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Failing Spiritual Mentors --- or Failing Followers

Updated on March 29, 2018
ValKaras profile image

Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.

Spirituality Is about Keeping in Touch with Our Inner Self
Spirituality Is about Keeping in Touch with Our Inner Self

A Voice from within to Be Obeyed

It seems like many years ago that someone jokingly called me his "mentor" - to which I gently protested. Certainly not out of an ego, but out of a simple love for the human race, I wish some of those people of my life tried to follow my example in those areas where I benefited from my ideas about a harmonious living.

However, it was never to become an intellectual peacock's ambition to be anybody's "mentor". For, in the first place words like "mentor" or "role model" don't sit well in my mind, and - to say it with an unavoidable paradox - even if I became one to anybody, my first advice would be that they fire me as their mentor or their role model.

When it's about personal growth, it's only possible if the initiative comes from the voice within, not by an outer authority, be it spiritual, religious, or one of the mental health variety.

We Can Never "Follow the Path" of a Teacher  -  but only Let His Teaching Inspire Us on Our Own Path
We Can Never "Follow the Path" of a Teacher - but only Let His Teaching Inspire Us on Our Own Path

Teacher's Path Can't Be Reused

Indeed, at their best, those whose teachings seem promising to our personal evolving may play the role of a catalyst in our inner transformation, while no one should try to imitate them. Those folks who keep glorifying the name of their spiritual teacher don't seem to realize that it's impossible for them to follow his path.

An inspiration is not the same as a signpost on those teachers' path which only they could translate into their own guidelines while being on the way to their version of enlightenment. This is to say that we can only be on our own path, proving with each of our steps that we have learned something valuable. Advertising our mentors' spiritual achievements through religious litany doesn't get us anywhere near their ideals.

To Read them, or Even to Know Them by Heart  -  Isn't Living Them
To Read them, or Even to Know Them by Heart - Isn't Living Them

Holy Books Not Taken Seriously (Enough)

The proof for that unsuccessful "following" is everywhere you look these days, or any other day of those thousands of calendars since the lives of those spiritual idols.

It could be fair to say that most of the world's population are followers of one or another religious teaching; but looking at the state of our coexistence we can't escape the conclusion that hardly anybody is taking their holy book seriously.

In all areas of life, whether it's marriage, parenting, friendship, business, or politics, we are failing miserably at the main tenets of those books - love, fair-play, compassion, support, harmony, and alike.

The saddest caricatures of believers are certainly those who are imposing their holy book onto others, displaying impatience and intolerance towards those who believe that they can be just as morally correct without any book telling them to be that way.

We Can't Make People Love more by Preaching about It  -  They either Do It or They Don't, Prompted by Their Hearts
We Can't Make People Love more by Preaching about It - They either Do It or They Don't, Prompted by Their Hearts

Caught in a Sin while Preaching against It

People should really stop deceiving themselves that by glorifying their religious mentors they are any closer to their teachings, as they sweep under the rag those many examples of their poor personal contribution to realization of those ideals.

Parrot-like preaching of one thing and doing the opposite is certainly not a way to book that flight into heavens. I have seen religious folks bitterly protesting racism while themselves being racists; seen hateful propagators of universal love; seen kids who said how their religious parents ruined their lives; seen neurotic believers showering others with advices how to be happy and forgiving - etc. short of seeing a bald salesman selling an elixir for hair regrowth.

Proofs Surfacing from Emotional Junkyard

In the course of my own modest personal evolution, I remember spending some nightly hours by challenging myself to gaze at one tiny crack on the wall. After that initial feeling silly, some ugly emotional stuff started welling up, and I kept facing it all, not trying to make my gazing any more comfortable by looking away from that one spot.

In those many sessions of the same kind I realized how much emotional garbage people carry around while pretending to be nice. As a part of my self-discipline and what I called "starving my ego to death", I made it my practice to use discomfort for challenging my vulnerable ego and detaching my consciousness from it.

From the perspective of that level of being honest to myself I could suddenly observe so much pathetic parading of other folks' egos in their hypocritical games of believing in one thing and practicing something opposite to it.

