Vajra Fist

Teachers and political opinions

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Posted (edited)

I'm curious about whether your thoughts on the political opinions of a teacher should influence your perception of what they teach.

 

I've run into a couple of teachers from qigong systems that I'm curious about, and from a quick look at their social media profiles, both are strongly anti-vaccine, anti-PC, anti-mask.

 

Conversely, there are other teachers that lean heavily into left wing politics, and post frequently against Trump.

 

Without being drawn into a debate about who is right or wrong, I find it jarring when I see teachers who have such strong feelings in any shape or form over worldly matters. Some other teachers don't get drawn into politics as a rule, and normally that seems due to a lack of interest or a loftier mindset. 

 

As a practitioner, my mind is full of shit most of the time, thinking about computer games or books. But at the same time I'm not a focal point for a whole bunch of students. People won't look at me and say, if I practice this system for 20 years I'll look and act like him.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say, should a teacher always be an exemplar of a style? Should you always look at a teacher as the proof of that particular pudding? Should you judge a qigong system by its teacher?

 

Edited by Vajra Fist
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4 hours ago, Vajra Fist said:

Should you judge a qigong system by its teacher?

 

"By the fruits ye shall be known."

 

A student should also look at the criteria by which he judges his teacher too and see if his judgments are dubious rather than how he is judging his teacher. 

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4 hours ago, Vajra Fist said:

should a teacher always be an exemplar of a style? Should you always look at a teacher as the proof of that particular pudding? Should you judge a qigong system by its teacher?

Depends on what the system claims to do. If it claims to benefit your physical health and energy levels — look for that in the teacher, and more importantly his/her longer term students. 
 

The politics aspect of it has an impact — one of my friends is left oriented politically and is the only one with that mindset in his school. His teacher and most other students are right leaning (moderate to extreme). He told me he finds it hard to train there and so avoids going to their main location. Since he is also an instructor of the system (this is not qigong though, but a Chinese martial art) he prefers to work with a smaller number of students.

 

My first teacher was very left leaning, but never tried to impose his views on us.  

My current teacher is neutral for the most part but doesn’t hesitate to say something when he finds it might be helpful for us on the path, or if he sees us going down a path that would be detrimental to us spiritually. 
For the most part he doesn’t try to influence our views. 
 

Personally, I think we should speak up if we find something is going in the wrong direction, but not get attached to the drama. Political activism or even activism in general  (even your garden variety - arguing on social media or among friends) is a very emotional thing, and is not good for spiritual growth. 

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I´ve learned a lot from teachers with wack opinions and personalities.  Some of the best instruction comes from people who´ve specialized in life and know how to do X really, really well -- but you wouldn´t want to go to them for A, B, or C.  Great tai chi, lousy family relationships.  Precious alchemical knowledge, bizarro politics.  Expecting all-around perfection in our teachers is usually a trap.  

 

Then again, I suppose it depends on the kind of student / teacher relationship one seeks.  It´s easier to stomach a teacher who doesn´t align with ourselves in significant ways in a learn-n-go situation.  If one is seeking to become a disciple my perspective may not apply.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, liminal_luke said:

I´ve learned a lot from teachers with wack opinions and personalities.  Some of the best instruction comes from people who´ve specialized in life and know how to do X really, really well -- but you wouldn´t want to go to them for A, B, or C.  Great tai chi, lousy family relationships.  Precious alchemical knowledge, bizarro politics.  Expecting all-around perfection in our teachers is usually a trap.  

 

I would agree with this a lot more if it was anything else other than cultivation. I've always thought our minds and how we relate to the world are precisely the things which we are working on. A western yoga teacher I respect once told my class: 'If you want to know how you are doing in your yoga practice, look at your relationships.'

 

If someone is a good meditation or qigong teacher, wouldn't they also have developed a general sense of equanimity and detachment that meant they didn't get emotionally invested in worldly politics?

 

And if they did, would that undermine the credibility of what they've been practicing as a method for spiritual growth?

 

Or do I have a wrong-headed view about what the arts are supposed to be for, and false ideals about what level of accomplishment a teacher should have?

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Vajra Fist
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Interestingly, one can look at this from a Buddhist POV through the three interpretations of the Pureland: 

 

1. The Pureland is where you go after death. In this view, one would focus one's efforts (or non-efforts) on attaining this Pureland.

