Edited by Jerry Katz, mostly from posts made to the Nonduality Highlights group on Facebook.
On Facebook I asked (paraphrasing), “In light of the revelation that Fred Davis was charged and found guilty of child molestation, should the recent interview with Fred be deleted?” Included in that interview was one of Fred’s clients, Gary Falk.
Here is a series of articles and posts responding to that question. Gary Falk’s article about his encounter with Fred is included here. As the thread grew, the question of whether the interview should be deleted slipped away and the focal points became the matters of transparency and ethics. In any case, I can tell you the interview will not be deleted.
Excerpt from Fred Davis’ admission of what happened
The Gary Unit Meets The Fredness: The Story of an Awakening, by Gary Falk
Forgiveness, compassion, social implications, human imperfection
Authority, trust, and a culture of sexual violence
The question of ethics
A matter of clarity
Fred not endorsed by some
Scott’s Transparency Journal, By Scott Kiloby
Let there be total transparency: Anamika’s confessions
The case of Chogyam Trungpa considered
Julian Noyce: There is a pressing need for discrimination
If nonduality does not evolve into a wisdom of inter being…
by Fred Davis
Read the full article at http://awakeningclaritynow.com/glass-houses/
[Please note that this article by Fred was published AFTER my interview with Fred. I did not know about his past during my interview with him. -jk]
In the 1960’s, when I was a teenager, I was a bad boy. Anyone who has read any of my books and lots of my posts already know that. I did some things back then which you and I and all the world can see were particularly deplorable. Here it is. I looked at some of my nieces’ private parts. I touched them, too. More than once.
Years later, as I came to understand what I had really done and began to learn about the despair and torment this sort of incredibly selfish behavior can cause to the victims, I was horrified. Those actions haunted me for decades. One of the reasons it took me so long to get sober was that I’d had a look at AA’s famous Twelve Steps, and once I saw the steps about confession and making amends, I backed away. Anything but that.
I got sober when I was 47, some thirty-plus years later. As part of that process I contacted my estranged family, and working through one of my sisters, I wrote letters admitting my guilt and offering my deepest apologies to those girls, now grown women with children of their own. I offered to talk to anyone who wanted to talk.
I didn’t hear anything back for four years.
Four years after I got sober, however, and four years after I made that initial amend, when I was 51, one of the nieces contacted me. We talked on the phone. I could have avoided her, refused to talk, and I was advised to do just that. But my sense of things was that I’d done what I’d done, and I’d hurt who I’d hurt, and if all I could do now was offer some sense of closure for them, then I was going to do so. I talked to a couple of them.
It turned out that the conversations were being recorded, and since South Carolina stands alone as the only state with no statute of limitations, I was arrested in early April of 2004. Betsy was my girlfriend then, and to my amazement she stuck with me through the whole thing. She even financed my defense on credit cards, because I was still barely getting on my feet. Luckily, very luckily, we had a great attorney with a mountain house named “Namaste,” and he took my case for not a lot of money as such things go.
I openly shared my plight with a lot of my friends, sponsees, sponsor, all of those folks, and the Twelve Step community stepped up to the plate and donated money. For quite some time I would find money slipped under my door, or in my mailbox, or out in the shed where I stored my daily driver—a motorcycle.
Those people, Betsy, and Eckhart Tolle’s books and recordings kept me from losing my mind during the two years I waited for my hearing. I was pleading guilty, of course, so there would be no actual trial. In all practicality, I had already been publicly pleading guilty for six years.
When my hearing came up, I packed several benches with AA people, and had a file of letters asking for leniency. I had already been working with drunks and addicts for years, and speaking in a treatment center every week by the time I got arrested, and I’d not seen a reason to quit that. In fact, the idea that I was now doing “all I could do” was the way I managed to keep my head held up as I walked—and out of a gas oven. I had a lot of support.
My family, of course, was on the other side of the court.
Most of the rest of the story is in my books and posts, but I’ll provide a brief addition. Once the prosecutor found out that I had previously offered to make amends for what I’d done as part of my Twelve Steps, he stopped going for my throat. There was more to this case than met the eye.
The judge looked at when the charges took place and at the evidence of my more recent life, and he, too, could see that this was not an ordinary case. He took everything into account when he levied my sentence. I did not have to go to prison. I did get ninety days in jail, which the judge allowed me to serve on weekends so that my life would not fall apart while I was behind bars serving my time.
I also got five years of incredibly rigid probation. I wore an ankle bracelet for those five years and could not leave my house after 7 pm without direct permission. I was always amazed to see men with guns and body armor coming to visit me. But they were professionals, every one of them. They did their job, but they were respectful. Everybody knew that something weird was happening, the probation agents most of all.
Of course I also got placed on the sex offender registry, which is what the nasty comments were about tonight. As the judge told the court “That is a sentence in itself.” Trust me, he was right about that. You are immediately and permanently shunned by an entire planet. It is the unforgiveable sin.
Read the full article at http://awakeningclaritynow.com/glass-houses/
The Gary Unit Meets The Fredness: The Story of an Awakening
by Gary Falk
I first came across Fred and his nondual teaching shtick on a FB page devoted to mocking gurus and trying to put as many pins into their ego-inflated balloons as is humanly possible.
There was a link to one of Fred’s YouTube videos, with the appropriate snide and snarky comments underneath the FB post. And eventhough I have been on the spiritual seeking circuit for a long time, and am prone to check out just about everybody and everything making any waves at all in the spiritual marketplace, I had never heard of this guy before and so I figured I’d check
him out to see what he had to say.
The very first impression that I got from Fred’s video was that he was a very typical goofy, aw shucks yer makin’ me blush, down homey Southern guy; friendly and affable, and an all around back slapping, hee-hawing, wait til ya hear this one, real fun type of guy. Yes, I stereotyped Fred right away and didn’t wait for him to get very far into his “I’m gonna wake you up!” enlightenment pitch before I was ready to hit the “Let me the fuck outta here” button, when suddenly something began to click.
I don’t remember what he was saying, but I do remember him saying that he was an alcoholic and that he put that all behind him and now was a spiritual teacher who had an extremely high “success rate” in waking people up. I usually feel an almost immediate connection with fellow alcoholics, and the awakening success rate thing really grabbed my attention. So, by the time Fred finished his description of what he does in “awakening sessions” working with his clients, I was ready to take another plunge into the world of commercial seeking and finding. Anyone can seek and find for nothing, but I have found that the real fun is when you have to pay for it. That’s when my attention and my senses are very perked up and stoked.
So here’s the deal: 5 1hr. (approx.) Skype sessions with the Fredness, or the Fred unit, as he often calls himself, after which you are virtually guaranteed awakening, or at least a reasonable facimile thereof. The Fredness does admit that he has had some rare failures, but not only are these cases rare at best, but I think Fred indicated that almost all of the “failures” did come back and finally get awakening in a subsequent session or two. I think that was the implication anyway.
The cost to you (or me) the seeker: $750, or $150 per 1 hr. Skype session.
Well, OK. There are many ways to rationalize or explain away a $750 enlightenment course, but thank God, I didn’t (or don’t) have to. I just figured, what the hell, it sounds pretty good, so what’s another $750, even if goes down the old enlighenment drain? Believe me, I’ve been there and done that before. Many times in fact.
Skyping To Enlightement: The Awakening Package.
