An old friend of mine (whom I have griped about before) is faced with a concern. He practices a specific type of wizardry which includes a training period, an initiation, and eventually requires the teaching of an apprentice. He has taken on several apprentices in his life, and many of them have not been up to par and have ended up failing, going crazy, or becoming unpredictable and dangerous.
Many years ago, he had taken on an apprentice out of a certain metaphysics class he was teaching. The social context included another individual who showed considerable interest, but little technical aptitude for the skills my friend was teaching. My friend made a bad judgment call and initiated this other individual, without full training, out of social and networking concerns. This new initiate proved relatively harmless, not being able to master the requisite skills enough to prove a danger, and was left to stew in his own juices for a bit. Unfortunately, because he had been initiated as a wizard, he fancied himself to be one, and developed notions of his magical supremacy. This in itself proved to be of little concern, until this guy also took on an apprentice.
This new apprentice is proving unable to grasp the basics of magical practice and has no real sense of empathy, intuition, or ability to establish correspondences between phenomena. His teacher has imparted upon him a grossly overinflated sense of worth, ability, and destiny, and his lack of empathy only fuels his egotism and paranoia. His only real talent has emerged in the healing arts, where he has shown remarkable skill with Reiki, but he has abandoned its practice because of a desire to fulfill a role as a guru or spiritual master — a role he has no aptitude for. He is unable to understand the ideas or motivations of others except in terms of how he expects them to react to his greatness, severely lacks socials skills and refinement, and suffers from a complete inability to communicate effectively.
In short, this guy is arrogant, obnoxious, and egotistical, doesn’t listen to or try to understand others, doesn’t know anything he’s talking about, and is still under the juvenile impression that simply using multisyllabic words and vague phraseology is enough to get others to think you are profound and thoughtful.
So our wayward apprentice here has shown himself to be arrogant and overbearing, but has otherwise shown little real aptitude in the magical arts. So far, he is an annoyance more than a threat. (There have been some incidence in which his dabbling caused some problems, but they were minor ones and were easily corrected. An intervention by his mentor, my friend, and others proved sufficient to get him to back off and reconsider what he was doing.) Here is the concern though — this guy has the potential to be genuinely dangerous someday. He aspires to be some kind of guru or prophet, and if he develops any sort of charisma or language skill, his vague words or enlightenment, love, and understanding could be enough to gather a small following of people, who could either suffer at his manipulations, or worse, could develop the skill he lacks and act in his stead.
My friend’s brand of wizardry holds to an ideal of responsibility that works like this: if a man takes on an apprentice, he is responsible for any failures on the part of the apprentice. He has taken this to include the actions of the failed apprentice’s apprentice. In short, my friend feels the need to monitor and compensate for this (new) apprentice’s actions, and anticipate his potential actions and compensate for them as well.
My thoughts on that matter are to formally denounce the training of the failed apprentice and take on the newer on in an effort at damage control. This has been attempted to a certain degree, but our young aspiring guru decided that calls for temperance, patience, and humility were beneath him. I would consider it desirable to continue to try tempering the desire of our aspirant, and possibly engineering the discrediting of both him and his mentor. The course of action that seems to be unfolding is to simply observe and wait, and reserve a crippling blow for the chance that this individual does turn out to be dangerous — the problem is that this requires a considerable amount of time and effort, and given the ages of the people involved, it needs to be acknowledged that my friend may not be around in ten or twenty years to look after the problem (ten to fifteen years being the time he feels it would take for such a danger to present itself). The other option is outright elimination, which I cannot abide based upon only the possibility of harmful action.
What I’m most likely looking at here is a drawn out period of observation, which will probably at some point be passed on to someone like me. I have no desire to partake in such a project, and would most likely pass it on to another.
The real question is this: where would the responsibility lie if this aspiriant does ultimately pose a threat? Would it all lie with my friend, due to his initial mistake and failure to deal with it? Does this young student’s failure deserve to weigh more heavily on his mentor, the initial failed apprentice? If I am asked to take over the duty of monitoring this individual, and refuse or delegate it to another, do I take on responsibility for any negative actions? Or are there other possibilities I have not considered?
I have my own ideas on the matter, but I would be very interested to hear what others think.