 

2. The Pureland is the mind. In this view, the Pureland appears when the mind is no longer clinging and grasping. One's efforts (or non-efforts) are focused there. 

 

3. The Pureland can arise on earth. From this view, we need not wait until death nor until enlightenment to at least create a semblance of the Pureland here and now on earth. 

 

So if one is more inclined to #1-2, then one would expect one's teacher to stay clear of politics. But if one is inclined to #3, then I would certainly expect the teacher to have and even express political opinions. 

 

Personally, I don't mind a teacher's political leanings (left, right, center, non-) unless they support populist authoritarians. But usually, if a teacher is over-involved in politics, I am suspicious. Politics has a very "othering" tendency that I feel is incompatible with the spiritual path. But I agree with LL--- I usually go to a teacher for their particular expertise. 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Vajra Fist said:

 

I would agree with this a lot more if it was anything else other than cultivation. I've always thought our minds and how we relate to the world are precisely the things which we are working on. A western yoga teacher I respect once told my class: 'If you want to know how you are doing in your yoga practice, look at your relationships.'

 

If someone is a good meditation or qigong teacher, wouldn't they also have developed a general sense of equanimity and detachment that meant they didn't get emotionally invested in worldly politics?

 

And if they did, would that undermine the credibility of what they've been practicing as a method for spiritual growth?

 

Or do I have a wrong-headed view about what the arts are supposed to be for, and false ideals about what level of accomplishment a teacher should have?

 

 

In my view, good cultivation gives a kind heart.  But who is kind?  It´s common to judge someone´s virtue according to how closely their worldview aligns with our own. Let me illustrate by sharing a few of my own values.

 

As a gay left-leaning man, I believe kind people support gay marriage.  They don´t care if trans people use a bathroom that doesn´t correspond to their anatomy.  Kind people voted against Trump.  Kind people support a women´s right to abortion.  They probably don´t own more than one gun or drive a pick-up truck. (Apologies to my gun-toting, macho vehicle driving friends. I know I´m crazy.) 

 

My  understanding of right action in the world is very specific and particular.  Many Bums will disagree with me.  A few might think that people like me are responsible for much that is wrong in the world.  There´s no doubt I´m biased, though not any more than most.  Imagine if I put every potential teacher through my kindness checklist!  Is it possible that I´d eliminate a few good ones?  I think so, yes.  This is why I don´t require my teachers to think like me.  

Edited by liminal_luke
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On 4/22/2021 at 4:28 AM, Vajra Fist said:

 

I've run into a couple of teachers from qigong systems that I'm curious about, and from a quick look at their social media profiles, both are strongly anti-vaccine, anti-PC, anti-mask.


Based on his very public Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/john.dolic) John Dolic certainly isn’t shy about his views so there’s no need to  keep it anonymous. 
 

Is it possible to learn valuable things from charlatans and lunatics? Yes... but they definitely wouldn’t be my first choice.

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31 minutes ago, SirPalomides said:


Based on his very public Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/john.dolic) John Dolic certainly isn’t shy about his views so there’s no need to  keep it anonymous. 
 

Is it possible to learn valuable things from charlatans and lunatics? Yes... but they definitely wouldn’t be my first choice.

 

It wasn't actually John I was thinking about, but rather a local Zhineng teacher who kept writing on FB about vaccines and Bill Gates. I certainly don't share John's views on Covid, but he's always seemed a very nice chap over email.

 

I'm not hugely comfortable criticising individual teachers though, and would rather discuss principles in general terms.

 

My point though wasn't really over if a teacher is right or left wing per se, but rather if they are *strongly* right or left wing.

 

I've always thought that the further along you are on the path you are, the more you see the bigger picture and all sides of the equation. But as others have kindly pointed out, maybe that in itself is a projection of my own sense of right and wrong. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I think there are some issues where taking an attitude of “the truth is somewhere in the middle” is dishonest, irresponsible, cowardly, and beneficial to oppressors. There are some situations where a supposedly niche or extreme position is actually the sanest one to take. I’d rather everyone make their positions clear than affect a vapid impartiality.

