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"I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it."
(Morpheus, from 1999 movie The Matrix)
I am reluctant to recommend any human spiritual teacher. It is a bit like recommending a builder - fraught with complications. Or worse.
I have personally witnessed financial and relationship/sexual abuse by various spiritual teachers - all in the name of Higher Things. Goodness and wisdom can often be mixed with increasingly apparent controlling and abusive behaviour. I especially question crazy wisdom teachers - and those who support them. I don't think it particularly serves humans to spiritually idolise other humans. There is so much room for abuse. Never give your life away to any guru! To understand this, read Stripping the Gurus by Geoffrey Falk - downloadable for free. After reviewing the lives of 40 widely-acknowledged spiritual giants, he concluded:
"One is then left with very little indeed to cling to in all of this. For, if even the widely recognized “best” Realizers apparently cannot distinguish between hallucination and their own ostensibly valid realizations, are lesser Realizers to be regarded as being more reliable? Seen from that perspective, the most that any spiritual teacher can be is a decent, honest, unpretentious, even-tempered and caring human being, never “divinity in the flesh.” Yet, if even one-tenth of the allegations made against those figures are valid, the overwhelming majority of them would fail miserably at even that minimal, level-headed decency. Thus, the bulk of what they would wish to teach us by their own behaviors, no sensible person would want to learn. So even let each of them be every bit as enlightened as they have claimed to be, then. (Again, if these top forty spiritual leaders are not so divine, who is?) It makes no difference; for, with the endemic reported character flaws which they bring to the table, who of them could ever do more good than harm in the world? What use, then, is their vaunted “enlightenment”? And, if anything like karma and reincarnation exist, who could suffer more for their alleged actions, in future lives, than such respected holy fools, from the “Christ-like” Ramakrishna on down? The good news, though, is that none of these grandiose god-figures, playing unconvincingly at being holy, compassionate and wise, have any power whatsoever over anyone else other than what you, or I, would give to them. Without our obedient submission and credulous swallowing of their untenable claims and widespread exaggerations, they will dry up and blow away as if they had never existed. Put another way: They need us much more than we need them." (Geoffrey D Falk, accessed 12 March 2014)I do recommend Nature. There is the Sun - a brilliant role model and simple symbol for God - around which you can build your life. Animals can help us. There is a quote about a spiritual teacher explaining how he learned to meditate by observing a cat. A dog can display amazing qualities of unconditional love and loyalty - always there with a wagging tail. Attunement to Angels can help a lot. Also self-love, self-acceptance is important.
Also, once humanity starts applying Natural Family Living, with the likes of Attachment Parenting, human beings will naturally spiritually blossom in their life course. There is a nice quote from the book The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff about this, and her observation of it in the South American indigenous tribe the Yeqana [quote forthcoming]. It is natural and normal for us to be spiritually connected. It is our culture - like interventions in birth, unnatural education, and patriarchy - that disrupts this instinctive mysticism and drive to serve the world.
There is no need for a human hierophant or intermediary. The path to intimacy is through shared power, not through unequal guru-disciple power games. We all play our part, with the emphasis very much on "we". It is a team effort to save the world and become enlightened. We have to become far more ecological, sensitive to the web of life. The quest for personal enlightenment can easily distort into selfish, competitive rivalries. Gaia Charis explains it excellently (posted March 2010, accessed 12 March 2014):
"As a sociologist I would make the assertion that the recorded history of the construction of spiritual ‘knowledge’ shows it to be founded on masculine principles which are themselves products of male-dominated cultures. The resulting characteristics of this process are the pre-eminencing of hierarchy and status and the valorisation of intellectual complexity (traditionally deemed to be masculine) coupled with the denigration of emotion and simplicity (traditionally defined as feminine.). This template is writ large through all major religions and all academic disciplines from the time of Ancient Greek thinking onwards, an era on which our contemporary thought structures are founded. The history of spirituality is the history of a masculine concept of spirituality. Not only has female experience of spirituality remained largely unheard for the whole of that time but it has often been actively eliminated, as witnessed in the early demotion of women within the burgeoning Christian church and the horrors of the burning times. The female experience, however, has always, like my own and like the African grandmothers [looking after their many AIDS-orphaned grandchildren], been deeply grounded in both simplicity and in the actualities and necessities of ‘Be-ing’. This is in direct contrast to century upon century of masculine abstraction, of complex theorisation and of the creation of a status-ridden hierarchy of expertness presented as the only medium by which the uninitiated may access the Divine... It is no wonder that female spiritual experience has so often been viewed as so subversive and threatening that it has to be subdued and eliminated...it exposes elitism as a lie, it busts the gates of Divinity wide open and lets everyone in for free."This is why I write articles on the importance of simplicity, the importance of emotions [forthcoming], the importance of women (also see here), the importance of natural family living and attachment parenting. It's also why I question the competitiveness of spiritual teachers. And it is why I prefer to disseminate my website for free. I want to "bust the gates of divinity wide open and let everyone in for free". I want us to save the world. This is what this website is about - to help you and us achieve that!
Buddha photo by mariocom20 (Morguefile)Black Belt Blindness, And Other Dangers... by Stephan Kesting [external link]
How to Choose a GURU... by JP Sears [insightful parody; external link]
Dealing with BrainWashed Family Members by JP Sears [external link]
Be on the lookout for the ways your special skills can serve what the world needs. Because we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. (The Story of Stuff email 9 September 2017)