The $750 Awakening Package is the course Fred came up with that consists of 5 hour long Skype sessions (the exception being session #2, aka the Awakening session, which lasts about an hour and a half or perhaps a little longer, depending on the Awakening goes), and if necessary, some follow up emails that Fred throws in for free in case you want to contact him after the Awakening process to clarify something or ask him some questions. Here’s a description of the 5 Skype sessions that I had with Fred.
Session #1: Getting To Know You.
The first hour long session with Fred was a very friendly, and often funny, casual chat with Fred, who introduced the idea of the Fred “unit” and the Gary “unit” to refer to what is often characterized in nondual literature as the “body-mind complex” or the “dream character,” i.e. our personal ego-centric self.
Fred introduced himself briefly and asked me a few questions about my spiritual background, which I readily supplied: long time seeker, tried many things, attended many workshops, joined many groups, “got it” conceptually a long time ago, but never really “got it” in the full experiential sense, etc. etc. Fred obviously knew where I was coming from, and told me that of course had done
all that stuff as well, until he had his big awakening, which I think occurred in 2006 or thereabouts while he was reading a book of Ramesh Basekar’s called “Pointers From Nisargadatta Maharaj.”
It wasn’t clear exactly what triggered Fred’s awakening while he was reading this book, but that incident or that happening seemed to definitely be the “big event” or true awakening that set Fred’s course clearly in the direction of becoming a spiritual teacher.
In subsequent conversations with Fred (during the last two Skype sessions) I tried to pin Fred down a little as to just what happened to him while he was reading this particular book, but he never clearly explained to me just what it was about that book or any of the passages in it that caused, or precipitated his sudden awakening. He had told me that he had awakening experiences in the past but this one was the one that really put him over the top, as it were, in terms of his now being an awakened spiritual teacher.
The rest of the Skype session was mostly Fred telling me his story and all his travails, how he had been a long time alcoholic who really hit bottom and had lived in the woods or in a park for years and he had a real rough time of it and even, at some point, wound up in jail as a result of the fallout that came from his working the 12 Step program of AA, where he had to contact certain people that he had hurt in order to make amends.
Intertwined with his saga of drunkedness, homelessness and recovery, was an impressive litany of all the things he had done as a seeker; all the books he read, all the self-inquiry he did, etc. etc. up until his final awakening in 2006 or so.
I was impressed with Fred’s story, his openness, his sincerity and his seeming command and control of the awakened or the enlightened consciousness. His story was fast-paced, very entertaining and Fred had a uniquely charming and self-deprecating way of telling it. He even laughed about the jail time he spent during his AA recovery phase. I had been in AA myself about 10 years ago and I heard several stories of guys going out to make amends and winding up in trouble with the law after they admitted to stealing money from family and friends and esp. business partners, so I didn’t think too much of Fred’s brush with the law, b/c I assumed it had something to do with some money issues, stolen property, or something like that. In any event, the whole legal
problem seemed sufficiently buried in the past and now Fred had reclaimed his life of sobriety and enlightenment and was moving ahead on all cylinders as one of the new, hopefully rising, stars of the nondual guru world.
At the end of the session I felt pretty buoyed and eager for the Big Session, the Awakening Session, which was to happen in just one week. BTW, the sessions were exactly one week apart. Fred said that he found that’s that what worked best and certainly I had no reason to think otherwise.
The Big Bang (for the Buck): The Awakening Session, and the 3 Follow Ups:
Well this is what I paid the price of admission for, really: The Awakening Session, session #2 on the schedule, which was to last between 1 1/2 and 2 hrs. depending on how long it was going to take the Fredness to wake me up, or at least lead my inner horse to the living water so that I could take my own sip, or gulp, as the case may be. The Awakening session lasted about an hour and a half. The best way to describe it is to use the term “guided meditation.” Fred guided me through a whole series of steps to deconstruct whatever image or ideas I had about myself or who I might have thought I might have been. Fred called it “neti-neti on steroids.” It was very effective, but certainly there was nothing new here, and Fred never indicated there was or that there would be. I could easily see, as I have seen before, that I am not the body, I am not the mind, I am not anything that I can name or describe or even conceive of. I have done this type of guided “tour” of consciousness before, but this time it really seemed to be a lot more effective and much more clear.
So then, once you clear away, in your mind, all the ideas, images, concepts, etc. etc. you may have had about yourself and you see in no uncertain terms that there is no way you can be ANY of those things, then what’s left? What’s left is your ever-abiding, ever-present, uborn, undying, boundaryless, unlimited, infintitely spacious space of pure awareness, or the Natural State, just to give it a name for the purpose of talking about that which can not be spoken of. And thou art That, pure and simple.
It may not look or sound like much on paper, and of course the experience of true self or true nature is ultimately indescribable yet imminently realizable. IOW, it’s always present and accounted for, it just needs to be recognized as being such, that’s all.
So that was it. I “saw” my true nature or natural state, and recognized it as being so without the slightest hesitation, doubt or question. The Awakening session was complete. Halleluia and Praise the Lord!
The next three sessions were follow up sessions or what Fred calls Clarity Sessions, which provide to ask any question, or clear up any lingering doubt, or to “solidify” the realization and make it a more permanent reality in your moment to moment experience, or WHATEVER.
In the beginning of Session 3, the Clarity session, Fred wanted to know how I was doing, and I told him I was doing great. No questions, no doubts, no lingering whatevers, nothing. The rest of the session was pretty much filled with Fred telling me what was happening in his life and in his budding career as a spiritual teacher.
Ditto for Session 4, and more of the same (I’m pretty sure, since the last 2 sessions are pretty vague in my mind) for my final Skype encounter with Fred, or Session 5.
The Facebook Finale:
There is a contingent of “nondual” folks on Facebook, who don’t cotton to gurus who charge money for enlightenment. I have often joined them in their making fun of these seemingly ego-inflated personalities charging money for their “darshan” or lessons or satsangs or whatever. In Fred’s case, however, I decided to break ranks with them and pony up my $750 and give Fred’s course a shot. It was just something I instinctively felt I should do, for whatever reason.
Needless to say, I took a lot of flak for my crossing over to the other side, as it was, and the whole “Battle of the Seekers” was kind of fun, at least for awhile.
This group of Facebook nondual rowdies, as I call them, were especially harsh on Fred, not only for the $750 that he charged for his Package, but for his kind of goofy smile and the way he rolled his eyes, and who knows what else?
Then the shit really hit the fan!. One of the nondual naysayers Googled Fred and dug a little into his past and came up with the fact that Fred had been convicted of child molestation and had served some time in jail for this and had been placed on the South Carolina published list of sex crime offenders. Wow, that was big news and needless to say, the nondual anti-guru crew jumped big time on that and really set out to make Fred’s life miserable and to spoil, if not completely ruin, Fred’s spiritual teacher career, and may be succeeding if not being already successful in that endeavor.
Fred responded to the attacks and harrassment launched by the Facebook gang on his website Awakening Clarity Now http://awakeningclaritynow.com/, but that response seems to me at this point, to be a case of “too little, too late.”
So what happens now?
The drama apparently is still unfolding so it might be too early to speculate but I can’t help feeling that Fred’s budding awakening business might be slowly winding down, if not grinding to a halt.
But you never know. In the world of infinite possibility, just about anything can happen. We just have to wait and see.
