Common Ground: The Kinship of Metaphysicians

A syncretic approach to esoteric teachings - the golden threads that connect Pagans, Yogis, Rosicrucians and Masons.

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The Problem with Human Communities is Human Beings.

Annika Mongan makes a wonderful point in her blog post of March 28, 2014 - namely, that public scandals in Christian communities have a particularly demoralizing impact on their members, because Conversion promised them that Faith and the Holy Spirit would make them spiritually healthier than the rest of the world.  I agree, but I don't think that Christians have a corner on those feelings.  The same expectations, just expressed in different words, have applied to every spiritual community I have ever joined.  

In high school, I was an acolyte and president of my church's Methodist Youth Fellowship.  It was hard for me to understand why my father, who was active on the Board of Trustees, suddenly decided after 8 loyal years to take our family out of the church due to social friction with other Board members and political disagreements with the new Ministerial staff.  I had been taught that we were all members of the Body of Christ, and that we prized agape - divine brotherly love - above all else.  Why was my Dad so out of touch with what our Youth Ministers had been teaching me every week?  Could there be other realities, separate from the rosy picture that had been painted for me in Sunday School? 

It was 20 years before my wife and I were ready to join another spiritual community, and this time we chose a New Thought Church - one of those Course in Miracles, Science of Mind-ey sorts of places.  Far less hierarchical and more New Agey than traditional Christianity, everyone there was kookie and sweet and accepting of differences.  Surely, this time we had found the community that would live up to its stated Spiritual principles.  

Six years later, my deceased Dad must have laughed his ass off from the Summerland, when as president of the Board of Trustees I found that I could no longer support our Center because of revealed sexual deviancies and suppressed arrest records among the people leading it!  A year after we left, the organization imploded and ceased to be. 

At that time I was getting into Yoga Teaching in a big way, and I became impressed with the spiritually-minded Hindu Gurus who had come to America in the 1960's and 70's.  Surely these guys would be the real thing; they certainly seemed authentic in their books, lectures and video tapes!  Thoroughly disgusted with the hypocrisy of Western religious institutions, I fled into the arms of the Yoga community and Hinduism - still looking for that environment where people would be open-minded and non judgmental.  

I was disappointed again.  For every true foreign saint, there were 4 others who took sexual advantage of their Western followers.  American and British women who had whole-heartedly converted to Hinduism, and were taken home to India to meet their husbands' families, were refused entry into old family temples by closed-minded priests who refused to accept that anybody could be a Hindu who was not born one.  And when their husbands got back into the bosoms of their families, they began treating their Western wives like the same sort of third-class citizens their mothers and sisters had always been - a restricted status quo which the Indians were used to, but was insulting and frustrating for women who had been raised with the freedoms of the West. 

My most recent Odyssey has brought me here, into the land of Paganism - where once again I expected to finally find the Promised Land of tolerance, love and acceptance; I mean, surely such a SMALL splinter-group of society, which had been put down, discriminated against and superstitiously feared for so many generations, would have created a haven for themselves where all would be welcomed - and judgments of prejudice and criticism would never be allowed!    

Once again, as we all know, my expectations were proven naïve and unrealistic.  Because, as it turns out, the problem with human communities is not their avowed principles - the problem with human communities is human beings!  

But this time, thank Goddess, I'm experienced enough in the miscommunications and misinterpretations of the Internet to stop running and stay where I am.  There are plenty of gentle, eclectic souls here who feel the same way I do - and for the rest, I am content with my personal beliefs and feel no need to justify myself to anyone who disagrees with me.  I'm old, already; am I supposed to care about such disagreements, at this stage in my life?  

It seems that some people are never happy unless they are putting down somebody else; so, let them interpret my writings in whatever way their particular minds work.  It has nothing to do with the real me - or the real them, since none of them has ever invited me to meet and have a nice long chat in person (except for Terence Ward, but we live too far away from each other) - so I don't need to let it affect me.  I send them Bright Blessings and let them go on their way.  

I have enough REAL problems in my life.  I don’t need to obsess over getting the approval of people I've never even met.  And I certainly don't need to pull up stakes again, to pursue a mirage on the desert's horizon.   

If human beings are the problem, then it stands to reason that human beings like me have to be the solution.  As a real Hindu saint, Gandhi, reminds me, I have to be the change I want to see in the world.

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A student of esoteric traditions since the age of 16, Ted Czukor (Theo the Green) taught Yoga for 37 years until retiring in 2013. For 26 years he was adjunct faculty for the Maricopa, AZ Community Colleges, teaching Gentle Yoga and Meditation & Wellness. Raised in the Methodist Church but drawn to Rosicrucianism, Hinduism and Buddhist philosophy, he is a devotee of the Goddess in all Her forms. Ted has been a Shakespearean actor, a Masonic ritualist and an Interfaith wedding officiant. He is the author of several books, none of which made any money and two of which are available as .pdf files. He lives with his wife Ravyn-Morgayne in Sun City, Arizona. Their shared dream is to someday relocate to Glastonbury, England. theoczukor@cox.net.

