The role of teachers and gurus
Spiritual development is hard work, there is a great deal of education and practice involved. There is intense self inquiry and confrontation with the aspects of nature which need to be improved, it’s a long process of transformation spanning many lives.
The appearance of a teacher or celebrity who has or appears to have attained this can be intoxicating. The belief that personal effort can be replaced by idolising someone or by adopting a dogma is problem that can be exploited. The power imbalance between teacher and student should be closely monitored, even with the discrediting of the old fashioned guru/disciple structure, there continues to be a proliferation of power and fame-wielding personalities who offer favourable conditions to those who would cater to their whims and help build their power base.
This is a simple capitalist domination strategy which is being played out in politics and corporate worlds everywhere, as well as in yoga and spiritual circles. While ever there is an urge to make fast progress, and a complementary urge to wield power, this kind of situation will recur. –
A solution may be communal structures where there is a shared intention of growth, where individuals apply these techniques and share outcomes. Where potential abuse of power is reduced by honest and open discussion and experience.
It reminds me of a case of a tribal society who practiced a certain level of polygamy, described in the book Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan. Some men would have sex regularly with a woman. From time to time it would be noticed that her belly would begin to swell. As they continued having sex with her, over the ensuing weeks, the belly would swell more. Eventually a child would be born, and each of the men believed they were a co-contributor and co-father of the child. Each with a vested interest in its welfare.
When we move from power-hungry, competitive society into more pan-species, super-human, altruistic forms of society, we can evolve the notion of idol worship into a collective that moves together, allowing autocratic and elitist structures to fall away.