What are the dangers and benefits of following a spiritual tradition, teacher or guru?
The biggest danger I see is that, by following a single path, you will miss all of the other great paths that you can take, simultaneously, through life. Also, some such paths are inappropriate (either in general society terms or in your own views) and you don't want to get locked into a single path of thinking.
The benefits, I think, are a heightened sense of knowledge about the world, existance, and one's place in it. If you follow multiple paths, even seemingly contradictory ones, I think you can get the most benefit.
Despite all of that, I don't "follow" religiously any particular spiritual tradition, teacher, or guru: I gain knowledge from reading and studying the teachings of many such sage advisors and mentors, but in the end I follow my own unique path through life.
Ah, Laura, you answered this so well. I was locked into a single path of thinking many times in my pre-2000 life, as I was on a constant search for the 'highest truth.' I followed multiple paths, just one at a time & each time thought, 'this is i
Thanks for the compliment, E.P. (I'm blushing.) I enjoy your questions because they make me think and do a deeper level of self-analysis than I generally do, day-to-day. Thanks for all of your great, challenging questions! I look forward to more!
People who grow up in abusive or neglectful environments are so caught up in emotional survival that they don't have much time or energy for introspection, and for learning who they really are. In such situations it's sometimes OK to 'borrow' the values of a teacher TEMPORARILY, while you do some 'self-parenting'.
Children who grow up in loving families temporarily borrow the values of their parents. As they grow older, they do a bit of adding and subtracting. In the meantime, having a sense of what's what can be comforting.
The litmus test for a would-be teacher: Does he value living honorably, and being nice to others. If not, move on.
You should also be emotionally prepared for the day when you've outgrown your teacher--or at least outgrown the other followers whom you hang out with. If so, it's time to branch out. And don't drink the Kool-Aid!
As I see it, this is an intelligent view, Larry, and well-expressed. You say it in a way, but I would add to the litmus test that the teacher aspires to be no longer needed by his followers. Yeah, I well remember Jim Jones & where I was at the ti
I love your litmus test, "Does he value living honorably, and being nice..." That test could be applied to ALL of the individuals in our lives and, once removing from our lives those who fail the test, we should be the better for it. Thoughts?
Thanks, Laura. Yes, in principle we should walk away away from two-faced people. In practice, this is not always possible. Sometimes minimizing contact and taking a shower afterward is the best that we can do in our imperfect world.
It is an imperfect solution. We're stuck with some people, as you say (co-workers and relatives come to mind). Others we can have a say in. And, some we can tolerate imperfection in because the good outweighs the bad. Minimizing contact must do....
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