Seeking the Master: Teachers and Students
In today’s lecture we will discuss some practical aspects of spirituality and religion that affect all of us, at whatever level or with whatever interest in approaching these kinds of studies. We are going to be looking at an aspect of yoga known in the east as Guru Yoga.
The word "yoga" does not refer to stretching exercises, postures or work with the physical body. The word yoga really means “to unite, to yoke, to harness.” And it comes from Sanskrit, from the traditions of India. Yoga in its root is the same as our western word "religion," which comes from the Latin "religare," which also means “to unite or to bind, to yoke, to harness.” But the implication in both terms is a reunion. To unite again - to reestablish - to reform something that has been lost or broken. When we hear the term yoga these days, of course most people are referring to Hatha Yoga, which is a very introductory form of yoga, whose original creation was inspired by the need to help meditators cultivate some physical strength so they could meditate longer without the physical body creating obstacles in their practice of meditation. But nowadays Hatha Yoga has been turned into a business. This is not the kind of yoga we are referring to. We are referring to the real purpose of genuine yoga, which is spiritual. And spiritual work and spiritual benefits are acquired by working with the consciousness: not with just the body, not just with beliefs.
The term guru has become popularized in the west, and in the western conception, the western image, that is conjured when this word “guru” is spoken, we usually imagine the leader of a cult. We generally think of a “guru” as a very fat person, someone who is maybe a tyrant or a dictator, or someone who is very sanctimonious; maybe dresses in white or has long hair and a beard. Or perhaps we imagine that other cliché of a yogi sitting on top of a mountain all alone. These images have been propagated by people who do not understand what a guru is. And in general it is also because of people who are trying to make business.
The term guru just means teacher: that is all it means. In India, when you are a child, you go to kindergarten to study with your guru. You go to first grade to study with your guru, who is your teacher. In India, any teacher you have is called a guru. But, of course if you use the term “guru,” people from India and related cultures understand that generally speaking the term guru indicates a spiritual teacher. But the term has its other uses, so let us not confuse them.
If we combine the etymology of these two words, guru and yoga, we would see a practical mysticism to unite with a teacher, but with the consciousness. Not as a belief, not as a dependence or co-dependency, but a melding of minds, a union spiritually speaking, a union of consciousness. So this begs the question: is a guru necessary? Is a teacher necessary?
If we look at practical life, everything that we need to know we have to learn from someone. When we are a child we have many teachers, some are called that and some are not. Of these practical things that we have to learn, such as how to speak, how to walk, how to eat, how to dress ourselves, we learn by relating to others, by observing others, or by being instructed. So all of the people who help us with those skills were gurus, were our teachers. These are people to whom we should have gratitude. We should be grateful. They have taught us things that we need and use all of the time. For a child, it would be difficult or perhaps impossible to learn the things that are necessary to learn in life with out teachers. One could hardly imagine a child growing up isolated and alone and what that child would become: probably little more than an animal, without any skills to relate to others, or to take care of themselves. The same is true of any spiritual endeavor.
We need teachers. We need teachers in order to help us understand, to help us grow, to help us teach ourselves. But there are different kinds of teachers; there are many levels of teachers. For example, as we are now, whatever age we are now, we need a certain type of instructor, a certain kind of teacher. We do not need the teacher we have when we were in first grade, because we already learned those things. So we need another type of teacher, someone who can teach us something different, and the same is true spiritually. There are many types or levels of spiritual teachers we will encounter as we work to understand this mind that we have within.
It is stupid to state that spiritual masters and spiritual guides are not necessary.
It is absurd to be unaware of the principle of authority that exists in all of creation.
Those who are self-sufficient and proud have the opinion that masters and spiritual guides are not necessary.
We must recognize our own nothingness and misery; we must understand that we need authorities, masters, spiritual instructors, etc., but ones with self-cognizance, since only in this manner can they guide and help us wisely. —Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
In the traditions of Guru Yoga of the east, we find a great emphasis on the necessity to find a reliable teacher. And in fact Tsong Khapa, a spiritual master who lived in Tibet and who founded the tradition of the Dalai Lamas, stated that the very basis of spiritual success is the teacher: the very foundation of any attainment, of any liberation, is one's teacher. And the point of view expressed in this statement is that it is from the teacher that we receive instruction, we receive guidance, we receive assistance, kindness.
It is interesting to look at these eastern traditions and the term used in Tibetan Buddhism: Lama. Most of us have probably heard this word. The word “lama” has very deep roots, very complex meanings, but on a very simple level we can look at the two components, the two consonants, that make up the word.
This component “la” is related to the universal binding cosmic energy that lies at the base of all existence. This is a sort of cosmic force like chi. “La” is a reminder to the Tibetan mind of this universal energy, this universal force. And that is why “la” is used as an honorific. So if you were to greet a Tibetan person who you respect or who is a little older than you, you would put la at the end of their name. You would say: “Lobsang-la,” or “Pema-la,” or “Tenzin-la.” This is the same as in Japanese honorific “san” as in Hiroshi-san. “San” is an honorific. It is a tem of respect. Like in Sanskrit you have the honorific “Ji” at the end of names: “Shridar-ji,” or “Amrita-ji.” These are honorific terms that show respect. The word lama begins with “la” as an honorific.
“Ma” is a universal term for the mother. In the eastern traditions, such as in Hinduism, in Sanskrit, in Buddhism, in the Tibetan language, and in Hindi, “Ma” means mother, just like in the west. Children grow up and say: “Ma, ama, ama.” This is how a child will call their mother: the same as in the western world.
So the term “lama” represents the universal binding force of the cosmic Divine Mother, and the lama, the teacher, is the embodiment of that compassionate energy. The lama is the one who is there to assist students with love and with compassion, as a reflection or as a vehicle of that love of the Divine Mother, the cosmic mother.
In tradition of Guru Yoga in the east, the disciples treat the lama as a Buddha, as an embodiment of the divine, with a great deal of respect and veneration. So the basis of that is the desire or the intention to merge with the ma, with the la, with the cosmic divine forces being directed through that lama in the form of the teachings, in the form of the dharma. And this is the basis of guru yoga.
The eastern traditions emphasize the importance of finding a teacher. However, this tradition has been imported to the west and has now been mingled with idiosyncrasy of our western mentality and there have been some unexpected results. In the west, we have a very different perspective of a teacher. In the western traditions we have a different point of view, which is rooted in both Greek and Hebraic psychologies, whether we are aware of it or not. All of us who have been raised in the west, have been formed in an environment in which the teacher is seen as a spiritual authority, as someone who can tell us what is right or wrong. In the east this is not so. There is a striking difference between eastern and western psychologies on this point, and you can see it if you look at the role of a priest in a western tradition. A priest in a western tradition is often a confessor, someone disciples go to in order to confess their sins, to confess their mistakes, and to ask what they should do. This is generally not the case in eastern traditions. The lama, the teacher, the guru, is seen as a spiritual guide, but not a confessor. There are cases in which an eastern student may approach a teacher for guidance or assistance with physical things or with life issues, but this is generally rare; most eastern disciples would not dare to approach a guru with such mundane concerns. So there is a strong distinction between the two.
