When you hear the call of the spiritual journey, it’s only natural to seek guidance. We’ve put together some helpful tips, a learner’s guide, to help you find the right spiritual teacher.
The right teacher can help you open the doors to higher states of consciousness. But this arena is also full of counterfeits. So, finding the right spiritual teacher is important.
Tips for Finding a Good Spiritual Teacher
Almost every learning experience benefits from personal, one-on-one instruction. A qualified teacher or guru is irreplaceable in the realm of spiritual exploration. We take this limitation into account with our face-to-face learning sessions. It’s always important to follow up with personal feedback. All of our virtual learning sessions are one-on-one.
So here are some tips for finding a good spiritual teacher. Think of this as a “learners guide” or spiritual seeker’s checklist.
Attributes of a Good Spiritual Teacher
Like a boat, an excellent teacher or guru will take you to a different place. They will open doors and sometimes they push you through them. They do what is necessary to give you the tools to forge your path.
Guru is not the goal. Anyone who establishes himself as a guru to be worshipped is not a guru. Guru is like a boat for crossing the river. It is important to have a good boat, and it is very dangerous to have a boat that is leaking. The boat brings you across the river. When the river is crossed, the boat is no longer necessary. You don’t hang onto the boat after completing the journey, and you certainly don’t worship the boat. — Swami Rama of the Himalayas
The above quote is a very good summation of what to look for in a teacher. Take notice of those who are seeking to become a celebrity. Make sure you find a teacher or guru that is only interested in teaching tools. You don’t want a teacher that wants to make disciples.
One of my best teachers did his best to keep from being well known or treated like a celebrity. He wanted to pass along his knowledge. Then he would send you out.
However, his teaching was so effective people kept pushing him into the spotlight. He resisted this and made the technique the focus. I’m talking about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He taught teachers and sent them out into the world. He also openly promoted other teachers and other methods.
Good teachers work One-On-One
You will find a great number and variety of teachers in the arena of spiritual development. One quality of an excellent teacher is someone who can spend significant time with you. This requires a significant investment in time on their part.
They may not necessarily be likable, charming, or socially acceptable. However, a knowledgeable teacher will challenge you, and help you see through your personal boundaries. You can’t get this level of instruction in a large group.
Use Any Means Reasonable, and Necessary
An effective teacher will use any means reasonable and necessary to take you to the next level. They will teach you what you need, not necessarily what you want. Sometimes this means learning mantras. Other times, they may use methods to shake you into eureka moments of growth.
Sometimes these methods are not pleasant, but then spiritual growth is about the destruction of boundaries. A good example is Don Juan. He is a permanent character in the books of Carlos Castaneda. He reminds me of my teacher, Guru Tua.
This differs from a person who has or seeks celebrity status. People who base their credibility on popularity and showmanship are salesmen, not teachers. These latter qualities are those of a salesman, not a teacher. Above all, don’t follow a salesman. Focus on finding a spiritual teacher who can challenge and impart techniques that enable you to change. Stay away from those who cater to the masses.
This is one tip in the “learners guide” that sometimes can lead to abuse. Reasonable and necessary does not include emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.
What To Avoid
One of the most important tips for finding a good spiritual teacher is knowing who and what to avoid. Above all, don’t get sidetracked. Don’t fall into the trap of confusing spiritual investigation with religion. Many people don’t understand that spiritual exploration is at the opposite end of the spectrum of religion. Don’t become a follower of a person or ideology.
Religion is a doctrine based on mythology with three typical concerns. These are who might have created the universe. What happens to you, if anything, after you die. They also contain rules for governing behavior. They cloak this doctrine in fear of eternal punishment for those that disagree and an eternal paradise for those who do “believe.” They use language to make themselves sound spiritual.
Whereas, Spiritual exploration has nothing to do with doctrine or dogma. It involves the use of spiritual tools/technologies to expand awareness and open the doors of consciousness.
Learners Guide to Spiritual Technologies
When looking for a teacher or guru find one with experience teaching one or more of the following spiritual technologies.
Spiritual technologies are ancient methods for exploring the human spirit. They come from cultures all around the globe. They are time-tested by generations of use. These practical mental tools help us expand awareness. Some open the doors to higher states of consciousness.
The methods we select are tools that can stand up to the rigorous test of science. They are repeatable processes. Several produce measurable effects on our physiology. These changes include brainwave coherence, lower heart rates, and increased skin resistance. These changes prove these states of consciousness differ from waking, dreaming, and sleeping.
Anyone can use them, all you need to do is follow the process. They are like a cake recipe. When you combine the right ingredients in the right way and you get something delicious. They do not the belief or faith in any religious doctrine.
We divide these tools into four major categories:
Everyone has their own path. You can start with any of these methods. The more you use, the better.
The right teacher can propel your spiritual practice. So, it’s important to find teachers that provide tools. It’s equally important to avoid the rabbit hole of Western organized religion. We hope these tips for finding a good spiritual teacher will help you in your quest. If you find this “learners guide” helpful, pass it along.
We hope you found this article helpful, maybe even thought-provoking. You will find more interesting posts on our blog page. Use the search option on the blog page to find articles by key terms, topics, or category.
Does spiritual exploration interest you? If so, we offer both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions. We use a blended learning process to get the best learning outcomes. This blended approach aligns with what Joseph Campbell calls the Hero’s Journey (1).
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(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia