In the summer of 07, I attended my fourth ten day meditation retreat in a little over a year. The people who put on the retreat were also meditation and spiritual teachers. They had been very helpful to me over the year and a half I had known them and there was a lot of mutual respect between us. Recruiting was always part of the subculture but they were also accepting of people like me who attended their offerings and paid for their services without becoming one of them, without joining the group.
This retreat had an added bonus, the leader and chief guru of this organization was coming to the retreat to teach and do a little recruiting. The group I was working with were in the Toronto area, London Ontario, and the leader had been headquartered in British Columbia, 4000 kilometres away. In terms of the workings of human consciousness, he was brilliant and I learned a lot in those ten days. I also learned how their organization worked and, more particularly, how their leader worked.
My intention going into the retreat was to see if the leader had any interest in developing a branch of the business where the eastern practice of surrendering to the Teacher was not used. At the first retreat I had attended over a year ago, I had surrendered to Divinity and was now well and truly surrendered to my inner guidance, following it at every decision point. I had also surrendered all attachments, including my marriage which was not given back to me. That is another story that I have shared bits and pieces of here in my blog. My wife and I were still happily married but we both knew I was leaving the following spring.
The leader taught every day of the retreat; brilliant stuff mostly except on day three when his ‘lesson’ was about the difficulty of reaching enlightenment. ‘Yes, people achieved it in various ways and a few chosen ones get there through the ‘lightning bolt’ method such as Eckhart Tolle. However, if you consciously chose enlightenment and were looking for someone to teach you how’…the choices were limited and he was ‘the’ leading candidate which began with the personal choice of surrendering to him as your Teacher. ‘Other methods were just too difficult and fraught with detours and dangers.’ When he was finished, I put up my hand. ‘Surrendering to a Teacher has been necessary but enlightenment is becoming easier and easier to achieve as we near the end of this era. It is now possible to surrender to Divinity and achieve enlightenment following Divine guidance.’
He did not answer or rebut and there the session ended with my statement kind of hanging in the air. I joined the line of people meeting privately with him after the session, most with the intent of surrendering. When my turn came, I attempted to explore my idea of a ‘new branch where surrender was to Divinity rather than a human teacher.’ Again he did not dialogue and simply indicated our session was over. He was not mean about it, just there was no room for dialogue…it was a waste of his time and he was a busy man with around 200 active students the world over and hundreds of graduates, including the dozen or so in the London branch, still relying on him for the overall direction of the group. He was the only ‘qualified Teacher’ although he claimed to be developing more.
Two days later was a kind of open house and another thirty or forty interested people from the retreat area, four hundred kilometres north of Toronto were attending the evening session. I knew the Teacher would be giving a shortened rendition of his recruiting speech and I was unsure if I was to rebut or not? I asked for a sign as there was too much emotion to access my guidance reliably; and went for a walk after lunch. Late in the walk, I crossed paths with another retreat attendee, a man I did not know. He struck up a conversation and asked if I was going to rebut at the evening session, clearly hoping I would. That was my sign.
I took the intention of speaking my piece at the appropriate time and felt tremendous pressure throughout the evening session. The time came and I put up my hand. I was very emotional but the appropriate words came out and again, no response, no dialogue, not even an acknowledgement. Speaking out at that time was perhaps the toughest thing I ever did. The session was over soon after and people were milling about in the normal closing fashion. No one was coming near me… I was rudderless and felt devastated. Fortunately a friend came to my aid and led me from the scene. As we were exiting, one of the open house attendees approached us and thanked me, adding some words which did not register in the turmoil that was my mind. She game me a hug and my friend continued to lead me away. ‘What did she say?’ I asked. ‘That she had asked for guidance in terms of her personal path before coming and I had been that for her. She needed to hear surrender to a human Teacher was no longer necessary.’
The retreat went on for three more days with the Teacher teaching an afternoon session each day. We had no further disagreements as he stuck to teaching. His recruiting was highly successful and at least half of the retreat attendees surrendered to him over the course of the retreat.
This retreat was a four hour drive from my home and my drive home late at night was an experience I will never forget. I was given a window of enlightenment and being outside of time…awesome experience. The next morning, that experience was gone and it was ‘business as usual’. Disappointing…LOL
My relationship with the London group was poisoned by these interactions and they never again treated me entirely respectfully. I left them for good about six months later, knowing I was to pursue my independent path; knowing I was to achieve enlightenment and beyond surrendered to Divinity.
I have since learned that surrender to any human is a limiting experience. It is fine as a stepping stone if that is one’s choice but we are each sovereign and this form of surrender is a violation of our sovereignty.
Freedom to humanity…