To finish off the account of my Awakening experience with the Fred unit, let me just make a few closing remarks:
1. Do I like Fred? Yes.
2. Do I support him in his efforts to make this whole thing right? Yes.
3. Do I hope everyone emerges from this fiasco better off for it and more enlightened than ever? Yes, of course.
4. Do I think Fred’s course was worth $750? It was for me, but of course, Your Mileage May Vary considerably.
5. Do I think that Fred was a little out of his mind by trying to go into the commercial guru business with this Sword of Damocles hanging over his head? Wow, do I? But then again, I’ve done plenty of really dumb things in my life too, so I’m not readily inclined to pull the Judgment lever just yet.
6. Would I recommend anyone taking the Fred Awakening package at this point? I have nothing to say, either way.
7. Am I done with the whole Fred thing? Yes, pretty much, although I can never quite leave well enough alone.
8. What’s next for the Gary unit? The Finders Course 3, which I started on Saturday, November 15, and which I am enjoying VERY much.
9. Does the Garyness have any final remarks? Yes. All is well. And it’s all good. And if anybody doesn’t think so, they can purchase my Enlightenment package and I guarantee they will change their mind. But sorry, no refunds
Forgiveness, compassion, social implications, human imperfection
Michele Ashbaugh Life includes everything…so, yes, keep him.
Jen Peer Rich Sex offender, murderer, scum, psychopath, sociopath, liar, criminal, rapist, disgusting, dangerous, sick, POS–
a sampling of some of the words being tossed around in my Facebook newsfeed this rainy morning.
I can’t help but admit right now that all of these words describe me too.
I’ll get down with the worst that ever lived. But I really can’t get down with beating the crap out of anyone in my mind and heart, no matter how twisted and perverse, because all that does is keep our pain in place and it keeps us divided in judgement.
How about trying something different? I don’t mean condoning horrors, I mean a broader, more compassionate vision of how truly horrifying and insane this world is for all of us as human animals.
What we see in people who commit crimes and are generally pain-inducing humans, are not the worst of who they are, but the worst of what our modern society does to human animals in cycles of abuse, endless judgements and generations of imaginary inner divisions.
These words don’t describe a person, they describe the system we are all presently living in and participating in.
Discernment, yah. Judgement? Nope. Consciously carrying that dead weight of divisiveness will only ever serve the system of fragmentation it is intended to.
Wayne Ferguson I see no reason to delete the piece. My first reaction is it’s a 50 year old crime (+/-), right? Let’s not minimize it, but let’s consider all that has happened since then (as well as the circumstances that led to his conviction). At the same time, we should keep in mind that the human heart is crafty… It may well be that (knowing that this was likely to come to light) he was trying to prevent it (or position himself for damage control) when he attempted to make amends in the first place (and when he share the later story to a few close friends and associates). No way to know–he probably doesn’t even know… But unless additional crimes come to light, I see no reason to delete the interview.
Megan King Silva I hope you keep the interviews, Jerry. I don’t know Fred personally, but from what I’ve seen of him in his videos and blog, it seems that he has rehabilitated, he’s done his time and (by his account) tried to make amends as best he can. Need we keep punishing him? And who are we to be judge and jury, anyway? Glass houses, indeed… How about forgiveness? How about allowing someone to move beyond their past (and, no, Fred didn’t rob his nieces of that chance; it’s always available to them, too). We’d all appreciate the same chance if we were in his shoes, no doubt. The way people have gone after Fred is saddening as well as confusing, considering that it is coming from within a community that so often talks about love and compassion. Clearly, that’s only been lip-service from some. And, to anyone who is thinking about responding with “well, what about compassion for the victims?”: Hating on Fred does not equal compassion for the victims, and forgiveness and compassion are not finite resources. Also, I think the videos, along with the background information provided by Fred, are invaluable as it all shows that awakening can happen for anyone, no matter what mistakes or crimes we might have committed.
Paul McGillivray I agree with Megan. Our community is bound together by an apparent agreement to the principles of oneness, togetherness, love, compassion, and an acceptance that everything that happens is divine, and could not possibly happen in any other way. That’s not condoning Fred’s past actions, of course, but recognising that they were carried out apparently by a messed-up teenager who has spent the rest of his life attempting to make amends.
I don’t also know whether the actions of that teenager affect the clarity of his teaching, or the awakeness of his students/clients as a result of his sessions. Therefore, nothing he said in the interview is irrelevant, or should be deleted. There’s just more to know, that’s all, IMHO.
That the interview with Jerry most likely was the direct cause of Fred’s past being outed completely can’t be a random accident – it needed to be outed, this needed to happen, and it’s maybe part of a healing and evolution process for both fred and the community. Maybe, I don’t know, but I feel that the amount of venom and judgement cast out over the last few days is painful for all of us, and doesn’t appear in any way to recognise those values that we all agree with.
Of course, that venom being spewed had to come out as well, otherwise it wouldn’t have done, but there must be a lesson here for all of us. I just think that some compassion all round would be a very responsible thing for us to have right now.
If nothing else, knowing more about Fred’s past may be a way to see the real power of awakening and redemptive love. Maybe. Just throwing it out there.
Georgina Y. Johnson I actually read Glass Houses http://awakeningclaritynow.com/glass-houses/#comment-90784. He did work with addicts and sex offenders for a while. There is always a need for compassion and recognition that we are all entangled in a world that includes abuse and cruelty, on both sides of the coin.
Scott Miller If anyone believes that Truth is somehow less true due to the imperfections of its messengers, then they fail to fully grok Truth.
Colin Drake This reminds me of a discussion between Sri Ramakrishna and one of his devotees who was complaining about the immoral conduct of his hereditary guru. Ramakrishna asked him whether the guru’s teachings had been helpful in advancing his spiritual life and understanding. The devotee replied ‘yes’ which caused Ramakrishna to comment that therefore there was no problem with following his teachings. The point being that the efficacy of the message is the important factor not the imperfections of the messenger.
Ramakrishna followed many different Hindu paths and Islam and Christianity to their utmost conclusion (Nirvikalpa, or Savikalpa, Samadhi) and found that they all led to union with The Absolute. He was then able to guide his devotees in their own chosen path. His point was that anything that can help you to this goal is useful and if you discount teachings because the teacher has imperfections then you will be lucky to find any teachings (that you can follow) at all!!
Josie Kane It is an interview that happened. Would you rewrite history and take out chapters of other people who have made mistakes too? I have repeatedly observed people change, especially moving past what occurred in adolescence when the brain was still forming. (The ability to perceive consequences being the last part fully developed by age 24 according to latest research). I am grateful for a world that allows for the present. We will all have our own cultural and experiential conditioning around redemption, trauma, forgiveness and the value of each being. Each voice here can simply share their lens. So some believe every person should share some or all their wrongs throughout their whole lives to every other and clearly some believe past actions negate current value. Where those lines are could also be debated forever. What matters here is your purpose in sharing people’s words in relation to the topic of nonduality. Is it to share perspectives or are you personally “endorsing” and taking responsibility for all past and current actions of your guests?
Chidambar Stef Ferchrissakes! What happened to forgiveness???
Megan King Silva Was wondering that myself, Chidambar. A reasonable argument is that Fred ought to have been more forthcoming with specific details. However, the matter has already been dealt with some years ago through the proper channel (the criminal justice system), he did his time and made what amends he could, and his name is on a sex offenders registry forever. To my mind, that’s done and dusted, and he doesn’t owe the general public any more than that. Especially considering that we’re talking about a 45+ year old crime that he committed as a teenager and, to my knowledge, he’s not currently under investigation for, nor being charged with any criminal behaviour. On the other hand, I can understand that if someone coming to him for help had been molested as a child, then finding out about his past crime after the fact might be received as a kick in the teeth. So, sure, it would be prudent for Fred to tell people in that situation that he might not be the right person for the job. But, to expect that he should, what? offer a disclaimer up front on his website, disclosing details of his distant past to every visitor that happens across it? I don’t feel entitled to that.
