Shifting from Religious to Spiritual, the Need for Spiritual Teachers

Posted on October 27, 2009. Filed under: Spiritual Teachers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Humanity needs to shift its perception of itself and how it relates to the world it lives in on all levels. This tremendous shift requires a change in core beliefs. This shift can best be described as a change from religious to spiritual in the general way that humanity relates, shifting from believing and relating to the world religiously to relating to it spiritually. Religions produce folks that think that the religion that they practice is the best and  the only true one. These bi-products of religious belief produce attitudes of the practitioners that they are somehow more special than those not of their religion. Borrowing an idea from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, a religious person in the US (for example) could be described as believing that all Americans are equal but that those that practice the same religion as they do are more equal than others. It is a way of spouting equality while acting otherwise. The religious bias of inequality is a main part of the thinking that justifies exploitation, oppression and violence against others. A similar correlation can be explored about the way that attitudes of entitlement and elitism relating to natural resources have to be shifted in order to make human existence on this planet sustainable. (The effects of prejudicial religious attitudes seem so obvious that I am not going into the specifics necessary to make a formal argument. If this is too general please post a question or argument and we can discuss it further.) Thinking that is fundamentally biased in this way makes the future of humanity unsustainable and must be shifted.

One major obstacle to making this shift is the lack of understanding of what spirituality is. Spirituality is not a belief system. Spirituality is based on experience of connectedness that produces consistent specific results. It is not enough to simply believe that all things are interconnected, there must be consistent experiences of this interconnectedness that can be examined and explored. This element of validation is a required element in all aspects of spirituality. Going back to the Karen Armstrong discussion of the need for a shift in the perception of God, simply replacing the religious belief based image of God with a spiritual one is not enough. For the spiritual concept of God to have validity there must be some direct experience that one can use as the basis for that understanding (Blogs visited: In Good Faith, Learn English with Turgay Evern, This Tumbleweed Life, by Hibernopithecus, Insight, Rethorykal Questions, Find and Ye Shall Seek, Prometheus Unbound, Slow Muse, March Fourth Blog, Run Motherfucker Run, Marmalade, Randall Butisingh’s Weblog, Empowered Thoughts).

There are those that understand this because they have not only had these experiences themselves, but they have an understanding of the what is required to to establish that experience. These people are Spiritual Teachers. Spiritual Teachers are the key ingredient that humanity needs to make the shift from religious to spiritual because they know the reality of spirituality through spiritual experience. One great example of this is the  common concept of compassion compared to that concept presented by a Spiritual Teacher. People frequently refer to compassion, but when asked what compassion is specifically the definition becomes very vague. Compare this with what the Buddhist Spiritual Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh (blogs: Danny Fisher, 108ZenBooks, RBO, Enlightened Horsemanship, the loveART blog, Feeling Up In Down Times) teaches: that compassion only comes from understanding. This indicates that both understanding and compassion are specific direct experiences, and it implies that compassion is always a predictable result of increased understanding.

Along this same line, the Spiritual Teacher Eckhart Tolle (blogs: Tao of Now, Sweet in the Middle, Eckhart Tolle: Uncut Interview, Evolutionary_Mystic’s Blog, Award Winning Books, Online Inspirations ) has a book, The Power of Now, that gives specific definitions for words that are used vaguely before they are understood through direct spiritual experience. The book even includes his vivid firsthand account of the most basic of spiritual experiences.

Another example is in the way that the Spiritual Teacher the 14th Dalai Lama (blogs: Paderborner ‘SJ’ Web Blog, Dare to Bare, Sojourn to the Past, inklake, BreakLines, Pakistanpal’s Blog, In Good Faith) answered the question of what is the best religion. He said that he meets many people and if they have a warm heart it doesn’t matter what religion they are, and if they don’t have a warm heart it doesn’t matter what religion they are.

I once met the Spiritual Teacher, the Supreme Patriarch of Buddhism from Cambodia, Maha Ghosananda (blogs: CHANROEUN, Making Peace, Ruby Ramblings, Democratic Peace Blog, Skip Schiel, Church of Skippy) and asked him what Dharma is. He began telling me the textbook definition of the eightfold path. I rudely interrupted him to explain that I understood the general theory but I wanted to know how one knows what is the right thing to do in life when one is actively practicing Dharma. How do we know when to do more and when we are to back off, etc. He genuinely smiled and held up three fingers. He said, “Here, Now, This. When you are here, be only here. When it is now, be only now, and when you do this, do only this.” I said “So if I practice this I will always know what to do?” and he exclaimed, “Precisely! and when I do not I only make mistakes.”

