Last night a fellow contemplative practitioner sent me a YouTube video in which his wife described the sexual abuse she endured from her spiritual teacher - a handsome, charismatic, well-known contemplative rabbi known for his work with relating spirituality and sexuality. It really got me to thinking about the larger problem of male sexuality and spiritual leadership. Because the story of male leaders sleeping with their female devotees has been repeated so many times in recent years - in every conceivable religious tradition - many spiritual seekers have become quite skeptical of religious leaders, especially males. Here I speak from the perspective of a heterosexual male, since that is what I know best. LGBT leaders may or may not have a different set of experiences.
I want to make several random points: (1) It is amazing to me how many people - especially women - have endured some kind of rape or sexual abuse in their lifetime. It is a HUGE issue, and it is therefore all the more important that our spiritual leaders "have it together" in this area. (2) While women, especially in Goddess Spirituality circles, have made significant strides in transforming and integrating their own sexuality in a spiritual way, men, it often seems, have hardly begun the task! Part of this is because it is still taboo to discuss the details of male sexuality in our culture. (3) Since a spiritual leader / teacher / master has been entrusted with the almost overwhelming task of mediating or mirroring something of the Divine Presence to his or her students, it is of utmost importance that the leader have transmuted his or her sexuality into a deeper relationship with a Divine Beloved, however that is conceived. (4) This kind of transmutation doesn't just happen by chance or on its own. We must develop a set of conscious practices for dealing with erotic energy and then situating it within a love affair with a larger Reality, such as God (The Great Beyond), or the Goddess (the Sacred Earth), or with some other spiritual Ultimate. Practices are also needed for learning how to savor the energy of erotic attraction to another person as a worthy end in itself, without the need to express that attraction in words, gestures or sexual actions.
Some years ago, I operated a blog that revealed a half-dozen solitude-oriented practices for how to do this. At the time, almost no one (except for those in my contemplative men's group) understood what I was seeking to do. I pray that the time to share this sort of practice will be right soon, if not for myself, then for someone else more skilled than I. Indeed, I think we would all agree that the time for such transformation is WAY overdue
Photos: ("Phallus" and Evening-Primrose, Arches National Park, UT; Ithyphallic rock art from the Fremont culture (A.D. 1 to 1300) near Moab, UT; A Badlands (SD) "bodyscape; Beargrass "breasts," Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
For Spiritual Direction or Workshops, please visit:http://www.resourcesforspiritualgrowth.com/
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.