Gloria Lee …kinda funny how all Fred’s previous revelations of his “shameful” life of being drunk and homeless caused no such uproar. Most of the sex scandals have saints currently sleeping with students in the story. Even then, very few of these women are being kept there against their will. The rules are different for children. But wait, there’s another child in Fred’s story. Oh yes, it’s Fred. (Thank you Josie.) It would seem Fred already punished himself far worse than the courts did, so what is the question here about? Can a teacher have a past and are they required to make full disclosure? Any volunteers for that? Would his critics care to tell us about their own adolescence?
To me, the most salient point in all this discussion was learning that Fred had disclosed this information to both Greg and Rupert, both very wise, so he wasn’t hiding it or in denial where and when it mattered most. Which is getting clear with it himself. I’m pretty sure public forums are not the best place for resolving personal issues. He had already bravely addressed his victims in person. So for my 2 cents worth of opinion, that was all more than adequate. None of this has any relevance to money being charged, that’s another whole can of worms.
Eric Gross Truly actions speak louder than words. Any fool can ape words of wisdom and a charismatic people can do it with ease. And this field you have a mass of desperate speakers who are nothing BUT desire to escape living in the shadows of samsara. There are no saints. All of us possess a shadow. To demonize “the other” for their own inner demons is a form of hypocrisy, both most of us are not self-designated teachers, like Fred Davis, charging moderately high fees for his time and attention. Sometimes the greatest “sins” give birth to the greatest compassion. But that compassion should be visible. There should be complete transparency, as Scott Kiloby has described. This is how I see it.
Tom Allen I vote for the interview to stay.Whatever else you can say about Fred, he is one of the more gifted nonduality “personalities” out there and has a sense of humor second to none. The fact that Wagner was a rabid bigot does not make the Liebestod any less astonishing–truth is it makes it a hell of a lot more so. I mean, here’s a guy that has absolutely been through the mill, a child molester, a far gone alcoholic, a down and outer with the best of them, has the instincts and air of a con artist,– and still he has seen a Great Light! Holy shit, there’s hope even for the likes of me!
Authority, trust, and a culture of sexual violence
Lynn Fraser Teachers are in a position of authority and trust and that calls for higher standards of openness. What disturbs me most about this is that Fred waited until he was outed to confess. Okay it happened a long time ago but the trauma his nieces suffered at his hands doesn’t magically disappear with time or his amends. They were children. He sexually abused them.
Fred hid it because it affects his career. I read his glass houses post and what I saw was an admission, that it happened so long ago and that he paid his dues. Poor Fred.
How are we ever going to change our culture where sexual violence against children and women by (primarily) men is swept under the rug and implicitly sanctioned by our silence? By outing perpetrators. I’m happy this is finally in the open.
Michele Ashbaugh For whatever it’s worth….
I have been assaulted in this way by three people….one when I was 4 years old (multiple times)…. I have forgiven them all…. they are victims too. Of course, their behavior is not excusable, but they are forgivable. Most people who have “harmed” others in this way have been harmed in this way themselves. Something to consider.
We all have different perspectives…. it is liberating to be able to see the perspectives of others…. not needing to agree with them…. just see them.
Lynn Fraser I’m not saying to condemn or forgive. I don’t feel that’s my place. I know people who abuse others are in pain. My comments are limited to how a teacher presents himself and how we may or may not condone or sanction problematic behavior. That is our responsibility.
The question of ethics
Joyce Short There may be a reason why the first level of teaching (in the olden days) was morality & ethics. This means that the student is trained to have a standard of mindful conduct & then they can recognize when others have it & live to it, or try to & when others don’t..
Judith Nicholais Jerry’s point that there is no formal code of ethics for so called ‘spiritual teachers’ is a great one — no ‘ethics violations’, nor any licensure board requirements .. wonder if this is addressed in any of the non duality literature … with so many ‘businesses’ available today. who is checking standards of practice, past criminal / pending litigation, etc .. So much is regulated today, but not this — There are core principles ie use of self with so many professions incl code of ethics that shapes ‘the work’ .. Perhaps some teachers have developed their own written codes of ethics that are presently not known about — a future topic that explores ‘formal business trends in the spirituality business’ might be interesting (how the client is safe guarded — sounds ridiculous but when money is being exchanged for ‘work’ ……
Roy Whenary Judith … Good questions, but when we start needing licences and professional bodies in order to share spiritual insights, it is time to truly give up. They always get taken over by vested interests, and in this particular field it is quite likely that those who speak the truth will be banned from practising because …. well, they speak the truth. Facebook and suchlike seem to be doing quite a good job of it … throwing the arguments back and forth, outing past criminal activities, and arriving at some sort of balance at the end.
Judith Nicholais your comments are appreciated Roy — it broadens understanding about certain conundrums — and yet I would imagine there are psychologists doing non duality work that have indeed looked at all of this as well as other folks with various credentialed specialties.
Georgina Y. Johnson I think there needs to be a differentiation between “therapy” and spiritual teaching. To gain legitimacy for nondual therapy in any country has many benefits – making it more accessible under insurance plans.
We recently went through this in Holland for the International School of Spiritual Psychology (ISSP). It gives a lot, but it takes quite a lot too. But it was needed as the alternative therapy world in Europe has taken a massive beating in recent years.
Of course, even in the area of energy healing the licensing move throws up the whole judgement/acceptance/rejection thing which tends to require the need to at least ‘appear’ to comply with social codes and norms.
Greg Goode The question of a code of ethics came up earlier, and Scott [Kiloby] mentioned one as well. I follow one too, from the American Philosophical Practitioners Association. I received training and certification from them many years ago, and help edit their quarterly journal. Their code is in the line of the Hippocratic Oath used in medicine: https://www.appa.edu/code.htm
Roy Whenary Greg: That’s an impressive Code of Ethics, and one cannot disagree with most of its contents. But one line that stood out for me was:
“No member should hold himself or herself out (either implicitly or explicitly) as a philosophical practitioner without having duly satisfied all training and degree requirements for certification as provided for by the Association”. This implies, obviously, that they will not take on self-educated people, whether or not “enlightened” (in traditional parlance). So, presumably Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta and a whole host of great masters of the past, would not have qualified for membership, I presume? But, I would agree that if one is offering a service that is essentially claiming to solve peoples’ problems, in a therapeutic context, there should be some form of licensing. A psychotherapist cannot just set up shop and start treating people … and I think that is the nub of this. Some self-styled “teachers” do actually claim to solve peoples’ problems, sometimes in exchange for big bucks. In this, there is a difference between such people and those who are merely sharing their philosophical view, on a take it or leave it basis. So when someone offers a series of workshops entitled “a course in enlightenment”, there is a difference between this and someone offering a series of workshops entitled “dialogues on the subject of enlightenment”. Just a point that came to mind!
