Many people wish to be enlightened or find happiness in life. There are thousands of self-help books, thousands of self-help workshops and even more philosophies and teachings promising to make people happy or enlightened. It is possible to become enlightened and happy by studying all of these resources. It is far easier to become happy and enlightened with a teacher.
A spiritual teacher is a person (living or dead) who guides us through the “mindfields” of life. By passing on truth and wisdom, spiritual teachers can help people see where they are, point out where they are stuck and give guidance on how to live a worthy and value filled life. Teachers can do this by showing us how to be or by showing us how not to be. Everyone that we encounter in life is a teacher on some level. Choosing to study life with a teacher is a meritorious endeavor that can greatly speed our journey to happiness and enlightenment.
Choosing a spiritual teacher can be a challenge. Ideally, a teacher would embody those qualities that we wish for ourselves. While there are no “bad” teachers, there are teachers who have the qualities of honesty, integrity, character, joy and charity that we seek. We should beware teachers who are only seeking material wealth without sharing their abundance with those with greater needs.
It is best to choose a teacher and to focus on that teacher. Spiritual “grazing” will not help us find enlightenment or happiness. Many people go from teacher to teacher seeking spiritual “highs” with each new teacher and avoiding any real progress through application of the teacher’s teachings. Dig deeply and find water, dive deeply and find pearls. If you find that you no longer resonate with a teacher, simply leave without criticism or animosity.
I have had many teachers … parents, brothers, ex-wives and gurus. Some of my teachers were kinder than others. Some were more advanced than others. Some challenged me and others flattered me. Teachers oftentimes reflect where and who we are at the time the teacher comes forward.
Your teacher should be a role model for you. Sharing knowledge and information is important, but the most value of a teacher is the example that they set for their students. Teachers who challenge their students oftentimes are surrounded by controversy. Seek the truth and make up your own mind whether a teacher is appropriate. Do not be afraid of controversy, and separate fact from fiction.
Teachers are guides who lead us through the quicksand and treacherous situations in life. They can see further ahead than we can, and have experiences that can help us experience ours. They light our way and shine brightly for us to follow.
Sometimes, our destiny is to meet with someone that will turn our life upside down and destroy beliefs we have about integrity or honesty. For whatever reason, I just experienced a long relationship with someone that turned out to be less than what he professed to be and his character led much to be desired. This is why it is very difficult to recognize someone who can lead you to higher consciousness by guidance versus someone that is just trying to take advantage of you.
There are a couple of red flags that you should be aware of when you are searching for a teacher who can help you. You should do your research and be very wary of those who are accused of sexual abuse or other abuse of followers. There is an old tradition from India where teachers are treated like Gods, and they are allowed to be as destructive as they want. You need to steer clear of any teacher that is abusive. There is no reason for this and it is very dangerous.
Second, you should be very careful with teachers who want control of your life, finances and family. If they recommend an investment they are involved in, RUN AWAY. Any teacher who puts financial reward over their client’s well being should be avoided at all costs.
Third, watch out for charlatans and snake oil salesmen. Social media and marketing can make anyone look divine. In fact, many times I have seen marketing that was years old, and the teacher had not accomplished anything in years. However, the marketing made the “miracles” look fresh and recent. Again, do your research.
If a teacher gives you any cause for concern, you should follow your own guidance and not disempower yourself to anyone. If you have a gut feeling that a person seems too good to be true, they probably are. If you have heard rumors about someone that questions their integrity, you should research and investigate.
Furthermore, if the teacher places you in a dangerous physical situation, RUN AWAY. Walking on coals or sweat lodges have caused serious medical injuries to clients/followers. That is not the way to expand your consciousness. It fact, if seriously injured you can cause great trauma. Please do not participate in these types of activities.
Finally, the path that you want to go on is between your heart and your head. That does not have to be expensive or dangerous. Find someone who has proven results and doesn’t put people in dangerous circumstances. Good luck on your quest!