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The Teacher Is a Friend Supplying a Service
Iain: Thanks, Arlindo! Your assistance is very much appreciated.
I have been contemplating something James said on the Baghavad Gita Tiru 2012 tapes. He speaks of the teachers, the genuine mahatmas, who are manifested by the students who are in genuine need of the teaching. A vasana on the student’s part delivers a teacher sent by Isvara to do the business because the student’s karma has evolved sufficiently, etc.
James spoke of this before in many of his articles I read in the past, and I wonder if you could elaborate on it a little?
Arlindo: Yes, Iain, like everything in the dualistic field of experience – the ever-changing apparent reality called mithya, first comes the necessity for a certain adaptation, adjustment, development or service, and there it follows the response, the solution, the answer, the “custom service,” the means for progression. It is a cause-and-effect chain of apparent events science likes to call evolution.
It was the need to inquire to know the nature of the self on the part of the first intelligent human beings that compelled Isvara to reveal the scriptures on self-knowledge to jivas. Creation is a demand-and-supply game. ☺ A vasana for self-inquiry will produce Isvara’s revealed scriptures and a qualified teacher of self-knowledge.
Vasanas do not impact Isvara’s creation, but it totally conditions jiva’s subjective experience of life. In fact jivas only experience their own vasanas – not only because vasanas will keep driving the jiva to such objects of fear/desire, but also because vasanas will filter/interpret the objects of experience according to their likes and dislikes.
But coming back to the student/teacher business, when the student is ready for self-knowledge (rather than self-experience), Isvara will present him/her with the scriptural knowledge and a qualified teacher. The scriptures on Vedanta is the “gu-ru” (remover of ignorance). The teacher in our tradition is a friend who facilitates the understanding to the inquirer.
Most of the so-called modern gurus are not a “gu-ru,” because they do not have the means (a valid teaching) to neutralize or remove jiva’s ignorance of its own nature. They are at most motivators that will inspire their devotees to somehow look for the self. But the larger majority of the gurus are only representations of father-mother figures holding hands of immature jivas seeking release from suffering in an experiential manner. In the process a lot of abuse of power will create lots of bad karma, such as in your case anger, resentment, revenge – bad karma for both the abusing teacher and the misled student. Vedanta is the only guru because its science has proven to remove self-ignorance since time immemorial.
Iain: How does Vedanta explain “lesser” teachers? For example, there is this notion in the spiritual world of “all roads lead to Rome” and that the self in all of its manifestations are all on a journey towards moksa, and where one is at one will get the teacher that is right for them at this particular time.
Nagar: Yes, Iain, there are kindergarten teachers, elementary, high school, college – they are all teachers imparting some sort of knowledge or understanding to students. But in the case of teachings on self-knowledge there is a basic error on all other so called “paths to Rome”; they all teach that reality is duality and that by doing certain actions you may get something that you will never lose, and will put an end to your experience of discomfort and dissatisfaction with yourself and life.
Our tradition calls it “a leading error.” They are very misleading teachings, but eventually jiva will understand that he is looking in the “wrong direction” and will be led to convert his desire to experience into the desire to know himself as the non-dual self. There is no merit in such teachings except for the fact that some jivas will get so frustrated and exhausted that they will give up on their desire to experience the self. At that crossroad sometimes Isvara will direct the poor jiva to Vedanta.
Iain: In my eyes it’s all very mysterious and a bit serendipity-like, and there is a nice feeling arising that Bhagavan (despite it not actually being a God or any kind of personification) is indeed a very benevolent and caring God. Despite all apparent injustice and feelings of not getting what I want (which has caused me incredible grief in the past), it’s just clicked that I’ve always been given exactly what I “need” from Bhagavan.
