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Flawed Teachers

Flawed Teachers

More Thoughts On Teachers

Is it ok if a person is arrogant, takes advantage of, or abuses, their students if what they speak and write strikes us as profound? If we get a lot out of a person’s teaching, is it alright if they are not very kind, or have a dark side?

In my previous post about gurus I touched on my personal experience in guru hoping. One thing I’ve noticed is the ability people have to either not acknowledge harmful behavior by their teacher, or rationalize it as ok because their teacher’s wisdom has effected them profoundly. I just came across a post relating to a modern philosopher, who is very popular in some circles, in which a fan of his defends the possibility of this philosopher being an arrogant prick by saying the philosopher is a genius, so it’s acceptable if the philosopher is arrogant or mean.

That kind of attitude has always baffled me. While it is possible for vile people to have insight into particular topics (and yes, we are all human and even the best of us have flaws), if a person is an arrogant asshole, or especially if a teacher takes advantage students who adore them, that is not ok. We can acknowledge if a person does something good, while also accepting they may not be very good people. Especially when we are talking about teachers who work in areas of consciousness and behavior (which are the core of Yoga and Buddhist teachings).

All teachers are human, and therefore flawed. No teacher is always going to be able to act from compassion, kindness, and clarity of thought. But when the humanity shown by teachers is abusive toward others, or when their wisdom comes coupled with consistent arrogance, I don’t think it’s alright to forgive the negative behavior. What a person can explain, or teach, does not define whether they are good. What a person does defines the character of a person.

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