Trapped in the Demon Ghost Cave: Bad Gurus & Abuses of Power with Robert AF Thurman – Episode #144 of the Bob Thurman Podcast
In this two part podcast Robert AF Thurman opens with an essential Dharma teaching in the form of Advice to Benefit Bad Gurus & Teachers, on the power of radical generosity & gratitude to transform relationships and the dangers of becoming trapped in the “Demon Ghost Cave”.
Using the Zen Chan metaphor of the “Demon Ghost Cave” of a misunderstood enlightening experience, in which individuals—who absolutize a personal moment of emptiness (shūnyatā) as a state of disappearance—can become entrapped, by failing to understand that the voidness is void of itself, and so only guarantees the absolute relativity of themselves and all things, Professor Thurman explains how the Buddhist Centrist scientific philosophy can free the essentially psychotic, unenlightened person from suffering and the mental, verbal, and physical misbehavior that makes it worse.
The second part of this podcast includes a discussion of the historical & philosophical context of the American Thanksgiving holiday, climate change, colonialism, sacred geometry, non-violent communication, the power of gratitude + generosity, industrial farming, vegetarian cooking & conflicts that often arise during family & community gatherings.
“Perception of faults in the guru should not cause us to feel disrespect, for by demonstrating faults to us the guru is actually showing us what we should abandon.
At least, this is the most useful attitude for us to take. An important point here is that the disciple must have a spirit of sincere inquiry and must have clear, rather than blind, devotion.
It is frequently said that the essence of the training in guru yoga is to cultivate the art of seeing everything the guru does as perfect. Personally I myself do not like this to be taken too far.
Often we see written in the scriptures, “Every action seen as perfect.” However, this phrase must be seen in the light of Buddha Shakyamuni’s own words: “Accept my teachings only after examining them as an analyst buys gold. Accept nothing out of mere faith in me.” The problem with the practice of seeing everything the guru does as perfect is that it very easily turns to poison for both the guru and the disciple. Therefore, whenever I teach this practice, I always advocate that the tradition of “every action seen as perfect” not be stressed.
Should the guru manifest un-Dharmic qualities or give teachings contradicting Dharma, the instruction on seeing the spiritual master as perfect must give way to reason and Dharma wisdom.”
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About Robert AF Thurman
Suggested Books & Audio by Robert AF Thurman:
Man of Peace: Illustrated Life Story of Tibet’s Dalai Lama (Book), Infinite Life: Awakening to Bliss Within (Book), Anger: The Seven Deadly Sins (Book), Inner Revolution (Book), Circling the Sacred Mountain : A Spiritual Adventure Through the Himalayas (Book), Essential Tibetan Buddhism (Book), The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Book of Natural Liberation Through Understanding in the Between (Book) The Jewel Tree of Tibet: The Enlightenment Engine of Tibetan Buddhism (Book), The Central Philosophy of Tibet (Book), The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti: A Mahayana Scripture (Book), Life & Teachings of Tsong Khapa (Book), Why the Dalai Lama Matters: His Act of Truth as the Solution for China, Tibet, and the World (Book) & Liberation Upon Hearing in the Between: Living with the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Audio).