Jesus said “Beware of False Prophets.” There are many Spiritual Teachers around these days guiding those who find themselves embarking on a spiritual path or road of self-inquiry. In the 60s and 70s, due to the influence coming over from India, in particular, we had a huge influx of Gurus. After a while, we gradually learned that these Gurus were simply human with human urges and many were caught with their pants down…quite literally! A true Guru would never appoint themselves as such. Only a hugely inflated ego would do that!
A true Guru, the kind of men described in Paramhansa Yogananda’s ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ are rare indeed! In my view, a true Guru doesn’t advertise themselves as such, they are very unlikely to promote themselves and their ‘Guruhood’ only comes into play in a spontaneous meeting with the one who will learn from them. They aren’t eager to take on disciples and are more reluctant than enthusiastic. In Jewish scripture you would find these masters working at humble jobs such as cobbling shoes and the people who would bring in their shoes for repair would sometimes notice something about the man repairing their footwear. It might be something he says or a peace felt in his presence, a sense of something deeper while in their company. Often the Master would be asked to teach by his customers and when enough people asked he might hold meetings after a day’s work.
I remember many years ago, after a difficult and disappointing evening where I had arranged to teach a meditation workshop and nobody turned up, I ordered a cab to take me home. I got into the cab and the driver turned to me and asked me what I had been doing this evening. I told him I gave spiritual guidance to people and this particular evening nobody turned up and I was very upset. I didn’t realise it at the time but I was guilty of ‘spiritual ambition’ and ‘spiritual ego’. I liked the image of myself being this powerful, wise teacher with people hanging on to my every word. There’s nothing wrong with being a spiritual teacher but it is the drive behind it that is very important to understand. Anyway, this can driver started to say things (unfortunately, I can’t recall exactly what he said) that were simple, wise and deeply penetrating and exposing of my ambition. Yet, he wasn’t talking directly about me and he wasn’t being in the least harsh or judgmental. Simultaneously, I felt my spiritual egotism exposed while a profound peace descended over me and joy awoke in my heart. In a few simple, down to earth sentences this man shone light into my shadows, revealing my arrogance and humbling me, while transmitting to me a deep self-acceptance. He also described to me his own ordinariness and his own weaknesses. I was sitting in a car with a Guru in drag as a cab-driver!
I realised that every day this man had people sitting in the back of his car absorbing his palpable aura of wisdom and peace. He didn’t call himself a guru or a spiritual teacher. He didn’t set up lectures and workshops for people to come sit at his feet. No, he was a cab driver living basic spiritual principles and reaching the people who came to him for a lift…in both senses of the word! In the time it took him to drive me home (15 minutes approx) I felt transformed! He helped me see my ambition and the arrogance that turns a good teacher into a false prophet. He also unhooked me from my deflation and sense of failure. He taught me something important about being a spiritual teacher, and there, in his cab, he opened me to a powerful force of peace. I left his cab feeling wonderful and deeply grateful…deeply touched by Grace. I never saw him again!
Of Gurus and Spiritual Teachers, I learned that there is more likely to be a humility and reluctance about the Guru than an arrogance. A spiritually enlightened person usually has had the arrogance knocked out of them! I went on to teach more workshops and people one to one but gradually I realised that there was more humility needed and as sincere as I was I also liked the role a bit too much! Eventually, I retired from the role and decided to fix computers instead! I had fulfilled the Spiritual Ambition and I needed to come still more down to earth. This was another stage on a journey that began since I was about 20 years old (I’m nearly 60 at time of writing).
The journey began with profound awakening and channeling of Knowledge and wisdom, Love and Light and gradually turned into a process of coming down from the lofty heights, and integrating the knowledge and getting my feet on the ground.
After I gave up the Teacher role I decided that if I ever returned to that role it would be because I felt called to it. It could no longer be because I liked the image of myself in the role. What I wanted to teach was good and important and vital but it was the teacher who was flawed. The biggest flaw was in not owning up to my flaws!