Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
The problem in such a dojo is to be able to distinguish between different spiritual influences, as Ignatius of Loyola puts it.
This is very true. This is also the problem for us as deshi - as we come into contact with such dojo - any dojo.
On the other hand, however, it is not like there is zero damage happening (especially spiritually) in a dojo where folks just seek to get as physically dominant as they can over another human being and/or where folks claim "spiritual cultivation" but seek to develop no sense of shame and/or capacity to reflect over such repulsing emotions. It just may be that we are more prone as modern citizens to accept these types of "damage" as part of the "greater good."
Your warnings are extremely relative here, and I too have only been exposed to one such teacher (equally needing to use the word "maybe" here) in (only two) decades of training. However, for me, while it may be that a given teacher MAY come to abuse such emotional contents (in good or in ill faith), it will NEVER be that true spiritual cultivation can do without a capacity to experience shame, to reflect upon shame, and to utilize shame in some very positive ways. For that reason, I keep such wise warnings to heart at the same time that I work to not let my heart close in fear of what could be (i.e. could be abused) - instead keeping it open to what has to be (i.e. addressing the cultivation of my spirit via repulsing energies). After all, isn't that what we have to do with warnings? If we do more, if we hear them and then say "no way," then such warnings would be prophecies.
Is there a way to heed such warning, but remain open to this aspect of a spiritual maturity, and yet not be made victum by some evil or ignorant will should we come to chance upon one? I would like to think so. I would like to think that I have been able to do that in my own training - having trained in three schools where training was more akin to a repeated cycles of child abuse than to anything else. I with my ideals managed to leave and to move forward. Others, others just wanting to train, just wanting to do their own thing, just wanting to practice Aikido, others just wanting to "cultivate their spirit," others just trying to avoid issues like shame, are still there being abused - being made weaker and weaker each year. I, through my ideals (I believe), seemed more able to recognize power for power's sake, seemed more able to identify an absence of humility and a rejection of holding teaching as part of one's own spiritual practice. In some ways then, these ideals, better than warnings, have saved me from emotional hardship at the hands of another that is in a position of authority. So maybe I am not as trusting of these warnings as I should be - maybe I did not need to be - so maybe I am walking alone here or at least out on a limb that has managed to support me just fine. However, as I said, such teaching and such learning is not for everyone. (thinking out loud here at the end)
thanks Peter for bringing up some very good points,