The psychology of the western disciple is one of fear; the disciple is usually afraid of any spiritual authority figure and fears punishment, going to hell, being excommunicated, or exiled. And this is because of the western development of spiritual authority through churches and religions in the west. So we have to recognize, in our own psyche, these unconscious tendencies of how we perceive our teachers. Do we approach our teacher with this subtle fear, with this subtle influence, that pushes us to show ourselves as good student because we are afraid of hell, our we are afraid of being kicked out, or exiled or rejected? This is a harmful attitude; this is a very harmful point of view, which is generally unconscious in students. It is harmful for both the student and the instructor. The student who feels afraid, who wants to prove themselves or be seen as a good student in order to feel secure, damages their own potential, and also puts the instructor in an unfortunate position. This is an attitude that is very important for western students to analyze.
When we approach the study of religion, the study of spirituality, these kinds of unconscious attitudes can corrupt our own reception of the teaching. Rather than receiving the dharma or the teachings in a pure way, consciously, we can be receiving it filtered through the fear that “if we do not do it right, we will be kicked out,” “if we do not do it right, we will go to hell,” and this is a wrong attitude.
Instructors have the obligation to teach the student without manipulation, without relying on fear to inspire a student. Instructors who use fear to inspire a student are creating a problem in that student.
Teachers must struggle to put an end to fear in students.
Teachers must allow their students to freely disagree and to healthily criticize in a constructive manner all theories that are studied.
It is absurd to force them to accept in a dogmatic way all the theories taught in [spiritual] school, college, and university.
It is necessary for students to abandon fear so that they will be able to think for themselves and to analyze the theories that they study.
Fear is one of the barriers to intelligence. Students with fear do not dare to disagree, and blindly accept as articles of faith whatever different authors state.
It is useless for teachers to talk about audacity if they are fearful. Teachers must be free of fear. Teachers who fear criticism, who are afraid of what people might say, etc., cannot be truly intelligent.
The true objective of education must be to put an end to fear and to awaken the consciousness.
What is the purpose of passing examinations [or levels of instruction] if we continue being afraid and unconscious?
Teachers have the duty to help students at their school desks to become useful in life, however, as long as fear continues to exist, no one can be useful in life.
A person filled with fear does not dare to disagree with other people’s opinions.
A person filled with fear cannot have free initiative.
Evidently, the duty of every teacher is to help each one of his students in school to become completely free of fear so that they can act spontaneously, without the need to be told or ordered.
It is essential for students to leave their fear behind so that they can have free, spontaneous, and creative initiative.
When students, by their own free and spontaneous initiative, can freely analyze and criticize the theories that they study, then they will stop being mere subjective, stupid, mechanical entities.
It is essential for free initiative to exist in order for the creative intelligence of the student to emerge.
It is necessary to give to students the freedom of spontaneous creative expression, without any type of conditioning, so that they can become cognizant of what they study.
Free creative power can only manifest itself when we do not fear criticism, when we are not afraid of what people might say, when we are not afraid of teachers’ authority, rules, etc.
The human mind is degenerated because of fear and dogmatism; therefore, it is essential to regenerate it by means of a spontaneous free initiative that is devoid of fear. —Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
As a student of religion or a student of spirituality, we need teachers. And we need a teacher precisely because we are trying to go somewhere that we have not been before: we are trying to reach a state that we have not experienced. The only one who can guide you to that is someone who has been there, someone who has experienced that. But the challenge is: if we ourselves as students have not experienced it, how can we evaluate someone else? If we have not experienced it, how can we know that someone else has? How can we have that security or that sense of knowing that the person we are approaching as a teacher is genuine? That answer to that is by studying the doctrine. We have to study the teachings, we have to study all of the great masters. Because in their basis, all of the religions in the world come from the same root, and in their fundamentals they agree. So by studying the teachings deeply, by meditating, by putting them into practice, we gather our own experiential knowledge: not just beliefs. We begin to experience and understand the basis of those teachings, and from that we can much more accurately understand and reflect upon the words of a teacher, to see if they really know what they are talking about.
This is important to know because there are a lot of charlatans, there are a lot of teachers who really do not know what they are talking about. There are a lot of people who present themselves as great leaders or guides, but who really are fake. It is mentioned in the Bible repeatedly that there are many false Christs appearing, false prophets. It is the responsibility of the student to know how to discriminate. So today we are going to talk about some guidelines that we can all use in order to determine who we can trust.
This is important because when you are seeking a teacher and you are looking to relate with a teacher, this is not a superficial issue. The teacher that you develop a relationship with will have a powerful influence on you: you are going to place into their hands your own spiritual well being, maybe even your sanity. It is important that you be very cautious, take your time, listen to your heart, study the teaching, and do not go fast.
Lineage and Recognitions
Oftentimes, a student will arrive at a school, find a teacher and immediately sign up for everything, and become very enthusiastic. Enthusiasm is good and energy to work is good, but we also need to be prudent. In the eastern traditions, they rely on something called “lineage.” The lineage is a propagation of the teaching that is passed from teacher to disciple; it is a form of authority that is passed on. And generally, these traditions have certain kinds of rules and, of course, are accompanied by an array of titles. Titles are inherited responsibilities. Western students often become fascinated with this eastern tradition of lineage, and seek something similar in western traditions, but it does not exist. The lineage format does not exist in western religions traditionally, and it does not exist in our Gnostic tradition, and there is a strong cause behind that.
In the Gnostic tradition, we recognize that these times are very confusing: the ego is very strong, the mind is bewildered and easily confused. Students want easy answers and look for physical evidence upon which they can evaluate a teacher. This happens in the east as well. Disciples in eastern traditions will often evaluate a teacher based upon how many followers they have, and they reason that “the more followers they have, the greater the teacher must be.” This of course is false. They also may evaluate the teacher based on his titles: they believe that if he has a very long and impressive sounding title, he must be a great teacher. Of course this is also false. Or they may evaluate him based on the donations he gets, the type of monastery he runs, or how much land he has been given, or how many brocaded robed he wears, or the kind of hat he wears, or how impressive he appears to be, and naturally, all of this is false. None of these things are indicators of conscious development. This is why in the eastern traditions they have attempted to establish the authority of lineage, in order to give new students a way of gauging instructors. But unfortunately, the ego is so heavy in mankind that the lineage traditions have suffered huge problems. And nowadays even the great masters of the eastern traditions recognize that lineage is not a sign of true spiritual development, because many of the titles that lamas or teacher inherit are merely inherited. They are not acquired because of true spiritual development. In many cases, they inherit the titles, so this is not a sign of spiritual development or spiritual reliability. Thus, you can understand why in the Gnostic movement we do not rely upon lineage. In fact, there are some people who claim to; there are Gnostic instructors who claim to have inherited the Gnostic lineage. This does not exist. The only lineage that we recognize in Gnosis is spiritual, internal, and is something that you cannot see physically. This lineage is not inherited of passed down physically: it is earned in the internal worlds, and is invisible to the eyes of the flesh. Regarding this issue, the master Samael Aun Weor stated something very clear that is important for us to reflect upon. He said:
"The Gnostic Movement is impersonal: it is made up by humble laborers; therefore, let us reject any personalization; let us not accept imposing individuals; no one is better than anyone else. Among us, we are all laborers, bricklayers, mechanics, farmers, writers, physicians, etc. We do not worship noble titles, nor resounding titles like “doctor, lawyer, guru, master, elder brother, avatar,” etc., because among Gnostics we are all friends, and Aquarius is the house of friends. We humans are more or less imperfect, thus I, the one who writes this book, am not anyone’s Master, and I beg people to not follow me; I am an imperfect human just like anyone else, and it is an error to follow someone who is imperfect. Let every one follow their “I Am.” —Samael Aun Weor
The “I Am” is that mysterious energy mentioned by Jesus throughout his teachings when he says: “I Am the way.” This is the Cosmic Christ. This is universal energy, the “la.” It is not a personal being. It is not an individual. It is a force. The force of the I Am is called Avalokitesvara, Chenresig, Krishna,Vishnu, Quetzalcoatl, Buddha, Jesus, Christ. This is an impersonal energy, an impersonal force. It does not cling to titles; it does not claim authority, but is simply the pure force of love: just love. No control, no demanding, no manipulations, just love.
