The game of the little guy

I think Douglas Harding (and probably others) mentioned the game of the little guy. The game of being caught up in the identities of our individual selves, propping it up, making it into something.

I know I am, and some times more than others. It is good to notice and be aware of. And the tell-tale signs is when something feels really important and real, when there are certain ideas and identities that appears to need to be defended, any sense of contraction, any sense of a substantial I and Other (whether the Other is a situation, a person, an idea, a sensation, or anything else.)

And it may also be good to notice this in those we set up in the role as a teacher. Is the teacher caught up in the game of the little guy? If so, how, and how does it affect the teachings?

This is obviously quite subjective, just my impressions from their writings and sometimes audio/video, and probably says far more about me than anyone else, but some teachers I detect a “caught upness” in the game of the little guy are… Ken Wilber (macho, hip identity that needs to be propped up and defended), Andrew Cohen, Adi Da, Surya Das.

And the ones where I do not detect it include… Douglas Harding, Byron Katie, Joel Morwood (Center for Sacred Sciences), Adyashanti, Pema Chodron, most Tibetan teachers, Almaas (?).

What I see in each of these says more about me than anyone else. And at the same time, when it comes to choosing a teacher, there are some signs in the world to keep an eye out for as well: which teachers are surrounded by scandals and drama? If they are, they may be caught up in the game of the little guy (or something else may be going on), and in my case, it means that I usually choose to keep my distance. I can still appreciate and learn from them, but when it comes to choose someone as a guide and a more intimate influence for myself, I choose those where I detect less or none of the caught-upness in the game of little guy, and where there are fewer, milder or no external scandals.

It is of course just a general guideline. I am not surprised by some caught-upness in the game and some external (at least mild) scandals, and that is OK. We are all just humans, even if that particular human is a vehicle for reality having awakened to itself. We have to give ourselves and others, including our teachers, some slack.

And at the same time, when the game and scandals are there, we can look at the degree of the game and the scandals, and especially how the teacher deals with it. Do they defend, justify and deny (bad signs…!). Are they receptive, transparent, appearing genuinely repentive and willing to change (approach, organizational structure)? If so, and the degree is relatively mild, then why not give them a second chance (but maybe not a third or a fourth.)

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