Seekers and Conspirituality
Conspirituality arises out of ignorance, and although containing socio-political ignorance the problem is primarily spiritual. What does spiritual awakening include? It includes awareness of the world of conditioning, and hopefully your awakening moves you beyond conditioning. If awakening does not talk of conditioning then it is a weakness of the teaching – and therefore what chance does the learning have?
Let us examine how conditioning arises. It must first be understood as a natural survival process. Through our conditioning instinct protects us and helps us survive into adulthood – mother’s love, sexual instinct etc. But in maturity this natural conditioning falls away – in awakening it falls away. It would be nice to say that in adulthood this conditioning falls away, and in an ideal world this would happen but it does not in our defiled world. In this sense the natural conditioning of the young has become societal conditioning, in adulthood we hold onto the egos that developed from instinct. This societal conditioning comes from the same source as natural conditioning, and has the same root egoistic instinctive characteristics – eg the proliferation of sexual conditioning. This societal conditioning contains propaganda and political manipulation as a development of the younger natural conditioning.
When we start to become spiritually aware through whatever awakening process we go through, we start to recognise conditioning. It is at this stage we might meet ignorance within the spiritual awakening teaching. For many spiritual teachers there is an avoidance of this societal conditioning. In part this is spiritually correct because a spiritual teacher cannot be attached to views but not clinging to ditthupadana can then lead to kilesa – the avoidance of seeing reality, seeing the way it is. And what we need to see is that the natural conditioning has taken on a societal dimension and therefore has political characteristics. This awareness of societal conditioning needs to be part of the spiritual teaching.
This societal conditioning can also be seen as hidden forces quite simply because control within our society is hidden. When we awaken we see how these hidden forces operate. How hidden forces operate could be a definition of conspiracy. Recognition of these hidden forces has always been a part of spiritual awakening, but political manipulation of conspiracy is a new-ish phenomenon.
Let us examine a political history of conspiracy theory. Those in power know the truth of their own power, the 1% know they have power and influence. This power and influence is a reality to them, they make a decision and through their power and influence that decision is implemented – by whatever means. But for those not in power this power and influence can only be recognised through analysis. Whilst it was a truth for the 1% because they know what they do, for the 99% it is mostly analytical. They can only infer through analysis how the 1% manipulate, so “the 1% control through power and influence” could be considered the first conspiracy as determined through analysis by the 99% - unable to be known as truth by the 99%.
Spiritual teachers necessarily avoid describing this 1%-conspiracy because it is a view and therefore is divisive. However they don’t have to avoid a recognition of conditioning, the defilements that conditioning produces, and the way that can be considered societal conditioning. Root defilements are described as greed, hatred and delusion. We have already recognised greed and the avoidance of hatred, and we can begin to recognise delusion as false conspiracy; it is this false conspiracy that causes concern in conspirituality.
In order to recognise these false conspiracies it is necessary to understand their political derivation, use our spiritual awareness to see into reality, to see into societal conditioning. Q-Anon conspiracies have arisen in support of a demagogue who is the epitome of defilement lacking any #NatureCompassionDecency. But suppose that indecency is not enough, suppose someone is attracted by individual conspiracies within the Q-sphere. Are these conspiracies politically inspired ie directed against political parties? Such conspiracies will have been funded and are unlikely to be true; the purpose of funding and investment will be associated with greed - defilement. Spiritual teaching is to remove defilement.
It is also necessary to see these conspiracies in terms of their history, the new crop of conspiracies grew because the 1% were beginning to feel affected by awareness of their power and influence eg during the Occupy movement. As such they began to finance counter-conspiracy primarily by using their usual puppets, the government, to become the target of the conspiracy theorists. Instead of the 1% being the source of the power and influence, these new conspiracies targeted the government and deep state - deflecting from the 1%. There is a common theme amongst these new theories, they do not interfere with the 1% and their accumulation; this can be observed, seen with awakened awareness.
But there is an essential spiritual approach that avoids any conspiracy problems – right speech, being impeccable with the word. Even the description of the 1% using power and influence is a view. Do you know for sure it is true? If you don’t know from your personal experience don’t say it, it is not then right speech – not impeccable word. If complete knowledge of truth is not possible, then a spiritual approach does not include delusion – removes delusion. As a teacher you can ask if the student knows it is true.