Edited by SirPalomides
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Posted (edited)
57 minutes ago, SirPalomides said:

I think there are some issues where taking an attitude of “the truth is somewhere in the middle” is dishonest, irresponsible, cowardly, and beneficial to oppressors. There are some situations where a supposedly niche or extreme position is actually the sanest one to take. I’d rather everyone make their positions clear than affect a vapid impartiality.

 

Totally agree. Not suggesting everyone share a state of vapid impartiality (brilliant turn of phrase). 

 

But perhaps someone who has dedicated their life to a meditation practice or an internal art should naturally arrive at something approaching that (lets dress it up a bit and call it a 'non-discriminating mind')

Edited by Vajra Fist

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4 hours ago, Vajra Fist said:

 

But perhaps someone who has dedicated their life to a meditation practice or an internal art should naturally arrive at something approaching that (lets dress it up a bit and call it a 'non-discriminating mind')

 

In practical terms what would this look like, and how could I distinguish it from indifference/ apathy? I suspect this kind of detached equanimity is an aspiration whose time has come and gone.I think what Hegel said about stoicism has broad applicability:  "…whether on the throne or in chains, in the utter dependence of its individual existence, its aim is to be free, and to maintain that lifeless indifference which steadfastly withdraws from the bustle of existence, alike from being active as passive, into the simple essentiality of thought... As a universal form of the World-Spirit, stoicism could only appear on the scene in a time of universal fear and bondage, but also a time of universal culture which had raised itself to the level of thought."

 

There is of course the question, How can you judge a state of mind you have not experienced yourself? To which I would say, when we are choosing to take this or that path, when we are choosing to follow a teacher apart from other teachers, we necessarily make a judgment that what that path or teacher offers is desirable and valuable. If the goal so unintelligible to us at the start of the path then there is no way for us to reasonably embark on that path- its value is just one bare assertion among so many others. And from the little I know, a state of withdrawal or neutrality, whether attained as a momentary posture or as the result of long meditation, doesn't look like wisdom to me.

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, SirPalomides said:


Based on his very public Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/john.dolic) John Dolic certainly isn’t shy about his views so there’s no need to  keep it anonymous. 
 

Is it possible to learn valuable things from charlatans and lunatics? Yes... but they definitely wouldn’t be my first choice.

 

Dolic's skill is proven from his acupuncture patients and qigong students. He does not push his political views on people. He will talk about it openly on social media but has never brought them up in any conversation unless specifically asked.

 

Context on his views on vaccines: his daughter was born with a disability that an experimental vaccine from China while he lived there was used on her that didn't work and worsened her condition. The vaccine was already recalled and no longer used as a result. This is the same country that had to admit Sinovac is not efficient. This colors his views and does not affect his practice as people have seen with his martial arts, Fragrant, Sleeping, Relaxation, or Spontaneous Five Animals forms and his private styles he does not teach except to close friends. 

 

*Disclaimer: I am a close friend and student of Dolic. 

Edited by Earl Grey
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Posted (edited)

John Dolic is my teacher too, I don't know if he is right wing or left wing and I don't care. But looking at this facebook it is obvious that he has the same views that I have on the supposed pandemy. He doesn't believe the politicians nor the media about the supposed plandemy. He is against lockdown and against covid vaccines, which are experimental. Exactly the same views I have expressed in this forum in the last 12 months, and I never saw his facebook before.

 

I knew this was all a big lie from almost the beginning, and I am glad to see an intelligent person like Dolic believes so too. I also see he is anti 5G, but I don't have an informed opinion about that, and stand against the big pharma, again like me.

Edited by Toni

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On 4/22/2021 at 4:28 AM, Vajra Fist said:

I'm curious about whether your thoughts on the political opinions of a teacher should influence your perception of what they teach.

 

My perspective is that I'm not concerned with whether or no a teacher's opinions should influence me.

I'm far more interested in whether or not they do influence me and, if so, how.

If we are sensitive and open enough there is no question we are influenced by everything, even if in very subtle ways. 

If we are aware of this influence, we are in a position to recognize its effects on us and deal with that accordingly.

 

Quote

I've run into a couple of teachers from qigong systems that I'm curious about, and from a quick look at their social media profiles, both are strongly anti-vaccine, anti-PC, anti-mask.

 

Conversely, there are other teachers that lean heavily into left wing politics, and post frequently against Trump.

