Embracing the Guru

The process of self-realization and in turn actualization is a fascinating one to me.  We stumble through the world clutching onto our preconceived notions of self, of identity, passionately dreaming but not always speaking those dreams.  Sometimes we do not have the words, and when we do, a titlewave rushes down through who we thought we had been and the land is made bare.  Made clear.

Ming and I ended our three year relationship six weeks ago now.  Today we fished through the pieces by phone, words trying to find their way to answers for each of us.  The puzzle is there, something beautiful… and by putting it all together we are both the sort of people that hope to find answers for next time- next iteration of what it means to be Lee and Ming (as friends, associates, or whatever might come) and for what might come next down the road for each of us.  To pour it out, not have to carry a burden.

Today I hit on a few major points for me, that I had not put words to before:

  • Disappointment is a form of punishment in my eyes
  • Punishing D/s partners by not allowing them access is often more painful for me, the Dominant, than them… or equal, and everyone looses
  • I am walking the path of Guru and Owner, not Trainer/Teacher or Caretaker.  I can and do visit the other two, but it is not mu current core in D/s
  • I refuse to punish a dog for not doing my filing
  • As a Guru, I want people in my world who will show up for the work, not have to drag them in kicking and screaming

When we come to a Guru, we come ready to learn, ready to work.  Obliteraters of darkness, guides on the path, teachers of our true heart, do not know everything.  They do however offer up a mirror by walking their own path with integrity, they channel divinity, they serve as oracles.  When I come to learn from a Guru, I have done my work in advance, and am willing and able to show it.  If I have not done that pre-work, I hold myself responsible for that fact, own it, and ask for assistance when I need it.  Sometimes the answer comes as “chop wood, carry water” and other times it is a few points of guidance, or weeks of one on one work that dives us deep.

In the matrix of dominant archetypes that Brent Dill and I designed (it will eventually be in the Delving Into Power book when it comes out), there are 4 major ones (and 16 sub-varieties).  Owner.  Caretaker.  Teacher/Sensei.  Guru.  None is better than another.  They are simply what they are.  Many of us visit all of these in a relationship, or hold different core roles with different relationships and different places in life.  When I am Daddy, I very much embrace Caretaker, sometimes to a fault.  But the core of where I am walking right now in my D/s is Guru and Owner, while I visit Caretaker and Sensei is what I do for a living and thus get many of those needs fed.

When Ming and I found our first terms for what we were, we chose “Sir/Service Slut.”  Not just that, MY Service Slut, was what was written on the leather band she still owns.  MY is important for me.  I believe in collecting and utilizing valuable things.  I do not use the word “things” to dehumanize- I am an animist and believe that all things have soul, purpose, energy, dharma.  I like knowing what a thing can do, and what it excells at.  Objects (one of the 4 submissive archetypes, along with Pet, Student and Acolyte) are important in the world.  Where would we be without cars (are you a prius or a corvette?), furniture, musical insturments, computers, and our favorite sweater?  This notion applies for me across the board, no matter what archetype someone sits in for me.   What can this thing do, how much upkeep does it need for return on investment, what can I ask of it?

Thus, I collect and utilize valuable things in my world.  I set those things up for highest success, because a horse at full health can win the race!  If I yell at a violin for not being a good hammer, what role does that serve?

Ming tells me her vision of D/s as we talk- that there need to be consequences.  But of what type, and whom do they serve.  If I order a dog to do my filing, and it gnaws on the paper, then curls up in a corner, should I chastize it for its inability to follow through?  If I give the order again, go file for me, and it just blinks… is it my fault, or the dog’s, that the filing has not happened?  When I am asking a new command, setting a new protocol, or anything like that- when it is new, I do not always know how it will turn out.  Do you, my human partner, have this capacity, and the ability to do it with excellence?  What might be easy for you to do, such as driving a car to the store, for me is an ordeal beyond measure, and against the pacts I have made in this lifetime.  It’s just getting the car and driving to the store, what is the big deal you ask.  Its easy for you.  Not for me.

