To find the Real "Master" of Truth....
Along with the attacks on Bob and other "real teachers" mentioned in the "Shut-down Spirit" page, there is also the ever present question, "How do I find a Real Teacher?"
Below is a section of Mark Sawyer's Master, Swami, Nun, Sinner, Swinger, ONE (www.marksawyerbooks.com). The book is about the lives and spiritual paths of six wonderful Sharers of Truth, the Dhamma, All That Is, namely Swami Atmananda Udasin, V. Ganesan, Robert Wolfe, Maechee Brigitte Schrottenbacher, my beloved Ramesh Balsekar, and (more about) Bob. Below is a section that Robert Wolfe in particular liked. It is all about how to tell a real teacher from the rest.
Appendix 2. False Teachers
Mark has emphasized six excellent sharers of Dhamma, the Truth about All That Is, in this book. They are all the epitome of “The Real Deal.”
However, we need to acknowledge that there are impostors out there. Some of these fakers come off very well. They look right, say profound things, and can be quite convincing. All con men and professional seducers have this ability. They are very insightful about people and know the right words to speak and the correct buttons to push.
There is no need to fear falling prey to these “bad swamis,” “evil gurus,” or “false teachers.” These money-grubbing, often womanizing (or otherwise very sexual), power-hungry types exist, and their kind always has. Pay attention, and you’ll recognize them easily.
Anybody can put on robes, sit in the lotus position, and quote spiritual masters while incense is burned in a room with pictures of sages on the wall while sitar music plays in the background. It all looks, smells, and sounds good, but by itself these trappings mean nothing.
Does this person want you to make a huge donation to show your faith? Does this person want you in bed, perhaps because he ‘senses something special about you’ or ‘because we have a past karmic connection’? Does this person bully, threaten, or coerce? Any signs of these and it’s time to head for the door—or the hills.
Watch the group around the leader. Are they blind followers, sheep-like in obedience? Is the leader viewed as “perfect,” as an “avatar,” or as an “incarnation.” Are there secret teachings that only special people, the upper levels, the experienced ones, get to learn? All of these are big warning signs.
Some questions to be asked are:
· Is the group focused on making money and bringing in new members?
· Is the leader unquestionably correct, and is asking questions or daring to argue discouraged?
· Does the leader encourage a “us versus them” and elitist “we’re better than them” attitude?
Is unquestioned obedience expected and required?
To illustrate the “right” side of these matters let it be stated that Ramesh never told anybody to do anything. He asked questions and suggested things. In satsang not even Captain Bob made decrees or gave orders. He at most gave suggestions, too. Robert Wolfe will tell you what he requires in the moment, but will ask a visitor questions. He never utters directives. Ganesan might say, “My family is waiting for me to eat lunch,” as a polite hint that it’s time for this guests to go, but that’s it. Swami Atmananda never directed anyone in America. His most dictatorial utterances might have been, “I am thirsty. May I have some water?” or “Can you explain the schedule for tomorrow?” Maechee Brigitte in a retreat expects the participants to do the best they can to keep the rules, but she never yells at anyone, except possibly herself.
Also, none of the above ever demanded money for a spiritual sharing. With each everything has always been on a ‘voluntary donation’ basis. Ramesh had a slogan, “No one is invited. All are Welcome.” Another went something like, “No Money is Required, though Nothing is refused.” In all Mark’s visits to Ramesh he never gave him a single rupee, though he did buy dozens and dozens of his books and many DVDs of his meetings. The same is true for Mark with Robert Wolfe, although now that Bob is gone Mark often picks up the tab for dinner. Ganesan? Mark bought him lunch that day. None of them were or are concerned very much with financial matters, especially regarding sharing about nonduality.
If a teacher you are meeting has a “set fee” you’re expected to pay for the privilege, you might take a step back. At the very least this person “should” have some free meetings you can attend, too.
As goes the “Is this teacher a real one?” question, nowadays you can also check the internet. There is all sorts of “stuff” on the world wide web, some of which is worth paying attention to. Certainly if you find anything bad about a teacher you should feel free to bring it up. Be a bit careful here, though. Sometimes very good teachers get unfairly accused on the Internet. Then again, bring even these smears up. A true teacher will laugh about it, or at least discuss it and explain what happened. When a book was written which disparaged Ramana Maharshi his followers were talking about what to do, and Ramana smiled and told them, “Let him sell it at the ashram gate.” As one follower summarized, Ramana’s thinking seemed to be that anyone who would believe the lies in that book and who went away wasn’t supposed to meet him, anyway.
Just to mention it, Robert Wolfe didn’t have a human guru per se. He had a background in Zen, books of teachings, and three years in the Redwoods. Ranana Maharshi didn’t have the standard “human guru” either. Most persons, though, do have a very significant living human teacher at some point—a master, guru, swami, ajahn, arahant, or whatever his or her title be.
The most important thing is to find the “right one.” He or she is out there, or most assuredly you wouldn’t have started the search. You already know it took Ramesh thirty years with the wrong guru before he found Nisargadatta. For Murthy, even Nisargadatta wasn’t “his guru.” He had to wait to find Ramesh, whom he first wanted to attack. Your search will bear fruit—but count on an interesting journey!