23 November 2012

Role of the Teacher

So many people are on a purported spiritual path of “self-discovery” without ever having spent any face to face time with a teacher in the flesh.
This is almost exactly like having a Facebook romance with someone you never met in the flesh.  It is all imagination and concept.  You are having a dialogue with your image of the teacher; in other words, a dialogue with yourself.
You cannot “know” a teacher, or a teacher a student, through emails, phone calls, or Skype.  You have to spend time together, face to face, otherwise the idealizations that made you want a guru in the first place, will always poison the instructions he or she is giving.
A huge number of “spiritual virgins” form their concept of what a guru is or should be like from reading about Ramana Mahashi.  Forty years ago the most common guru models were either Ramakrishna, Yogananda and his Babaji lineage, or a Zen master such as Yashatani.
But all of us have ideal-guru concepts which no teacher ever fits because it is an image personalized by us within our own minds by our felt need for a certain type of mirroring.  That is, we project onto the guru the quality in us we most cherish to become and own.  Some want a nurturing mother or father, all accepting, all caring, all loving.
Others may want a stern, warrior-like, strong guru who can contain us, protect us, lead us, show us the way to greatness or whatever.
Others want a wise man, like Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan.
You see, we seek the guru that we think will show us that part of ourselves we most desire to become, and if they appear to be failing at that, we have several choices: leave for another guru that will fill that need, or allow the current guru to show us parts of ourselves that may be as valuable or more valuable than that which we seek.
I was fortunate enough to study directly under six Zen Masters, Muktananda, and Robert Adams.  However, during the years of study with these eight, I got to meet and know well many, many other teachers, famous and not, such as Ram Dass, the Dalai Lama, Trungpa, Hsun Hua, Ananda, Song Ryong Hearn, Ed Wortz, Krishnamurti, U.G. Krishnamurti, and many others.
What I discovered is that all were first, human. They were ordinary men with some extraordinary qualities, such as love or compassion, intellect, or energy gurus, yet they were all men or woman first, ordinary men and women, with faults, problems, desires, loves, favoritism, and with endless opinions.
U.G. for example, kept talking about how his body purged itself of all thinking, all concepts, and underwent enormous transformations.  Yet the U.G. I met, was an extremely garrulous old man who chatted constantly and voiced opinions about every topic under the sun.  He had opinions about everything and was as tainted as any man I ever met by concepts and ideas.
Every master I knew had had at least one affair that got them into trouble with their own sangha, and what I learned here is that “Masters,” “teachers,” “gurus,” are among the mostly harshly judged people because they do not live up to the personal and idealized images students have of them. 
They are judged on the basis of having favorite students; they should treat everyone the same, he same amount of time with each.  They are judged based on what they do with donation money, such as giving some to support their families. They are judged based on who they put in charge of the sangha or satsang. They are judged on the basis of their diets, whether they are vegetarians, vegans or meat eaters. But especially they are judged based on their attitudes towards sex and relationships. It is as if in this area, the teacher has nothing to teach, and has everything to be taught. I.e., anytime a teacher looks at a student of the opposite sex, it is some form of abuse.
You see, teachers are on earth to pull you out of your concepts and comfort zone to show you a whole new reality, while you are judging them based on your concepts of what a teacher should be like or how they should teach.
Unless you directly study with a teacher on a daily basis, you are no more than conducting a dialogue with yourself.


  1. I agree, the gurus are human. But I don't think the students only can be blamed for their projections onto the teacher. As with most everything, it's a two-way street. So many gurus encourage their students to see them as being above human foibles and desires. Their teachings are all about transcending and not "indulging" the human stuff, so when the teacher is seen to be not the pure embodiment of those unreal ideals, there is confusion, anger, disappointment, mass exodus, lawsuits, etc.

    What was Muktananda telling his students about how to behave sexually in the world, while at the same time he was carrying on with other students? When there is a double standard, for instance extolling the virtues of celibacy for the student while the guru is not following that path, that's a problem. And even more so when there's an inner circle of students who know the real behavior of the teacher, but cover it up for the public or outer ring of students. There's a level of cynicism there that undermines any actual spiritual teaching more than the sex stuff does. Why cover it up? Because they would lose students, and therefore adulation, respect, income?

    I remember hearing that Da would be so hurt, incredulous and angry that the entire world hadn't yet recognized him as the world avatar. Gosh, do you suppose his own behavior had anything to do with that? Never seemed to occur to him.

