To listen to Father Peter reading the blog:
Let’s face it: only a handful of people are interested in finding a spiritual teacher. Most people cannot imagine wanting one much less understanding what one might gain from being in relationship to one. The bulk of the people are not interested. For the ones that are, I have a few simple things to say. Search carefully because there are many who have no business pretending to be teachers of others. The first criterion is whether the teacher has integrity. Integrity means that what they say is how they live. Do they live what they are preaching? Do they feel all the way down into their center of being the way they are speaking? Do they live by their own words, or are they speaking one thing and doing another? The next thing to examine is whether they live a clean and pure life. I am not talking about something superficially outer like whether you eat vegetables and not meat. That is extremely trivial and unimportant. But on the inner level are they lecherous of the opposite sex and willing to use their students for sensual needs? If so, then they are false and dangerous and not true teachers. Do they use power to manipulate other people? If so, then they have a wound in their psyche that is acting out on the people that follow them and thus they are not to be followed because they are lacking in wholeness, real love and connection to God.
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Many teachers sound really good and talk a good stream of words and people find that impressive. In fact, the more vague and general the words, the more people are impressed. That is because most people can be easily duped into thinking that if someone can talk, then they must know something. It is important to examine whether the teacher actually has experienced anything real or are they giving mind candy to gullible recipients. Mind candy is flowery words about what might be possible for a human being to experience while the teacher has not had any such experience and cannot describe anything real since they are only hoping for the possibility of such an experience and never actually went through anything. Some teachers had a little experience of a beginning of something and then left to start a spiritual school without ever receiving the sanction and blessing of their teacher. They start teaching from a place of being half-baked and not even spiritually formed yet and so give conjectural and speculative teachings about how wonderful spiritual experiences must be if one ever had such a thing. This is mind candy. Also, mind candy is getting super-complicated and wordy about things one has not experienced in order to dazzle and otherwise put to sleep the audience who is wowed by the words, thinking they are substance. The truth is, if you know from experience, then you will be simple in your communication knowing that many words often makes it harder for the listener to understand. The truth is profoundly simple and uncomplicated. Words obfuscate the real meaning of things, even though the simple words can profoundly point the way to an actual experience of God.
Another thing to watch out for is the ego of a teacher who does not acknowledge the One source of all things and gives the credit to their own development and ego. That is dangerous pride and leaves out the Being that created everything. Even on the Eastern paths, there is the danger of not knowing this Being of Love that formed us. If you leave out God, then pride will put you in the place of God and then you will become corrupt.
A real spiritual teacher has humbly allowed themselves to be taught by one who really knows. They have done what their teacher told them to do and practiced their spiritual exercises obediently in just the way the teacher taught them to do them. They allowed their teacher to mold them and shape them and love them into being formed and transformed. It is up to the teacher when they will say you are formed. But I see many would-be teachers who went for a few months or years to live near a teacher and then left when they felt they should and not when the teacher released them. A real spiritual teacher will bless and sanction a student to begin to teach when the student is ready and not until. For those who met a teacher for a while and then got inspired and then put up a shingle with the word teacher beside, without that blessing of their teacher, is false. The ego was running the show and not humility and love.
A real spiritual teacher does not try to get you to like them and does not have a political agenda. They are about peace and love and connection to the divine. A real spiritual teacher always acknowledges their created status and God’s powerful energy. A real spiritual teacher is patient and will not force their will on anyone. They teach and pray and bless and love but do not coerce anyone. They do not try to convince through a barrage of heady words to numb their students into submission. They encourage and teach and sometimes say hard things that will break the hard crust of obstinacy in the student. Students come with a hard shell of resistance, pride, pain and hurt and this will have to be softened and cut away in order to reveal the real soul underneath all of those defenses. Not many can take the reality of what a teacher says because it can hurt the pride and jostle the fears of most people. But, be at peace, most people do not seek a teacher and more people would not want one. There are real ones around, but they are not as plentiful as you might think. There are a lot of mind candy teachers, but very few real ones.