Is a teacher important on the journey of deep listening, self inquiry?
The answer, of course, is yes … as a guide …
With the need for a teacher arising as a result of looking within … and recognizing, through one’s own inner explorations, that there is a need for an “external” guide – for whatever period … until one is ready to “depend on the teacher within” … because the ultimate teacher is indeed within.
Although, a word of caution is appropriate.
As humans, self inquiry is our most intimate activity. It can be, at times, the most lonely of journeys.
In sudden revelations, reality unfolds itself offering both treasure and, just as importantly, the recognition of trash – patterns of behavior and thought that can obscure the re-discovery of our original face, or true nature. Being so deeply intertwined in this investigation, at times, delusive conclusions can emerge and parade around as new spiritual “breakthroughs.” We can and do get lost in spiritual cul de sacs.
So What is a Teacher? What is his/her Purpose?
Having a competent and trustworthy guide can be both an excellent insurance, protecting us from our own undetected delusive thinking and an explosive accelerator, catapulting us into deeper and deeper clarity.
If you are fortunate enough to discover a guide with whom you share a deep resonance, it is a precious gift.
A trustworthy guide will inevitably get to know you, your wisdom and your blind spots as you “till the land” together. When competent, the guide is armed to emphasize teachings that are uniquely appropriate to your strengths and weaknesses. His/Her “presence” is absorbed both non verbally and in how he/she “walks the walk” in his/her life.
For these gifts, it is appropriate to experience deep gratitude. Indeed, what can one say about the person who offered the keys which helped to free them from their own prison cell?
To be sure, the success of “self” discovery requires unwavering honesty, humility, and trust.
This offering of total honesty, of humility, and of trust also leaves us vulnerable and exposed. This is why caution is advised.
There is a difference between the “teacher” and the “teaching.” Even though the expression of gratitude to the guide –who has chosen to accompany you on your journey — is appropriate, it is easy for this gratitude to “morph” into idolatry. The gratitude regarding the teaching can implicitly be assumed to be embodied in the teacher. This is not necessarily true.
In fact, history is rife with stories of abuse by highly regarded teachers.
Long after the initial glimpse of our true nature, patterns of conditioning, vasanas, frequently remain. The same can be true of student and teacher alike. Like a high performance sports car, when the “clutch” is disengaged while being driven at high speeds, it takes time, sometimes a long time, for it to come to rest.
At Stillness Speaks, we try to nurture a safe environment for those who are compelled to investigate the “big questions” of life thoroughly. In as much as our content covers not only many traditions or paths for you to consider, it also offers biographical material on teachers recognized in those traditions.
Even though many of the living guides listed in our teacher’s section are known by us, many are not.
We, at Stillness Speaks, encourage you to delve deeply on your journey. We hope that this resource nurtures your ability to experience glimpses, deepen and clarify them and, ultimately, to abide while doing everything you can to help others suffer less.
As to the teachers we list, some are friends, others are living and dead icons. Some we know only in passing. So, in as much as Stillness Speaks continues to expand their teacher pages, we advise caution as you consider the merits of any tradition or teacher that appeals to you – always use your own inner guide (your ultimate teacher within) to decide what/who to follow in your journey. Stillness Speaks does monitor the teachers it lists here; from time to time, our efforts in this regard cause us to delete as well as add new guides.
Know that your safety, equanimity and happiness are our primary goals. We hope that our efforts to exercise caution – while we continue to create content, curate-aggregate, and distribute appropriate material to you, our subscriber – has been and continues to engender a safe harbor at all times.
Chris, Sanjiv & Cherie
Your own Self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world. ~ Ramana Maharshi
Images: 1) Buddha teaching the group of five by Sacca-commonswiki, CC BY-SA 2.0, #s 2) to 5) are CCO Public Domain 2) Suffering by geralt, 3) Baby by PublicDomainPictures, 4) Forest by ersi, 5) Sunrise by angelac72.