So in the Gnostic tradition, we do not use titles. We do not use or rely upon so-called “recognitions.” In the east, there is a tradition of recognizing masters or recognizing incarnations in order to give them spiritual authority; in the Gnostic tradition, we do not use such a system. In the Gnostic tradition, there has been no reliance upon a lineage precisely because the ego is so strong in all of us.
"Regrettably, our human “I” wants to appear everywhere, our human “I” wants to be applauded and admired by everyone; the human “I” lets his hair and beard grow and wears strange clothes in order to appear publicly on the streets, so that the naive can call him master, elder brother, etc., thereafter, like a harlot the human “I” gets publicly undressed in order to show off his powers, qualities, and lineage." —Samael Aun Weor, The Major Mysteries
Previously, there were attempts to use a lineage type of system. But it was noticed that when someone has been given a kind of spiritual authority, the ego quickly takes advantage of that and harms both the teacher and the students. Therefore in the Gnostic tradition, we do not place any person over any other person. As the master said, we are all friends. So we would probably be better off if we used the term “spiritual friend” rather than teacher. Or “spiritual friend” rather than “master.” And the reason is that all of us have with in the “I Am.” All of us have within our own inner divinity. We are in fact equal.
We may be at different stages of life, or different stages of development, but no one is better than anyone else. This is another factor that is very different from eastern mentality. People from the east become very confused when they perceive the western tendency of feeling bad about ourselves, because this is not common in the east. Americans, Europeans, and Canadians have this psychological quality of feeling guilty, inferior, or shame, and often speak in a self-depricating way, because of what some call “low self-esteem.” These tendencies are very rare in the east, but they are very prevalent in the west. And this “low self-esteem,” or this poor understanding of one's true nature, is a very harmful factor that can poison a student-teacher relationship. Therefore, as a student seeking a spiritual guide, it is really important that we become aware of our own tendencies, habits, and harmful attitudes, because they have a powerful influence over us.
How do we find a teacher? Before we even look, we need to look to our own self to see that we have the right point of view. What it is that we expect when we look for a teacher? What is it that we are expecting when we are trying to comprehend this kind of teaching?
Qualifications of a Student
Tsong Khapa spoke very directly and clearly about the teacher student relationship. One of the things that he emphasized is that the student needs to examine their own mind when searching for a teacher. The student needs to have three qualities in order to protect themselves.
The first one is to have an open mind; to have an objective mind; to be able to look at things without bias. Primarily, this means we need to realize that since we are still suffering in the darkness, we do not yet know what the path is, what reality is. Therefore, it is absurd for us to remain attached to what we were told in the past. If we really want to know the way out of suffering, we have to be willing to let go our previous ideas, beliefs, and instructions. We need a mind that is open to learning new things. For some people, this can be very difficult, since it means we have to challenge what we were told by our culture, parents, traditional religion, etc.
In addition, we also need to recognize our limitations, traumas, predispositions, and mistaken ideas. Sometimes, we are resistant to learning because we are hurt in the past. For example: many people in the western world have been raised in an environment with Christian beliefs, or Christian influences, and many people have been traumatized by those influences, and have had spiritual trauma because of contradictions in those teachings or contradictions in those teachers. So it can happen that a western person, simply out of a desire to contradict the Christian belief, will begin practicing witchcraft, or enter into satanic cults, and studying “dark” occultism. This is not done with an open mind or a sincere interest: it is done simply as an unconscious impulse to reject Christianity. And this is harmful. This is an unconscious drive, an unconscious influence. The same can happen to someone coming into Gnosis. There are people who may come into the Gnostic tradition simply because they have a spiritual trauma that they are trying to contradict. So the sooner that we as students can recognize that quality in ourselves, any kind of subtle bias or subtle impulse to contradict an experience that we have had, the sooner we will be able to get past that and acquire some real understanding.
The second quality is the intelligence to tell right from wrong. This is a kind of discrimination. We need to rely on our own judgment to be able to tell when something is appropriate and when it is not. And this is particularly important when we are approaching a teacher. If we are investigating a teacher of some kind, but we see a behavior that strikes us as wrong, we need to pay attention to that. If we see that teacher, for example, flirting with students, this is a wrong behavior; or if they make lewd comments or inappropriate jokes. These are behaviors that we need to take seriously. It does not mean that we have to totally reject and walk away from that person, but we need to take it in context and use our own judgment. We need to ask ourselves, “Is this a good environment for me to be in or not?” We need to make that decision for ourselves. Do not go blindly into any school, or any teacher; rely on your sense of right and wrong. Faith is obviously a very important factor, but faith must be tempered by our own sense of what is right. Blind faith takes you in blindness, and a blind person will suffer and fall.
And the third quality is just to have the enthusiasm to study that subject. Sometimes people come to these studies with out any enthusiasm at all. It is strange but it happens. So it is good for us to really be sincere with ourselves. Are we really enthusiastic about studying this material or are we doing it for some unconscious reason? Some kind of bias, perhaps, an unconscious desire. Some people come to Gnosis, or religion, out of a desire for power, or desire for money, or sexual desire. And this is not real enthusiasm in the subject. It is an egotistical desire. Also common is the student who is simply seeking friends or a place to spend time, or even worse, seeking security, protection, an "easy ride to heaven." There is no such thing, but millions of people believe that if they attend a certain school or group, they will be saved.
In all of these cases, we simply need to be sincere and evaluate ourselves. We have to look at what is driving us: what impulses are manipulating us in subtle ways. We have to see how we react to the teacher. We have to see what kind of person this teacher is, based on our own sense of what is right and what is wrong. But most of all we need to look at what we expect. This is a very important question.
We have to understand from the point of view of the teachings, what a teacher can actually do for us; because there are different levels of teachers. As Samael Aun Weor indicated, we should not follow anyone. But what does that mean? How is it that we need a teacher but we should not follow anyone? How do we understand that?
A teacher looked at from the point of view of a spiritual friend is someone who can simply give us spiritual advice, someone who can help us understand a given subject. But such a person should never be put in the position of being a dictator or having the power or authority to tell people how to live their lives. How we live our lives is up to each individual.
In Gnosis, we do not recognize authority in this form. Krishnamurti said: “Authority destroys.” Authority, when unconscious and egotistical, is very dangerous.
There are two types of authority:
First: subconscious authority.
Second: cognizant authority.
The abuse of authority is due to unconsciousness, therefore an authority with self-cognizance would never abuse its authority.
Some philosophers are against all authority, they detest authorities; such a way of thinking is false because superior forces that control and direct as well as inferior forces that are controlled and directed exist within everything created. From a microbe to a sun, there are levels and levels, degrees and degrees.