Judith Nicholais Jerry you posed an earlier question about (how to/ the necessity of) checks before interviewing someone. A reasonable question since you always ask about someone’s work might be the inclusion of : is the work guided by some code of ethics — full exploration / written, assumed? just a thought — it is in keeping with the ‘variation of non duality’ — it might raise awareness for other would be teachers as well. ( Not having one would not necessarily preclude me from seeing a teacher, but I would, by conditioning, explore that as preliminary).
Greg Goode Roy , Judith , these are good points. What are the borders between therapy and education, psychology and spirituality? Who decides?
Traditionally in Hinduism and Buddhism, there were ethical guidelines that teachers and sanghas were to follow and become acclimatized to, before the student was exposed to the radical nondual branches of the teaching. Adi Shankara alludes to this in several of his works. The various schools where I studied Vedanta always stressed these issues and ethical values. Buddhism has its own requirements too.
But even then, I’ve noticed that in the light of several exposes of Zen teachers in the last decade or so, local Buddhist boards of directors have set up independent ethical guidelines framed in more contemporary, non-religious terms.
Jerry Katz My view and purpose is to share perspectives. Ideally I should do deep research into each interviewee. Do I need to do a criminal check on each person? No. But as I mentioned earlier I’ll take Judith Nicholais’ cue and ask whether a teacher is guided by an ethical code whether written or not
Cheryl Abram I do a bit of coaching in my work and the International Coach Federation has a very good code of ethics: http://coachfederation.org/about/ethics.aspx?ItemNumber=854&navItemNumber=634
Matt James I’m a little surprised that this is a “scandal”, but I may be jaded having been involved in criminal justice for many years. Like Greg, my profession has ethical rules and licensing.
In this case, what is the source of what is “ethical”? Typically, it is our squishy, subjective feelings, which vary from person to person.
The conclusion I see here is that someone who holds themselves out as a non-traditional lay spiritual teacher (not a minister or priest or a therapist) has an affirmative obligation to advertise their criminal conviction/sex offender status— information that is already publicly available. I have never heard of such a thing. Even a lawyer who was at one point reprimanded or suspended (but is currently entitled to practice law) is not required to advertise that fact on their website, or tell each potential client about it. Rather, it is up to potential clients to check out that lawyer for themselves.
Georgina Y. Johnson Our difficulty is in the ability to allow suffering. Partly, because this movement is part of our evolution and offers no personal end point.
We don’t get to heal or transform suffering by transcending out of it, or rejecting it, or ignoring it. It’s impossible to heal something if we don’t allow it to be there in the first place.
And it is here. It’s here, because we’re not separate entities. Cruelty is here. Murder is here. Guilt and shame are here. Horror is here. The moment it arises in our perception it is “ours” we are responsible and responsive, whether or not we want it.
When we reject suffering, we reject an aspect of human. As if humanity could be divided. But when you throw something away, there is no such place as “away”. It is still here – in the shadows – causing us to cling in fear more tightly to our elated states – lest the cat get out of the bag. As Fred wrote, he knew that sooner or later this was going to come for him… he knew.
So it came for all of us. And we fell into a mob of differentiation, seeking a stand, a position, a place to “be” with this defecation of innocence. We forgot that the innocence is always here and we had a whole orgy within the polarity of guilt V accusation. As if the innocence of existence isn’t always, inherently, anyway here.
Did this explosion of disgust, shame, guilt, accusation and sexual curiosity help affirm the manifest innocence and purity of abused children, rape victims, sex offenders or anyone who is still processing our collective guilt? No. It kept us all in trance. We’re all also in trauma, cut off from inherent purity. As such, we are all also potential offenders.
In the end, we turned to codes of ethics. As if we could orchestrate from a rule book, from will, or from the conscious mind, a structure that would keep these kind of nasties away, at least out of our nondual corner of our tiny planet. You MUST love. You MUST forgive. You MUST be compassionate. You MUST be transparent. Guess what, it never did work from the mind and it never will.
With love from your partner in generations of addiction and crime.
Pete Sierra Ethics is more a matter of attitude than rules. It’s your intention to serve people or to use them? The line between use and abuse gets blurred with time. So be alert about being overcharged for the presence and the words that are for sale.
Wayne Ferguson A complex code of ethics is a poor thing (IMO) compared to treating people always as ends and not merely as means. The former is designed to cover our butts as much as it is to look out for the well-being of others. The latter recognizes that the value of our neighbor’s life– and even that of our enemy’s –is equal to our own. Go figure…
Scott Miller First comes a “code of ethics.” Then comes a self-appointed group of respected “authorities” within the Nonduality community to oversee said code. Then comes “official certification” of Nonduality teachers and gurus from said group. Then comes dissent regarding which tenets of Nondualism must be taught to receive certification. Then comes the ending of a philosophy and the beginning of religion, followed by endless splinter churches and cults.
A matter of clarity
Eric Gross Perhaps we should realize, once and for all, that the concept of the enlightened person, this person who is so special and amazing, is simply a reflection of our psychological neediness. It’s just a show. All people are just people, full of little and big secrets, that are often poorly managed by their fears and their egos. Who Fred Davis is must always be how or own psychological filters make him out to be.
James Traverse Hi Folks. I’m happy to see this discussion – I feel that the question here is one of clarity and its absence. I see the absence of clarity on Fred’s part for not publicly disclosing his criminal past until he was ‘outed’, because the crime in this case involved victims who would have to deal with his abuse for a lifetime – and such actions consequentially have life-long implications for the perpetrator. On the other hand if true clarity had prevailed I feel that Fred would not have acted in such a manner [the activity of not revealing his crime] that perpetuates suffering for himself and others. And I feel that the presence of clarity is the guideline/basis for appropriate behaviour in all cases – as ‘one’ who embodies/sees/understands Nonduality would not act in ways that causes harm to so called ‘others’ and would thereby act in ways that relieves suffering – and that the means to discern which is which is the clarity of understanding the true nature of being. Thus I see situations such as this as an opportunity to ask questions like ‘How do you see?’ ‘Is what you see filtered through the mind with its memories and knowledge or is there the clarity of innocence that sees the ‘facts’ of things and the invitation for appropriate action that comes with clarity-insight?’ Much Love James
Fred not endorsed by some
Pete Sierra I judge teachers by what they said, not by how they lived. There is no rule that prohibits a saint from being a fool. I am not endorsing Fred. He is no saint, but he sounds like a fool.
Roy Whenary What Fred did as a 17 year old (many many moons ago), when he was not even a fully fledged adult himself should surely be irrelevant now (45 years on)? Has he been proven to have done similar in the past 45 years? Only he can say, maybe … but, in line with nondual- thinking (is there such a thing?) … what is he doing now? Does one approve of that? In respect of that, speaking to adults, I would say “Caveat emptor” (let the buyer beware … which means “be aware”). When someone feels they need a product/service/guru, they are at the mercy of the seller/the guru. They need to be sure they can trust him/her. Fred seems to have done the right thing, in relation to his past, not only for his sex-offences, but also for his alcoholism … following that 12-step plan, etc. But … can one really buy “enlightenment” online, following a structured plan/systematic methodology? Did Buddha, Jesus, Ramana, Nisargadatta, Jean Klein, Papaji and all and sundry ALL get it so wrong that they couldn’t awaken someone with a two hour skype call?
Vicki Woodyard Just because someone has a big mouth and advertises out the wazoo doesn’t make them a teacher. Bit of a sociopath if you ask me. Too clever with his “schtick” to be responsible for such a lofty message.
