When are you ready to be a ‘spiritual teacher’?

Two people recently made the same remark to me. They both complained that they weren’t getting through to people. That they were getting negative responses to their spiritual path. They were rubbing people the wrong way.

I told one that I felt that if she found she wasn’t reaching people, she wasn’t ready to be the spiritual teacher she apparently thought she needed to be. But there’s a deeper truth here: if you’re not ready to accept that most people are never going to be interested in your spiritual truths you’re not ready to be a spiritual teacher. In other words: if you need to be validated by every person you meet, you’re not yet independent enough to be a spiritual teacher.

All this reminded me of a story about the Buddha talking to Ananda I found on my own website the other day (no, I don’t know everything I’ve ever put on there by heart). It basically says that no: not everybody can hear the spiritual truth. Even people who came to spiritual lectures by one of the greatest spiritual teachers in the history of mankind, weren’t all ready to hear what he had to say. I would venture to say: most were NOT ready to hear what he had to say.

And that’s assuming we have the spiritual truth in the first place.

It takes a few things to be a real spiritual teacher – and I’m saying that without any claim to be one.

  1. A sense of priority: knowing what’s most important for that person to learn. However much math I may know, is a student can’t add and subtract, I will have to make sure they learn that first.
  2. The ability to keep silent. (Before the voice can speak in the presence of the Masters it must have lost the power to wound. – Light on the Path)
  3. Knowing your own limitations (Be humble, if thou would’st attain to Wisdom. Be humbler still, when wisdom thou hast mastered.- Voice of the Silence H.P. Blavatsky)

We live in a world that is in many ways very different from the world our parents lived in. It’s also very different from the world the Buddha lived in. But basic human truths haven’t been changed that much. We may know how to read, but we often still don’t know how to get along.

I was talking to a psychotherapist the other day and she noted that many of the things that go on in daily life would not be believed in a soap opera. Given how hard it is to keep things going within families, in the work place, in relationships – I personally cannot blame anybody for not being all that interested in going any step further than that. I mean is the metaphysics of the universe REALLY more important than just staying awake and compassionate enough not to cause problems in our own relationships day to day?

Anybody who wants to teach people stuff they aren’t ready to hear needs to take a good hard look at themselves: WHY is that so important to me? And just stop. Just because you’ve learned a few things in this life, doesn’t mean you are ready to teach others the same. Not every person who has ever learned to read, is ready to teach kids letters. Sure, if you are called to do so – go right ahead. But in general there is a reason why there are teachers colleges: it takes more than the ability to read to be able to teach reading.

10 thoughts on “When are you ready to be a ‘spiritual teacher’?”

  1. Hi Katinka,
    Well said, as allways. Especially the bit about priorities. We have to be able to brake the teachings down into baby steps to make it practical and understandable for everyone, rather than just make statements that the world is an illusion and the only thing that exists is Consciousness. Such statements have their place (for those that are ready), but for the rest of the world we need to see what is the need that needs to be met.
    God Bless,
    Hari Om

  2. Why concern yourself about other peoples spiritual path?
    Is not our own the way to teach others?
    Or did I misunderstand?…A true spiritual teacher NEVER has the urge to be a “spiritual teacher”..NEVER has the urge to show people “the way”..A spiritual teacher has NO ego…He’s not even a spiritual teacher…He/She just shares his/her experience ..and may or may not point out ways to experience the same..not a teacher…a “sharer” as I call them..


  3. I’m not going to say more about the two people who sparked this post. I think my post speaks for itself pretty much. I use the words ‘spiritual teacher’ because there really aren’t other words that suffice I think. I personally don’t claim to more knowledge or insight than I share – but yes, I do share. I’m hardly capable of doing otherwise. But however glad I am to have an audience, I don’t expect any.

  4. Sweet, bright and humble post. Just my kind 🙂

    In my opinion, teaching indeed should come naturally, passive or active, and preferably with the only intention to share, enlighten, inspire.

    (The way to enlightenment is a very personal one so it seems, and no one really can get you there but you. Therefor a teacher should never make his students dependent on the teacher.)

    No problem – it seems to me – if teaching feeds your ego a bit. We’re only human after all 😉 It only becomes annoying if one derives his identity from it. By “being the liberated, superior and enlightened one”, I doubt one can shed much light.

    Ok, I am rambling here.

    Thanks again for your sharing ur insights.


  5. Great post. It was just what i needed to read. I love when that happens. I’m a life coaching looking to move towards being more of a spiritual coach but have been unsure how to make the transition. I know I have much more to learn but in the same breathe I feel I have spiritual ideas that may be helpful to others who are ready to listen. Of course the term spirituality can be used rather losely and is rather difficult to define….I have to be so careful when I see how it seems I”ve evolved in my conciousness and not to judge others for what may seem like lack on there part. What type of teacher would I be to judge others…


  6. I feel exactly the same way …I have no urge in teaching…for all i care …one needs to never know who I am..it only clouds perception..
    I have much to share ..not sure whether to call them spiritual or not..I rather not call them anything at all..”spirituality” is a loaded word..Whatever I share , I share ..calling it spiritual or not will not change the message..


  7. after a while on the spiritual path we are compelled to share what we know. We are urged by some inner desire to “set up shop” at the crossroad and await for people to stop by. There is no guarantee that anyone will come for a while. There will be those who’d take a glance at us and will walk by, and there will be those who would scorn us. It is the risk we must take. It comes with the territory.
    My former teacher used to say “we do not teach, we share our knowledge.”

  8. I’m reminded of the story of one of Master Eckhart’s pupils – a nun, I forget her name. She too had the urge to share her spiritual inspiration – but all she could do was silently feel her Divinely Inspired Love. It was a hard lesson for her to learn, but one that surely takes more courage than if her words had been heard and understood by peers.
    I agree with your teacher though, Andras, that the proper attitude is one of sharing – though that will make us teachers, but of each other. Not one above the other.

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