Monday, August 14, 2006

The Competent Living Teacher

The Competent Living Teacher

Those who are pure in heart,
who practice Meditation
and conquer their senses and passions,
shall attain the immortal Self,
Source of all Light and Source of all Life.

Action prompted by pleasure or profit
Cannot help anyone to cross this ocean of samsara.
Seek a teacher who has realized the Self.
To a student whose heart is full of love,
Who has conquered his senses and passions,
The teacher will reveal the Lord of Love.

Imperishable is the Lord of Love.
As from a blazing fire thousands of sparks leap forth,
So countless beings arise
From the Lord of Love and return to him.

-- Mundaka Upanishad
"The Upanishads"
Eknath Easwaran translation
Nilgiri Press

Saints and sages have unveiled all the mysteries of the spiritual journey and of self-realization in their discourses. All the techniques have been documented in books. But without an accomplished teacher, we will not be able to understand the correct technique of true knowledge just by reading.

In the Bhagavad-Gita Lord Krishna says that for learning spiritual knowledge we must seek help from an accomplished seer [male or female]:

"For learning spiritual knowledge you should go to the
one who is a seer. Pay your respect to him, serve him
and question him and express your desire for learning.
Then he will fulfill your desire and answer your questions."

Consider for a moment the nature of knowledge you wish to learn. After high school, the student thinks his direction and chooses a field of study: liberal arts, commerce, or science. If, for example, the student wants to learn liberal arts but goes to a professor of science instead, will this teacher have much to offer? The student must choose a professor proficient in the knowledge he wishes to learn. In the same manner, if you want to learn spiritual knowledge, then you must go to a spiritually competent teacher.

The appropriate spiritual teacher should be a person who has considered and discovered the realities of Atma and anatma (Spirit and matter, bondage and Liberation), and who practices a spiritual path. Such a teacher should have attained direct experience of Truth through spiritual disciplines. This is teacher you should take instruction from. The grace of teacher is also necessary for success in the spiritual pursuit. When you learn the methods for inner meditation, you should practice diligently. Moral rectitude is also very essential in this pursuit.

This is the seventh limb of yoga, dhyana (meditation; absorption). When one has become accomplished in dhyana then one attains Samadhi (union).

-- Sri Sant Sevi Ji Maharaj
"The Harmony of All Religions"