In a simple beehive, the authority lies with the queen. In any anthill, there exist authority and laws. The destruction of the principle of authority would lead to anarchy.
The authorities of these critical times in which we live are unconscionable, and obviously, due to this undeniable psychological fact, they enslave, shackle, abuse, and cause pain.
We need completely self-cognizant masters, instructors, or spiritual guides, government authorities, parents, etc. Indeed, only in this manner can we create a better world. —Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
Who gives authority to another person? You. It is each of us who allows another person to have authority over us. And in some level this is inherent in the nature of a teacher and a student. When you submit yourself to someone else’s instruction, you are in a sense submitting to a form of authority, because you are expecting that person to have some kind of experience or wisdom in a given subject. But how far does that authority extend? In other words: how far do you allow that authority to be extended over your life? This is where the complications arise.
In the eastern concept of Guru Yoga, there is a strong emphasis of the student fully submitting themselves in every way to the guru. We all know the sad stories resulting from people doing whatever their "guru" told them to do. We all know the horror stories that have come out of people making poor decisions and trusting false teachers, and in turn have been abused in every way you can imagine. This is part of the reason why in Gnosis we reject this form of Guru Yoga. Unfortunately, even within Gnosis there is abuse of the teacher-student relationship, and this is due to the ego. So, let us understand the teachings in order to reduce the chances for these problems to arise.
The Real Guru
In Gnosis, we indicate that the real guru is inside of YOU. The purpose for the authentic tradition of Guru Yoga is to teach you to see the guru that is within your own mind.
There is a need to search for a guru in order for him to guide us along this internal and delicate way.
The guru must be searched for within, in the profundity of the consciousness...
Each disciple must search for the master inside, inside, inside.
The master is found in the profundity of our consciousness.
If you want to search for the master, abandon all bookish erudition and pseudo-spiritual schools.
The master appears when the disciple is prepared. —Samael Aun Weor, Igneous Rose
So in the Gnostic tradition we do away with the formalities, all the little steps that are taught in that process in the east. We go directly to the point. The real guru is within your own mind, that is, within your own mind when it is undefiled. When the mind is in its pure state, it is revealed as the Buddha, the guru, the master. This is inside you. So your physical teacher simply has the job to help you see that, and that is all. The physical teacher does not have the right to tell you how you should live your life. The physical teacher can make a suggestion if you ask, but has no right to make demands of you, or manipulate you, or reject you from the teaching if you do not do something the way the teacher demands you do it. These are all forms of manipulation and pride.
Another reason that this is so important is that there are a lot of charlatans, there are a lot of people who call them selves “masters.” They go around boasting about themselves, in very humble ways, even in very subtle ways, that they are “such and such master.” They may not say it in a public classes, they may say it only in a so-called “advanced classes.” But the proclamation, the self-proclamation of mastery, is a lie. Why is that? Because the master, the guru is not us, it is the Being, it is the I Am. It is that primordial base of consciousness that we all share inside.
The Master Samael stated in a very clear way:
The value of the human person, which is the intellectual animal called a human being is less than the ash of a cigarette. However, the fools feel themselves to be giants. Unfortunately, within all the pseudo-esoteric currents, a great amount of mythomaniac people exist. Individuals who fell themselves to be masters, people who enjoy when other people call them masters, individuals who believe themselves to be Gods, individuals who presume to be saints. The only one who is truly great is the Spirit, the Innermost. We, the intellectual animals, are leaves that the wind tosses about. No student of occultism is a master. True masters are only those who have reached the fifth initiation of major mysteries. And before the fifth initiation, nobody is a master.
But even then, when the fifth initiation of major mysteries has been accomplished, spiritual, internally, the master is the Being, not the physical person.
The master is inside, it is not physical. This brings to mind a story that the master Samael told about monks in a monastery in Tibet who would have to wait and endure many hours dealing with their egotistical instructor. Then in the moment when the instructor began to teach, his inner Being, his inner “I Am” would come out through the words and give wisdom. It is in those moments that the value of the teacher can be seen. But when that “I Am,” the inner master was not present, the teacher was terrible, impossible to deal with, and it took great endurance and patience for the students to deal with him, because he was such a terrible person.
This story indicates something really important. Instructors have ego; instructors are people just like you. Be careful and observe yourself. Are you projecting images onto the instructor? This is called transference; when you are projecting your own image, your idealized image on to your instructor. For example, when we study Gnosis, we see the beauty of this teaching and the power of it, and a subtle form in the mind can arise, unconsciously, where we then in a subtle way think that the teacher must have already accomplished all of this, the teacher must already be awake, the teacher must already be a master, or a great bodhisattva. And when you develop this point of view or this attitude, it is harmful not only to you, but to that instructor. Because then, there are unspoken expectations, unconscious expectations; in western psychology this is called transference. Then, counter-transference can arise, where the unconscious attitudes of the instructor will react to the projections of the student.
Another aspect of this is that you as a student might have unconscious projections of the teacher being like one of your parents, so you may be seeking their approval, seeking security, seeking love in similar unconscious ways as you do with your own physical parents, and this is also harmful.
So you can see that there is a lot to learn from the relationship with your teacher. It is an important relationship, but it requires that you as a student take responsibility for your own mind. This is a very key thing: the teacher cannot save you, the teacher cannot liberate you. The teacher can only help. The teacher can put the tools into your hand and show you how they work, but you have to build your own house, your own temple. This is why in Buddhism it is often repeated that you have to be your own master. Of this, some students become confused. Some ask, “Why do they say that we have to have guru yoga and follow the guru when they say that we have to be our own master?” It is true you have to learn from your teacher, but you have to do the work yourself.
"In the remote past, there were authentic mystery schools in the physical world, but today those schools of internal instruction must be sought within our inner universe. The current spiritual schools of the physical world are all, absolutely all, dens of black magic...
"Nevertheless, the parrots of spirituality cover their weaknesses with that parochial statement that they need these so-called schools to learn the basics. What fools. Twenty centuries have passed since the Christ came to earth and they still have not learned the basics, the first letters... These fools are believing that they can mock the holy doctrine of the Nazarene with impunity. These fools believe that learning theories is how they will free themselves. These nonsensical ones do not want to realize that maxim of Christ that says thus:
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” —Matthew 6:33
"Who among those nitwits has fulfilled the greatest commandment of the law of God?
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbour as thyself.” —Luke 10:27
"Do you not know that you are the temple of the eternal living God, and that the Most High dwells in your heart?
"You were taught the Our Father precisely so that you would learn to converse with your inner God, and yet you are looking for loopholes within schools. How foolish you are!
"So what is the need for schools if the master is within, and he calls us?" - Samael Aun Weor, Secret Notes of a Guru
Qualifications of a Teacher
So let us now look at the qualifications that a teacher should have so we can understand a little better how to relate to a teacher, and how we ourselves can grow.
Firstly, this is what Samael Aun Weor said about this:
...before we can absolutely depend on our own inner Being, we must be completely obedient to our Guru.
Every authentic Guru pronounces himself against fornication and adultery.
Every authentic Guru is a Twice-born.
Every authentic Guru sacrifices himself for humanity.
To be born, to die, and to sacrifice for humanity are the three factors of the revolution of the consciousness.
The Guru who spills Hermes’ glass [ie. orgasm] is a false Guru, a false Prophet.
