Nebo D. Lukovich
“The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see.” ― Alexandra K. Trenfor
If we want to talk about discerning genuine spiritual teachers from the false ones, we must first define what a spiritual teacher is. Generally speaking, it is a vague term and may cover a broad range of spiritual masters, coaches, mentors, or advisers.
We could even differentiate spiritual teachers by the levels of their spiritual awareness:
Setting aside the levels of teaching mentioned above, for this purpose, I will define the spiritual teacher as the person who is helping a student in their spiritual path, in a trustworthy and reliable manner. The teacher is doing that by pointing the student to the spiritual liberation, in the most suitable way for her/him.
Although these teachers themselves cannot do the spiritual work for their students, they still have an enormous responsibility for many people. They are usually in a position to be giving various practical advice and offer spiritual leadership, so if they are impostors, that could ruin the lives of their followers. And their own lives also. Unfortunately, there are too many deceivers in this field today.
The danger of misleading spiritual guidance
The most obvious motive of these impostors for deceiving others is gaining material benefit, as “spirituality” has become a huge business today. But there are certainly other reasons as well: they can temporarily satisfy their ego and vanity; they try to suppress their feeling of inferiority, or they are sometimes even split personalities.
Although their practical advice on dealing with numerous kinds of life situations can really be helpful occasionally, the subtle background of their instructions is flawed. Therefore, even if their directions were correct, people who listened to them would, at the deeper level, sense the fundamental inadequacy of their guidance and would often subconsciously undermine their own subsequent actions based on that guidance. The results are almost always unsatisfactory, sometimes even disastrous.
How to recognize genuine spiritual teachers?
Luckily, there are quite a lot of authentic spiritual leaders around. How do they behave? What are their recognizable traits?
Genuine spiritual teachers must be the best examples of their own preaching themselves. They ought to be genuinely benevolent, conscious beings, in contact with their True Nature. Hence, their spiritual messages must be stemming from that inner Truth. They can impeccably point to the direction which is just right for us.
First, they are almost always calm and peaceful. In their daily life, they are honest and humble. You can feel their benevolence and kindness, they simply radiate love. They don’t talk about themselves, never boasting about anything. They are not domineering, forceful, rude or unkind to people around them. When we are in their presence, we spontaneously become peaceful and confident.
If a person offers to be our spiritual guide, and we know nothing about their everyday lifestyle, we just have to calm down and feel their presence with our inner body. If we don’t feel an increasing inner peace or love, if we can’t relax in their presence even if they are seemingly kind to us, then they are not genuine, at least for us at that moment. We have to withdraw and find another teacher.
For example, you want to ask a spiritual teacher how to deal with a concrete problem. You are close to them and feel confident and peaceful in their presence. You feel their benevolence. That’s the sign for you to trust them. If you suddenly felt fear or anxiety in your belly while thinking of the issue itself, don’t retract. It was simply your pain, not some sensing of the teacher’s delusion. Go ahead and ask. Trust them, their directions will enable you to solve your problem.
However, don’t expect them to be absolutely perfect. If they were perfect, they couldn’t exist in this material world at all. They would apparently disappear from this material plane, as their frequency would be too high for it. Thus, they all have some imperfections, some flaws that anchor them to this world of inertia and matter. Whether held on purpose or being simply neglected, these inadequacies are typically insignificant, almost unrecognizable in the ordinary lives of those genuine people. They also have their inner struggles, but they are still completely honest and determined in their path.
Yet, the whole responsibility for our life lies upon us. They can only point to the ways in which we take that responsibility.
Inner struggles are always reflected in the outer world
Meanwhile, we shouldn’t forget that we are the best teachers for ourselves. In fact, our everyday life is the perfect spiritual teacher. As the Holographic Principle tells us, all people around us, including all life circumstances and events we find us in, are symbolical projections of our inner being. Every suppressed trauma or emotion that needs to be resolved, every obsessive thought that needs to be overcome, every inner obstacle to the path of inner freedom—all are mirrored in our body and life circumstances. Therefore, our friends and enemies, our problems and desires—all are our genuine spiritual teachers who are showing us the path toward the final liberation.
All the right knowledge is within us and the external teachers and guides are simply manifestations of our inner Truth. We must be honest with ourselves and the world outside will be honest to us. If we can recognize and admit to ourselves our mistakes and inner flaws, we will be ready for the right spiritual teacher who will sooner or later appear in our external world.
On the other hand, if we are often too proud or arrogant to see our inadequacies, if we are dishonest and prone to keeping many secrets from our friends, we will get similar people in our surroundings. Such people will unconsciously teach us (the hard way) some basic lessons of spiritual life.
We should open our hearts, be modest, honest, and open-minded. If we haven’t yet mastered these harsh lessons, we might even meet a “spiritual teacher” who will represent exactly the issues we should deal with—he or she will be full of “secrets,” ego-trips, vanity, and lies. Such a “teacher” will “help us” in getting very painful, but necessary life lessons. That would also be a vital step toward our final spiritual liberation.
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