 

Without being drawn into a debate about who is right or wrong, I find it jarring when I see teachers who have such strong feelings in any shape or form over worldly matters. Some other teachers don't get drawn into politics as a rule, and normally that seems due to a lack of interest or a loftier mindset. 

 

Teachers are human. 

I think we tend to project our own expectations and desires onto our teachers. 

Difficulties between teachers and students usually arise from such expectations. 

 

Quote

As a practitioner, my mind is full of shit most of the time, thinking about computer games or books. But at the same time I'm not a focal point for a whole bunch of students. People won't look at me and say, if I practice this system for 20 years I'll look and act like him.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say, should a teacher always be an exemplar of a style?

 

It depends on what they are teaching and what we expect from them.

I think it's critical to know what we want from a practice, from a tradition,  and from the teacher. 

The importance of how thoroughly a teacher embodies the style for me will depend on what I am trying to get out of that relationship.

 

Quote

Should you always look at a teacher as the proof of that particular pudding?

 

I think it is generally important for a teacher to express the fruits of the practice they are sharing to some degree.

While they may not have yet perfected themselves, there should be some clear evidence of progress on that particular path.

Otherwise how are we to judge that they are a credible teacher and are capable of transmitting the essence of the practice?

 

Quote

Should you judge a qigong system by its teacher?

 

I wouldn't judge a system by one teacher's successes or failures but I might judge a system by the successes or failures of multiple teachers from that lineage. 

 

My personal tendency is to connect with a teaching, lineage, or teacher and dive as deeply as possible.

Consequently I tend to make long term relationships with teachers.

It is important to me that these teachers embody the essence of what they are teaching in spiritual matters.

If I were to go to a teacher for a relatively brief and casual transactional experience like learning a form or concept, then I would be far less concerned about that teacher's particular idiosyncrasies. I would also put their teachings in that perspective and context.

 

On the one hand, a spiritual teacher should have reached some degree of equanimity and too strong a position or opinion is an indication that they have not.

On the other hand, a spiritual leader should clearly manifest some degree of compassion and open-heartedness so a lack of compassion in their personal or political life would concern me. 

These two aspects of a teacher's behavior can be in conflict but there should be some reasonable balance between the two.

 

A teacher should have some degree of discriminating wisdom which would lead them to have some degree of confidence in uncorrupted scientific methods and conclusions, for example, as there is clearly great power and manifestation of science in our lives.

On the other hand, a teacher should also have confidence in their own paradigm so they may not fully commit to a scientific model but may choose to follow the path of their lineage, even at what others might consider personal risk. 

Once again, seeing some degree of balance is important.

 

And one must be aware that there are very few opinions that are absolutely right or wrong. Our own strong reactions to the positions or opinions of a teacher tell us more about ourselves than about the teacher. They are entitled to follow their heart and their path, and we must follow our own even if the two may deviate from time to time. 

 

 

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19 hours ago, SirPalomides said:

In practical terms what would this look like, and how could I distinguish it from indifference/ apathy?

 

By that teacher's actions.

Someone who is indifferent or apathetic will not care about others so much, they will not care about anything much.

They are dull, detached, and unmotivated.

Someone who is equanimous, who experiences "one taste," is not at all indifferent or apathetic. They are lively, connected, and engaged even though their emotions are not bouncing around with external circumstances like a dinghy in a storm.

They act when action is needed, they treat others with care and warmth, they invest their time in projects with vigor and enthusiasm.

Huge difference in my experience.

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Thinking about this further...guess I´d ask what kind of relationship I´d want with a teacher in order to best faciliate my own spiritual growth.  And is this teacher someone I can relate to on the level I need to given their expressed political views?

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Posted (edited)
On 22/4/2021 at 3:04 PM, dwai said:

Personally, I think we should speak up if we find something is going in the wrong direction, but not get attached to the drama. Political activism or even activism in general  (even your garden variety - arguing on social media or among friends) is a very emotional thing, and is not good for spiritual growth. 

 

Political activism, specially political radicalism, is incompatible with spiritual growth and sagehood, you are right. It is something often more emotional than rational that can lead to dividing and quarreling for nothing.

Edited by Toni
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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, Toni said:

 

Political activism, specially political radicalism, is incompatible with spiritual growth and sagehood, you are right. It is something often more emotional than rational that can lead to dividing and quarreling for nothing.

