The Failure of Western Enlightenment Teachers
Fed up with your old teacher? Spoilt for choice by all the new kids on the block? Oshana offers some practical commonsense pointers for identifying that hard-to-find authentic guru
We have been hearing that Enlightenment is difficult to attain and exceedingly rare. Indians point to their Hindu Vedic scripture for support, and Western enlightenment teachers concur. Why? Because they are lazy! It would be bad for business to admit that enlightenment is easy to attain and that therefore it should be more commonplace. Many teachers would be made redundant, and so they should be! Enlightenment should be made available to the masses. But these gurus borrowing their teachings from an antiquated caste-bound system are unable to make them intelligible.
You can demonstrate this to yourself by enquiring how much you and others fully understand any particular teacher. What is the primary message of the teaching, how is enlightenment achieved and which parts are irrelevant?
Many talk about `the teaching' but no-one knows the value of this or that principle, part, practice or theory. It reminds me of when as children we swapped "Planet of The Apes" bubble-gum card. Who really knew what card was worth more than another? For some, it came down to who was your favourite ape or actor. For others, it related to which cards were rare. Diamonds are perceived as valuable partly because they are rare, and De Beers has been accused of withholding its' diamonds to keep the prices artificially high.
Now, it matters not what you or others think is valuable in terms of what will get you enlightened. This is so much confusion. There is no enlightenment tradition, but there is a tradition of confusion. What matters is what works.
So far you have been unsuccessful. Maybe in your desperation for success you have bought the latest useless philosophy to be doing the rounds, which is about as effective for producing enlightenment, as a drunken rugby song is for finding a girlfriend. In fact, there is something sad and defeatist about once avowedly earnest seekers congregating around self-appointed teachers who make a fast buck by glibly and monotonously repeating, "There is nothing to do, nothing to get. You're already enlightened." Such statements are half-baked, delay progress, encourage lethargy, and are almost never effective.
It also insults the seeker who fervently seeks something, and it is that desire which will lead them to liberation. When enlightenment has been achieved then the desire for it will naturally stop. But attempting forcefully to stop that desire by pouring cold water on the fire by declaring that `seeking is the problem' is as misguided as taking drugs to find happiness.
The cosmic circuit, a sort of invisible path trod by seekers, has always been infested with cheap conmen who fleece those who would pay any price for liberation. But now a new strain of conman has appeared. This one commiserates with the repeatedly ripped-off seeker that what they are looking for does not exist, that it is all just a myth, and if they can just convince themselves then they can go home and have a normal life. It's another scam! A real seeker can never stop seeking. Of course, there are some people who for social reasons have believed themselves to be seekers and have grown fatigued they can retire and take up something less taxing!
So what to do? Real teachers are rare. So don't believe every Tom, Dick and Harry that crosses your path because they have a title, followers, books, a lineage or official endorsements. Use your intuition, and if it isn't working to well, then start using your commonsense. Choosing a teacher is like choosing anything. There are criteria. You may make the wrong assessment, true, but don't be psyched out or bullied into buying a holy robe and matching piece of ashram real estate before you are truly ready. But, when you do choose throw yourself whole-heartedly into it -- because enlightenment will take everything you have got to -- straight to the cleaners and return it the next day without a single spot.
So what are the criteria?
1) Does the teacher claim enlightenment? 2) Does he say that he can enlighten others? 3) Can he reveal "No-Mind" (where thoughts seem far away to you)? 4) Can he answer all your questions? 5) Will he undertake to enlighten you? 6) Can you work with him? 7) Will you give it your all?
This is a rough and ready list. But many teachers will fall down at the first two questions. They will find excuses and make myths:
Myths currently in vogue:
a) Anyone who says "I am enlightened" is not enlightened.
i) An enlightened person would not say they are enlightened ii) There is no-one there so there is no `I' iii) A person cannot get enlightened iv) Enlightenment does not exist (yes, some `teachers' even say that and use a different word for enlightenment instead!)
b) We are all enlightened c) There's nothing that you can do to get enlightened. d) No-one can enlighten anyone
It should be pointed out that these myths have not always been in vogue and they will fade into the background when it is realised how useless they are and how they provide cover for conmen to prey on innocent seekers.
p.s. this article will only mean something if your once fervent ardour for enlightenment has been dampened - if so it's now time to dry out that mind-body mechanism and and get burning for IT!
And if you haven't worked out what that means read the Answers section
Re-printed at Sannyasnews.com