There are some advanced spiritual teachers that help others to progress along the path. They show seekers how to escape the ego’s control and the distractions of the thinking mind in order to connect with the formless unity that permeates everything in creation.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of people who play the role of a “spiritual teacher” are not spiritually advanced. And they are unable to help others align with the formless. If you make the mistake of relying upon such a person for guidance they will become an obstacle to your spiritual progress. You should be aware that these types of unqualified teachers are out there and the ways in which they market themselves.
Telling a Personal Story
Make no mistake about it; many spiritual teachers are nothing more than business people. They want you to buy their books, or attend their retreats, or pay them for one-on-one spiritual counseling.
Any business needs to market itself to prospective customers. And for the spiritual teacher the product is himself. He has to find a way for you to like and trust him.
It is common for a business person to tell their personal story to prospective customers. It is a time-honored way of seeming more down to earth; the kind of “regular Joe” that other people can relate to in some way. And the story of how a spiritual teacher “awakened” is the cornerstone of his marketing campaign.
The best way to succeed is to copy someone who is already successful. Eckhart Tolle is one of the most popular spiritual teachers on the planet. Many wannabe spiritual teachers use Eckhart Tolle as the model of how to run their business. They think of him as a guy who has made a lot of money selling spirituality. They don’t care that Eckhart Tolle actually did attain liberation. They are salesmen and they see in Eckhart Tolle a compelling story and a style of teaching that attracts people to his books, website, and retreats.
Millions of seekers have read Eckhart Tolle’s excellent book The Power of Now. In the introduction is Tolle’s account of how he attained liberation. Many salesmen decide to tell a similar story of their own “awakening” in hopes that their prospective customers will accept it as true.
A Play on Words
An awakened person is someone who has attained liberation. And an awakening is a spiritual experience.
An awakening can be a temporary glimpse of a higher spiritual state. Or it can be a permanent shift in your consciousness that enables you to more clearly perceive the deeper reality. Each seeker has many awakenings on the spiritual path.
It is common for a spiritual salesman to conflate the words awakened and awakening. He tells the story of his awakening and makes it sound as though he has attained liberation.
The Competition to be Awake
There is a lot of competition among spiritual teachers. If some falsely claim to have attained liberation then it compels the rest to do the same. If a teacher doesn’t market himself as awakened, then their prospective customers might go to someone who does.
Spiritual Interview Shows
There are shows online that interview seekers and spiritual teachers. I enjoy watching the guests who are honest about their spiritual state and sincerely try to help others.
It all sounds well and good—like minded people getting together to share their ideas and experiences in order to help one another. But some of the guests are just there to sell themselves as an awakened spiritual teacher even though it is not true.
A spiritual show provides a forum for people to lie about their spiritual experiences without fear of being exposed. The interviewer is not going to say, “Look you and I both know you are not enlightened.” If he did, he would have difficulty booking future guests on his show.
It is in everyone’s benefit to play along. The spiritual teachers who appear on the show get more exposure and an opportunity to attract more business. The host gets a continuous supply of guests. New guests mean new podcasts and videos for their audience to consume. And that means more contributions from their audience or advertising revenues from their youtube channel. Everyone wins except those in the audience that are duped into following a teacher who is not spiritually advanced.
Rationalizing the Story
You will make real spiritual progress in this lifetime by coming into contact with the light of Source. An awakened soul is a clear vessel for the light that emanates from their form and is present in their teachings. A spiritually advanced soul still has some remaining karma. Yet they can connect deeply with Source and project the light to those they encounter.
There is an opportunity cost to following a spiritual teacher who is not advanced. The large amount of karma he carries distorts the divine light as it passes through his form. His energetic state vibrates at a much lower level than the infinitely subtle light of Source. If your attention is focused on him you will not learn how to attune to divine light. Instead you will only learn how to attune to a lower energetic state.
Be careful who you choose as a spiritual teacher. I have provided a list of enlightened people that you can rely upon for guidance.