The Guru who does not teach his disciples to build the solar, existential, superior Bodies of the Being is not a proper Guru in the knowledge.
The Guru who does not guide his disciples on the path of the dissolution of the ego is a mistaken Guru or a black magician.
The Guru who does not know how to sacrifice himself for humanity is not a true Guru. —Samael Aun Weor, The Gnostic Bible, The Pistis Sophia Unveiled
Now let us discuss a teaching given by Maitreya Buddha. The Buddha Maitreya is a very compassionate teacher. Recognizing that students and teachers have trouble in their relationships, the Maitreya Buddha gave this teaching to the Tibetans a long, long time ago. I am just going to outline it. If you want to study it more, this is in the sutra he gave that is called The Ornament of the Mahayana Sutras. It outlines ten essential qualities that a teacher should have.
The first requirement is a disciplined mind. And this first step is to have discipline in ethics. And of course, in Gnosis this question of ethics is a subtle one, because we recognize that morality is just like personality: it is a child of its time. We are not talking about morality. What is moral for us, is immoral in China, and what is moral for the Chinese is immoral for Americans, or for Canadians, so we are not talking about morality, which is cultural and rooted in time: we are talking about ethics, and ethics are related to karma. To know what is ethical you have to know what is right to do and what is wrong to do. But this is known only from moment to moment by awakened consciousness, because an action that is right in this moment would be wrong the next day. And you can only know this if you really know have to pay attention, to be conscious, and to listen to intuition. In Sanskrit, these are called “yama and niyama,” which mean “to do and to not do.” So this is the first quality that instructors should have: to know how to act in the right way at the right time.
The second quality is to have a calmed mind. In other words, this is to have higher training in concentration and meditation. These would be dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. In other words, an instructor should be able to access the true nature of the mind, which is undefiled. Now immediately in this list what we see is that the instructor needs to have practical experience. You cannot teach something that you do not know.
If your own mind is not disciplined, there is no way you can discipline the mind of another. – Tsong Khapa
So an instructor or teacher must have the capacity to discipline their own mind, otherwise they cannot teach. And of course this is in levels. Some are more accomplished than others. Each of us in our own way is a teacher already, whether we realize it or not. And we can all teach at our level, but from the point of view of the student, when you are looking for these qualities in your instructor, they should have these qualities a little more than you; not perfect, but a little more so at least they have a little more experience from which you can benefit, from which you can draw inspiration and understanding.
The third quality is to have a thoroughly calmed mind. And what does that mean? This is to have a mind that is so well-disciplined that this person comprehends that there is no self. This is to understand Right View or the Absolute; to have experienced that the “I” is false. In other words, this instructor should have personal experience or understanding of the Doctrine of No-self. That does not mean that all of there activities will be egoless, because we all have ego. But when discussing the nature of Emptiness or discussing the nature of the Absolute, they should at least have an appreciation for that, a respect for that, and the intention to comprehend it practically.
The fourth is to have knowledge exceeding the student, but this is not intellectual knowledge, this is not book study. It can include that, but we are not talking about the Doctrine of the Eye, which is intellectualism, we are talking about knowledge of the heart, the Heart Doctrine, and this is intuitive, experiential knowledge. You may at some point enter into a school or Gnostic environment and see a teacher student relationship where a student is able to quote the books, to quote the scriptures, to go on at length reciting aspects of the doctrine, but the teacher cannot do that. You might observe that, but it does not mean that the teacher is less than the student. Being able to recite doctrine and quote scriptures is useful, and these are good things for us to acquire, but real knowledge is experiential, and to experience the truth of no self is very different from studying it and understanding it intellectually. To understand how to explain the nature of a sephirah, or to explain, let us say, what Tiphereth means, to understand that intellectually is good and useful, but to experience it is the Heart Doctrine. So this requirement of knowledge is indicating experiential knowledge, in other words, real Gnosis, because real Gnosis is experiential, it is not book study. So do not be mislead by people who appear to have a lot of knowledge in the intellect and can quote things and recite things, and give bewilderingly confusing, or bewildering vast explanations of things. Such is not the Heart Doctrine. Some students can become confused thinking that intellectual knowledge is real knowledge but it is not.
Number five is energy and enthusiasm for teaching. That is straight-forward, right?
Number six is vast learning: intellectual culture, in other words. There are instructors who only teach one or two aspects of the teaching, and this is unfortunate; instructors should be teaching the entire doctrine. They may not understand everything, but should be seeking to understand, and should be seeking to help the student understand the whole doctrine, not just one piece or little selections from here or there. The reason is that the entire doctrine is necessary for the growth of the soul, for the development of the consciousness, not just one or two points. And when the instructor is focusing solely on singular aspects of the teaching, they are degenerating that teaching. This is what happened with Christianity. The instructors of Christianity in past times started cutting out things that they though were too difficult to understand or too controversial and what we are left with now is an empty shell, because all of the important portions were cut out. A Gnostic instructor should not commit that mistake.
A Gnostic instructor should have vast learning and always be seeking to understand more. And this is particularly true nowadays. A Gnostic instructor should not simply understand a little bit about Christianity. Really, a Gnostic instructor should understand something about all religions. An example of this was told by the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama is a man of great learning who has an understanding of so many things in life, not just religions, but also science. But he confessed at one point that he would like to understand more about Islam, because it is some thing that he had not been exposed to very much. He expressed this interest to an Indian, and the man from India said: “Oh you know what, just read a little bit from the Qu’ran and memorize a few quotes and that is all you need to know.” This is the wrong attitude, and the reason is that it does disservice to the tradition of Islam. Every religion in its root is a gift from God and has beauties and subtleties and mysticism that are necessary for the development of a particular psychology. So, as Gnostic instructors, we should all be seeking to understand each religion, not just superficially, not just to be able to say, “Well, the Buddha taught this and that.” We should really study the depths of each teaching, we should study the sutras, we should study the tantras, we should study all of the great masters in order to add to our own understanding of Gnosis, because really Gnosis is the doctrine of the synthesis. It is the glue that binds together the essential root of all religions, and the instructor who does not comprehend that can actually damage a student.
An another example given is of an instructor giving a lecture, talking at length about Buddhism, but there was a student in the audience who had studied Buddhism and saw that much of what the teacher was saying contradicted the basic tenets of Buddhism. So after the lecture, this scholar in the audience came to the instructor and said: “ I do not understand, some of the things you are saying contradict the Buddha.” And the instructor said : “Ahh, it doesn’t matter, it is no big deal.” This is a wrong attitude. It is a disservice both to the students in the audience and to the teachings themselves. The doctrine is sacred, and before we teach something, we should have a good, thorough understanding of it, and not presume to know something that we do not know; we should not act like something that we are not.
The seventh quality is the realization of emptiness. In Gnosis, we call this the Absolute or the Illuminating Void. In some traditions it is called Shunyata. This is the Absolute. It is essential for a Gnostic instructor to have a strong understanding of the Absolute. It is the very basis of the entire teaching. An instructor who does not grasp the meaning and importance of the Absolute will be left without a foundation upon which they can teach, so as students we have to look at that aspect constantly, to study the doctrine of the Emptiness, to understand what it means. This includes the understanding of the nature of No-self, the lack of a real “I.” But it goes beyond that.
