims,” accusing them of McCarthyesque fundamentalism, inauthenticity and persecution; he trots out the tired “first tier” color-coding to write off all critique of guru irresponsibility, including that of Da Free John. He claims to be able to discern the purity of critics’ motive by his own “smell test,” and so on. It’s the same derisive dismissal that has emanated for years from Cohen’s camp. As if that weren’t enough, Patten and his fellow teachers perseverate that the real victims of the scandals are the gurus, who need to be protected from student accusations! Gafni takes the opportunity to defend the right of enlightened gurus to defy “pre-conventional and conventional” laws when it comes to sexual relations with students, implicitly exonerating himself from “first tier” laws and the scandal that shadows him, quoting right-wing pundits about the tsunamis of false rape accusation. (Compare to the depositions and earlier confessions, lying to the multiple women he slept with simultaneously, urging the women to lie about the affairs to preserve his reputation, fleeing a country to avoid prosecution rather than making a civil-rights stand for crazy wisdom—not much address to these topics.)

    6. Chris says with an irritable sniff that there is no problem with a gap between teaching and behavior so long as the behavior is criticized. Given the Nazi example, we can assume that this would mean a persistent and principled critique, not a simple once-only hand-dusting. It would not be enough to say “Nazism is bad!” War criminals who escaped Nuremberg to South America should be brought to face justice. Holocaust denial should be repeatedly opposed. Yes? So by analogy we might expect that if Cohen’s or Wilber’s teaching is vetted at B&S we would have, alongside that, “integrating” that, a persistent and open-eyed critique of dubious practices and compassion extended to those who had been wounded or traumatized. We would expect courageous questions to be respectfully posed to gurus at conferences even if it interrupted the narcissistic group-bliss of eye-gazing exercises.

    7. So. You’ve been writing here at Beams and Struts for a year. The encomiums to these gurus have multiplied. Show me the examples of the accompanying critiques. Provide the links.

  • Comment Link never Sunday, 21 August 2011 23:50 posted by never

    Embedded links didn’t print.

    The guru essays are at




    Trevor: Talk amongst yourselves—-as usual.

    I’ve said what I wanted to say and I have a busy week ahead.

    I think you’ll be much more skilled at PR, recuperation and soothing cognitive dissonance than Chris, so I’ll leave you to what you do best.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Monday, 22 August 2011 04:51 posted by Chris Dierkes


    No one on this site has ever argued that someone should become a formal student of ANY spiritual teacher. Some of us (not all of us) have posted various clips, quotations, recommended texts and some practices. Some of us have also shared about how we have been impacted by various teachings and teachers.

    But no one has ever used this site for what I would consider active proselytizing and certainly has not in any manipulative way--if people don't like it, they just click on another post, or off the site altogether. Or they can write a comment suggesting alternative points of view or criticisms.

    So clearly there is an extremely wide spectrum of recommendation or sharing around these kinds of issues. You make it sound like we are actively promoting people to become formal students of people. We aren't those guys. Your fire is poorly aimed. There's no conspiracy.

    If someone told me they were seriously considering becoming a formal student of Cohen or Gafni and asked my opinion, I would suggest they read the kinds of links you provided, as well as talk to current students, and see if they can talk to former students who don't have such negative experiences as those in the articles you cited. I think they should seek to interact with as many perspectives as possible aware that of course everyone has a bias. After that, make up their minds for themselves and whatever they do, keep their wits about them.

    I would say the same thing for any Westerner considering taking on a teacher. I consider that simply good due diligence. The student-teacher relationship is an extremely fraught one, particularly for Westerners (as it's not a normal cultural pattern).

    I think you raise some important issues. I just think they way you have raised is so one sided and unhelpful. It doesn't invite dialogue. There's no nuance, it's all so black and white.

    That black/white framework just doesn't accord with my experience. I see a world in which we all need to be practicing forgiveness all the time--70 x 7 times as Jesus said. All of our love, teaching, practice, and ethics is deeply conditioned and imperfect. Of course we have to draw boundaries but I don't think any of us need assume a position of moral superiority in the midst of it. Not in any absolute sense. Humility for me is the key. In my tradition, St. Paul says, "all have fallen short of the glory of God." That includes me, you, teachers. People who have had positive experiences with teachers that have changed them for the better, people who have been sadly hurt--all of us need humility.