So it is with those I am in dynamics with.  In relationship of any sort with.  What does this person do well, and how do we set all of us up for success?  If I ask you to do daily reports to me, and those do not happen, I ask why have they not happened?  Ah, typing is hard.  Fantastic- let’s get voice recognition software. We go back in and still, with the new software, daily reports do not happen.  I ask why have they not happened?  Ah, my life has been busy.  Well, a text message is enough to get my goal met of hearing from you and seeing a few wins, and making you reflect on the good stuff every day I say.  Fantastic.  The daily posts still don’t come.  I stop asking.  I assume that this is not something you can give right now, even if your heart is in it.

There is fault there, for all.  Fault that the work was not done, yes, but fault on my part for not demanding it.  But how much do we demand, and how much do we simply open up our hearts and wait?  As a trainer, when I visit that head space, I can walk the dog through the tricks, teach it new things, have large swaths of compassion for its struggles and repeat the lessons over and over.  But with humans, with those who say and demand even to be at a different level (not better or worse, just different) than that, if I repeat the same lesson 3 times and it has not been learned, perhaps the student is not ready for this yet.  They need time to sit with the cohen, consider it, reflect on its nature.

When I have to struggle someone into submission every time I see them, it can be hot, but also hard work.  What feeds my soul is not the struggling, but the joyous revelation of light after the storm has passed.  Thus, if all I get is the struggle, it mimics my desires, it gets me hot and turned on, it fuels my body- but does not reinvigorate my heart.

What is different with Aiden, she asks.  Aiden is my long term friend and lover who petitioned me two years ago to potentially enter service, and I was not ready.  We have decided to do a 1 month agreement between us, try on some terms and labels, stretch ourselves within this new confine, see where the horses can roam within their new fence, see how it goes.  I sit and reflect.  Body language and core empathy for my experience, I respond.

When Aiden walks into a room, I know what head space he is in.  Chin down, eyes up, biting lip, hands behind his back- flirtatious and service oriented, blushing at his desire to submit as a strong individual.  Speed walking, eyes down- we have somewhere to go and I will not register what you say.  Arms crossed, one eyebrow up, sideways smirk- I will do it, but I think you are absurd.  If he wants me to engage with him in service space, he can assume that pose, from years of practice in getting folks to engage with him as a highly social human, and I can slip into receiving service.  I do not have to throat him to get a cup of tea.  And, when I see him in a space, through that body language, I can choose whether or not I change his body language to get where I want him to be- through words, or deeds, or a look, or a growl… or whether I will take him in the space he is in and match him- because sometimes as the dominant partner, I feel I am best served by listening to the wisdom and greatness before me.

If an individual in relationship with me repeatedly tells me they want one thing, then does another- I wonder if there is internal honesty.  Do they actually want that thing, or is there a “should” in play.  I should want to submit.  I should want to serve.  I should be sexually drawn that way.  We should all over ourselves.

We all carry shoulds.  I certainly do.  I should be working.  I should have stayed and played.  I should fight harder to keep those I love.  I shouldn’t be such a push over.  Some come from past programming, some are our internal soul contracts signed before we were born of the lessons we need to learn on this cycle of samsara.

Core empathy is another difference between many recent folks in dynamic with me and Aiden.  At Floating World, a 1200+ person kink event in New Jersey that we just attended, they do not allow cell phones.  So, we set our schedule for date times before the event began- times we would connect, or attend a class together, so that we had face time guaranteed- as he and I are both social butterflies at times, or in my case, prone to falling into deep conversations in corners at the drop of a hat.  On Saturday, we had agreed to meet at a class and attend it together.

Well, me being me, I got caught in one of those conversations.  Quick lunch grab turned into chats between Mollena Williams, Fakir Musafar, and another lovely gent.  I showed up to class fifteen minutes late, and Aiden was not there.  Mollena and I took in the class together instead, and it was a good time- but I wondered where my Boy was, and what had happened.

I looked around the event, searching here and there, as following through on commitments is a core value for me, and our agreement also states that repeat lack of following through is not okay.  No punishment listed, just not okay.  I need folks who keep their word, and own when they can not.  If you can’t- cool, I am good with that.  Just tell me, simply- no big drama, no excuses, no yelling and crying- just say “hey, I said this, but this is what life looks like- what can we do?”  So, I found him in vending, and we started talking.

