What to Do When You Freak Out


Book Two – Chapter 10


everyone on a spiritual path wants to know: what (who) makes a good teacher?

Spiritual paths (even the quiet-stream type) presents challenges. Delusions have gripped us for a long time, and they enjoy their abusive power.

I speak of delusions as people, because at times we can confuse delusions with our own Inner Guides.

Our Inner Guides are “people”, in the sense that “they” possess awareness and intention. Whether we view them as our intuition, a deity, a Buddha, God/Goddess, our Higher Self, etc., Inner Guides function like people.

Delusions do not possess awareness or intention. But they function almost as if they do, and we tend to regard them (sometimes unconsciously) that way. Sometimes delusions seem to have a mind of their own, and they can make us feel as if we have no control; so it may help to regard them with personae.

Spiritual Guides and Inner Guides manifest in many forms, and each form functions to guide us in a particular way. Whether you call your Spiritual Guide ‘God’, ‘Jesus’, ‘Allah’, ‘Buddha’, ‘Heruka’‘Lhamo Dorje’ or something else, you put a lot of faith in that being, and in many ways you believe your life is in their hands.

Your delusions “know” this, and they take advantage of the situation.

Distinctions between what your delusions tell you and what your Inner Guide tells you blur, when delusions manage to confuse you.

Now let’s talk a little bit about teachers, Inner Guides and Spiritual Guides.

When we lack confidence in our spiritual abilities, we tend not to act on some very valid insights and intuitions. This can stop us from making progress at the rate we would otherwise.

We don’t want to be over-confident and careless, but once we realize we’ve got a good foundation laid, we should move forward without spending a lot of time needlessly checking ourselves.

Many false teachers choose to attempt to generate (perhaps sub-consciously) a lack of self-confidence on the part of their students, trying to exert personal control over them.

This motivation reeks of negativity, and anyone who professes to offer spiritual teachings should check their motivation periodically. It’s not enough to state that one’s motivation is good.

We want to learn from qualified teachers, and qualified teachers always have many students who make good progress and gain realizations. If you study and practice with a teacher for some time, and don’t experience or witness growth, then try another teacher for a while.

There’s no harm in doing this; a teacher who loves his or her students and wishes for them to make progress will actually encourage this exploration.

A true teacher knows that there will always be students (until all beings in the world realize their enlightenment), and a returning student is just as precious as a new one.

Just to clarify: When I speak of “Inner Guides” and “Spiritual Guides”, I’m referring to “beings” who may – or may not – appear visibly in this world.

Sometimes people think their Inner or Spiritual Guide tells them to do something, when it’s their delusions doing the talking. And delusions can tell people to do some pretty crazy things. So here’s a list of guidelines to check if you ever feel like you might be freaking out and you’re not quite sure where you’re getting some of your ideas.

  1. No true Spiritual Guide will ever ask you to harm another living being.
  2. No true Spiritual Guide will ever ask you to take anything that does not belong to you.
  3. No true Spiritual Guide will ever tell you it’s okay to have sex with someone else’s partner (unless everyone affected explicitly agrees to it).
  4. No true Spiritual Guide will ever tell you that war is a necessary or good thing, or that it’s okay to kill your ‘enemies’.
  5. No true Spiritual Guide will ever abandon you.
  6. No true Spiritual Guide will ever threaten to abandon you.
  7. No true Spiritual Guide will ever threaten you in any way, whatsoever.
  8. A true Spiritual Guide will always have your best interests in mind and at heart.
  9. A true Spiritual Guide will never let you starve to death nor die from exposure.
  10. A true Spiritual Guide will always encourage you and acknowledge your progress.
  11. A true Spiritual Guide will always be there when you need help, even though you may feel alone.
  12. A true Spiritual Guide will always treat you with respect (unless you ask him or her not to, but that’s not a good idea).
  13. A true spiritual guide or teacher has no need to proclaim themselves as a teacher.

(Many thanks to Sidewalk Bends for #13)

If you ever come across someone who claims to be a spiritual teacher but doesn’t follow these guidelines, ask yourself: why you would want to follow that person?

It may be that you are due for some tough lessons about false teachers, but please know that your Guides would never send you a lesson like that unless you specifically requested it. It’s a tough lesson that can backfire and set you back substantially.

In any case, please familiarize yourself with the information in this chapter, and don’t be afraid to use it.


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