Are you really being taught anything by a spiritual teacher? The answer is: no, you’re not. You’re not learning anything. I’m not teaching you anything, all those famous spiritual teachers, they’re not teaching you anything, the books aren’t teaching you anything.
They’re reminding you of truth you already know. You’ve probably already heard the saying about the finger pointing at the moon. A lot of spiritual teachers use this analogy. Many focus on the spiritual teacher or the finger that’s pointing at the moon, instead of focusing on the moon, which is what the teacher is pointing to. So don’t focus on the spiritual teacher so much.
There’s a tendency in human beings to worship or adore or become a devotee. This is dangerous territory, not only for the student but also for the teacher, because many spiritual teachers are not ready for such energy being directed toward them. The ego can take that and run with it. For the student, it’s a spiritual trap. Yes, it’s true: many spiritual teachers are very loveable and it’s easy to fall in love with them, but think of them as your fellow human beings rather than your teacher or someone who knows something that you don’t. They don’t have anything you don’t have; nothing. No spiritual teacher knows anything more than you do.
In fact you don’t really need a spiritual teacher. If you’re able to quiet your mind long enough to receive the wisdom that comes from within, you wouldn’t need a spiritual teacher at all. You would get all the same information that a spiritual teacher could give you, because it’s truth that’s already within you. It’s not something that’s outside of you. You already are the master. If you’re the whole self, the ocean and not just the drop, then you already have all the information. All you have to do is become quiet and listen to what comes from within, because the teacher is within you.
The reality of it is that life is the guru. Life is your teacher, and you are responsible for setting up your life in certain ways. So you are the teacher really. You’re your own teacher. You’re the best teacher. Life brings you experiences; brings you certain people; brings you certain information. All of this is like little Buddhas being delivered to you left and right, everyday, all the time, to give you the teachings that are necessary for your next step, or your next evolutionary awakening. Don’t look outside of yourself for the teacher. The teacher is all around you; it’s your life.
So forget the spiritual teachers. If they bother you or you don’t like some… forget them. You don’t need them. If you go to hang out with spiritual teachers, yes this is fun to do. It’s nice to be around like-minded people. You go to their workshops, you go to their retreats, you meet wonderful people, you make new friends, right fellowship… this is a good thing. There’s right livelihood, there’s right environment, there’s, you know, a whole bunch of “right things” to have in your life. Right fellowship is one of them for a healthy life. So when you think of your spiritual teacher or someone who you admire a lot, or someone who you think has wisdom who you would like to absorb, or be reminded of that you already have, think of them rather as your friend, your fellow human being, your equal.
A spiritual teacher is just like you. They have nothing that you don’t have. Consider it right fellowship, rather than going to be devoted to someone or going to sit at the feet of someone. Let that worship energy go. It’s one thing to love a spiritual teacher and adore someone just the way you love and adore members of your family or your pets, but don’t’ let it go any further than that. Otherwise you create a state of inequality between yourself and the teacher. This creates an obstacle for you to enlightenment, thinking that, “Oh, well, someone over there is more evolved than I am, and so there’s something I have to fix first. There’s still something I must do in order to be as evolved and as enlightened as that.” That’s an illusion.
A spiritual teacher is nothing more than your friend and the finger pointing at the moon, this analogy that so many use. Be your own teacher. Be your own guru. Visit many spiritual teachers, don’t just pick one. Visit a few and make friends with them in your heart, and enjoy the other people who come to their workshops and retreats as your friends and equals also. Really you are your teacher. Yes, you are your own guru, and the life that you set up for yourself are your teachings to yourself.