People on the path first of all have to be semi-conscious of what kind of energy someone is transmitting. If they lack that, they may well be sucked into a charming con artist with an agenda to speak to their “need to be enlightened and verified….after they have spent their good money, of course ” Tsk, tsk. Buyer beware. And as my teacher said, “Never blame the con man.
Greg Goode The personal and character and ethos of a teacher are always a part of the teaching being offered. (I am aware of how this applies to me as well). For [Fred] to come out as a teacher requires him to make his history known to the consumers of his teaching.
Another reason I can’t endorse Fred’s nondual teachings, now that I know a little more about them, is this. There is too much “Fred” and “Fredness” in them. To me, this focus on oneself as the messenger occludes the message. I would never endorse any teachings or teachers that cloud up their message in this way.
Reprinted with permission from http://livinginquiries.com/scotts-transparency-journal/
Scott’s Transparency Journal
By Scott Kiloby
In light of the history of spiritual teacher abuses, deceptions, addictions, scandals and convictions, I have decided to post this transparency journal to let people know what my actual life is like and to help quiet some of the projections I see towards me. Here is my history, my laundry list of things that I’ve done during and after my 20 year drug and alcohol addiction. I vow to never hide anything from those who follow my teachings. If I forget anything here, I will add it as I remember. But this is a list of everything I currently remember.
1. During my 20 year drug and alcohol addiction I lied, cheated, stole money and medications from people, manipulated doctors (many of them at once) to get drugs. I hid my addiction from everyone, going to great lengths to keep my drug and alcohol abuse a secret. I hurt many people this way. I lost their trust but didn’t even care. All I cared about was getting more drugs.
2. I used to steal painkillers from my mother, right out of her purse. I would even take the drug out of the capsules and replace it with sugar. None of this bothered me at the time because I was so addicted to drugs. At her funeral, I wrote a long letter to her asking for her forgiveness about many things, including my behavior during my addiction and afterwards. I do not feel I was fully responsive and “there” for her in the last years of her life. I stated all those things in that letter that I put in her casket. This has taught me to reach out more to my family members during their lifetimes.
3. In my early twenties, while in college, I took an exam for a friend just for a bag of weed. He had not been to his class much at all that semester. He begged and begged me to take the test for him. So I pretended to be him and took the test. This was cheating obviously. The college found out about it but did not expel me, mainly for being honest and upfront about it.
4. In 1991, I was arrested for buying marijuana in a sting operation. My friend and I visited a house where cops were undercover and recording the drug buy. I spent one night in jail and was put on probation. That did not deter me at all from continuing to engage in risky behavior around drug seeking.
5. During and after my drug and alcohol addiction, I experienced a pretty ferocious sex and porn addiction, sometimes engaging in very high risk behavior that put me in danger (STD’s, etc). For a while I was obsessed with sex. It overtook my life. Working through certain stories of deficiency put this high risk behavior to rest. I still enjoy sex very much. I didn’t give that up, only the addiction to it. I don’t want to paint the picture that I am a sexless saint. Far from it. It is an important aspect of my life. If that arises for me again, I think I have the tools to look at it, but if I am unable to see through it, I intend to share that also.
6. After my drug and alcohol addiction, and up until the time I began writing Natural Rest for Addiction, I experienced bouts of addiction with food, caffeine, tobacco and gambling. Each of these has subsided over time, through the Living Inquiries. Caffeine has popped back up a few times and then quieted again. I even picked up tobacco for a bit while developing the Inquiries, to see if the Inquiries could undo the addiction. They did. You may think I’m being a bit too detailed regarding addictions. But since I’ve written a book on addiction, I want to be as detailed and transparent as possible to show you my whole journey with the subject.
7. My community of Living Inquiries facilitators is not always a magical wonderland of spiritual niceness and perfection. For the most part, I have a great working relationship with most facilitators. But I have found myself getting short with some of them that don’t look at stories arising, even though sometimes I don’t look. Several facilitators have found me difficult to work with for one reason or another. At first the difficulty was that I was not able to truly speak my mind. I would fail to say something that needed to be said, leaving some confused about how I really felt about this or that issue. After a lot of inquiry, I became able to speak my mind and so I did. Sometimes speaking my mind came in abrupt, unprofessional ways. This has angered some of the facilitators who don’t like that side of me. I make no excuses for myself. I can be triggered like anyone. Some facilitators don’t like the way I advertise the Inquiries or the Center. Some of this is just a valid disagreement, with nobody right or wrong. It took me doing a lot of inquiry to be comfortable letting people know about my work publicly. If anything, I’m more comfortable than ever just saying what I want to say about this work. If I find something to look at there, I will look. I almost always do, even if it takes a while to see what is happening.
8. Through my 13 year relationship with Chad, I have been triggered many times. The Inquiries were developed after my initial awakening experience precisely because I saw an ongoing deficiency story within myself of “I’m not lovable” which would get triggered around my relationship with him. I spent a long time inquiring on that story. That story does not get triggered anymore. However, I do find myself still triggered now and then with Chad around issues related to work, money and the dogs and with business partners if I think they don’t have healthy views around business. I make no excuses for this. Instead, I remain open to look at what is unseen in terms of my conditioning.
9. As I’ve shared many times in videos and public meetings, for a while after becoming a teacher, I felt jealous about other teachers who seemed clearer or who people seemed to resonate more with. I did a lot of inquiry on that and it has relaxed. If it arises again, I know how to look.
This list contains some of the more negative stuff. Certainly, I have experienced a tremendous freedom in many areas of my life. I’ve blogged about those a lot too. I want to balance those blogs with this transparency journal. If you read this article and think there is a lot of heavy self-judgment, look again. I can write all this precisely because none of it plays heavily on my mind. But I have seen how “being free” of guilt around certain actions becomes a blind spot for people, an excuse to continue acting out in certain ways. There is nothing to be ashamed about in being what I am. There is also nothing to be ashamed of in continuing to look at whatever areas of my life are plagued with fear or anything else. Most of the deficiency stories (self-esteem issues) have died down by now. There is still one remaining, which is “I have to get away.” After a while being with people, I feel a pull to get away from them. I see this as a mix of loving quiet solitude and a mix of fear. I’m currently curiously looking at this. There is definitely a bit of self-identification lingering there. The addictions are faint memories.
All of these are the reasons why I changed my approach from “I’m done” to “I’m open to looking.” Life is constantly unfolding. Who knows what tomorrow will bring – maybe another trigger, another addiction, etc. I can truly say that I am at peace with everything at the moment. And all I have is this moment anyway. I don’t want to stand on a soapbox and point the finger to other teachers. But I do encourage other teachers to write a transparency journal as I have done here. It’s freeing and helpful to those who want to know who you are and what has happened or what is continuing to happen in your life.
Eric Gross I think Scott’s transparency is great. His honesty and straightforwardness are something to be honored. But his openness about his cheating, lying, stealing, jealousy, addictions, etc. show us his fundamental humanness. A confession is a kind of whispered shout. Martin Luther King, Jr. cheated on his wife. Gandhi was an abusive parent and the Buddha abandoned his family. Sometimes coming face to face with our own abject weaknesses are just the medicine to fuel an awakening. Buddhist tales have many such stories.
Scott Kiloby In the 12 step program, self-disclosure is par for the course. It isn’t even seen as especially righteous or admired. It’s expected. These things seem cultural.
Eric Gross What do you mean “these things seem cultural”?
