Over the weekend I spent several hours engaged in online conversations with individuals who have looked at this website and didn’t appreciate its contents the way that one would hope they would. These were conversations in the style of a saloon-like atmosphere which was candid and rude and revealing. It was worth my time.
But it was not all that surprising. A streak of cynicism and irritation at anyone who seems arrogant or condescending or holier-than-thou runs strong in American culture. These were American and Canadian individuals with some familiarity with my earlier writings, which is somewhat relevant. They knew that in the Integral scene I have fashioned a persona and social role for myself as a “protector of the Integral community”, a mission that often meant calling out for criticism those persons who were harming it in some way.
Over many years of doing this, the individuals who I singled out for criticism and their friends took a dislike to me. A few left the Integral community alone, but many of them stayed around its online forums to attack Integral spiritual leaders, criticize Integral philosophy and political theory, and attack anyone who utilized developmental signifiers as committing an outrageous misdeed. They called me an “arrogant know-it-all”, but really their problem isn’t with me, it’s with Integralism.
The mismatch between these pseudo-integralists and our communal values got so bad in the most prominent Integral online forum recently, so “unintegral”, so devolved from any semblance of actual Integral theory and practice, that the forum administrator actually renamed the group. He removed “Integral” from its title, proclaiming that the group was not particularly constructive but heavily deconstructive in its orientation. I tell you this so you will recognize that although in this particular forum I was not a well-liked personality, it was not because authentic Integralists disowned me. Rather, individuals who were not truly Integral singled me out as an enemy because they knew I did not approve of their behavior and generally we rubbed each other the wrong way.
Today I heard harsh words from several people who dislike me, and the words were truly gifts from God. Praise is easier to hear, but attacks are more useful. They said I’m a joke. They said that I’m absurd. They helped me to understand the challenges that I will face in my public mission. People who can’t “see” a spectrum of consciousness invariably believe that individuals who claim a high level of spiritual realization are “inflated” or “egotistical” or just “full of shit”. I’ve heard all the downers before, but still I needed to hear it again. It won’t be the last time.
Here’s what I wrote to some of these folks early yesterday morning:
I’ve known I was a World Teacher since I was 30 when I was psychiatrically hospitalized for telling my family I was either the second coming of Christ or the Anti-Christ or a weird admixture of both. All of this is in my autobiography Soulfully Gay which Ken Wilber [the Integral theorist and author] loved and ensured got published as the second book out of Integral Books, right after his own Integral Spirituality. He risked his whole publishing relationship with Shambhala and Random House to do it, too, if any of you know the story.
So whatever World Teacher means to you, cynical though you may be, I guess you can project that baggage upon me now. I deserve it. I took the label on myself, which is certainly NOT what a lot of people would expect a fifth Buddha or reincarnated Krishna to do! Ha. I won’t downplay the title by saying that I am just acknowledging my intent to speak towards renewal and reform towards a just social order and religious peace and all that from an Integral perspective and worldcentric consciousness. I think you critics/cynics get that and you just want to razz me. Fine, so throw some tomatoes. Not big deal.
Just know I didn’t choose the label lightly or as irony or parody or postmodern whatever. I’m seriously going to do what I can to have a worldcentirc view and speak to that at all levels, all the way up to Clear Light if I can! Shouldn’t we all? Shouldn’t you be too doing your work as World Teachers in your own right? Why not? The people of the world need the “Integral elite”, so bring everything you’ve got, hit the target, defeat the Deathstars and Starkillers in orbit around your own homeworlds. The world needs us all.
So that’s what I’m writing to share with all of you. It is important to me that you recognize that I am not unaware of how a spiritual teacher calling himself a World Teacher may seem to you. Frankly it’s a hard label for me to wear right now while I am just breaking it in, getting myself ready, cleaning my side of the street, and preparing the full presentation of my teachings. But I had to claim the title when I did, skillful or unskillful though it may have been, for reasons that aren’t important for me to explain. I’m a World Teacher, whatever that means we will find out together. And as I’ve said before, judge me not by the labels put on me, but on the truth, goodness, and beauty of the Dharma that I am bringing into the world.
Blessings to all of you. Thank you for reading and if you find yourself cynical, know that I hear you. I want the world to be a place where cynics have no more reasons to be cynical. That’s what a Divinized World looks like.
I want to make cynicism obsolete or at least unnecessary. Pessimism, suspicion, doubt, scorn, disparagement, and skepticism will not disappear entirely, but they do not need to be the leading demeanor, a pernicious default attitude, for so many. Hope, optimism, trust, goodwill, appreciation, and enlightenment can replace them. Are you with me on this vision?