When crazy wisdom is used as a scam or excuse by unscrupulous teachers, it can take any of three general forms. In the first, teachers claim outright that some or all of their actions are crazy wisdom. In the second, they make no such claim, but publicly sing the praises of crazy wisdom, behave badly, and refuse to explain their actions—thus encouraging their students to connect the dots and infer that crazy wisdom is behind (and justifies) their misdeeds. In the third, teachers delude themselves into believing that a universal wisdom is acting through them, and that they can therefore do whatever they please, because that wisdom is running the show. They thus give up their own power to analyze, evaluate, test, or discern—and become puppets of their own impulses and desires. This delusion can be especially harmful to both the teacher and their students.

All crazy-wisdom scams are crazy-making to some degree. But when a teacher uses the crazy-wisdom dodge to lure a student into bed, this is his essential message: You should have sex with me. You might now want to, and you might feel it’s a bad idea, but you’re wrong. It’s good for you. It may look like expatiation or manipulation or abuse, but it’s not. I can see this, but you can’t, because I’m wise and you’re not, and I’m acting from a more spiritual orientation than you are. You need to trust me on this. If the teacher also accuses a reluctant student of a lack of trust, a lack of loyalty, a lack of commitment, or a lack of courage, the situation becomes more crazy-making still. And if the teacher presents the student with a stark choice between obedience or banishment—or says to them, “If you ever expect to learn anything from me, you must never question me or my actions”—then he’s committing serious abuse.

From Scott Edelstein’s Sex and the Spiritual Teacher. Join us at the Tricycle Book Club to discuss the book with the author.

Image: from the Flickr photostream of Jeff the Trojan

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