Thursday, June 02, 2005

A Reflection from Christopher Titmuss

Dear What Enlightenment Bloggers,

I received from you details of your website and had a careful read through it. I knew Andrew in the early 1980's as a serious student of mine until he met Poonja-ji and I know some of the senior students referred to in your website. I recall from Andrew's autobiography that, as a student, he became disillusioned with his past teachers, including his yoga teacher, myself over a misunderstanding on a retreat in India, and he had a complete falling out with Poonja-ji. An increasing number of Andrew's students are disillusioned with Andrew as a teacher. Is there a certain karmic justice here that we can all learn from?

After reading it through, I do feel that your website has struck a balance between the search for mutual understanding, such as the article 'To Heal One is to Heal All,' and direct criticism. Not easy. Teachers tend to fall from grace. Our immortality becomes mortal, whether it's power, money or, as in my case and others, the amorous and loving encounter. As years go by, students develop two inner strengths, namely wisdom and confidence. If students are seeing clearly, then their clarity will reveal both past and present, and have the confidence to express what they experience and know. The student finds her or his voice that invites one expression of the embrace of the Non-Dual (namely teacher and student). One hopes as a teacher and servant of the Dharma, that students will learn from both the wisdom and
foolishness of the teacher, the kindness and reactivity of the teacher.

We, who are in the privileged position of teaching, must never forget that the clear and the unclear within are merely a thought apart. Your website provides a service since it makes those of us who live in the rarefied realms, called a spiritual teacher, accountable to those we serve. I know very well. I've attended a few meetings with students and co-teachers, some of whom I made teachers. At times, they pulled me over the hot coals because of a romantic event years ago or some things I have written or spoken about. Unfortunately, inner pain and fear hide beneath aggression and that makes it harder for you to find reconciliation with Andrew who, judging from your reports, still seems to have an unconscious need to belittle people.

All credit to those of you who speak up. In a certain way, it is a kind of backhanded compliment to Andrew that his students do speak up. Isn't that an emphasis in his teaching? He should be proud of you all! Some may contribute to your website from outside the story; others are still inside of it. If one has moved outside the story totally, then you express an authentic freedom of the Non-Dual (realising the dependent arising of so-called 'self 'and 'other'), and a seeing through the fictional mind set that give substance to the ultimately insubstantial; and that surely is the heart of any worthwhile teaching.

If students who have left Andrew write from a place of reaction, faultfinding, and blame, then consciousness is still embroiled in the story and still hooked emotionally into Andrew's inner world. Such students will be revealing echoes within themselves of the very criticism levelled at Andrew - namely negative and apparently dehumanising treatment. Those who point the accusing finger at another should remember they have three fingers pointed at themselves. Hopefully your contributors, whether anonymous or not, remember to look within themselves, even if your former teacher cannot.

In the Dharma,
Christopher Titmuss

Originally published March 20, 2005
Original article on WHAT Enlightenment??!, with comments: A Reflection from Christopher Titmuss