In light of recent allegations of abuses of power towards Sogyal Rinpoche, here is an interesting article where longtime practitioner and psychotherapist, Rob Preece, talks about the delicate relationship that students have between their teachers.
Drawing from his own experience of meeting Tibetan lamas, he mentions:
Like many Westerners at the time, I was somewhat lost spiritually and very wounded emotionally. I would have given almost anything to find someone to guide me and give me a sense of meaning and direction. I believed and trusted that this Tibetan lama would do so. I also really wanted to be seen, so that I might have a sense of affirmation about my value and my nature. Part of this relationship to my guru was therefore a huge emotional investment. I became devoted in a way that was akin to falling in love and had a very idealistic view of how special he was. I recall sitting with other students, talking in a kind of romantic haze about all the qualities we felt he embodied.
When I apply a Jungian psychological view to this relationship, I can see that at its heart was a massive projection. That isn’t to say the lama was not extraordinary, but that extraordinariness was the hook for my projection. Jung saw that what we are unconscious of in ourselves, we tend to project onto someone else. In the case of someone who becomes our guru, we project an image of our “higher Self” onto a person who can act as a carrier of that unconscious quality. When this begins to happen, it is as though we become enthralled or beguiled by this projection. In the case of the projection of the Self onto a teacher, we give away something very powerful in our nature and will then often surrender our own volition in order to be guided.
More problematic in this experience was that, like many of my peers, what I had projected was not just the “inner guru”; I had also imbued him with a quality of the ideal parent I dearly needed. In doing so, I gave away other significant aspects of my power: my own volition and my own authority and discriminating wisdom.