From Priests to Lamas 

 

Living near Religious entities may strike curiosity in children. Exploring is what is triggered. One day, while exploring a Church, the hands of a priest were exploring my sister and I. Underneath our pink skirts seemed more interesting to the priest when he allowed desire to overpower him. Although small, I knew what appeared to be innocent was not innocent at all. I was already acquainted by what grown ups would do- not talk about it. The never-ending cycle of Taboo. My sister was too young to understand such concepts, so opening up triggered my mother’s screams, which were enough for the priest never to return- continuing his journey into exploring both skirts (and/or shorts) and spirituality.

 

Displacement opens doors to more opportunity, but the Church does not seem to think in this way. Displacing their priests is a way for the Church to give second chances (or more), with no legal prosecution at all. This religious institution becomes a protective mechanism for those who sexually harass and exploit.  

Many cases are known. 

 

Therefore, a change in establishment is not the only factor needed for behavioural transformation, as this comes from winning the battle of desire within. Thus, one can state that there is a thin line in between the institutions and human behaviour when pinpointing the reason for such behaviours- as they are not mutually exclusive, and rather trigger one another. The circumstances themselves enable such actions to take place in a repeated manner. One could argue that such institutions become part of an initial issue regarding human behaviour, as these do not inhibit further sexual harassment and exploitation. Such issues regard the power of choice that resides in the palm of one’s hands, which is what really defines the path one takes.

 

Compassion and understanding of the root of the trigger is necessary. Humans are overpowered by desire. But when does one draw a line in between compassion and contesting? 

 

Living in a Monastery is not much different. Religious entities are viewed as superhuman. It is a fault to think such entities do not face human traits. Such are coexisted and dealt with in different manners. They are understood and reflected upon in different ways. But what happens when one allows desire to overpower? Just like a man in the street, in a bar, in a Church or in a Monastery- desire does not change, only circumstances do. The desire that lead him to place his arms around me is the same as the others’. This time the desire was carried out. It started with complementing my looks, to complementing my tight jeans. Some might blame it on the tight jeans, but it goes far beyond that. Getting stuck on this idea is conditionality on its own. It is not the tight jeans; it is the desire of a man turned into action while using religious status and power as a shield.

 

The parallel philosophical conversation while his hand was around my waist created juxtaposition: further philosophical and spiritual understanding vs. overpowering of space in the realm of sexuality. 

 

The question is not about how far it went, what was talked about, who it was, or what was worn. The question here is that there is a thin line in between ‘teachings’ and the overpowering of desire over one that should not carry such actions. The absence of consent doesn’t see to be an issue. For what I observe, is the somewhat the use of status within the realm of spirituality (and any other realms), as an excuse and justifications for desire to flow. 

 

What if the next time it is a girl that cannot speak directly within a situation that requires ultimate respect towards the teacher? What if the next time the girl cannot act upon her instincts, in a situation where physical freezing is bound to happen? 

 

These words are not placed against all of those that follow a spiritual path, as some do know how to deal with desire. These words are placed towards those who do not, those who use their status as an umbrella for such actions, those who are part of such institutions and aware of such issues but choose to remain silent, as well as those who forget to humanize the ones following a spiritual path. Whatever path is taken, humans will constantly be faced with the duality of things. 

 

These words aim to trigger thought about desire, as well as about how these occurrences are not talked about, thus, feeding the vicious cycle of Taboo (the one I nearly fell in when a child). Such cycle renders invisible what actually happens within closed Monastery doors, as well as in any other Religious establishment that bears people that act upon desire. These words aim to create awareness of the existence of such people everywhere, no matter the place. Some men (and maybe women) use spirituality- and their highly regarded status in such establishments- as a protective umbrella, as an excuse and a gateway to act upon their desires with no judgment, while the religious institutions render invisible the whole issue in order to save their establishment.

This is the true matter of these words.

 

Louise Nothomb

 


I DIED BUT NOT A NORMAL DEATH

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