Through an Eastern Lens: Explaining Why Spiritual Abuse Happens

Words by Michael Hanna


This is the first installment of a series about the abuse of spiritual power. Having lived in Ashland for approxiately one  year, I am certain this subject will find heat, as there are ample examples of those who almost know what they are talking about who walk among us. The streets of the Rogue Valley are littered with shingles of those who misunderstand, miscommunicate and misrepresent the Eastern mind and way of being.


A Statement of Principle

I began my travels to the Far East in 1984, while still a young man. I write to you now, an older man of 57 years. From my direct conversations with Asian teachers about Eastern ideas, the ideas distributed by Joseph Campbell and discussed in my philosophy classws. Over time the meta connections began to make sense. If you share such interests, I hope the ideas collected here will serve you.


What follows is the background necessary to understand the hypothesis: as to 1) how such a seemingly rampant and distasteful thing – abuse of spiritual power – can occur and originate from spiritually advanced people. The maladay is not limited to our immediate surroundings. As made abundantly clear in recent headlines steeming from the Catholic Church and Southern Baptist christianity. Nor is the guru system exempt.


In particular, the topic – abuse of spiritual power – centers around the all too familiar sexual abuse that appears to cross organizational, religious and cultural boundaries.


I will attempt to provide a minimalistic “bare bones” explanation of the material in an effort to backfill the necessary ideas to be able to forge a cogent and understandable argument. I would like to provide a brief definition of what is meant by esoteric and what its oppositional position is, (i.e. exoteric).


Esoteric: intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people, with a specialized knowledge or interest, which is obviously contrasted by the exoteric.


Exoteric: especially of a doctrine of mode of speech), intended for or likely to be understood by the general public.


Thanks to the Beatles

Since my childhood during the cultural revoliution of free love and hippie gatherings, many words have entered into the common lexicon of the english language from sanskrit, like yoga, kundalini, and chakra. After the Sixties, these words have taken on patently Western flavors, which might seem completely alien to the original culture from whence they came. The original flavor and even meaning is subtly altered when colliding with the worldview into which they have been transplanted.


As an example yoga is often considered a series of physical exercises by which flexibility and health may be increased. Some of you may well understand a deeper meaning and the accompanying implications.


Now, we can begin the journey of shakti’s – the divine feminine energy – evolutionary ascent or movement through the chakras, (the central theme for this installment).


The shakti or kundalini shakti is patently feminine in nature. As power is seen in the east as feminine. This model, (i.e. the movement of the serpent or kundalini from the root to the crown), is a model to describe the conscious evolutionary movement of the living self (Jiva), through the various centers.




A Frame of Reference

My library is filled with an ecletic variety of books. Jiddu Krishnamurti , Ken Wilber, Sir John Woodruff, Aurobindo, C. G.Jung, and many lesser known authors dominate my personal collection.  


For those familiar with Krishnamurit, according to the education provided to Westerns by H.P. Blavatsky (1831 – 1891), there are six distinct categories of shakti. I mention this as it provides a more accurate picture as to what types of energies can contribute to the process of conscious evolution.


They are: 1.  Para shakti – heat and light

  1. Jnana shakti – wisdom/intellect as well as types of psychic phenomena.
  2. Iccha shakti – this power of will and movement
  3. Kriya shakti – this power of action and manifestation
  4. Kundalini shakti – electrical and magnetic
  5. Mantra shakti – this power of sound/intent shadba or sound vibration


This type of shakti relates to methods by which they are cultivated. We will limit our discussion to kundalini as it appears to be popular currently as well as readily available for research.


Before undertaking the task of outlining the journey of the consciousness through the stations of the chakras, they should be clearly defined by their innate characteristics.


The chakra system is such that it not only serves to provide a model of the conscious Jiva, moveing up and through the seven major energetic centers of existence, but also to delineate the points of integration of the physical body and spirit.


This model of psycho/spiritual evolution is also predictive. It can serve to help us to determine our present developmental stage as well as provide warnings to possible wrong turns along theway.


As we trace the journey of the uncoiling of the kundalini shakti we can hopefully begin to appreciate the usefulness of such of a model. This is the story of the Self moving through ever higher domains of consciousness.


Ultimately, the Self progresses through increasingly higher levels, undertaking the journey of the Self into dissolution into the Great Source.


A Fall From the Grace Attained

With the framework in place, I hope to demonstrate a hypothesis to explain what can and has gone wrong in genuine spiritually advanced persons who succumb to lower egoic urges.


As a final preparatory note, before moving forward, into the nuts and bolts of the chakra system, as a model. I would like to point out some general concerns from an eastern perspective that may be unfamiliar to the average Western reader.


The divine feminine principle, i.e. the shakti, or source of power, is commonly agreed to be feminine, in nature. Thus shakti is more naturally available to women than to men. I know this may seem to be an outrageous claim to a Western mindset, especially to men, but it is as it is!


As a consultation prize, the masculine principle is consciousness, embodied by the Lord of counsciousness, Shiva. Those incarnated in male form have a natural affinity for the ideal Shiva represents.


We can see the need for both the masculine and feminine energy. They are not oppositional, but rather complementary joined together they create a third force. This is clearly demonstrated in reproduction. The male and female energies combine to produce the procreative force.


The interplay of shiva/shakti (male/female) is seen throughout Eastern thought. It is captured succinctly in this tai ji symbol of taoism (often misidentified as a yin/yang). Commericalization is bad!!!


The fish contained within the symbol- the yang (masculine) and yin (feminine) – are contained in a circle, not two but one which generates a third force. The shiva/shakti principle is captured in tibetan buddhism as yab/yum. In the West, even modern religion and culture echo the primordial father sky/mother earth. This male/female paradigm should be understood to reflect the way things operate after the beginning of the material universe.


As the wielder of power, the women lends her shakti to the man, who is empowered by it. The man brings consciousness to the release of power, providing direction and form. We, as individuals, need both the masculine and feminine forces to undertake the journey of spiritual conscious, or self evolution.


Procreative third force is the very self-same creative force in us as individuals. This should not be an alien concept as our own language speaks to this very same subtle knowledge. We use the word “inspired” or “inspirational” whose roots is “in spiritos”, to be breathed into by God.


This is in no way attempting to imply that women are bereft of consciousness, nor to imply that men cannot awaken their power, but rather, each incarnated form has a more natural gift. Here in the plane of duality, both energies are needed.


Perhaps, this is why we seek the other who completes us.


Known Throughout the Human Cultures

The knowledge contained in the chakra system has existed in other cultures. The Caduceus, or Hermes Staff, is a wonderful example. Two serpent crossing over six points, culminating in wings at the top, but it is in the Hindu system where it has been   refined to an incredible degree. Be that as it may, this system provides a framework for spiritual evolution and serve to highlight what can go wrong along the journey.


End of Part One


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