Scott Kiloby what I mean is when I walk into a 12 step meeting, everyone is expected to engage in full self disclosure, even sponsors who are helping people But when a nonduality meeting or writing comes out, self-disclosure doesn’t usually happen. I don’t mean culture in the sense of geographical location, I mean cultures that get created around different spiritual contexts.
Eric Gross Isn’t this all just “happenings”, whose causes and effects are innumerable and thus unknowable and that even the momentary sense of knowing “it” is just one more passing happening. So this narrative is one such happening and it seems to generate an array of responses whose causes and effects are infinite. What we call ego grasps onto those responses that would seem to resonate with one’s “personal values”, especially if there is a sense of validation emerging from the passing experience of “rightness”. This is not non-duality. I’m not pretending to represent any school of thought. I’m just trying to describe how stuff seems to happen. Scott Kiloby or Fred Davis are “used” by the mind to produce feelings of rage or acceptance, each formed by the hardened internal value structure. Isn’t this how it all seems to happen.
Scott Kiloby yes many causes and effects, too many to mention. But thinking about it as cultural, in my view, can help cultures become aware of how they are operating, what they are modeling and what is unique to that culture. I definitely see what you are saying though Eric, in the vein of it’s all just happening. If we switched to the enneagram, we might see that mostly certain types are distrustful of teachers, more than others. I guess there are many ways to look at it. I’ve watched for example some of my enneagram type nine or type four friends look at this whole Fred Davis thing and ask, “What’s all the fuss about?” Then I notice some of my friends who have a history of being abused physically or sexually or who are six types react a lot to the Fred thing. It’s all just happening could be seen as its own cultural view, a view which is valued mostly in the awareness styled view of life. I’m not stating that the way I see this is the way it is, just playing with different perspectives.
It’s interesting to look at spiritual teachings and methods as their own cultures. When you step inside you find out what the rules and assumptions are. you do as the romans do or you aren’t allowed to stay or don’t feel a part of. Language gets picked up and repeated. Values also. But then if you leave that teaching or method, you find other values, assumptions in the next game you step into.
Eric Gross Anytime I try to understand something, the question arises ‘who is trying to understand and who will be changed by this understanding if it were to happen in this life?’ In asking this question, a different ‘flavor’ or kind of understanding arose than what I was hoping to understand. I came to realize that it was all passing experience coupled with feelings and that it was all life just as it had to be and how it will always be and feeling okay or not okay with that was just more of the same. It is as it must be and to fight against that … well that’s still just more of the same and how it must be.
Scott Kiloby yes, there is that view, which has been helpful to me too Eric. And then there are other views. Trying to understand is devalued in certain teachings/frameworks and valued in others. If I say to my sister, “don’t you see that it is all just happening,” she might ignore me because it is not her experience, or begin to see that and move in the world with that seeing, and then even go beyond that when that way of looking is not valued anymore. She might become interested in something else entirely later, no longer valuing the previous insight, which was only helpful to a certain extent. It’s like the no self thing. Can seem really important at one stage and then it becomes part of the fabric of experience and other things become important, like self (but with a different, more transparent flavor). One of the reasons I think the nondual language has created an atmosphere of devaluing personal experience is because “there is no self” and “it’s all just happening” become a way of shunning views that call for integrity, self-reflection, ethics, and transparency. I don’t assume you are doing that shunning Eric. I’m speaking more generally (which is always dangerous I know
Eric Gross And that’s precisely where I part ways with many non-dualists (if I am understanding you correctly and I’m not certain that I am). I don’t know if I am a separate person or not. I really don’t know. So I don’t take a stand on it. But I do know that it’s all a happening and that the smattering of values “I” place on the “happening” is shared by many other people, but not by all people, suggests that each body/mind is simultaneously unique and non-unique. So what I can “understand” in all of this has its limits. “Ultimate” understanding has to be something “like”, there is no “ultimate” understanding and the compulsion to “get that” is, itself, a kind of delusion. So, I’ve lost interest in the craziness of mental acquisitiveness and just do what I seem to do without much concern whether “I’m doing it” or “God is doing it” or “it is doing it”.
The case of Chogyam Trungpa
Colin Drake Consider the case of Chogyam Trungpa who died of liver failure, due to excessive alcohol consumption, at the age of 48. He also ‘slept’ with many of his female followers … with their consent. Yet he and his teachings are greatly revered. At his funeral over 3000 attended including many ‘Rinpoches’ that had flown in from all over the world. One of the husbands of his many ‘conquests’ was asked whether he was jealous to which he replied “yes, I’m jealous of my wife for being able to get so close (spend so much time with) him”! For more on this see the brilliant film ‘Crazy Wisdom’.
Eric Gross They attended in great numbers because they put him on a pedestal of their own making. They were coming from their identification with lack. And Trungpa said the right words. He looked the part. He spoke with confidence and authority and they, his loyal followers ate it up. He was one more mere human being, full of flaws and drunk and blinded on his own form of bullshit.
Roy Whenary Colin: “Consider the case of Chogyam Trungpa …” ~ Yes, loads of Rinpoches attended his funeral. Lots of people convinced by his writings. I loved his writings, and at the time, I didn’t know about his drunken debauchery … but in 1980/1 when I first saw his discussion with Krishnamurti (on video) (whilst attending K’s talks in Saanen, Switzerland), one of the first things I did when I got home was to throw Trungpa’s books away. When you’re a Rinpoche, you have bought into a particular system of thought – it’s a club. There are many fine Rinpoche’s, but Trungpa obviously couldn’t hack something in his life. He wasn’t a fit teacher or model of integration of spiritual understanding. He had studied a lot and knew a lot, but that didn’t protect him from whatever it was that he couldn’t face in life, and which he was always trying to escape. Maybe simply pondering impermanence was something his frustrated ego couldn’t stand, and tried to escape. We will never know exactly.
Let there be total transparency: Anamika’s confession
Anamika Borst You are right Jerry it is a interesting and revealing thread. Many things which are said i can agree to and many i can’t. And more interesting it is to see what the whole thing with Fred is causing in my own existence.
‘Let he/she who is without sin cast the first stone’.
Are we not, have we not all been abusers and abused. Have we not all been victims and perpetrators. It brought back instances, memories which came up unbidden where i was one of the four who bullied two sweet sensitive girls from the same class, revisiting the feelings of power when it happened and intense guilt and shame when i realized how much they suffered. Apologizing to one of them 30 years after it happened. ( She could not remember the incident ) And the wonderings if i am a sex offender when as a twelve year old minding a tiny baby boy, i was not only changing the nappies but also out of curiosity, having never touched a penis before, touched it just for a moment. Revisiting those feelings again, and remembering that at that time already it felt bad, like i had invaded the privacy of such a helpless being. Do i have to be punished for that, curiosity which overcame me. ? Sex being such an incredible strong force in this universe. How much can we say is our fault. ? We are born with certain strength in character or weaknesses. We did not choose this. And how much do we remember of our own puberty when hormones were racing through our bodies. Crazy thoughts and impulses. How many crazy things did we do? How lucky we were not to have come in the same body and same circumstances like Fred when he was 17 year old.
Going through meno pause which in my case is at times pretty severe where the tiniest amount of changes in the hormonal system of this body causes it to be at time incapabable of functioning in a normal way. Mood swings, extreme tiredness. We are all the outcome of chemicals racing through the body, and circumstances which we are confronted with. Could i have prevented the grumpiness with which i was talking to my colleague yesterday?. I was certainly aware of it right after and will try not to do in the future.