First, the story came out.  The story always comes out.  How he had been there on time, and had waited ten minutes, and the class was boring, and I wasn’t there, and there was another class, and…


I get it.  I was fifteen minutes late, random beauty had happened… but on my way there I had been saying “good thing Aiden is there taking notes for me, it will be okay that I am fifteen minutes late.”  His shoulders dropped, his eyes got big.  He got it, I was disappointed not to see him there, not to have that shared experience, and on a practical front he had not served me as I had hoped for.  But, I went on, shit, or random beauty, happens.

At any other event, he would have texted me (hooray technology) and asked where I was, then if no reply, sent another note saying he was going to the femme identity panel instead.  But this was Floating World.  The new plan?  Grab a piece of paper and leave me a note near the door of the space we were supposed to meet at.  Easily done.

The difference was that my being let down and disappointed was actually a form of punishment for him.  I did not have to cut off contact, or make him do push ups (though that would be hot), or yell at him.  He got that I was sad, and as a partner, wanted to know how we could fix it.  Okay, so he went into more story/drama first about the challenges there were- but I had the power to say stop, breathe, let’s just tackle this, shall we?

I own that I did not do that with Ming.  She would get into story, into drama, into challenges… and I did not know where my power really lay to stop that behavior.  Stop was not enough- I would have to energetically throat her, dominate her- and that is a lot of work.  For asking for a daily love note, and that I like my water without offending citrius?

When someone comes to me to be in partnership, or to play, I wonder, why me?  Is it me they want, or a packaging, or a concept, or a toy or tool?  Do they want to just not be lonely, or can we actually make something good here, something that both of us can be better during, and after.  Ming came into my life to teach me language, compassion, hope, visualization, and my own capacity for higher power and potential.  Her role in doing this does not end when our D/s dynamic end, any more than my former husband Adam’s role of teaching me laughter, touch, recovery, empathy, body wisdom and creativity did not end when he and I got divorced hand in hand after walking back to where he proposed to me, and reading the prayers that were given to us at our wedding.

Today I finally got a few things.  I got why folks go to to the same classes multiple times, because they were not the same person last time they went.  I got why I transitioned into a full time Daddy space to “save” my relationship with Ming, but in doing so fed her heart and starved mine.  I got that follow through is a core value, and a hard one for me internally having dreamed so many dreams but without a large enough army to do them all for me and make then happen.

So I sit here as Guru on my mountain, Dragon flying over this land, Bear walking his territory.  I take it all in, I carry what I can.  I live and learn and grow.


Lee Harrington

Lee Harrington is an internationally known sexuality, relationships, and personal authenticity educator. Having taught in all 50 states and in 6 countries, he brings a combination of playful engagement and thoughtful academic dialogue to a broad audience. An award-winning author and editor on gender, sexual, and sacred experience, his books include “Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Journeys,” and "Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond," among many other titles. He has been blogging online since 1998, and been teaching worldwide since 2001. Welcome to his world, and your chance to expand your mind and heart alike.


  1. I am a bottom. I am deeply enjoying this blog – looking at the Top perspective through your eyes – and ultimately through my own – looking up. I call myself a river – the wild feminine. I seek River Banks – to contain me. My deepest pleasure is to serve – and PSI is how I can make love so deeply. What is hard for me is too feel that I am bottoming to nothing. My Top wants me to go quietly onto a shelf until we are together. There is very little phrase. I should “know” how he feels – I have loved him and served him for four years – your blog the other day on minimum core needs hit me hard. As a bottom – I can be allowed to have needs too. I cannot bottom on a shelf. I am reading how you top – how you hold space – what your expectations are – and how you return the love of a submissive. I can only open my eyes in wonder and think – if only.

  2. You speak to me on many levels. I am a teacher/sensai in my daily life and lean toward guru in D/s relationships. I don’t want to fight for submission, it’s a game with behaviors I do not like to encourage although it can be fun at a play party once in awhile.

    You encourage me to be exactly who I am and not what others expect from me.

    Thank you

  3. Guruji, I offer my obesiances to a fellow devotee. It is inspiring to see the ability to know when to move on from loved ones in your journey. Whether physically, emotionally, etc, not an easy task. – a dog trying to file my own paperwork

  4. You all make me feel so very loved and part of a greater whole- thank you.

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