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Tuesday, May 18, 2010: Spiritual Teachers

          What is it that makes a really good spiritual leader, teacher, or guru, and how can you tell you’ve found one? I wish I could give you the easy method, such as – check their aura and how they carry pain. I know most people can’t do that, so let’s approach it from another direction. There are different types of people drawn to teaching, those who have spent years studying the field and are interested in helping newcomers establish a firm foundation, or those who’ve experienced the inner worlds and consider themselves more advanced than the average Joe.

        I have no problem with the first batch of teachers. There is a residual and varying amount of pain carried by these individuals, but their established systems allow them to put things in perspective and find balance in the outer world. It is not uncommon to find these teachers working from the heart chakra, and the basic reward for teaching is helping others.  A great deal of personal growth comes to the teacher intent on finding ever new ways to explain simple spiritual truths to people of varying backgrounds.

        Problems arise here if teachers become attached to the feeling of authority (and the admiration or respect of students) and fail to see the journey still ahead of themselves. It does well to remind oneself that the journey is never-ending, and there is always room for personal growth. The hardest part of being a teacher is that students look to you as having found the answers. A teacher tends to maintain stability on his or her outer life so as to lead by example. That attitude keeps one from digging out deep and ugly inner blocks.

        It’s a hard choice to make; if you stick with the traditional path, there is a known outcome, but the individual seldom reaches extreme heights. Saints and masters often have to retreat from social contact when going through an extended dark night or a period of fighting inner demons. The very deepest truths are usually beyond words and traditions, beneath one’s darkest fears. There is tremendous freedom in not having to teach spiritual maxims or maintain standard social customs at the same time one is trying to rip apart old concepts in search of more powerful mystic insights.

        To go back and remove the barriers that stand in the way of profound insights takes time and effort. Look at a true master and one sees an inner aura free of pain. There may be a thin shell of pain, barely visible in the causal body (where memories are held), but the inner-most regions are clean and free flowing. Very few individuals will ever reach this degree of development, and it’s not necessary for one to obtain this level before teaching (or we would have very few teachers). On the other hand, those who teach should be honest with themselves and their students about where they stand on the spiritual path.

        If you are a student on a spiritual path, accept that you are an individual who must discover the truth for yourself, and how you adapt and understand someone else’s words is dependent on your current state of consciousness. Remember also that the longer one sits with truth, the more words get wrapped around the experience, dulling the awareness of being one with the truth. You’d do better to appreciate and rejoice in whatever truth you find, incorporate it into as many areas of your everyday life as possible, and then set out to rediscover the truth. The same truth may be appreciated quite differently from a higher state of consciousness or from a new perspective.

        Find teachers of good caliber by looking for those who are focused on providing others with a solid foundation, rather than promising final answers. The teacher should always go on the assumption that you need to eventually find your own final answers (this must go beyond a teacher's attitude of the student needing to discovering the teacher is always right).

        I would run away from anyone who warns of disasters to those straying off the straight and narrow path of the teacher. The divine has never been as unforgiving as the religious figures who believe their viewpoint is the only way. Run from teachers who expect to be revered, pampered, and followed without question. Good teachers want to bring you closer to the divine, and are more concerned with your search than with building a following for themselves and their own teachings.

        The second type of teachers are those who, had they not had some spiritual experience to provide "expertise," might have taken up motivational speaking. They take the few insights they’ve garnished and they go on the road -- teaching classes, giving workshops, selling books and tapes. These teachers seldom work from the heart chakra, though they may present with that outward appearance. What I usually see is a person working mainly from the head. (note: I do not mean from the head chakras;  what I talk about here is ego-driven.) An inflated ego arises because they’re convinced they are so much more experienced than other people. They lack the humility that goes with those truly more experienced in the inner worlds, though some of the ego-driven do offer a pseudo-humility.

        Psychically, I’ve found the teacher’s own estimation of his or her advancement usually exceeds the actual inner reality. If a teacher states or leaves the impression of being enlightened and, at the same time, asks for monetary support – I think that’s grounds to be wary. Closer observation of how the teacher deals with people and issues outside the classroom may provide insight into his or her true level of development.

        Publicity seeking teachers have usually done their homework and are grounded in basic religious or spiritual teachings. They may provide powerful or revealing interpretations of essential spiritual truths. If you find a teacher like this, learn what you can from them and then move on. Be leery of any teacher who demands loyalty or fails to grant you the freedom to question and search outside sources.

         Also be realistic about teachers who say everything you want to hear. You may leave the meeting feeling uplifted and positive, but are you simply soothing your hurts and doubts or are you really changing the inner attitudes that created those hurts and doubts? Successful teachers, both good and bad, encourage the student. Somehow, you must be honest with yourself about whether they are stroking your ego or honestly challenging you to work past spiritual limitations.

       If you take a break from classes and your everyday life begins reverting back to old patterns, then you really haven’t changed, have you? You’ve just spent time feeling good about how wonderful you are today and getting encouragement to act in a more positive manner tomorrow. If that’s important to you – go for it. Just be honest about what you’re getting for your money.

        "When the student is ready, the teacher appears." If you sincerely want to find truth, your intuition or inner guidance will lead you to the right teacher. Keep in mind that the right teacher for this moment may not be right further down the road. If you continue trusting your heart, you will know when to sit at a teacher’s feet, how long to stay, and when to move on.

Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 05:30AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | CommentsPost a Comment

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