Sex between spiritual teachers and their students has become a hot and controversial topic in recent years. Still, Spiritual teachers being seduced by their students tarnishes every spiritual tradition, in seemingly every culture—and recorded cases go back many hundreds of years. And, of course, the same is true of skillful teachers who use their natural sexual charism in a compassionate way to awaken their students. Rarely de we get a chance, however, to hear from those most directly affected by this kind of, often problematic and always charged, relationships: The gurus, roshis, rinpoches, tulkus, senseis etc themselves.
In the following blog post, renowned Zen teacher Bokki Cohen Sensei, shares his experience. Shockingly honest, this deeply personal story is both refreshing and sobering.
Being a spiritual teacher surrounded by dozens or hundreds of devotees, many of them quite attractive, has some mental consequences that aren’t usually talked about. Bringing up these issues, I’m not taking the high seat. Rather, I am humbly addressing my peers, sharing my deepest doubts and most heartfelt concerns.
What I’m talking about is spiritual teachers who have sex with their students, the suffering that such encounters sometimes cause, and what – if anyhing – we can do about it. I don’t want to point my finger, or hit anyone with my teacher’s stick. My purpose in sharing my thoughts on this is not to criticize manipulative and seductive students (although this is a problem that badly needs to be addressed.) Instead, I want to clear the air so that we can build mutually satisfying, vertical sexual relationships between teachers and their students, based on respect and framed by natural hierarchy.
Sleeping with a ton of female students has some mental consequences that most of us spiritual teachers are familiar with, but they aren’t ususally talked about. Here are four things that I have noticed:
Inability to view women as potential spouses
A few years after I received Dharma transmission, I noticed that my default opinion of any female student had changed to ”worthless stupid cunt until proven otherwise”. After having dozens of spiritual chicks first willingly handing over their money to me, and then watching them open up their legs, it became really hard for me to respect them like I would a family member or a close friend, much less a potential spouse. In fact, someone recently pointed out to me that I only hang out with other men these days.
Getting fed up with women’s stuff
Before I became a spiritual teacher, I used to be a semi-professional pick up artist. In many ways, this background was a great preparation for my Dharma career, but it also took some active un-learning. As a PUA, I knew that talking to a chick about her problems or issues is the fastest way out of her pants. This was fine with me, as I never had much of a desire to help a girl out with her life anyway. But, as I learned the hard way, things are quitet different when you’re a Zen teacher. Let’s put it this way: I probably spend about five times as much money on Kleenex as I do on Durex. As a spiritual teacher, I have to sit there for days, listening to endless complaints and the most incredibly boring stuff, before I get a chance to demonstrate my real skills. Can you imagine what a turn-off this is?
I usually don’t give female students more than one chance to act right, because it’s so easy to find a new one at the zendo. My ability to stay in a long-term relationship, putting up with its natural ups and downs, is evaporating as I adopt the mentality of a pasha. And how could things be any different with all these subservient bitches around, attending to my needs with mindfulness and in a spirit of selfless service to the Dharma? Over the years my temper has greatly shortened.
Decreasing view of sex with my students as a gratifying act
These days, sex with female students is little more than a mechanical means for me to relieve the pressure building up inside my sack, one small step above paying for a blow job. I really don’t get much out of pumping a student in the dokusan room, and most of the time I respect her less because of my opinion of her as a worthless, dirty whore who probably likes being choked was proven correct.
The only way I see to reverse these consequences is to step out of the spiritual game completely and go back to being a regular PUA again. Since I don’t see this happening, the odds that I will meet a new girl who I genuinely care for and maybe even love will be about the same as me becoming a celibate monk. This sucks big time, and I’m looking forward to comments or advice from other teachers with similar experiences.