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
You can learn a lot at conferences. Books and electronic media are also good learning tools. However, nothing compares to personal instruction. When learning some spiritual technologies, it is essential. This is especially true for techniques that involve mantras, sutras, mudras, and similar sound-based tools.
Also, you need real-time feedback when learning moving meditation technologies like tai chi, qigong. This is also true for healing modalities like Reiki, etc. Post checks and discussions post the learning experience for any type of mediation or spiritual practice are indispensable.
Almost every learning experience benefits from personal, one-on-one instruction. As such, a good qualified teacher or guru is irreplaceable in spiritual exploration. We take this limitation into account with our virtual learning sessions. It’s always important to follow up with personal feedback. This is why we have compiled some best practices, tips for finding a good spiritual teacher. Think of it as a spiritual learners guide.
Attributes of a Good Spiritual Teacher
Like a boat, a good teacher or guru will take you to a different place. They will open doors. Sometimes they push you through them. They do what is necessary to give you the tools to forge your own 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
This 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 you 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
If your path leads you to seek spiritual growth through someone out a teacher, remember the qualities of a good teacher are someone that 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 good teacher will challenge you, see through your personal BS and boundaries. You can’t get this type 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 the character Don Juan 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 dogma concerned with whom might have created the universe, what may happen after you die and rules of integrity 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.”
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. These spiritual technologies stand up to the test of science as having repeatable common experiential phenomena. This is the arena of spiritual exploration.
Learners Guide to Spiritual Technologies
If you are looking for a teacher or guru find one with experience teaching one or more of the following spiritual technologies.
They do not require belief in religious doctrine. So, everyone who can follow a process can use them. We call the practice of these processes spiritual exploration.
You can list these tools in several ways. Some fall into more than one group. We like this simple method.
- Tools to enhance critical thinking. This study of basic logical reasoning along with spotting logical fallacies and logical axioms. Then we also use a process we call comparative analysis. This is a step-by-step way of comparing beliefs between different worldviews. Above all, these tools will help sharpen your ability to discern fact from fiction.
- The Enneagram Personality Profile. This is mostly an analytical tool. It provides insight into the mechanisms of ego, personality, and instinct.
- Seated meditation is often the heart of your spiritual practice. This includes a range from Beginning Meditation and Mindfulness Meditation through Japa Meditation and more advanced Siddhis of Patanjali.
- Moving meditation helps us strengthen the mind-body connection. It is also an important key to our health and wellness. This progression includes several methods of energy collection, such as Forest Bathing, Qigong, and Tai Chi.
- Pathways for expanding and exploring awareness. This progression includes a range of processes from lucid dreaming, the Shamanic Journey and Guided Meditation to third-eye awakening and soul memory awareness. Practical tools to guide your path, a spiritual journal, and automatic writing.
- Healing practices are the final group. This branch includes Pe Jet, Reiki, and Shiatsu. Self-care is also a part of this group and is vital to our overall health and wellness.
The practice of spiritual exploration does not require belief in any set or form of dogma. The goal of this path is to explore other realms of perception and consciousness.
The right teacher can propel your spiritual practice. So, it’s important to find one that gives you 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.
Interested in spiritual exploration? Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey. Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions. Please consider donating and supporting our mission. This helps others learn the knowledge for developing their own path.
Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia