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The Catalysing Role Of Teachers By: Greg Bogart

In many contemplative traditions, learning from an enlightened teacher is considered an important means of advancement on the spiritual path… Many illumined beings and mystics, especially those from Hindu, Sufi and the Zen and Tibetan Buddhist lineages, have maintained lifelong connections with their teachers and are in agreement that the student-teacher relationship is essential to the alchemy of transformation. It is also customary in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions to learn from wise spiritual teachers and ecstatic mystics. Although it’s common in some contemporary Western intellectual circles to ridicule gurus and spiritual teachers and to view those who associate with them as naïve or immature, many people continue to pursue the age old tradition of spiritual apprenticeship. A perennial rite of passage, training under the guidance of a spiritual teacher can be a powerful initiatory experience.

 The major religious texts of humanity are based on the teachings of illumined men and women of the Spirit, many of whom instructed students.… Spiritual apprenticeship is the path of training under the guidance of spiritual teachers to achieve inner awakening, enlightenment, or realisation of the Self, a state of pure consciousness or spacious awareness that is transpersonal, nonegoic and beyond the boundaries of the individual self.

 I use the term spiritual apprenticeship to denote the relationship we have to choose who guide us on the path of sacred knowledge and inner wisdom, as opposed to teachers of secular subjects… How can associating with a spiritual guide aid a seeker on the path, and what could be the challenges and difficulties that can arise?

 I observe that here are nine stages of the student-teacher relationship:

 Stage one, choosing a teacher: a look at what impels us to search for a genuine teacher, and how we know when we’ve found one

Stage two, initiation: the prerequisites and transformative power of initiation; the link to a lineage of awakened beings

 Stage three, discipleship: developing a person-to-person relationship with a teacher, receiving skillful instruction and finding a spiritual practice that leads to inner freedom

Stage four, texting: examination of the student’s character, motives and purity of thought and action; the exposure of one’s imperfections.

 Stage five, grace and guru yoga: the mysterious infusion of blessings experienced in the company of some teachers; balancing grace with self-effort, contemplation of the teacher’s qualities and state of consciousness

 Stage six, at the threshold of awakening: achieving the goal of spiritual apprenticeship, the experimental knowledge of the real, Self-realisation in moments of illumination

 Stage seven, separating from a spiritual teacher: re-establishing an independent life; resolving emotional conflicts of discipleship; unhealthy merging, facing a teacher’s shadow side; individuation from the teacher.

 Stage eight, finding the teacher within: accessing inner source of guidance, such as dreams, symbols, and disembodied teachers

 Stage nine, teaching others: with appropriate intention and ethics, sharing what we know; tests of character for teachers; guidelines for spiritual teachers.

 Stages one, two and three describe the process of entering into a relationship with a teacher. Stages four, five and six describe the ways we begin to be transformed within the relationship. And stages seven, eight, and nine describe the process of integrating the relationship and internalising the teacher. These aren’t linear stages. Some people might not pass through all nine stages or experience them in the order discussed here. These stages often intersect, blend together, and unfold concurrently. Nevertheless, I believe that taken as a whole, they describe the full style of the student-teacher relationship in all of its complexity. From ‘In the company of sages, the journey of the spiritual seeker’ published by Inner Traditions. 

 Source : http://www.speakingtree.in/spiritual-articles/new-age/the-catalysing-role-of-teachers

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