Comments

  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Sunday, 30 March 2014

    Re: the problem of hating men for possession of pornography. Our community is all abuzz with hateful opinions about a well known elder who was arrested for possession of non-approved images on his computer. Well, computers aren't searched at random. Usually there is a lying police pretending to be a young female and preying on the emotions to abuse and destroy a lonely man -- often his behavior was no different from millions of other lonely men and women but was singled out pretty much at random.

    It is said that over half of all internet traffic is pornography related, and both men and women participate about equally. Some years ago when I was single and lonely I spent nights in chat rooms, AOL, IRC, Ask a Witch, etc., and pretended that I had someone to talk with. Invariably there were women who would meet me on-line and after chatting a few minutes want me to phone them for “phone sex,” to talk sexy to her while she masturbated. Sometimes I got more than one such request per night. After a while I got bored being used as a sex stimulant for her auto erotic pleasures. Sometimes late at night I would trade erotic photos on-line, and sometimes women would ask to send me their own erotic photos. So many girls and women send photos today its now got a name, “selfies.”

    One night a young female in a chat room started up a conversation and pretty soon asked to send me her photos. In a few minutes her transmitted photos turned out to be a naked girl about 9 years old (guess) doing sex stuff with her dog. OMG I could be arrested and spend 20 years in prison for even seeing those photos that she had taken of herself. OMG I hoped it was a real girl and not a cop playing girl to entrap me. I'm pretty sure it was a real girl. I suggested that she stop sending such photos to strange men on-lie even if she was as horny and lonely as she said she was. That was 20 years ago. I never heard from her again, I deleted the photos of my computer, and got rid of that computer shortly after. I met horny older pagan women on line too.

    I really don't know if the Internet has gotten better or worse since then. I'm sure that there are still millions of lonely women on-line preying on lonely men, whores sending us friendly e-mail and wanting our credit card numbers, pimps selling pornography, IRC sites specializing in trading pictures of every imaginable sexual deviation, and asking for voice company while they masturbate. I finally came to the conclusion that it was mostly abusive to men, pretending to be friends and just taking our money, or using us for her gratification.

    People haven't changed. The internet reflects how lonely and sex starved people all are at some part of our lives. We now have a name for the photos people take of themselves, and even the act of sending them, “sexting.” And men are still hated even as we are abused and used. I don't know the details of the Klein situation but it sounds like entrapment, using and abusing a lonely man by perverted lying police pretending to be young women, and legions of self-righteous haters spewing venom. I am saddened by it all. I am ashamed to see so much hate and so little compassion.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Sunday, 30 March 2014

    Dear Greybeard, I commend you for being so forthright and self-revealing about your earlier life. Like most wise men, you have used your own experience to extract a lesson about humanity as a whole. You are right about loneliness and frustration, and your points are well made that computers aren't searched at random and that men can be the victims as often as they can be the predators. 50/50, as you say.

    The Internet uniquely gave access to self-erotica in a way unprecedented in history; and in the early days, especially, users were unaware that their private searches could be traced later and used for purposes of blackmail - or, more appropriately, law enforcement. The knowledge of that lack of privacy is the main reason that I never had the stones to explore those beckoning waters, myself - since we are exchanging confidences here!

    I don't know the facts of the Klein case, either. However, I have read some online blogs by women claiming to have had uncomfortable interactions with him in the past (there are more such entries on the W&P Facebook page than here on Pagan Square), and I would hope to maintain a non-judgmental attitude towards their accounts, as well. In both cases, the best statement I can make is that I was not there.

    Shakespeare said, "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin," which I apply here to mean that as humans we share equally in the potential for innocence and blame - and that life is so tricky that each of us could make the wrong decision at any moment. I'm just trying the best I can to keep my own nose clean!

    Thank you again for your insightful comments.

  • Cat lover
    Cat lover Sunday, 30 March 2014

    Where to begin? First, KK was no "lonely old man." He had a youngish girlfriend who blogs here, and he was a very successful musician.

    Second, pornography and child pornography are two very different things. The news reports say his computer contained images of children UNDER 13.

    As to your story about the 9 year old girl: are you really suggesting that most, or any, child porn is created and distributed by the children themselves? Really?? If a little girl sent you that photo, and I don't for a minute believe she did, wouldn't it stand to reason she is an abused child? There aren't little girls and boys out there trying to seduce old men. That's a rape apologist's fantasy.

    And Ted, how can you let his comment go unchallenged?

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Thursday, 03 April 2014

    Again, Kenaz, this is a case of someone responding to the first person who made a comment on my blog post, with no reference whatsoever to what I originally wrote. Since it doesn't seem like anyone is reading or responding to what I really wrote about, I'm considering taking this whole thing down. I'm not saying that your comments aren't valid, my friend, nor heartfelt - just that they are being directed to the wrong person. They make it seem like I wrote or agreed with Greybeard's comments, whereas I only thanked him for his honest contribution (which was off the subject, also). As I thank you - I guess - for yours.

