February 22, 2012

The Closer We Get to People, the More We See Their Wonderfulness & Their Terribleness.

Photo: shewatchedthesky

Fiona writes: Recently I’ve been following the controversy surrounding allegations about a top yoga teacher in America.

People in positions of authority are always getting into trouble.

Spiritual or religious teachers, CEOs of companies, politicians, sports coaches…

As we come to trust & depend on these people, especially those we know personally (our doctor, or the head of our family) we become vulnerable.

Unfortunately, spiritual leaders & CEOs & doctors are also human beings. They are driven by a whole host of conscious and unconscious drives, some of which will be healthy and altruistic, and some less so. Serious allegations might come to light – of sexual misconduct, or financial swindling, or something ‘minor’ might happen which nonetheless transforms our view of them as ‘safe people’.

When this happens, it hurts.

If we can’t trust this part of this person, then can we trust the rest of them? Can we trust anyone? Where are we safe?

One solution to this disappointment is to just not become vulnerable any more. If we don’t trust people, then we can’t be hurt by them, can we?

In my experience, there is no skipping this bit.

To become vulnerable is necessary.

It’s necessary if we’re going to let these people do their job without questioning every decision, and it’s necessary if we want to truly learn about ourselves. I’m not suggesting that we hand ourselves over to the other utterly, but we do need to feel enough trust to lean back on them occasionally and to know that we won’t be dropped.

Kaspa & I are also in this position, on a much smaller scale. We head up a small local sangha, we have an online community with more than 900 members, we run ecourses & other events where we’re responsible for holding a space for people.

If we’re doing our job properly, people will become vulnerable in these spaces. As people get to know us better, a small percentage of them will crash into our own blind-spots (ouch). They will be disappointed.

What can we do with this disappointment?

We can acknowledge that this experience is a part of being human, and allow ourselves to feel sad. We can remain curious about the relationship we’ve entered into. Are we ignoring aspects of the person we’re trusting because it makes us uncomfortable? We can talk to the person. We can talk to others. We can be kind to ourselves and allow our wounds to heal at their own pace.

Sometimes it’s the right thing to end a relationship. Sometimes it’s the right thing to stay. Sometimes it takes a very long time to decide which of these is best for you, for the person concerned, and for everyone else.

I think that it also helps if we can find a deeper faith.

Something that lies underneath our fallible nature as human beings. This person might let me down, but I will learn something necessary as a result. This person might mess up, and I might discover deeper levels of compassion. Seeing your messiness might help me feel better about my own.

It’s not easy. But love can transform disappointment into hope, if we give it enough time and if we can let it in.


Image: ‘I Hate How Much I Love You’ by shewatchedthesky via Creative Commons with gratitude.



Editor: Andrea B.


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