When you are in a student/teacher relationship, a great deal, if not all you experience, are projections of aspects of yourself onto that other half of your coupleness. This happens on both sides of the relationship, with the teacher to student side of the projections called counter transference.
Most who are teachers know this and allow transference to take place in order to create a bonding holding the student closer to the teacher. Often this results in sexual relations between students and teachers, both homo and hetero sexual. In many cases we say the teacher has abused their station as a receiver of idealizations of their students and abusing the “privilege” that transference has created.
However, transference happens in almost all human relationships. Look at the mass idealizations happening between brutal dictators such as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao that the people of their nations.
There are gurus that allow the transference and others who don’t. Those who allow it do so by remaining quiet about the arising transference, the so-called love and inappropriate adulation that students have for teachers. In fact, many wrap themselves in a cloak of silence so as to allow the transference to bloom. Or, they talk philosophy of existence, or about Kundalini, or Shakti, or love, or about anything except the projections.
Transference and countertransference are of two types: positive and negative. Eventually the guru will disappoint the student for failing the student in some situation because of something the guru has done or said that does not jibe with the unconscious model of behaviors that the student has, and then the negative projections begin to dominate.
As one psychoanalytically oriented student of mine said, “That is when the real work begins.” So true. It is easy to stay related when there are mutual positive projections going on, but very difficult when the negative projections cause mutual anger or attacks.
Other teachers refuse transference by always being clear who and what they are and announcing where they stand every moment. Others like Nisargadatta renounced transferences by direct attacks on the idealizations taking place, by being a cutting sword all the time. How much more difficult to be with a teacher like this, far more difficult than being with Robert Adams or Ramana who made a cult out of silence being the best teacher.
Here is what I advise students: Beware of instant or gut attractions to cosmetically attractive gurus, such as young and attractive teachers who use their looks to build a following.
Beware too of the teacher who emulates the examples of Ramana or Christ who teaches in silence, or offers mysticism, or common sense homilies, but appears to offer no sharp edges to cut through the transferences, because otherwise you can spend years with a teacher and just be working out old family relationships in a new setting. Transferences are about infantile and toddler expectations continuing into adulthood. You can spend a lot of time working them out while being with a bland, edgeless teacher, or waste less time by being with one who cuts transference and tries directly to end dependence on concepts or idealizations.
Now Nisargadatta constantly talked about his own direct experience, from the beginning as set forth in his “Self-Knowledge and Self-Realization” where he talks about energies, Krishna Consciousness, and devotion (The Manifest Self), to the books post “I Am That” where he repudiates the I Amand the Manifest Self of Consciousness, and identifies instead only with the Absolute, the Witness prior to Consciousness.
The bland teachers such as Spero, and the charismatic teachers such as Osho, encourage idealizations, either to be worked with for the student’s benefit, or to use the students for their own ends or their own narcissistic fulfillment.
Personally, I don’t like the styles of teachers who do not reveal themselves, their day to day experiences, of their awakening experiences, etc., either because they have not had an awakening experience and only talk about awakening and enlightenment without having it, or those who have had it, and are working on using the transferences for the students’ own growth.
Relationships with someone like Ramana or U.G. Krishnamurti are less “messy” than with gurus who allow projections or who encourage them through either silence, or by being a showman, like Osho and Muktananda.
Therefore, I ask you to look at what the teachers’ teach before deciding to become a member of their camp. How does their words and posts make you feel? Do you feel cutting truth in what they say, or do you feel comfort, acceptance, and safety because their public announcements conform to your inner images of how teachers are supposed to be?
I like Jan Esmann because he holds other teachers’ feet to the fire and frequently challenges them to clarify what they mean or to take a position. He also constantly talks about his own daily experiences, which allows students to decide for themselves whether they want what he has to offer. Swami Shankarananda constantly warns students that they need to prepare for future challenges in their life and to stand on their own two feet.
I dislike Osho because his movement became a narcissistic nightmare and who psychologically decompensated under the weight to the imprisoning idealizing projections he so open-heartedly invited. Both he and Muktananda, another showman, met their deaths due to drugs and self-sabotaging behaviors.
I saw first-hand the damaging effects of Robert Adams allowing one and all to project whatever they wanted onto him and who really never dealt with student projections. He lived in the role of a pope making ex cathedra pronouncements of the unreality of life and that the only reality was Consciousness, while revealing to me and I assume to a few others, his own true belief that Consciousness itself was unreal, but a position he refused to take publically because of his fear how such a message would be received. His bland words of peace and escape capture many students even today who never knew him personally, and whose bland words encourage a certain style of projections. These poor students now live in a limbo from which escape is very, very difficult.
Remember, no matter what a teacher says about the nature of reality or enlightenment, as soon as it becomes expressed it is only a map of the teachers own experiences or understanding, and is only an opinion, a POV. There is no “truth” anywhere in what is said because “reality” lies deeper than the mind and concepts, and can only be transferred energetically, or by a careful “parsing” of what the teacher says over a few years until reality seems fir to reveal itself to you.
And there are many, many teachers who teach this way: talking about “truth” in spirituality, which is only their opinions rather from their deep experience. Until they can talk about who and what they are directly from that position and reveal themselves and their experiences, they are only talking heads, no matter how gently or stridently their truths are expressed.