The eighth requirement is that the instructor should have some skill in presenting the teaching. In other words, to have some basic teaching skills and be able to present the teachings in a way that the student can understand; and again, this is a subtle thing, because different people learn in different ways. If you approach a teacher and they do not make any sense to you at all, then you have got your answer. You should find someone that can help you understand, someone that makes sense to you.
The ninth requirement is to have deep compassion. It may be said that this is the most important quality. When we as student are looking for a teacher, we have to be looking for someone who genuinely cares, who is truly sacrificing their own time and energy to help others. How do we gauge that? There are many ways compassion can reveal itself. Some teachers may appear severe and some may appear sweet; some may appear indifferent. These are not reflections of compassion; they may be just the personality of the person. You can instead look at the fruit they produce. What are their works? What do they actually accomplish?
Compassion is love. Love does not always appear in a sanctimonious or a sweet way. Love can appear to be very severe, so do not judge a teacher based on sweetness or severity; you have to judge a teacher on the results of their actions. For example, if we are a very undisciplined person, we may need a teacher to be very severe with us, to be very strong. But if we are very disciplined, maybe too disciplined, maybe too hard on ourselves, we may need a teacher who is very sweet. Some teachers can give both, but not all can do this, because we all have are skills and our limitations, so be cautious when trying to analyze compassion.
The real measure of compassion is selflessness. The teacher who is giving themselves with out the concern for there own welfare is showing true compassion. For example: Master Samael Aun Weor wrote so many books, and wrote so intensely, that he was damaging his fingers; it was painful for him to write. But he also drew no income, no money; he did it because of love. That is a true sign of compassion. He did not advertise that. He did not go out to the public and say, “See my fingers and I am not making any money and you all should show me some appreciation.” He did not do that. He taught; he wrote. He did not claim anything for himself, not even recognition or respect. That is a sign of compassion because it is selfless action; there is nothing demanded. If the instructor is making demands for themselves, there is a problem. If they are demanding respect, if they are demanding fidelity, if they are demanding money, or power, there is a problem, so be aware of it. And remember: the demands may not be stated explicitly. They may be implied.
The tenth quality of a good instructor is resilience. Resilience in this case has multiple aspects, but primarily we are looking for resilience to teach the student no matter how many times the teaching has to be explained. A teacher who becomes impatient, demanding that a student move at a certain speed, or advance to a certain level by a certain time, is a teacher who has a problem. The teacher has to be patient and allow the student to grow at their own pace and have the patience and resilience to repeat the teachings, to continue to assist the student for as long as it takes. Unfortunately, many schools set up rules or time lines, and they say: “If you do not get to this point in six months, eight months, or ten months you are kicked out.” This has nothing to do with Gnosis. True comprehension of Gnosis occurs over lifetimes. LIFETIMES. This is not an easy science; this is not something you can accomplish like going to night school to get a degree. Gnosis is how we develop our own soul, our own consciousness. It is not easy, and it does not occur with respect to any notion of time. Time is irrelevant; in reality, time does not exist.
The great master of India Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) made a very interesting statement which the Tibetans often repeat:
Time does not change. People change.
Think about that. Time does really not change. Time is an illusion that exists only in a certain level of nature. So time does not change us and time does not change. Time is just a mechanism of a certain level of nature. What changes is matter and energy. What changes is the consciousness; but this happens according to laws: nature does not make leaps. People change constantly, either for the worse or for the better. None of us are staying the same: we are in a constant process of change. But we have to change according to our own process, according to our own efforts, and the teacher should be there to guide us, to assist us; not to whip us, unless we need that for just a moment, just to help us a little. But a constant whipping, or constant demands, or constant power plays is wrong. The instructor should have the resilience and patience to guide the student without expectations or attachment to results.
Having said this and outlined these ten factors, take a look at your own mind and reflect upon your own intentions, and realize that you will accomplish according to your own effort. Gnosis is self development. No master, no teacher, can save you. Even the Dalai Lama said:
I cannot pull someone from the hell realm and carry them to nirvana. Leaving samsara, attaining nirvana or buddhahood, depends on your own efforts. You cannot rely on anyone - not the guru, or the Buddha and bodhisattvas. – The 14th Dalai Lama
The Buddha said the same thing. The Buddha said: “I cannot save you; be your own master.” In other words, the teacher should teach the student to be self-reliant. If the teacher is cultivating dependency, infecting the student body with the notion that they must be dependent upon the instructor, then this is poison: it is pride. If a teacher uses fear to infect the students with the belief that they need that teacher and that school, otherwise they will go to hell, this is poison, and it is a lie. What we acquire spiritually is due to our own internal development. This has nothing to do with schools in the end. Dependency can be a real problem in schools.
Sadly, there are also some who state that only their school is genuine, or only their teacher is genuine. This is also indicative of pride, and reveals a lack of comprehension of the compassion of those who are awakened. There are many masters who are incarnated on the Earth in these times, in order to assist the terrible suffering that is afflicting this humanity. Even Jesus is working actively amongst humanity: but anonymously. Buddha is still working here, Padmasambhava is still working here, among many, many others: but they are working anonymously, because they know that humanity does not understand how to relate to a real master. To say that one school or one teacher is the only source of light for humanity is to say that the awakened masters do not work on behalf of suffering, and is therefore a statement that is deeply disrespectful, proud, and arrogant. Fortunately for us, that is not a true statement. There is a tremendous amount of help available to anyone who seeks to enter into the real wisdom. The help is not isolated in one school or to a handful of people. It is radiating over the whole world through the teachings that the masters are giving in many places.
And it is always given freely. Gnosis is free. Gnosis is our birthright. Being in a physical body, you have the right to have Gnosis. No one has the right to place obstacles to the teachings. Every human being has the right to enter into the full practical realization of Gnostic studies, period. No one should ever be excluded from Gnosis because of money, because of status, because of their sex, because of their race, because of their culture. In fact, I would go as far as to say that an instructor or a school does not have the right to close their doors to anyone. And Samael Aun Weor stated this time and time again. There are cases where certain students are asked to leave because it is clear that their intentions are bad. But this is a very subtle and very dangerous thing. There are unfortunately some schools that are always “exiling” people, or setting up all kinds of rules and structures that students have to mold themselves to, but this has nothing to do with Gnosis, so it is sad. And there are those instructors who are putting themselves in the position of being absolute authorities over everyone’s lives. This is also not Gnosis. A sincere instructor will always respect the free will of others, and will provide the teachings without demands of any kind.
I want to read you two quotes that will help you understand what a true initiate should be like, and the first one is from the Dalai Lama.
A true Mahayana teacher should be someone who enjoys simplicity; yearns to be anonymous (and as Tibetans would say) hides in solitude like a wounded animal.
If you notice that a instructor is always seeking the “lime light,” always wanting to be the center of attention, trying to become famous or respected, then you can see that that person has some problems. It does not mean that their teachings of Gnosis are wrong, it means that you should be cautious. The Dalai Lama continues:
The Tibetans tradition states that the Mahayana teachers should have at least two basic qualities: first, from the depth of their heart they should regard the future life as more important than this. Without this, nothing ones does becomes dharma. Second, teachers should regard the welfare of others as more important than their own. Without this, nothing one does becomes Mahayana.
You might have the unfortunate experience of observing an instructor who is more concerned with his own welfare, his own situation, then that of his students. This is sad. So you can use this as a measure when you are looking to a teacher. What do they value? Do they value their own reputation over the welfare of students? Do they value their own material situation too much? It is important to be aware of subtle (or not so subtle) clues.
