I would like to give an answer to this dialogue between Ken and Andrew. Please find the dialog link here.
I will comment later on the issue raised by Ken, about whether Science and Spirit are integrated or not at the present moment. My view is that it is not the case, and that the real dialog between the actors of Science and the Spiritual teachers is just in infancy.
Here I want to address another issue which seems important to me. In this dialog Andrew and Ken seem to agree on the fact that the post modern ego will refuse to submit to a teacher no matter what, and that the real crusade towards post post modernism is to submit the ego of the post modern self while not disempowering it.
Andrew has this sentence that he explains to Ken over and over :
“ I tell my students submit and respond, submit and respond, and the strongest of my students have been doing just this”.
Just note that Ken doesn’t answer directly to this sentence. He doesn’t say that he agrees; he doesn’t say that he disagrees with the method. He doesn’t take position.
Now I would like to address this issue in a scientific framework. First, it is not true that post modern selfs don’t go for a teacher. I, for example, did and Andrew has had many and many examples of post modern students who came to him. Many of them left and some stayed. My first point is that one cannot reproach to the ones who left not to have been opened and attracted to a teacher, not to have recognized his/her power and his/her greatness. Although I have left, I feel I really recognized (and still do) that Andrew has really something to teach and that he has a great gift of his own. In a sense, only the people who have become students have fully recognized the teacher. I mean something simple here : when one sees something great in someone else, one goes and check by oneself. One does engage. Students of a teacher like Andrew, all of them, including the ones who left, have shown more recognition to the teacher than external people did, even his supporters. This is a paradox, I know.
Now at some, point , like all the people who left, I refused to submit. I refused to submit because I felt that what the teacher had in mind was too simplistic, and didn’t address fully my own complexity. Now the teacher of course will claim that “ it is your ego resisting me”… with a big finger pointed on me which is to a certain point, very authoritarian and intimidating. And of course at some point under pressure my ego entered the game, as a reaction of defense against intimidation, as both Andrew and Ken beautifully explained in their dialogue. Indeed the ego entered the game, but well, did it have a point or not ? The famous ego, when it entered the game in defense reaction, was it right or not ?
It might be shocking for some to say that the ego might be right. I have heard over and over again in spiritual circles that “ your ego is wrong, no mater what it says to you, don’t listen to “it”, just submit to the teacher etc…”. but I disagree with this. The ego of course can be right, the only difference is that the ego is always relatively right, never absolutely right. It is precisely where the Scientific attitude enters. The scientific minds ponders. It ponders over ideas and in this ponderation it determines with certain probabilities what is scientifically right or not, and what is significant or not. Hence the scientific mind indeed works with the ego, and has all the good reasons to do so.
Now just imagine that you are a scientist, a good scientist, I mean, that you have mastered to a certain degree this ponderation mechanism. That you have mastered it to a point that you know its limitations and its strengths, that you have scientifically pondered the limitations and strengths of your own mechanism of though, in a purely scientific way. ( There is a certain perfection into this if you notice; it is the true humble “bottom-up” way, the way of humble wisdom)
I believe I am not a bad scientist and my command of this ponderation is quite good (there are better folks than me in the scientific community for sure). Now suppose that you are face to face with a teacher who tells you “ submit and respond” but deep down all the scientific lights are red for you. You feel that what the teacher asks you is not correct, that he is making a mistake, and not only for your own case, but that he is making a generic scientific mistake. What do you do ? do you listen to your own mind, or do you trust the teacher ?
I feel everyone has to answer this question for himself/herself. I am a scientist, so if my mind tells me with 99% chance that there is a problem, then I will follow my mind at the end of the day. I will follow my mind independently of the passion I can have for the teacher, and independently on how right the teacher has been on other issues. A teacher who would push me to submit in this context would rape my freedom of Thought. And if I submitted in this context, without being convinced, I would prostitute my Soul. It is as simples as this. Soul prostitution. And actually, even if I had left myself been intellectually raped, well, I believe the freedom of the human Soul is bigger than all this, and one day or another I would have revolted and reclaim the Truth.
If you are like me and if you would never submit to a teacher when your intellect tells you not to, then one must admit as a scientific truth that the technique that Andrew uses is not convincing. At the very least it must be stated that it cannot work for everybody, but only for a certain type of people who like to submit in all circumstances. There will allays occur an occasion where the student is right and the teacher is wrong. In this occasion shall the student submit ? with no discussion ? with no place left for good old rationality to express itself ?
That’s why I think that the whole issue of Guruship with post modernism is much more complex than what Andrew and Ken insinuate. Some post modern people interested in spirituality really want to learn. But they don’t want to loose their autonomous way of determining what is true, even if this way is relative, like Science is for example.
I strongly believe that one doesn’t have to go against ones convictions- and certainly not against pure systemic logics- in order to progress in Spirit, and that the future of mankind passes through the emergence of human beings fully committed to truth, no matter what, no matter what spiritual authority one has in front of us. If I had the Buddha in front of me and he was saying something silly, I would not submit to his authority. I would first listen, ponder, ponder again, listen again, and then if in my mind I feel that he is not right or that I don’t understand, I would refuse to submit. I believe in the emergence of a human culture where one never submits when one is not convinced at a deep intellectual level. Never, never, never. The human intellect has to be respected if science and spirituality have to come together. A stance like the one used by Andrew ( “submit and respond”) applied with very little discrimination is doomed , one day or another, to damage the capacity of people to think independently.
It is a scientific fact that, out of so many committed student that Andrew had, very many left and a few stayed. I want to defend here the integrity of the students who left. They didn’t leave simply because “ their monster ego refused to submit to the master” . They left because, as post modern complex persons they reclaimed their freedom to be right on some issues while the Guru was wrong. And believe me, this happened, it happens many times.
I don’t know whether saying this is striping down the Guru. I personally believe that Andrew is a very Enlightened master, and that he has a great and rare gift to put light on things. Now as human being he is sometimes wrong, sometimes quite wrong, and sometimes completely wrong. Nothing wrong with being wrong, it happens to all of us, and humility maybe starts with recognizing this. It could happen to me at the moment for example. But it is to everyone’s ego to determine where is the Truth. And to me the right spiritual attitude, when a teacher tells you something that you feel is wrong, is to respond by “NOT SUBMITTING”.
I also think Andrew shall evolve to adapt to different type of students. The future is to merging together in the truth. Not to impose submission on people’s critical sense. It maybe worked with what Andrew calls his “strongest students” although even for them I have a doubt. To my scientific taste they lack this depth of freedom which claims that they will never submit to anyone even to their Guru if he is wrong. I have the sensation that they have prostituted their Soul at least one time. At least one time they were sure that they were right and the Guru was wrong, and they chose to submit to the Guru’s authority no matter what their Soul was saying.
To integrate Science and Spirit, one needs to be happy with criticism. Can a Guru do this ?