Being a Teacher

Being a Teacher

There’s a goofy idea some people have that awakening makes you a spiritual teacher. There can certainly be an impulse to share but teaching requires skill and a calling, not just wanting to tell the world.

Someone who gives talks (or whatever they call them) or writes isn’t a “spiritual teacher” in this context. A spiritual teacher in the strict sense of it is one who takes a responsibility to guide a student on their path.

They will work with you from spiritual levels – from the Self or our cosmic nature. This will be much less about your individuality or it’s needs.

It is a very serious responsibility to be a spiritual teacher as the effects are deep and profound. Yet if someone is a human in a body, there will be karma still unfolding. This leads to one of the deeper challenges of being a spiritual teacher.

Firstly, they become a focal point of students karma. They have to learn to be neutrally conscious of it and to process and clear what shows up quickly and efficiently. If instead they let it trigger their remaining shadows, they end up amplifying rather than resolving both the students and their own baggage. It is the dance all teachers go through.

Sharing their energetic baggage with students that have opened to them is messy and difficult karma. I’ve seen this play out several times, usually with rough results. This is also why it was one of the topics of the Sofia panel discussion. Most there knew recent examples of teachers who’ve become caught in their stuff. I’ve had to remove references to one from this site, someone I once highly regarded.

Another hazard is the spiritualized ego. There can be a fine line between students devotion and adulation. The teacher must be very clear on what the student is devoted to. It’s not about them as a person but the divine in them that enlivens the divine in you. Teachers can’t entirely control a students infatuation but it really doesn’t help if it goes to their head.

Further challenge can be rising subtle perception. Someone can become very awake before that comes on-line. But if they have no background or decent context, they can get mislead or caught by it. It’s not uncommon to confuse the “astral” with the divine, for example. Beings can show up and present themselves as divine but have other motivations. This is why I mentioned the feeling value during the panel – it’s not how they appear but the energy they carry that can inform you.

In some cases, beings can come bearing gifts – like abilities, charisma, and such to “help” you. But if it comes with a Faustian deal, it’s not divine. (we’re not talking about selling one’s soul here but rather one’s integrity and self-authority)

A spiritualized ego can even inflate subtle archetypes into one’s own imaginary “divine worlds”.

All of this stuff has a sticky quality too. That can lead us back into identification.

My recommendation is not to be in ANY rush to take on any special role like “teacher” or “guru” until things are deeply mature. And when you’re seeking a teacher, look for one who has moved past this stuff. It’s a drama you don’t want to be part of.

At the same time, every teacher is still a human. They will not be perfect. If we can recognize both their divinity and their humanity, just as they should be also, we will be better served.

Last Updated on November 6, 2018 by Davidya

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  1. celeste

    I am feeling that there are a lot of unresolved personality issues with some teachers. I always look at their background. Some teachers can’t tell you how to become awakened, it just happened. It is nice to be around them and listen to what they say but when it gets down to the nuts and bolts, I want help. I also look at who is following them and their level of development. I see too many seekers who want to be awakened so they can teach and think it is their dharma. Thanks for writing this.

  2. Hi Celeste
    Yes – personality issues are not a barrier to awakening. So awakening alone does not a good person make. Over time, there will be the tendency for those issues to be seen and more easily resolved. But there has to be a willingness to see and recognize it.

    The teacher I mention got called on it by several people, including myself. But he simply blamed other, often the messenger.

    If it was their dharma, they’d likely be teaching already in some way. We all are already living our dharma. The question is if we’re supporting it or struggling against it.

  3. Geoff Toane

    I feel it is very difficult to decide if a spiritual teacher is a good one or not so good one. A nice thing is that you can always change teachers. Even if a “spiritual teacher” helps one person move along the supposed path to enlightenment, I would say that has value. I have been fortunate in my karma/dharma to have come across what I feel are fantastic spiritual teachers.

    Can any teacher truly wake you up? In Tolle’s book is a story of a man’s awakening when he heard a butcher say ….

    So who can say one is a good teacher? Do the best you can in deciding and change if you do not feel you are getting results. It is kind of like marriage, love and hate and leave. It is your choice.

  4. Hi Geoff
    Yes, it is worth trying them out and seeing if theres a fit.

    This article came out of a good teacher who got caught again. So it’s also useful to be aware that a teacher may well serve us for a time. And then we outgrow them or they stop being so suitable.

    I’ve found some value in many teachers but real value in a very few. And yes, I’m grateful to have found a few gems.

    A fellow I know in Japan woke up with a car honk and no apparent spiritual practice.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  5. Jim

    Good article, David – Part of the issue is the very low bar still prevalent in the spiritual supermarket. A little darshan and a person is off and running, either as a teacher or follower. Compared to traditional branches of learning, spiritual education is still carried on without any recognized credentials or standards.
    However, we do have our intuition, that unerring inner voice that makes the necessary truths apparent. That, and a leaning towards self-sufficiency go a long way. You mentioned the distinction made between the teacher, and the teacher’s role, and much of that role can be found in life itself, absent a teacher, once some fundamental techniques are in place.
    Also, once Brahman is lived as reality, there is no way to avoid the spiritual responsibility for everyone, to always act and speak and think in a way that compels everyone quickly towards their spiritual goal. It just happens naturally and logically, no matter what the context of the action, speech, or thought.
    [In Brahman] ‘Teaching’ becomes direct energy transformation, through attention, with or without the ‘student’s’ knowledge. A very different sort of student/teacher relationship.

  6. Hi Jim
    Yes, in more traditional cultures, there was much higher bars for such things.

    Yes, intuition. Rose Rosetree also talks about energetic literacy so we can read the energy driving a teacher and can thus tell if they’re “real” or not. But both require some house cleaning so we’re seeing less through our needs and such.

    And yes, when we are one with all things there is no other so we work for all. And then in Brahman, that steps up to another level. Cosmic to cosmic. By unitedness and by means of that which remains to be united….

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