Spiritual teachers and gurus have a way of making what they say sound like 'The Truth'. But what if it isn't?
When we go looking for spiritual guidance we are naturally open to hearing something that answers questions, so if what is said sounds good we tend to get on board with it. With this act, belief is born, and our inner sense of what is true has changed.
Are we now in possession of an uplifting 'truth', or have we taken the first step along a false or dangerous path? How can we discern between benevolent teaching and something less wholesome?
The existence of strange cults and extreme belief systems, often with many in them who are apparently intelligent, lucid people, clearly demonstrates that the human mind is vulnerable to becoming hypnotised into believing just about anything.
To avoid this we need to firstly consider the source, research impartiality, and never ignore any intuitive sense of unease. Above all, we would do well to remember that teachers, preachers and gurus are just human beings, all with human minds, physical senses and an ego (although some claim no ego remains in them).
Watch for hypocrisy, a: 'do as I say, not as I do' attitude, or 'crazy wisdom'. Basically, if someone who is expressing 'spiritual' teachings does something that seems wrong, don't ignore or excuse it. If there is self importance or irritability in them, that is a sure sign of strong ego. And any requirement on you to abandon other beliefs suggests a hidden agenda. Additional indicators include having to part with significant sums of money for any reason, or a claim that by following a particular path you will gain special benefits, superior or divine knowledge.
Sometimes, even when we are aware of all these warning signs, we simply don't see through the illusion, especially when there seems to be a great deal of what feels right in the teachings. This is why very odd ideas can become believed in. We see this happen in others, but it's not easy to be aware of in ourselves.
Belief can creep up on us, especially when our ego is being gratified by the teacher or teaching.
To avoid falling into this trap we must be forever vigilant because once an idea is believed, that's it, we are in, and likely to unknowingly get sucked deeper, even in the face of uncomfortable experiences or compelling evidence that the belief system itself is dubious. The mind is always like this; prepared to somehow make reality fit belief - determined not to be wrong.
Even the most benign statements made with all good intention can bypass our scrutiny, especially if said by someone who seems kind, sincere, knowledgeable, awakened. Let's use two examples to illustrate...
Here are statements made by two of the most well known and popular modern day teachers, that bear looking at and questioning:
" Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. "
" The teacher you need is the person you are living with. "
Are they true?
They sound enlightened and profound, and you may be able to see how they could have applied to you to some extent in your life, but ask yourself, how could anyone know these things to be true for every person at all times and in every situation? Wouldn't this require a kind of mystical knowledge of how the whole universe works? Is that likely?
Yet do we question, or just unconsciously accept?
Take what's helpful from any teaching of course, enjoy the gifts of knowledge and insight, but if you sense incredulity at anything, ask yourself: how is this known?