From a discussion about a group of spiritual teachers:
We may see enlightenment as a goal or end point, but its not. It is a process, like all other human development. There are certain key “steps” but each takes a period of integration, of settling in. Indeed, waking up puts us back in spiritual kindergarten. It is only the beginning.
Because of the lack of clarity around the subject in our culture, there are several places we can get sidetracked. Powerful spiritual experiences can strengthen the ego or give one an idea that they are enlightened because of experiences. But experiences are quite different from being. The Tibetan Buddhist teacher Lama Surya Das refers to this as “premature immaculation”
It has also become more common in the west for people to wake up but not have a framework for whats next, so get stuck there. Awake to the witness, experiencing peace and happiness, but not yet fully united or God realized. On occasion, a powerful personality can be enhanced and a sort of spiritual ego arises. The new sense of certainty can lead to a less than ideal teacher. They may have a powerful presence and clarity, yet treat their students poorly, for example. Certainly some value, but not the complete picture.
The ad for Lynne McTaggart’s book “Enlightenment” mentions Gurjieff and Ramana Maharishi. These are teachers that awoke spontaneously so have no path to teach. Eckhart Tolle is another. This is why they speak of the practice of observation but do not teach meditation or other technique, though they certainly may encourage it.
They offer great value and understanding, but another teacher is needed. Many people have blended paths as a result.
Essentially, each teacher has pros and cons. The best approach is to see what each may offer you and find what fits. As a friend of mine observed, “Eckhart woke up spontaneously after suffering so he thinks you suffer and then you wake up. Maharishi woke up through the grace of his Master so he thinks you follow a tradition of Masters and then wake up. Ramana Maharshi woke up spontaneously after some inner investigation and therefore valued the Advaita path.”
Understanding the background of a teacher, their approach, and whether they are about mind, heart, physical, or whatever is a key to understanding what you are looking at and helps determine their value to you at any give point. Your needs will change as you step up the spiral path.