What Is a Spiritual Teacher?

Have you ever wondered just what it means when someone is a 'spiritual teacher'? 

Ten or twenty years ago that term wasn't very well known. Back then 'spirituality' was more associated with the occult, gurus, mysterious 'New Age' stuff and sometimes even religion. In other words, spirituality more or less hung out on the fringes of our awareness. 

The world is different now, and people in all walks of life are beginning to reap the benefits of major shifts in consciousness. With this shift, spiritual teachers have been cropping up all over, so I've been pondering the question lately, what does it mean to be a spiritual teacher? .. and what does it mean to have or invite such teachers into your life? As is the way of such things, Nirmala at endless-satsang spoke recently on this very topic. Here's a snippet from his latest newsletter:

A spiritual teacher/mentor’s role is unique in that the goal is not to transmit knowledge or understanding as much as it is to somehow bring about a recognition in the student of the student’s own pre-existing nature. This is a much more subtle thing than simply teaching someone a skill or understanding. It is not that a spiritual teacher never gives knowledge or understanding, but that knowledge or understanding by itself is not the goal. A student can have a broad knowledge of spiritual principles, and yet can still not have truly recognized those principles as being inherent in his or her own being. So spiritual teachers or mentors may teach a lot or they may not teach anything, depending on what the student needs in that moment to experience this deeper recognition of their own true nature.

This may seem like a subtle distinction between the role of a spiritual teacher and a regular teacher, but it makes a huge difference. The regular teacher usually has something specific to transmit, and there is often an implied assumption that the student will have more understanding or be better off when the teaching is completed. But the spiritual teacher is pointing to something that is already present in the student. It is like teaching someone to have shoulders. You can’t really teach the having of shoulders to someone who already has shoulders! But you can make them more aware of the shoulders they already have.

With thanks to Nirmala. You can find the full article here.

I think his analogy about the shoulders is a really good one. We all have shoulders, no one has to be taught how to have shoulders. All there is to do is make someone aware that they have shoulders, and let them decide what use to make of that knowing. 

I don't see one's own spirituality as any different than that. We are all extensions of Source, or God, or Infinite Intelligence, or whatever term fits for you. That means that Spirit is something we are. We are Spirit having a Human experience, not the other way around. 

Which means something important when it comes to spiritual teachers. It means that spiritual teachers can show you how to access the spirit within, how to apply the laws governing spirit-as-human, but what you do with it is up to you. No one knows better what brings you joy, what ignites passion in you, than you do, no matter what their credentials. So to me, the best kind of spiritual teacher is one that keeps reminding you who you really are.

So if that's a spiritual teacher, someone who keeps reminding you of Who You Really Are ... aren't we all that? Aren't we all capable of being the teacher to each other? 

In my mind, that's exactly the way it is. No longer are there gurus and clergy and authors and channelers who have more information than you do. You Are God Also. You have access to the same knowing. Those who appear to have more knowing only 'appear' to have it. What they are is more 'tuned in', more able to access that knowing. But you can get tuned in. You can listen to your heart. You can listen to the call of Source. You can listen to your intuition and your inspiration. You can quiet your mind and hear the whisper of You. 

Isn't it time you trusted yourself first? Isn't it time you fully accepted yourself as the Soul Self that you are and listened to your own inner knowing? That means moving away from the old paradigm of Follow the Leader and moving boldly into the new paradigm of Follow Your Self.

Will that happen overnight? Of course not! You spent a lot of time learning and refining your ability to do your work, whatever that work is. This won't be any different. It will take practice. It will take conscious effort. But luckily, life isn't a destination it's a journey. And you're on it. Your journey. Yours alone. You've been on it since before you were born and you'll be on it long after you die. All there is to do in the meantime is enjoy the ride. 

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