    Humility and forgiveness are not the same as not caring and protecting oneself or others.

    So I certainly see the need for discernment and proper boundaries and protection, but they are always incomplete. I find the practice is to hold Love (or be Love) for everyone in the experiences (on all sides) and then relatively make the best judgments we can, imperfect as they will always be.

  • Comment Link Chris Dierkes Monday, 22 August 2011 05:06 posted by Chris Dierkes

    I should also add (in relation to the last couple of your numbered points), I don't agree with much of the discourse in the integral world around students-teachers. I don't think it's "traditionalist" or whatever to say that teachers and students should never sleep together. Or if it is, sounds like the traditions had some wisdom to me.

    I don't agree with dismissing as "green" or "postmodern" or whatever the insight that students and teachers are in an asymmetrical relationship and therefore what constitutes consent is not so clear-cut. I actually think there is a major power differential between student and teacher and that students are opening into vulnerable places--like with a therapist--and therefore there need to be protective standards in place for both parties.

    I think there's still far too much unconscious perpetuation of premodern more authoritarian models of spirituality (monasticism, Eastern guruism, etc.). I think such organizational forms are profoundly flawed in contemporary Western society. I also think there are many good people caught up in such systems.

    That said, it takes two to tango and as much as there is (rightly) emphasis on how teachers need to evolve their teaching styles and communities (especially in regards to power), we also need to give thought to how to have better students. If the de facto norm of authority is the student's ego, then teachers will become facilitators of essentially state experiences. Spiritual cafeteria-ism is the result. I don't think people change that way.

    North American culture is profoundly individualistic and consumeristic and in my mind, essentially all spiritual teaching in our context is simply subsumed and conformed to that basic model.

    Any teaching that questions or seeks to undermine Western individualism and consumerism is bound to set off some sparks. I think it's good we do that (and necessary), but it's not going to be easy and it's not going to be safe. And we need some new models to help gain some clarity (all of us, in whatever position) about what our various roles and responsibilities are--how we hold each other accountable, what is love, what is mercy, what is conviction, what is real lasting change?

    I think all of us are being called to a much greater level of maturity.

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Tuesday, 23 August 2011 03:05 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    I don’t have much to add at the moment to what Chris has said, he covers it pretty well. These controversies are, as ‘never’ says, old news and very well known. They are however, hardly as unambiguous and clear-cut as ‘never’ makes them out to be. In the time I’ve spent investigating them, and the back and forth of all the parties involved, they seem to me to be full of complexity and layers of nuance with no simple answers.

    I’d be open to a dialogue on the subject, but that doesn’t seem like it’s going to be very productive here. I don’t get the sense that you’ll be willing ‘never’ to take part in anything approaching a genuine dialogue on this topic, and anything offered from my end will likely only be viewed from within your readymade narrative that you’ve showed up with. This doesn’t give me a lot of energy to engage with you. But I can tell you that you miss the mark on many of your assumptions in your remarks, and if you actually took the time to open to some of the folks here and have a discussion, you’d find a fairly different terrain then the one you’ve so confidently assumed.

    It’s also worth noting that there’s a certain violence in your own writings here, one that seems a bit incongruent with the cause you are championing. You propose to feel compassion for those who have been harmed by these gurus, yet this value of compassion is curiously not extended here.

    Your comments have though sparked a desire in myself to enter into an inquiry around these topics, as many important issues have been raised, and I’d like to unpack them further. To that end I’ve decided to approach integral blogger Will Harryman to see if he’d like to enter into that conversation, as he’s been one of the most vocal critics of Gafni and his presence in the integral world (see this post criticizing Gafni’s inclusion in the last Integral Theory Conference, and the lively back and forth in the comments- I’ll also contact integral blogger C4Chaos as he was in the comment section of the ‘WhatEnlightenment?’ site thanking the hosts for creating the site. I’m hoping that we can get into a detailed and complex discussion around these issues, one that is generative and helpful to others, and that it can be on the site for anyone to read and draw their own conclusions from (including a list of links to the relevant materials).

