Many people wish to be enlightened or find happiness in life. There are thousands of self-help books, thousands of self-help workshops and even more philosophies and teachings promising to make people happy or enlightened. It is possible to become enlightened and happy by studying all of these resources. It is far easier to become happy and enlightened with a teacher.
A spiritual teacher is a person (living or dead) who guides us through the “mindfields” of life. By passing on truth and wisdom, spiritual teachers can help people see where they are, point out where they are stuck and give guidance on how to live a worthy and value filled life. Teachers can do this by showing us how to be or by showing us how not to be. Everyone that we encounter in life is a teacher on some level. Choosing to study life with a teacher is a meritorious endeavor that can greatly speed our journey to happiness and enlightenment.
Choosing a spiritual teacher can be a challenge. Ideally, a teacher would embody those qualities that we wish for ourselves. While there are no “bad” teachers, there are teachers who have the qualities of honesty, integrity, character, joy and charity that we seek. We should beware teachers who are only seeking material wealth without sharing their abundance with those with greater needs.
It is best to choose a teacher and to focus on that teacher. Spiritual “grazing” will not help us find enlightenment or happiness. Many people go from teacher to teacher seeking spiritual “highs” with each new teacher and avoiding any real progress through application of the teachers teachings. Dig deeply and find water, dive deeply and find pearls. If you find that you no longer resonate with a teacher, simply leave without criticism or animosity.
Your teacher should be a role model for you. Sharing knowledge and information is important, but the most value of a teacher is the example that they set for their students. Teachers who challenge their students oftentimes are surrounded by controversy. Seek the truth and make up your own mind whether a teacher is appropriate. Do not be afraid of controversy, and separate fact from fiction.
Teachers are guides who lead us through the quicksand and treacherous situations in life. They can see further ahead than we can, and have experiences that can help us experience ours. They light our way and shine brightly for us to follow.