These are all examples of Spiritual Teachers teaching from direct experience, and validating direct experience over religious belief. When the Enlightenment of these individuals and the Sikh Spiritual Teachers that I have mentioned in previous posts, Yogi Bhajan and Sant Guru Dev Singh, is investigated and examined it is found that they all were students of Spiritual Teachers themselves first. There are notions that spirituality can be learned without a Spiritual Teacher, or that it can be learned from a book. The notion that Enlightenment can be achieved without a Spiritual Teacher is simply a way to avoid the reality of what is truly necessary. The intimacy with which we delude ourselves makes Enlightenment without a Spiritual Teacher an impossibility today more than ever. The reason it is more impossible now than in the past to achieve Enlightenment without a Spiritual Teacher is that technology is so available now to divert attention from dealing with harsh truths and cater to our self serving tendencies. This is the role of a Spiritual Teacher, to show the path, to know the requirements, and to confront the cheating along the way. No one learns without this level of involvement with a Spiritual Teacher.

My Spiritual Teacher, Yogi Bhajan (blogs: Kundalini Yoga I Am, Kundalininow’s Blog, Har-Prakash Khalsa, Catalyst Yogi, Spirit Voyage, Sosieji’s Weblog), considered what is referred to as the New Age as the time when the shift from religious to spiritual will occur and that this can only occur through a newfound discovery of the validity of Spiritual Teachers. Yogi Bhajan was very clear that the defining purpose of his life was to create Spiritual Teachers to facilitate that shift. He was also a pragmatist. He established the structure for the second side of the teachings, Sat Nam Rasayan (blogs: Darsana Wellness, Healing with Lea, Be the Lighthouse ). He made sure that this was established in an open way so that students from any Spiritual Teacher can learn to understand the inner teachings of their own lineages. At the same time Yogi Bhajan was also aware that the vast majority of his own students had made their reverence of him paramount and had come to rely on that relationship in such a way that made learning the second side of the teachings virtually impossible. He allowed this to happen deliberately.

It presented itself to do this because while it is necessary to develop the strength of commitment required to  have a Spiritual Teacher in order for a student to fully face and resolve their self-centered delusions, the student must also get beyond their Spiritual Teacher and learn to exclusively rely on the Spiritual Teacher that lies within. Yogi Bhajan chose his own students to be examples of how this is not achieved when he allowed them to instigate the IKYTA certification. Allowing this stands as a clear example of how the teachings of a Spiritual Teacher become subverted into a religion by over-relying on the Spiritual Teacher and making the godliness of the Spiritual Teacher and the relationship to that Teacher more significant than the teachings that produce the experience of spirituality. In order for there to be a monumental shift from religious to spiritual there needed to be a very clear example of the pitfall of deifying a Spiritual Teacher which is the basis for all religions. Yogi Bhajan allowed his own students to be that example so that humanity could make a permanent shift from religious to spiritual.

It’s not the life that matters, but the courage we bring to it.

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3 Responses to “Shifting from Religious to Spiritual, the Need for Spiritual Teachers”

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Sat Nam,

Some good points made here. Yogi Bhajan also said that there will be no religions in the Aquarian Age (2012 and beyond).

I feel strongly at this time, we as a humanity, are refusing to give our power over to ‘perceived authority figures’ such as religious structures, government and health care institutions.

Yogi Bhajan has always taught that GOD is on the inside and religions have taught us GOD is on the outside and that we need an intermediary to find GOD. This is only but one of the many lies we have been taught in the Piscean Age (last 2,000 years). It is now key for each person to connect to their own divinity and inner authority.

The true spiritual teacher will help guide you to your own Divinity and alert you to the pitfalls on the spiritual path through their own experience .

Yogi Bhajan also warned us that there would be a lot of people out there calling themselves teachers at this time. A true Spiritual Teacher is always delivering you to your DIVINITY not to their EGO. Always check in with your inner being for the Truth – listen to your intuition – you will KNOW if that person is your Teacher.

peace and love to all as we enter this great Age of Enlightenment,

Catalyst Yogi

http://www.catalystyogi.com/
http://twitter.com/catalyst_yogi

Catalyst Yogi wrote:
Yogi Bhajan also warned us that there would be a lot of people out there calling themselves teachers at this time. A true Spiritual Teacher is always delivering you to your DIVINITY not to their EGO. Always check in with your inner being for the Truth – listen to your intuition – you will KNOW if that person is your Teacher.

This is exactly the point. We students of Yogi Bhajan have an insight that most of humanity does not. We have identified our Spiritual Teacher. This does not mean that we have examined how that identification happens. What we have done instead is to presume that Yogi Bhajan is the only Spiritual Teacher around and the Savior of mankind.

This presumption has led us to focus too narrowly on recognizing Yogi Bhajan rather than developing the understanding of what a Spiritual Teacher is by investigating how we recognized one. There are other Spiritual Teachers than our own, and other lineages that are valid.

By helping others identify what a Spiritual Teacher is and how one is recognized we serve the mission of Yogi Bhajan, even when we help others recognize Spiritual Teachers that have different lineages than our own.

This is what IKYTA should be doing and is not. Instead it is mired in petty attempts of self-promotion through association with Yogi Bhajan. As long as this is the case no person that has been certified by IKYTA can develop what is necessary to become a Spiritual Teacher.

[…] in several diverse and lengthy discussion about the needed shift from religious to spiritual (Sifting trom Religious to Spiritual). During these discussions there were two themes that had general agreement. The first was that […]


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