We can only try isn’t it?
Be kind to another, everyone is fighting his/her own battle.
I have been the victim of wrong doing in a severe way, ( have we not been all?) And i knew intuitively, at that darkest time of my life that if i would not forgive him it would be me who would be suffering, who would remain mutilated.
We do not forgive the other for the other, we forgive the other for ourselves.
And yes i can subscribe to what Greg Goode says, that there is too much Fredness in his message, and his charging for skype is way over the top. But is this not another issue?
Chidambar Stef Excellent thread! Excellent posts!
I hope you don’t mind Anamika Borst, I shared your comment?
It’s time to really speak freely about what it is to be human and also ask the questions about the relationship between moral integrity and abuse in spiritual relationships. Sex, money, power.
I was with a controversial teacher for a number of years. He was a mountain of spiritual Energy. I received so much through him and am eternally grateful for that process. He also acted in ways that could be characterized as abuse, such that, by many, it seems impossible that any benefit whatsoever could have occurred in his company.
After several years of intense commitment to the practice, I left his community and was denigrated, for different reasons,by both the community members and conventional friends and family. Since that time, the gift he gave me has flowered in deeper and deeper ways. I also understand the moral guidelines I wish to maintain in my behaviour in the world and ask others to maintain in their relationship with me.
I stand 100% behind this teacher’s great gift to me and cannot truthfully pass judgement on the apparent abuses that occurred. The spiritual traditions are full of crazy, unconventional nut-cases who enlighten with a glance. One man’s abuse is another man’s “zen slap!”
As far as Fred goes, “leave unto Fred that which is Fred’s!”
If people want to pay and receive benefit from Skype conversations…why the hell not?
Anamika Borst Chidambar Stef i hear you and i agree that anything can be a hindrance or a help. Even an abusive, power hungry teacher can be a help to some. But i hear more powerfully in this thread the call for honesty and transparency. Let not be the ability to see the positive outcome of a doubtful situation be a endorsement to hurtful and damaging behaviour. The posts from Scott Kiloby and just now from Julian Noyce are ringing true. Let there be total transparency. No hiding behind the bushes. From no one. And an invitation for this open and honest look at our own behaviour is walking side by side.
Julian Noyce: There is a pressing need for discrimination
Julian Noyce I’ve just joined this group so I may not be up-to-speed on all the comments and discussions about Fred David, apologies if I’m covering old ground. Essentially, our own experience of Fred parallels Greg’s very closely and I suspect it was the same with the other teachers that were named in his original blog post.
Non-Duality Press published a book by Fred (Non-Duality and the 12 Steps) in 2012 and he had been in contact with us for a little while before that – requesting excerpts of the books we publish etc. to post on his website. I couldn’t quite see the point of Awakening Clarity because, as far as I could see, and as Geg has already mentioned, it had all been done before with websites like Stillness Speaks.
Regardless, I was somehow aware that Fred had an involvement with the 12 Step programs and I thought it might be interesting if he wrote his current perspective on that so I think the suggestion for his first book might have come from me. I have great respect for 12 Step programs, btw.
As Greg wrote, I had no idea the Awakening Clarity website was a prelude to setting up as a teacher though, for a number of reasons, I’d always been a bit suspicious of this style of website because it often has a sort of unspoken agenda or game-plan behind it.
At some point during the editing or compiling process Fred revealed to us his conviction and his status on the sex offenders register. We were guided to take on trust that it had happened many years before and that he had paid a heavy price for it when making amends as part of working the 12 Steps program. This all sounded plausible.
As Fred wasn’t a teacher at this point and was not charging for his online work we weighed all the facts we had to hand and decided on a course of compassionate understanding.
However, what wasn’t revealed (and still hasn’t been unless someone has access to the court records) was the full extent and duration of the sexual abuse that was perpetrated. This is what troubles me most about this whole incident. On our side, I think we should have shown due diligence in requesting court records so that we could see for ourselves what occurred without the minimising spin that was given to the events – in future this what we plan to do.
Fred’s book was published and, unbeknownst to us, he began publishing a succession of cheap ebooks almost simultaneous with its release. This felt troubling. I had the feeling the book we published was just being used as more fodder for his own agenda which, as far as I could see, was to do with trying to earn a living from writing about this subject.
The teaching courses, Skyping etc. followed soon after and we decided to sever ties with Fred at this point and I gave the rights to the book back to him and also took the book out of print from our list.
I was also remiss in not following the trajectory of Fred’s teaching career closely enough – I lost interest in working with him on future projects and was very busy with other authors. I took my eye off the ball. I also didn’t connect the implications that a ‘teaching career’ might have if Fred wasn’t transparent about his past. Again, I now see this was an error on my part.
The most troubling thing for me in all this is that no one is in receipt of all the facts about his convictions. Without the full facts I don’t think anyone can make a proper judgement about whether they would or would not want to be involved with Fred which I feel is a matter for each individual to decide.
Not being in receipt of the full acts is also the reason we asked Fred to remove our business name from the blog post he responded with on his website. Featuring our name in the post suggested we were in receipt of all the facts when we most definitely weren’t.
I sincerely hope that our publishing of one of his titles did not serve as an endorsement for his later activities. There is a pressing need for discrimination in this field and we regularly turn away authors that approach us if we have ethical concerns. I wince when I see teachers being promoted who either are playing out their neurosis in a larger arena or just don’t feel safe to be around. I often don’t share this in public because in the current climate I feel like it’s an unpopular position to take.
Scott Kiloby Julian, thanks for your thoughtful response. Have you considered asking your authors to provide something akin to self-disclosure about where they are in their lives, what has happened to them, etc. This issue of projections towards teachers is a big issue. I didn’t see the full extent of it until I began to do inquiry with people and found that a lot of their seeking had to do with feelings of lack within themselves and then ideas about teachers who wrote books living perfect, quiet enlightened lives, with no jealousy, addictions, anger issues, control issues, etc. It is very easy these days to write a nondual book with what appears like simple, clear pointing or instruction or whatever and leave out entirely the real details of teachers lives.
There is something missing in this whole scene and it does have a negative effect on a lot of people. I was astounding when working with people to watch how just looking at a picture of a teachers teeth or reciting their words (which were devoid of anything personal) would create this deep feeling of lack in people. This is disheartening in an area which tries to help people move beyond the sense of lack.
You are in a great position to influence a lot of teachers to come out of the closet on this. I admire your attention to ethics and would support you in that completely as someone who is published by you. I think it would do a lot of good and may actually help to shift the paradigm greatly. If you notice, it is already shifting. I saw it really start with some of Greg’s work about the end of the era of the guru, etc.
If nonduality does not evolve into a wisdom of inter being…
Georgina Y. Johnson It’s quite beautiful how this unfolds and how we learn about our continuing addiction to the separate self. I feel it’s an addiction born of an attitude of rejection – rejection of that same separate self we left behind but which is still relatively, transiently, here for a purpose.
It’s tricky because, while this rejection can set us free of the absolute belief in separation, it’s really not a helpful attitude in returning to the entangled world of form. In no time, the attitude of rejection breeds a thousand more projections – many of them narcissistic, grandiose, clubby, exclusive, stupifyingly jealous and desperately lonely. In this rift, many great teachers fall, taking their students with them.
If nonduality does not evolve into a wisdom of inter being, it will begin to look more like a great collective thanatos (death wish). Fred will be just the warm-up. It’s on our plate. We should eat it.