This is the last in a series of posts this month featuring selections from our new spiritual novel, Dialogues With the Lord of Time, which is being rolled out this month in various formats, as detailed on our Home page.
In this post, we’ll feature a few selections from Dialogues discussing the topic of questionable spiritual teachers. Unfortunately, the spiritual scene is not always one big happy metaverse of blissful camaraderie. As our protagonist Father Christopher at times unsparingly points out, many less-than-honorable marketers hawk spirituality as if it were a commercial enterprise. They tout the worldly benefits of spiritual practice. They promote (disguise?) themselves as gurus and teach self-help “coping” techniques that have absolutely nothing to do with genuine spiritual transformation. Yet, these are ironically the most popular – and most profitable – types of teachers. But of course there are authentic teachers, whom Father also acknowledges.
The Masses are Truly Lost
“Now, if you are able to discern a genuine teacher among the plethora of self-professed ‘masters’ that are littering the spiritual landscape, all the more power to you. They certainly exist, but they must be sought using methods other than commercial means. Especially when a duke’s mixture of third- and fourth-rate hucksters crop up, all shamelessly promoting themselves, their practices, and sometimes each other. Then a celebrity or some other influential person jumps on the bandwagon, lending superficial credence by endorsing these charlatans. Then the masses are truly lost, following the false teachers like lemmings to their own spiritual destruction.”
“Many so-called spiritual teachers who come crawling out of the woodwork are nothing more than sophisticated marketers. They prey on human vulnerabilities. They exploit human needs. They use marketing techniques to attract followers. They have a product to sell—the allure of spiritual liberation—and the vulnerable, needy masses are a prime target. And so, the unwary multitudes fall for these advertising methods. Out pop their wallets and they purchase their hope, much in the same way a person buys Pepto Bismol to alleviate a stomachache. In my opinion, these manipulators comprise the bulk of popular teachers these days.”
The Self-Anointed Preachers and the Self-Appointed Teachers
“In addition, the category of questionable teachers includes those who set themselves up as authority figures or, worse, as objects to be worshiped—generally speaking, the self-anointed preachers and the self-appointed teachers —but who have no deeper inner realization. As Jesus pointed out, ‘they do not practice what they preach.’ They ultimately possess no authenticity precisely because they have no foundation—experiential spiritual realization—on which to stand. And yet, this is the key criterion! Thus, they lack the one spiritual credential that truly counts.”
The Best of Teachers
“Bear in mind, there are two types of gurus or spiritual guides: those who spiritually empower others, and those who seek to control others. The best of teachers give freedom to their charges. They typically establish a deep spiritual relationship with their students, often by means of formal initiation, which can considerably aid in their students’ progress. They work on very subtle levels to bring spiritual aspirants home to God rather than browbeat them into submission. They neither tether their followers to themselves nor chain them to arbitrary rules.
“Such ideal teachers subtly discern an aspirant’s inner nature so they can offer customized instructions based on their students’ innate temperament. They then gently work to elicit the same state of consciousness in their students that they themselves experience, which an advanced teacher can do, as they can actually see into their students’ soul. If they are not fully enlightened, they then pass on the transmission of blessings from their lineage, which can be extraordinarily powerful, to those seeking guidance from them. They get themselves out of the way instead of placing themselves squarely in the face of their followers and imposing their will on them. They demonstrate respect for their charges and provide a supportive, spiritual environment for them that fosters their progress. In this manner, their students are able to advance optimally by following a path that’s in harmony with their temperament and vocation.”
We will resume our regular posts in March.
Note: All excerpts from Dialogues With the Lord of Time are copyright 2023 by John Roger Barrie, All Rights Reserved.