When Approaching a Spiritual Teacher

Can you say, “Open-minded skepticism?”

I always ask my students to deeply question their own motives when approaching a teacher. What are they really seeking? What are they really up to? What do they really want and hope for?

Many people see enlightenment as becoming some sort of special being with all sorts of powers and abilities…an enlightened ego. As W.C. Fields said, “You can’t cheat an honest man.” But many seekers are honest, just amazingly naive and so easily go off track if they are not absolutely clear about what they are up to. Ironically, it usually requires a good teacher to help them become clear about this, to discriminate between the desires of a spiritualized ego and that of the true spiritual process.

I ask them to check out the teacher with their 3rd Eye, Heart and Hara. Some teachers will check out on one or two levels and may be fine for some insights, teachings, methods, etc. But if you are going to establish a serious relationship with a teacher, you’ll want all 3 green lights before proceeding further.

THIRD EYE – Does what they say resonate with truth? Is it in alignment with truth? How do you know? Open-minded skepticism, discernment and discriminating wisdom are recommended here. Question everything.

HEART – Does the teaching come from a place of unconditional love and compassion? Does it recognize the unity of all life? Is the teaching about the students waking up to their true nature?….. Or  is it about how enlightened and cool the teacher is?  It is important to be clear about this! If the teaching keeps coming back to the teacher, (how cool am I? I have changed my name and changed my game. I am now an avatar of light! And you are so graced to be in my presence!) go far, far away!

HARA – Always check out a teacher with your gut, because in your gut you’ll know if s/he is nuts…

A true teacher knows you already have what you are seeking. They will just keep pointing it out to you until you see it. They will not take themselves or their organization too seriously nor will their teaching be intense, intellectual and elaborate.

As ‘Sailor’ Bob Adamson said, “This is simplicity itself.” If this direct simplicity is not obvious, you have the right to question what the teacher is really up to.

So it all comes down to asking yourself what are you really seeking when approaching a teacher and what the teacher is up to being a teacher. What is their real priority?

Many years ago some of my students and I were at a week long silent retreat with a teacher I truly respect.  We were told that at the very end of the retreat, silence would end and we would have some time to informally hang out with the teacher. We were all looking forward to that. As it turned out, the teacher was not available at the last session. Instead, it turned out to be a fund raiser for her organization. What? We’d already paid a lot of money to attend the retreat.

Do you think we had been conned?

Maybe. Maybe not. But that was my last retreat with that teacher.

Caveat emptor!


One thought on “When Approaching a Spiritual Teacher

  1. (very) Nicely and Simply put 🙂
    It does seem like that perhaps subtle but plain self-honesty is one of the precious qualities to develop (… before, during and ‘after’…one comes across a supposed teacher)
    I also like the three-‘minds’ of head-heart-gut awareness.We are compete beings; if within our nature’ one of these channels ins not right, then it won’t ever be right for us – not at the time, anyway…

    Liked by 1 person

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