But with awakening the student knows there are the hidden forces of societal conditioning, these hidden forces are not delusion. The kilesa are the spiritual tool to understand these forces, do these forces encourage greed, hatred or delusion? It is not good teaching to avoid the awakened awareness of hidden forces, understand conditioning.
From here I started listening to Rick’s Batgap talk (579) on conspirituality. All of the above applies and none of it. The people buying into these negative conspiracy stuff are people into spiritual fluff. To me it is not concerned with the seeker who is attempting to build up their vihara (with good practice), they are people willing to spout off theories and jump onto spiritual fashion; these are people subject to a false form of spiritual conditioning as part of the wider societal conditioning. Whilst all of the above applies to these people, none of it will be heard because they accept their conditioning. They have not reached the stage of awakening where they are dealing with practice – building their vihara and going beyond conditioning.
But then cultism is a real problem; the above advice (vihara and beyond conditioning) would stop people being deluded by cults yet does not end cultism because people within cults might not be genuine seekers.
I fell asleep and woke up when they were talking about bonking teachers. I went back and the first thing I didn’t recall was “Charismatic Influencer Matrix”; I had to take a mindful moment to prevent reacting. It is straightforward, if you are subject to influence you are subject to conditioning. If a seeker came to me and was still easily influenced, I would accept I had failed to help that seeker.
In Viveka-Zandtao I began #NatureCompassionDecency, these are fundamental attributes of any spiritual teaching, any evaluation of conspiracy, and any vihara. I further added a teaching prerequisite – ensuring autonomy. Do you have the right to describe your practice as building a vihara if there is no #NatureCompassionDecency? As a spiritual teacher do you have the right to call yourself a teacher if a consequence of your teaching is not the seeker’s autonomy? And what are attributes of this autonomy – following the path:-
A significant aspect of this talk revolves around the censorship of liberalism. Liberalism protects and is therefore based in fear. On the spiritual path the seeker needs to eschew fear because fear is suffering. Autonomy ends fear because the seeker takes responsibility for their own actions. If the seeker becomes subject to a sexual predator, believes the delusions of conspiracy, or carries out any irresponsible act, then it is their baggage – their path.
I don’t want liberals protecting seekers because that would mean the seekers are afraid – or fear in seekers might be encouraged. I do want liberals protecting the people who are falling under the influence of conspirituality and who are abused by predators masquerading as spiritual teachers. But to me if they were/are subject to such they are not seekers, if the suffering caused in abuse or accepting delusions (false views) makes them seekers then that was their path. The wider “spiritual community” includes many who are not seekers. This wider community are not following the path, are subject to conditioning, and are not seekers. They merit protection but they do not merit the name “seeker”.
I am against this culture of regulation that dominates the “woke” approach. The woke culture of the 70s, then just liberalism, pretended to tackle racism. At that time overt racism needed to be curbed censorially, but censorship was not enough there needed to be education. There was no education and now we have WEGemony.
In spirituality there are many cases of misconduct that I have become aware of, there are many more than I know and talk of. There was a book I studied “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”, I thought it was very good but stopped because I decided to focus on Theravadan. The author is dead now, apparently bonked quite a bit, and was never chastised by the Dalai Lama when he was alive. Some people swear by the book, I would never touch it now because the teachings are porous. For similar reasons I would never read Osho. As the Bhagwan he lost control of his commune, as the commune’s spiritual advisor it was his responsibility yet there was crime. I saw a recent 6-part documentary on his community in Oregon, and there were clearly people who made great spiritual advances and gained some spiritual freedom from being in the commune. Osho is respected by many in the spiritual community, I could never trust a word of his.
And then we come to the enigma that is Krishnamurti, such a great spiritual teacher, who had a long affair with Radha Rajagopal Sloss’s married mother discussed in her book “Lives in the Shadows with J. Krishnamurti”. I still study and recommend his teaching.
The only workable regulation for seekers is #NatureCompassionDecency; I don’t want woke restrictions creating fear amongst seekers, but I am happy for the woke to protect the wider "spiritual community".