The master Samael Aun Weor also stated some similar comments about what an instructor should be:
There are few initiates who comprehend what are the attributes of the great initiates, this is why Gnostic apostles never lack a Judas who betrays them, a Peter who denies them, a Thomas who mortifies them with his doubts, and a Magdalene who cries for them. Great initiates are very simple, and this is why people underestimate and despise them. Everybody wants these initiates to live according to peoples’ routine life, according to peoples’ established customs of erroneous criterion. When judgmental people try to evaluate the daily lives of the great initiates, they always judge mistakenly, since judgmental men do not comprehend the extreme simplicity of the great initiates. – The Major Mysteries
We need to be careful of those qualities in ourselves. When we are looking to our teacher, we have to be careful to not judge: we all have ego. We should always use the doctrine, the dharma, as the basis of our examination. Not our morals, not our customs, not our own personality: we have to use the doctrine as the measure. And that is these ten steps outlined: aspects of the doctrine that we can use as a basis to understand an instructor, but at the same time we need to analyze ourselves. When we are looking at our teacher and trying to gauge whether or not somebody should be our teacher, we have to look at our own heart. Are we looking at this person because we resent authority? Because many of us have that. Many of us get involved with a school or a teacher and begin to contradict that instructor simply because we resent authority. Our perhaps we are always trying to gain their favor because we are afraid. So we have to be careful of this and watch our own intentions, watch our own motivations.
In synthesis, we need to understand that whatever instructor we study with, whatever type of person they are, they are just a person.
Do not rely on a teacher’s reputation, but on what he or she has to say. - Buddha
So we may hear a lot of things about a teacher, good and bad, but how do we know if it is gossip, or envy, or jealousy, or anger, spreading lies? We do not necessarily know that, so we should not listen to rumors about someone’s reputation, whether they are a good instructor or a bad instructor, or an adulterer, or a criminal. We have to listen to what they actually say. What are they actually teaching?
Do not rely on their eloquence, or their manner of speaking, but their actual words. - Buddha
We can easily become hypnotized or fascinated with someone’s personality or the way that they present themselves, and we should not allow that to filter our reception of the doctrine. We should listen instead to what they say. Rather than looking at the face, or the personality, or the name, or the culture, or the background of the person, we should look at the meaning. What are they actually saying? What are those words? What is the meaning of their speech or lecture?
Do not rely on words of interpretable meaning, which intend to lead deeper, but rely instead on the deeper meaning; the definitive meaning. - Buddha
So as an example: in the lecture today, I have interpreted some scripture, so you should not rely on my interpretation, you should study that scripture, and then measure, weigh the interpretation against it. And if it holds up, that is fine, and if it does not, you should reject what I have said. You should always test the words of your teacher, and all of the great masters have said that. Do not believe me. Do not just take what I say at face value: test it. You have to measure it. You have to beat it up. You have to be very firm and very strong on how you receive a teaching and make use of it.
To understand the deeper meaning, do not rely on ordinary levels of mind which make things appear different from the way things actually exist. Instead rely on deep awareness. - Buddha
In other words: meditation. So to understand the deeper meaning of what is implied by today’s lecture, you have to meditate. You should not rely just on the superficial level that we are all accessing right now. And this is true of any part of Gnosis. When you receive a teaching, whether it is through a lecture or a book, you should meditate. You should take that inside and analyze it in mediation. Otherwise, the seeds that are present in that knowledge can easily be blown away and not take root in your mind stream, not take root in your heart. Meditation is the way you digest it. You take from it the nutrients that your consciousness needs.
Now you will notice throughout this process of four steps that the fundamental basis is you, not the teacher. The fundamental action, the fundamental energy, is in you, not the instructor. The comprehension of Gnosis is not something that an instructor can give you. It is something that you can only give yourself. So do not go to an instructor and keep asking them lots and lots of questions all the time. It is good to ask questions, and it is good to get answers, but you need to arrive at you own understanding. You need to arrive at your own conclusions. You need to test the teaching for yourself. It is your well being that is a stake. It is the state of your mind. It is the state of your own consciousness which is in the balance. You cannot trust that to any other person. You cannot put your sanity into the hands of someone that you do not know. You have to take responsibility for your self.
Do not accept external masters in the physical plane. Learn how to travel in the Astral Body, and when you are skillful in the Astral, choose an authentic master of Major Mysteries of the White Brotherhood and consecrate unto him the most absolute devotion and the most profound respect. - Samael Aun Weor, The Zodiacal Course
Who is Qualified to Teach
Now to close this lecture I want to address a question that often comes up. Who is qualified to teach? Who has the right to teach?
And as I have said in the beginning, in the Gnostic movement, we do not recognize any lineage: we recognize people by their fruits. In others words, if you want to know if someone is qualified to teach, then follow the advice of Jesus: “You will know them by their fruit.” You cannot judge someone by a title or by what people say they are, or what they say they are. You have to judge them by their fruit, and you can only know that with experience. So if you arrive at a school, be patient, keep your eyes open, remain aware, and watch what happens. What kind of fruit is that school producing? What kinds of students, what kind of activity, what are they doing for humanity? Is it an environment that is totally self-supported and enclosed and totally isolated from the world? Or is it an environment in which compassionate action is emphasized? Or selflessness is taught? We have to look at the fruits of the instructor to really know who that instructor is.
As far as whether someone is qualified to teach, there are some who say that you have to be trained, that you have to go to a certain person and get permission, but the Master Samael Aun Weor did not institute any such rule. Some of his students did, and that may be fine, but who gave Samael Aun Weor permission to teach? Who gave Jesus permission to teach? Who gave Moses permission? Or Krishna? Obviously, they taught because their Innermost demanded it of them. Therefore, the only authority we need is within us. We have to look into our own heart.
I have a friend who, when he was eighteen years old, got a copy of The Perfect Matrimony, read that book, studied that book, began to practice what was in that book, and began to teach right away. He was eighteen. He did that because he was driven to do so, not out of a sense of glorifying himself, but because that he recognized that the contents of that teaching were so important, so vital, so useful, that he wanted to share that with other people: not for his benefit, but for theirs. That compassion, that concern for others, is the true measure of someone who is prepared to teach.
We are all at different levels of understanding, we are all at different levels of comprehension. But whatever level of understanding we have, there is someone who has less understanding than us, there is someone who does not understand as much as we do, so we need to keep that in mind. We need an instructor, but there may be someone that we can teach at our own level. This does not mean that you should put yourself up on the pedestal, that you should go around calling yourself “an instructor,” no. We are all friends here, we are all equals, but each of us has something that we can offer to humanity, even at our own level.
There was a meeting in Latin America in 1976 of all the Gnostic instructors at that time. And there was a great debate, an argument actually, about how the Gnostic movement, this group of instructors, should be getting teachers and working with instructors and sending those instructors out. They were asking, “What are the qualifications? How do we know if someone is going to be a good instructor? What kind of structure do we need? How do we organize all of this?” There was a big argument and, of course, Samael Aun Weor was quiet. But when it was clear that this group was not going to resolve it, he took the microphone and said something important. I invite you to read closely, meditate, and take these words into your heart, because embodied in this little speech is the heart of this teaching.
We need missionaries who are properly prepared for America, Canada, and Europe,
Patient men and women that will be able to support the most arduous disciplines,
Friends of culture and true aspirants to pure science.
