say no to “gurus”
The Pali word kalyāna-mittatā describes the Buddhist concept of spiritual friendship. I believe strongly that a teacher is a spiritual friend first and foremost; someone who has been down a certain path and can share from their own lived experiences.
If a teacher styles themselves as a guru, a savior, a rockstar, a shaman, or a prophet (even jokingly) . . . run!
There remains, in some long-standing traditions, a precedent for guru culture.
When choosing a teacher or a mentor on your spiritual path, I strongly encourage you to look for someone whose energy you resonate with, who meets you where you are, and who brings out the wholeness that already exists inside of you. 💓If a teacher implies in any way that you are broken and in need of fixing (such as suggesting that you “better yourself”) then they are probably not connected to their own primordial goodness.
We cannot create wholeness, we cannot earn worthiness, and we can’t hate ourselves into a version of ourselves that we can love. We can simply reconnect to the wisdom and beauty inside of all of us. As Marianne Williamson puts it, we are all lamps; a connected teacher is one who is plugged in and emanating their own light. Make sure your teacher is plugged in.
To that end, when choosing a teacher, ensure that they embody the precise qualities that you are seeking in your own life. If you desire traditional wisdom, do they seem to have found ways to apply ancient teachings to their own modern life? If it’s mind-body balance you want to work towards, do they have a spark, a zest, a vitality that indicates that they’ve managed to find balance themselves? Whatever it is that you are hoping to learn about, you deserve the help of someone whose life is an example of this quality (by the way, “their life” is not “their Instagram feed.”)
To put it another way:
If they haven’t been where you want to go, don’t ask them for directions!
Whether you are just beginning on your path, or are both a student and a teacher, I wish you peace, love, and strength. I love you and I am so proud that we are both walking our own paths. Nothing could be more important.
Your spiritual friend,