 

I get where this idea comes from and generally agree.  99% of the time, the revolutionary impulse that fuels radical politics doesn´t emerge from a place of spiritual purity or true compassion.  Still, I don´t think we can make blanket statements about the nature of "right action."  The action of the sage doesn´t always look calm and peaceful from the outside.  It can be politically riotous.

 

Martin Luther King

Ghandi

Jesus

 

I´m no expert on any of these historical figures, so feel free to correct me if I´m wrong, but these are the figures that spring to my mind when I think of spiritual revolutionaries.

Edited by liminal_luke
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27 minutes ago, liminal_luke said:

 

I get where this idea comes from and generally agree.  99% of the time, the revolutionary impulse that fuels radical politics doesn´t emerge from a place of spiritual purity or true compassion.  Still, I don´t think we can make blanket statements about the nature of "right action."  The action of the sage doesn´t always look calm and peaceful from the outside.  It can be politically riotous.

 

Martin Luther King

Ghandi

Jesus

 

I´m no expert on any of these historical figures, so feel free to correct me if I´m wrong, but these are the figures that spring to my mind when I think of spiritual revolutionaries.

 

In my view what counts is where the action comes from. Does it come from emotional reactivity and the dualistic, conceptual mind? Or does it come from the unobstructed flow of the Dao or enlightened activity of the base? This is the convergence of Daoist and Buddhist paradigms IME, getting out of the way and allowing the appropriate response to come from the purity and innate intelligence of the source. 

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Posted (edited)
57 minutes ago, liminal_luke said:

I´m no expert on any of these historical figures, so feel free to correct me if I´m wrong, but these are the figures that spring to my mind when I think of spiritual revolutionaries

They are fine exemplars of revolution. But they followed the path of non-violence and were low on rhetoric. Also, their actions derived from positions bereft of (the need for) ego gratification. 
 

Most revolutionaries are heavily driven by emotion and anger — not a good thing from a spiritual point of view. I think it was Gandhi who said, “hate the sin, not the sinner” — if we can work from that level of discernment, then it’s fine. Mostly what I see today is either rhetoric or violence in the name of social justice — clearly doesn’t seem to be coming from a place of equanimity. We’ve seen such tragic activism more often than not — Marxist/communist revolutions, Islamist and other radicalized religious fanaticism, etc. 
 

I can think of others such as Sadhguru, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Amma etc who are working on socio-economic projects and “revolutionary” movements (eco-activism etc) without the least bit of angst and melodrama — just quietly doing work at the grass-root levels. Not just that, but sagaciously dealing with opposition, vitriol, skepticism and carrying on with their work. 

Edited by dwai
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On 4/23/2021 at 9:34 PM, SirPalomides said:

Is it possible to learn valuable things from charlatans and lunatics?.

 

'Learn' wisely and to avoid cloning...

 

matrix-agents.gif

 

 

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On 4/23/2021 at 12:28 AM, liminal_luke said:

In my view, good cultivation gives a kind heart.  But who is kind? 

 

Hi Jesse,

 

There are lots of 'one kind'...

 

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th?id=OIP.kdUkEc5hHJ5vPTMV6X9xpgHaEk&pid=Api&P=0&w=275&h=170

 

th?id=OIP.k46CV0QnbGa3C7CIv01H3gHaEk&pid=Api&P=0&w=267&h=166

 

th?id=OIP.HU1pRg3BgRib8Jav3Sc6oAHaEk&pid=Api&P=0&w=323&h=200

 

I will opt for a teacher with  kind words ~ especially...

 

th?id=OIP.CeL5UAa4dLMeG36mm93wZQHaDf&pid=Api&P=0&w=341&h=161

 

 

- Anand

 

 

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2 hours ago, liminal_luke said:

Still, I don´t think we can make blanket statements about the nature of "right action." 

 

Unless it involves guns and pickups? Or being anti-abortion? :lol:

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9 minutes ago, forestofemptiness said:

anti-abortion

 

Stop pollination to stop pollution?

 

but...

 

th?id=OIP.ddU0STrzGi4t9RvOMcyLXwAAAA&pid=Api&P=0&w=300&h=300

 

 

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