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Gurus and Spiritual Teachers

It has been said that we are moving out of the age of gurus and teachers and into the age of personal mastery. This may be so, but there will always be a need for enlightened leadership and guidance. So the question is, how do we know whether or not a teacher or guide is genuine and beneficial for our growth?

It is rare for ego to not get in the way when a person declares him/herself a teacher. The best teachers I've had have usually been rather anonymous and downplayed their level of awareness. A teacher may or may not have a label or spiritual name. Oftentimes, those we least expect to give us a boost along the path are the ones that are the most effective. Someone who constantly pushes our buttons may be our greatest teacher.

The purpose of a guru is to teach disciples that they do not need a guru. Or to put it another way, the purpose of a teacher is to make him/herself unnecessary. When determining the validity of a teacher or teaching, the first thing to ask yourself is whether or not you feel empowered. Does the teacher strengthen and enhance your own natural abilities, or do they make you dependent on them in some way? Are they inclusive of other paths, or do they tell you their path is the only way? The definition of a cult involves group dependence on a particular leader and a strict adherence to his/her teachings.

One teacher that immediately comes to mind is Rajneesh (also known as Osho). He taught in India for many years, then came to America for several years, then returned to India where he died in the 1990s. Although I liked the essence of Rajneesh/Osho's teachings, the ashram environment was fraught with problems. Remember Rajneeshpuram in Oregon? The fleet of Rolls Royces? Swami's personal secretary that was blinded by power? The animosity with the local towns? Although Rajneesh once said we use the teachings to go beyond them, it appears swami's biggest message was how NOT to build an ashram. If that was his intention, he certainly succeeded in getting the point across.

I put some of the responsibility for the problems on swami and some of it on his followers. Since what we attract reflects our own consciousness, both the good and bad of the ashrams is a reflection on the teacher and teaching. I only hope that swami's followers learned whatever it was that their souls wanted to learn from their experiences.

The question regarding whether or not Rajneesh misled his followers is this: Did he make conscious decisions that adversely affected other souls? Or was he blissfully unaware of some of the ego-meanderings of his disciples? When I made eye contact with him, I experienced a blissed-out yogi. Unfortunately, blissed-out yogis do not always provide the most effective teachings in the outer world. Many teachers have shared their difficulties in bringing enlightenment into the everyday arena of earthly life.

Some teachers continuously and emphatically deny the need for teachers. J. Krishnamurti denied he was a guru and abhorred the idea of followers. Yet he had many the world over.

Oftentimes different gurus and teachers use opposite or very different approaches to achieve the same result. Take, for example, the two teachers mentioned above, Rajneesh and Krishnamurti. They took paths on opposite sides of the mountain. Rajneesh said “accept everything.” Krishnamurti said “deny everything.” What's interesting is that both paths move you toward enlightenment. When you accept everything, you are completely in the present moment and the moment opens up into eternity. When you deny everything, all illusions fall away and only that which can never be denied remains.

Two of the biggest motivators in earthly life are money and fame. There are many so-called spiritual teachers who can spout great words of wisdom, but are motivated primarily by their desire to make a buck. They can all say the same thing but often the energy and wisdom are not really there. There’s an easy litmus test for discerning the true teacher: Are the disciples’ lives getting better? Are they happier than they were before joining the group? Are they more prosperous? Are their relationships improving? Are they more independent and self-sufficient?

When a teacher shares a high level of awareness, there is a transformation that takes place if the student has a high enough level of awareness to be open and receptive. Unfortunately it is very rare for a teacher to transmit enlightenment to a student. What meets with greater success is the ability of the guru to be a mirror for the student's own inattention. Egos hate to have their errors pointed out, but whittling away at the ego's defenses is likely to greatly accelerate one's spiritual evolution.

J. Krishnamurti said "truth is a pathless land" and I believe I know what he meant by that. The ego constantly strives for enlightenment. The more it strives, the more it drives away truth. The paradox is that while we must remain vigilant, cautious and discerning, we must also surrender our egos and become like little children – empty of preconceived concepts and willing to learn something new.

Some groups definitely behave more like a cult than a genuine spiritual teaching. I am particularly wary of groups that charge exorbitant fees for their workshops and seminars. They may say beautiful things, such as "you create your own reality" and "follow your joy." While this may sometimes be good advice, I for one would not spend hundreds of dollars just to hear this message repeated over and over for several hours. Teachers who do get wealthy from their teachings are hopefully doing something with their wealth that is contributing to the good of the planet. This is not meant to be a judgment of how they spend their money, but their lives should be a reflection of their teachings.