  2. What a roaring !!! tremendous !!!
    i agree with many things you are writting above but i find you are too much generalizing and not enough "delicately shaded" !
    Yes we do many projections on the guru when we are not living near him and it is very comfortable !
    But ,yes also, gurus may be really awful and dangerous !
    In my little experience with them i could see what it was very important in my relations with them was my devotion and love for them because it was the thing which was making great changes in me and with devotion and love i could not have doubt or fear about them . i loved them so i thought always they were right !
    When i saw you here it was a great shock in my heart because of your so beautiful energy and what you are saying was so different , so disturbing , i liked very much ...
    But i don't agree when we say only people near you can change . Since four months i am meditating and listening bahjans six hours per day and always fixing my mind on your presence . And i can see how it helped to dissolve knots in the body, shoulders , back and head . Now i can feel your sweet love energy in my body and in my heart and be staying always in it . I know it is the self but it is so good to think it is your presence , no matter if it is projection, i don't care ! I can feel also when you are connecting on your blog .I am always connected to your energy and it help me very very much . Now i am feeling that energy much more fluid in all the body and in the back and i try to meditate more and let it growing and it help very much with your presence at satsang or feeling you .
    You "ll say that it is all bull shit ! But it is only i can do ...
    much love

    1. Six hours a day of bhajans! That's commitment, Sylviane. Much respect to you.

  3. The real question is: how to find a teacher??

  4. Did Robert ever have an affair, Ed?

  5. It's such a tricky thing I guess when you're maya-bound. What I try to do these days is to try to stand on my own two feet and take responsibility for my stuff, while at the same time have the 'surrender' thing in mind as a goal as I go along.

  6. Just read your latest blog and I am so glad to hear you say this Edji, it makes me feel it is OK to be human. I only "know" you via your online presence, and it's unlikely that we will ever meet, but I've still managed to form opinions about you from what I've read, heard other's say and gleaned from little bits of gossip. Then I think; "surely he wouldn't be carrying on like that if he were truly enlightened? How can I trust him? He's as insane as I am! Maybe he's playing games with us, to shock us into awakening?" "Yet another crazy, know it all Yank", etc... I was also feeling this terrible disloyalty to my previous teacher. Trusting you, felt like betraying him, like adultery.

    Some personal insights have come out of this for me; I DID unconditionally love my previous teacher, even when I saw him behaving 'badly'. I totally accepted his human 'failings' and I totally trusted his word, because to the core of my being, from the first time I heard him talk, I KNEW HIS teaching to be true. I was immediately brought into something so vast that I only had previously been able to intuit. He pointed me to his teacher who I also trust unconditionally, and who was well known for being temperamental and seemingly arbitrary with his favourites. You, on the other hand scare me shitless!

    All this emphasis on the love of attachment to the phenomenal, which we are told are the root causes of our suffering. And the emphasis on having a personal teacher. Well if I accept you as a teacher and you me as a student, then I'm fucked! Because I probably won't ever get to meet you. Then more confusion arises when you recommend Pradeep Apte's Nisarga Gita. Pradeep never met Nisarga, but still felt qualified to comment on all the "I Am" quotes of Maharaj because of a one Maharaji's quotes, that if one did not have a living teacher, then the books would suffice.

    Surely there is only one teacher; The SatGuru, that some may call God. In which case aren't all the teachers’ manifestations of that? Surely I can trust that to lead me to those who I have more to learn from? Wether I find them face to face, online or in books?
    I feel your presence Edji, even if by remote media, and the few exchanges we have had, have felt like a rap on the knuckles (but isn't that what a teacher does with the recalcitrant student?) All lead to less arrogance on my part. More teachabily.

    They say "when the student is ready the teacher appears" and my friend Maggie led me to you. I come with the greatest reluctance, but I come. So. I feel I have to trust that the SatGuru is still leading this 'horse to water'. I'm dipping my toe, but whether I imbibe or not...

  7. hello anonymus !
    it is because i was seeing listening bahjans during meditations help to make energy going across knots in the body and in the same time emotions which were blocked are going out again and after i feel much more fluid inside and much happy . But, above all, the energy of Edj is a great help for that ! So i am going on until all the knots in the body are disapearing and i don't know when it will finish ! it is not really meditation but rather scrubbing !
    much love