    ‘Never’, if you feel up to taking part in one of these discussions, or maybe even in a panel discussion with a couple people, let me know. This would allow you to voice your perspective on the site, and for it to be there permanently. I would personally suggest a podcast situation, although I’m open to written form too, but I think the human-to-human encounter would support a more productive exchange.

    I have a clear conscience and a warm heart with regards to everything I’ve written here at the site and elsewhere, and will continue to offer ‘encomiums’ as I feel so moved to do so, much to the chagrin of ‘never’ I’m sure.

  • Comment Link Juma Wednesday, 24 August 2011 23:33 posted by Juma

    Never (if that really is your name),

    I'm impressed by the higher ground Trevor and Chris have staked out.

    I'll be challenged to be as gracious.

    I'm going to bounce around a bit here.

    It's too bad the points you make are tainted by such vitriol even as you finesse your way through examples.

    Minds like beds, all made up, a poet once wrote, and this applies here. The accusations you hurl are off-target; you got the wrong guy(s); but with that mind so locked in certainty, there is little hope of getting to the matter's heart. At least in this current thread.

    A person of sincerity, courage and integrity would accept Trevor's offer of a public conversation and might even provide their name. Since, as you well note, character does matter when considering a point of view.

    Funny you use the word binary. Just, funny.

    A bit of personal history: I was involved in an intentional community some 7 years ago shaped by Andrew Cohen's work. An interesting time to say the least. At day's end, I walked from that teacher (and teaching). There are myriad reasons (some mentioned, by you, by chris, trevor) why the guru model is ineffective today, and why I found fault in the work, both philosophically and in application. So your assertion that all writers on this site have taken sides (binary) is flat wrong. Also flat wrong: there is at least one core writer on this site that knows little to nothing about Cohen or said allegations. The accusations are off. The aim is bad, reflecting unclear vision.

    One contributor on this site, Bergen, is a formal student, having gone to a retreat on my recommendation, a recommendation I gave after leaving the teaching. As far as I know, he's yet to be fondled, painted or had any appendages removed. He's also a man of strong will and character, discernment and compassion. Not only does his commitment not interfere with our friendship, it has strengthened it. Our differences of opinion produce a positive tension. The categories are not so definitive, much as you might like to fall back on simplistic judgements. It would be a simpler world, a simpler life, if this were so. There is nuance that requires finessing. While I take the charges against Andrew Cohen seriously (I considered them strongly in my own discernment process all those years ago), there is more to this, more than you are ready to accept.

    Why have I yet to discuss my discrepancies with Cohen's teaching/community on this site? Largely because such a topics without proper context are catnip to the parasitic who then invade and consume the host. Beams has no desire to be such a host.

    All the same, the best you may have accomplished here is providing the impetus for a meaningful discussion (with a centre, not sides) to provide that context and that people can learn from, including perhaps the teachers themselves. You see, things happen here when the time is right, when the moment is right, without an agenda other than genuine inquiry and the desire to provide a platform for others committed to genuine inquiry.

    Curious how the students in these incidents don't meet with your condemnation. Grown adults of free will entering into a paternal relationship for years on end. There must be more to the story.

    If prostrations and surrendering ones exclusive identity are inherent evils, can I assume you eschew all forms of religion and meaningful spiritual inquiry? Because you'd be hard pressed to find one with these components absent. Father Thomas Keating (who has likely, as a Trappist Monk, performed a prostration or two in his day) once said that he has spent the majority of his life trying to forget himself. Kind of goes with the whole submit yourself to the mystery thing.

    I'm just not sure where you believe this crusade will take you. Perhaps you feel that if you educate one person on the evils of pursuing a teacher your work is complete. That might be noble, though I get no meaningful sense of such selflessness from your words, if indeed the mission itself has value.

    Good luck with your busy week and I look forward to your reflections once you resurface.

    (Warning. I have set a trap. If your next response is largely aimed at me, your lack of sincerity will be evident. If however, you have been moved by both Chris and Trevor's shift away from binary frameworks and offers of an involved public inquiry into the important issues you have raised with so little grace, you will be forced to lower your sword, suspend your assumptions, climb down off the pedestal you are seemly unaware that you are speaking from, and realize what we already realize: that we're in this thing together, you, me, the lot of us. And it's so much fucking better to climb these mountains together, to capture the essence of a thing in all its complexity and to grow, and yes develop, out of our habitual certainties).

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