There are very few enlightened teachers that do not have human foibles. Most who think they are above and beyond their humanness are in denial. If the age of the guru is truly over, then what we need now are groups of leaders that are willing to put their egos in their proper place (as humble servants) and come together to create the new world. We are all equal in God's eyes; each of us has a unique set of talents and abilities that contribute to the cosmic symphony.

The world will eventually mature to the point where everyone will be a leader. Although we will disagree in various matters, we will do so with respect for the other members of the society – recognizing that the most important thing and the overwhelming reason for being here on Earth is to learn and grow into greater expressions of God’s Love.

A Word about Readers and Healers

Another area that bears mentioning is readers and headers. When seeking out a genuine psychic or intuitive, you should ask yourself, “Is this person giving me useful information, or just fortune-telling?” Part of the problem lies in the quality of requests from clients: "Will I meet the man of my dreams?" or "Can you speak to my deceased?" are usually not questions that help us investigate our deeper selves. A better way to word questions would be, “What is the nature of…” or “What is the energy of…” or “What do you see regarding this relationship or that job?”

As a reader and healer, I find that some people are like open books; they are easy to read and easily helped along their path, while others are very closed and difficult to read. Most of the time if someone comes to me, it means that at least subconsciously they want to be helped, and so if they appear very closed, it is my job to help break down their defenses. Some therapists use confrontation and trickery to get clients to let of their defenses. My approach is usually more gentle; looking beyond the veneer to the real self within and speaking directly to that self.

Some readers rely a lot on symbology while others are more direct. I use both; sometimes one is preferable over the other, depending on the level of understanding of the client. To arrange a reading with yours truly, click here.

When using healing techniques, some people are control freaks (I know from personal experience). Sometimes a technique that bypasses the rational mind is quite effective. For others, a detailed explanation of how and why the healing works is appropriate. For most, it is not necessary to know about meridians, chakras, nodes, energy patterns, etheric imprints or akashic records; it is only necessary for the client to let down his/her defenses and allow their own God Presence to come through. All the healer does is create an environment where the client can heal him/herself. A space of safety and nurturing is very important. Explanations may satisfy the mind, but they do little to promote healing. All healing comes from God. The therapist is only a vehicle or channel for God’s limitless healing power.

A Word about Channelers

I am not real hot on channeling, although I do a form of conscious channeling myself. I am extremely wary of most channeled material and in fact, a lot of it holds no interest for me. This is not to say there are not some good channels. But what most people fail to realize is that just because someone channels a discarnate or so-called higher entity does not mean the entity has accurate information. In fact, the person receiving the entity may have more knowledge than the entity. This is particularly true if the topic involves earthly affairs for which the entity has had very little experience.

Do you really want to consult about the stock market with an entity that has never been in embodiment during the era of stock market commerce? If the entity is highly aware, he/she/it may be able to read your energy and give you accurate advice, but I would not bet all my shares of IBM on this. As with all other teachers and healers, use the following criteria when selecting a channel: Is the information relevant to my spiritual growth? Does it help me expand my awareness? Are there positive results from following the entity’s advice? Am I stronger and more confident in my own abilities as a result of spending time with the entity? Do the entity’s teachings foster love and self-acceptance? I am especially cautious about those who work with the “spiritual hierarchy” or “archangels”. We tend to have preconceived ideas and opinions about mythical figures and gods, as well as the angels.

Occasionally a channel will also have a thorough background in psychology and science. An example is Dr. Joshua David Stone, a therapist/teacher who works out of Los Angeles and conducts yearly Wesak celebrations at Mt. Shasta in Northern California.

Dr. Stone has written numerous books and has an especially good article on his website about how we see what we want to see, not what is really there. Dr. Stone embraces the "spiritual hierarchy", but I believe he is one of only a few people who is doing so rationally. I am aware there are many beings, energies, entities, etc., in many different dimensions, who are all a part of our One Being, but there are not that many people who have the necessary discernment to work actively with these energies/entities in a way that supports soul growth and awareness. I believe the vast majority of channelers and telepaths are either gullible and believe whatever these energies/entities tell them, or they become dependent on such energies/entities for knowledge and guidance. Dr. Stone's best remark is "a real spiritual teacher has only one goal -- to create God consciousness in his/her students." All true teachers seek to empower their students, not make them dependent followers. This applies to readers, healers and channelers as well.

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