  • Kenaz Filan
    Kenaz Filan Thursday, 03 April 2014

    Actually, I rather like your piece and would rather you not take it down. Given that the Klein story broke recently, it's not surprising that a post entitled "The Problem with Human Communities is Human Beings" would turn into a discussion into the damage that human being had done to this particular human community.

    This was one line that particularly stuck with me.

    If human beings are the problem, then it stands to reason that human beings like me have to be the solution.

    One way of being the solution is to recognize the gravity of the problem at hand. Child sexual exploitation is a very real and life-shattering problem. If Kenny Klein was trading child pornography with others on a website, he is NOT a "[used and abused] lonely man" victimized by the police. He is a predator and a criminal. In allowing Greybeard's misogynistic rant to go unquestioned, while calling out those who do question it, you're not setting up a "safe space." You're perpetuating the same dynamic that allowed Kenny Klein to prey on the Pagan community for 20 years -- conflict avoidance no matter what the cost to those with legitimate grievances.

    Greybeard may not be entitled to his own feelings, but not to his own facts. "Entrapment" is police coercing suspects into acts they would not have otherwise engaged in. Taking his "9 year-old girl and a dog" story at face value, it sounds like he got a message from (a) an overenthusiastic cop or (b) an overenthusiastic self-appointed "pedophile hunter." I got similar solicitations from screen names claiming to be 13 year old boys etc. when I frequented queer chat rooms on IRC. It also sounds like Greybeard and I both reacted to these fishing expeditions by ignoring them. Given that neither of us had any interest in boinking children or even seeing them naked, that was a perfectly rational and healthy response.

    In the case at hand, Klein was caught with multiple pictures and videos showing children under 13 and confessed to downloading them. That's not someone coerced into wrongdoing by some perverted policeman or some vicious preteen slut. That's somebody who actively enjoyed watching child pornography and sought it out. Pretending otherwise is incredibly disrespectful to the children victimized in the making of this filth, not to mention the estranged son who has testified that Klein molested him.

    You've got no problem calling out Hindus who refused to allow non-Indians into temples and the misogyny you perceived in Indian society. If I'm reading you right, that drove you away from Hinduism. And so now you've decided the best way to stay comfortable is to keep yourself above the fray and allow humans to be humans. Which is fine, I guess. But I wouldn't call it a "solution" to the problem so much as a capitulation.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Thursday, 03 April 2014

    I stand corrected, Kenaz. You have made some excellent points, and even though I didn't know anything about the KK situation (as I DID about the issues you reference in my essay), I now see that accepting a person's comments as a form of courtesy, without offering any objections to them, could be construed as tacit agreement with them.

    As for the subject of my post, KK was only the latest example of internecine strife. I had actually begun writing it quite a while back, when I discovered how many Pagans and Heathens think they have the right to criticize others for "not being Pagan enough" or encompassing beliefs with which the dissenters disagree. I really had not expected that, in such a fringe group. My essay was meant more as a comment on the universal human neurosis of shitting where you eat, than on sexual abuse issues. That may have been unclear, though, since I also referenced sexual deviance in the Hindu-Yoga and New Thought communities.

    Thank you for showing me a clearer view of the picture. And thanks, also, for saying that you like my piece.

  • Kenaz Filan
    Kenaz Filan Thursday, 03 April 2014

    People haven't changed. The internet reflects how lonely and sex starved people all are at some part of our lives. We now have a name for the photos people take of themselves, and even the act of sending them, “sexting.” And men are still hated even as we are abused and used. I don't know the details of the Klein situation but it sounds like entrapment, using and abusing a lonely man by perverted lying police pretending to be young women, and legions of self-righteous haters spewing venom. I am saddened by it all. I am ashamed to see so much hate and so little compassion.

    Because sexual abuse of children isn't nearly so big a problem as lonely men being entrapped by police pretending to be children. Oh, and let's not forget the castrating dykes who can't understand that men have NEEDS and that sometimes they can't help themselves around prepubescents.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Sunday, 30 March 2014

    Good points, Cat lover. I'm sure you're right about that 9 year old. As for challenging a responder's comments, my feeling was that I don't know what prompts people to share the things they do, and I want to offer them a safe space in which to express themselves - because whatever touched that particular nerve in him, it was obviously important to him. Of course, you are equally invited to rebut his points according to the nerve he touched in you!

    Having said that, I am ESPECIALLY BEWILDERED that the subjects of Internet porn and phone sex have taken over this discussion - since I hadn't written anything about either of them in my blog. Wha' happened here?

  • Cat lover
    Cat lover Monday, 31 March 2014

    Ted, you are right. I was responding to the other commenter, and it had little to do with your post. Sorry if I helped derail your post. Carry on! ;)

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Monday, 31 March 2014

    No problem, CL. Thanks for understanding my position.

  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan Wednesday, 11 June 2014

    Thank you, Ted. Well said and I so resonate with what you write. I am glad to have found a home in Paganism and I am here to stay. It is good to be reminded that we are in this together and that there is no promised land of perfect communities, there is only us and how we deal with the problems all communities have.

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