We want our missionaries to have the feelings of an artist,
Who love science, philosophy, and mysticism,
Missionaries who, as lovers of beauty, vibrate delectably before the Corinthian columns of Greece,
Missionaries who feel in their hearts the mysticism of Saint Francis of Assisi,
Missionaries who truly yearn for the wisdom of Egypt.
We want missionaries within whom the beauty of the Spirit and the force of love really shine,
Missionaries, who, while scientists, can also be poets, who can investigate the atom, yet stop and meditate in the singing rivulet that easily flows through a bed of rocks,
Missionaries who meditate at the foot of the ruins of Athens or ancient Rome,
Missionaries who know how to admire the chisel of Praxiteles,
Missionaries who know how to really love all of humanity,
Missionaries who vibrate with the lyre of Orpheus, and who can sing with Homer in the delectable land of the Helens.
These are the missionaries we yearn for.
Missionaries who admire the titillating light of the stars.
Missionaries who fall in love with the immaculate nights.
Missionaries who have an adorable fiancé whose name is Urania.
These are the missionaries we yearn for.
Missionaries who dress in the garment of sanctity.
Missionaries who love to put the carpet at the feet of their inner Guru, in order to receive His wise precepts.
Missionaries who yearn for their in-depth Christification and who can really feel the beauty of love, as the Brother Francis felt it within his heart.
Missionaries like this are what we need.
Far away from us be the thorn of slander that hurts the flesh of our neighbor.
Far away from us be all wrath, greed, lust, envy, pride, laziness, and gluttony.
Far away from us be the weeds of gossip and calumny.
Far away from us be the filthy poison of envy.
Far away from us be the monster of lust.
We want missionaries who, with the slow, rhythmic, and smooth steps of the great hermits, go from door to door preaching the Word.
That is the class of Missionaries we long for.
In no way do we wish to make a business of Gnosis. Covetousness, be far away from us and from universal Gnosticism.
We only want one solitary thing: to profoundly serve humanity.
Look to your instructor for those qualities. If you want to teach, look for these qualities in yourself.
Finally, not everyone should be a teacher. Some traditions demand that all of their students become instructors, but this is absurd. Each of us has our own skills and ways of helping humanity. We must find our own way to sacrifice for others, in accordance with our innate abilities.
Questions and Answers
Question: If an instructor says something in a lecture that you know contradict the teachings of Samael Aun Weor, what do you do?
Answer: If you find something in an instructors teaching that contradicts the doctrine, you have to listen to your own sense of what is right and what is wrong. There is an example given of a lama who was with his instructor. And whenever the instructor would teach something very good and useful, this lama would say: "Yes, yes, that is very profound and excellent, those are very good instructions.” But when the teacher would say something wrong, that lama would say: “No-no-no-no, no one should say that.” There was a dialog. There was enough openness in their relationship that it could be discussed. This is an important quality. There are other examples of teachers who, lets say, teach about a certain aspect of the teaching, but the student is able to realize something that the teacher missed or was wrong about. That student should have the freedom to approach that instructor and point out the error, and the instructor should have the humility to be grateful, and correct the mistake. If you find that the environment is not conducive to that activity, for example: If the instructor does not want to hear or refuses to recognize their mistake, or the other students refuse to hear the contradiction, then there may be a problem. That may not be a good environment for you. It is said that over-devoted, overprotective students can turn a real master into a false one. Students who overprotect their teacher, who refuse to allow their teacher to see their own contradictions, actually destroy that teacher. So all students should be willing to help an instructor to see their own mistakes. This is why in Gnosis we emphasize that we are all friends, we are all equal. If any one of us had a perfect grasp of the teaching, we would be done, we would be awake, we would not have any ego. But we all have ego, we all have misconceptions, all of us are imperfect and we need to help each other.
Question: Isn’t it true also that if we hear something, either from a teacher or wherever, that seem to contradict the doctrine, that we should examine and really be sure that it is a contradiction? Because they can seem to be contradictory only on superficial levels?
Answer: Yes. That is absolutely true. When we find such a contradiction we need to examine it carefully. A very good example of that is something that was discussed in recent lectures. We may see activities in an instructor's life that seem to contradict the teaching, so we need to really examine the doctrine. We need to really meditate and understand the activities of that person, or the teachings of that person. And the reason is because each initiate, each aspirant, is dealing with their own individual karma. For someone to deal with their own individual karma, it may require action or activity that can appear to contradict the teaching. So for example, what is good for me to do today could be really bad for you, and that is partly why we reject the notion of “morals.” It is not because we feel that you should be able to do whatever you want, quite the opposite, you should do what is right. But what is right is not encased in “morality,” rather it is encased in the instruction of the “I AM” in our own inner Being, or that primordial nature of mind. So if we see a contradiction, whether it is in a teaching or in an action, first we should compare it with the doctrine, we should study, we should really try to comprehend that. Not in a judgmental way, but in order for our own well being. And if we find that there is indeed a contradiction, we should probably first approach the source of it: that instructor. We should not go around telling everyone, gossiping, or putting it on the internet, or raising a lot of doubts. Let me tell you something: it is a very severe karma to create a schism in a group. It is a very severe karma to damage the faith of the student body by creating doubt and gossip. The reason is because the well being of all of those souls depends upon the strength of the doctrine as taught in that place. And if you come in with your doubts, and your gossips, and your criticisms, and damage that, it is a very severe karma for you, because it affects the whole group, and could effect people you do not even see. Gossip spreads like wild fire. Mark Twain said something like, “A lie gets half way around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.” Be very careful. It is not just your own well being that is at stake, it is the well being of all the students and the instructor. When you are in a group, you have a responsibility as a member of that group to facilitate the well being of that group, and I promise you this: you will see contradictions, because we all have ego.
Audience: We have also see that there are different levels of comprehension.
The point being made is that there are different levels of comprehension. This is why the Master Samael Aun Weor stated that people do not understand the initiates, criticize them, and spread gossip about them, because people at a given level do not comprehend the nature of the level above them, or beyond . So be prudent. Look to the fruits of action. Do not judge; wait. There have been many, many cases in the Gnostic movement where a big rumor goes around, a big gossip, something very damaging, and everybody believes it, and everybody listens to it, and a lot of people get hurt, and then in the end it is revealed that the gossip is not true. This is really inexcusable, it should not be allowed. But the ones who allow it are the students, because the students are the ones who spread it. I am including instructors, because instructors are students of somebody else, too. Gossip spreads because we allow it. Criticism spreads because we ourselves propagate it. So when we observe a contradiction, be patient, study, and give people the benefit of the doubt. Show everyone else the compassion that you would like to receive. And know this: you, yourself, if you persist in these studies, will find yourself in the middle of contradictions; it is inevitable. You yourself will appear to others as if you are doing things that you should not, and people will criticize you. How would you want to be treated at that time? Prepare yourself for that, by treating others with the respect, prudence, and patience that you yourself would like to receive.
The instructors who teach the lectures and courses are volunteers from a wide variety of backgrounds. Each has years of experience teaching and working with the practices and exercises that awaken the consciousness. Since the goal of dharma, yoga, or gnosis is to follow our inner Being, and to focus on divinity not terrestrial personalities, the lecturers remain anonymous, and do not broadcast their names, faces, or personal information. They do not have spiritual titles or names, do not accept followers, and live their lives anonymously like any other person in society.