Cheering about Our Teacher only Makes Us Qualified for Cheerleaders
Cheering about Our Teacher only Makes Us Qualified for Cheerleaders

Cheering Won't Make Us Look like Players

I am not suggesting that everyone spend some time gazing at their wall and making a conscious inventory of their hidden demons. What I am suggesting that everyone honestly assess their own spiritual path and stop pretending that it's more dignifying than it is - according to their deeds.

Let me put it this way - by throwing around all those moralistic, political, or therapeutic slogans we don't really grow one bit in our stature. Basking in the shadow of our spiritual mentor won't give us his sun-tan, and his spiritual heroics don't become our own by our cheering and admiration. Just like we won't grow any muscles by cheering at a gymnastic competition.

Everyone Is a Pioneer on Their Spiritual Path Never Taken
Everyone Is a Pioneer on Their Spiritual Path Never Taken

Our Feet to Imprint Our Own Path

As a matter of fact, from the time our adulthood kicks in, we are mentally on our own, and any need for some authorities to tell us what to think, feel, and do is like an attempt to prolong our childhood dependency.

We can incorporate others' ideas, but that doesn't mean that we are "following" their steps. Our feet have to make our own imprint in the ground of the unknown, there are no trails to follow.

The biggest farce is in this unconscious refusal to ever graduate in spiritual teaching - so that we can keep pushing the image of our teacher in front of us to "represent us", to give us an identity.

Let's face it folks, we are carrying our holy book everywhere with us like a cat is carrying its newborns, somehow unable to part from it. If it was the school material to be learned, it would be fair to call ourselves "mentally challenged students", since we keep reading but seemingly never learning.

I Can't See So Many

Personally, I just can't recognize anyone as a spiritual or religious seeker unless they are primarily working on themselves - to advance their model of intellectual and emotional functioning to a level at which those teachings start making some real "gut-sense".

To me, spirituality is not a learning and preaching material, but an experience, and by experiencing I don't mean that mass rejoicing in a church. I mean the quality of peace, love, compassion, personal sovereignty with an awakened consciousness detached from our animalistic lower tendencies of ego.

I mean a mental self-discipline which doesn't allow every whining of ego to pass as an excuse like "just being imperfect humans". What's coming out of this is pretty clear - I don't really see so many really spiritual folks around, privately or publicly.

Are We Learning from a Right Book?

Not so long ago a participant in a religious discussion, otherwise an educated dude used as a "proof" about the value of Christianity some statistics (I don't know how accurate) that most of the American population are Christians.

Well, witnessing these days this absolute circus of pre-election mood including hate, insults, ridicule, and a general public discord, I wouldn't really bother mentioning those statistics. Just like I can't see those senseless killings in the Middle East as a "prescription for love" from any holy book advertising it.

Really, are we all sure that we are carrying around the right book? Maybe something like a "Warrior's Manifesto" would instruct us much better in our chosen way of coexisting.

You've Got My Blessing, Religious Dude - But Wake Up!

Some of you folks can recognize this tone of my attitude about religiousness failing to produce peace on earth from some of my earlier articles on this theme. So you also remember my stating how I respect anyone's choice to believe whatever they want - as long as they don't push it on me, and as long as they show with their example that their faith is benevolent to the mankind.

In this article I tried to reiterate my disagreement with a massive global example of religious followers glorifying their religious idols, even dying for their ideas - instead of living by their ideas, which then would include love for everybody.

Love is definitely something to be cultivated, not just another word in a religious slogan and a parrot-like preaching. I hope that a true version of spirituality will come out of human hearts some day, and for those folks who contend that it already is so - I am simply suggesting that they look around. This is the picture of "the most" of the global population being religious.


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    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 20 months ago from The Caribbean

      Val, I like your definition of what "spirituality is . . . " That makes it very personal and emphasizes the need for self-examination.

    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 20 months ago from Canada

      Paul - I am happy to hear about your father's example of being his own mentor. He must have been a wise man to find all inspiration within his heart.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 20 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      This is a very interesting and thought-provoking article. Religion should not be blindly followed and forced on anyone. you are correct in saying that we have to be our own spiritual mentor. Myfather was one and he was completely at peace when he passed away.

    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 20 months ago from Canada

      Blossom SB - You are right about that one.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 20 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      It's one thing to know how we should act, but quite another to actually do it! So true.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 20 months ago from Oklahoma

      Interesting perspective.