Arlindo: Yes, Iain, Isvara is not a “super jiva.” Isvara is pure sattva manifested by the power of Maya. It projects the universe into creation the moment rajas and tamas develop. The beauty of Isvara is that, unlike all other creations, IT is not apart from creation itself, and as anything created, it needs some sort of intelligence to govern and operate it – It is all pure knowledge and Its laws are precise. The scriptures do not claim to know why creation took place, but it does not matter – the important fact is to know how it functions and the relationship between jiva, Isvara and jagatha. Isvara is not a caring or uncaring God – these are jiva’s projections – but the way the manifest universe is set up, it seems more like a platform where creatures may evolve by acting out their karmas. So you are right: everything that happens is the appropriate opportunity for learning and evolving. Suffering is good for the soul!
Iain: It’s very humbling and it has caused a very deep transformation in my thinking over the last couple of days. I feel very devotional, and extreme gratitude arises, and even when I’m not feeling great I remember to do my dharma for the sake of this benevolent force. It’s bringing a tear to my eye writing about it. ☺
Arlindo: Excellent, Iain! That is the attitude of a serious and dedicated jiva in pursuit of self-knowledge. Gratitude will transform your desire-driven emotions into devotion for the Lord of this apparent universe. Take everything as prasad and your mind will develop all qualities needed for self-knowledge.
Iain: Anyway, my question has really to do with “where do these lesser teachings and teachers” stand in the big picture? And have my moments of anger and disappointment with certain self-appointed gurus in the past been beneficial for me, perhaps in being aggreaved with the sampradaya now all else seems to have led me to the conclusion that nothing else really works to remove the suffering? I ask this because I’m still having trouble with one “teacher” who is not enlightened, but tries to teach enlightenment, and who even issued a video to his community with the title Why I’m an Asshole, and Why I Won’t Ever Change.
Arlindo: You see Iain, all creatures have their sense organs turned outward. As a result, all creatures develop a huge vasana for experience. When they get tired of the world of objects of security and pleasure they go in search of subtle experiences, objects of virtue and betterment. Eventually they seek spiritual objects such as silence, peace, lifting energies, love, emptiness, samadhi, epiphanies, etc. We all get the teaching/teacher that we deserve. You are very lucky to have come to Vedanta, and that says much about you.
There is no need for you to be troubled by the abusive teacher you were associated with in the past. I myself have been associated with a few of those – it is all Isvara, remember. If they are there it means that they are serving Isvara’s purpose. The fact that you are resentful of him indicates that you still think that you can control your environment. It is all Isvara! Jivas have no control over the world and the people acting in it like puppets on a string. Jivas have a responsibility over their actions and their superimposition on Isvara’s creation. The way you experience the world is purely dependent on your conscious and subconscious mind. Polish your mind by exposing it to the scriptures and you will experience the world in a very positive, loving and happy way.
Iain: Where he attempted to tell his community that the reason he was an asshole in his videos is because it was for his coaches’ own good. He likened himself to a Zen master who uses a stick to beat ignorance out of the student. Blah, blah, I think you get the picture. It is infuriating, and I’m still angry about this guy and have made many attempts to expose him with detailed and reasoned arguments with him on his forum and comments sections with which he fobs reason and logic off as “reality is illogical and all arguments against me are null and void because there is no such thing as consistency.”
Arlindo: Don’t waste your time, and don’t disturb others with what you consider to be the right or wrong. The spiritual world is filled with such gurus and their devotees. They are a good fit for one another. Spirituality is a very lonely process; it is you, contemplating and assimilating your true identity as awareness, by canceling all wrong notions about who you really are. The big satsang forums are not interested in self-inquiry and self-knowledge – they are not there for the truth, “sat,” they are there for the coziness of the “sanga,” and there is nothing right or wrong about that. Let them be, and do not allow these small things to disturb your mind.
Iain: I am trying hard to do inquiry on this; I continue with the karma yoga spirit on the emotion, I try to take a stand as awareness and recognize that I have a low self-worth samskara, and have given thanks to Bhagavan for giving me this guy so I can see my deep issues. But I still can’t shake this person from my emotions and I just create more and more terrible hateful thoughts about him that I can’t seem to shake. I wonder of you can unpack some meaning to help me deal with this, please.
Arlindo: I hope so too. ☺ To different degrees, every jiva lives with this sense of inadequacy – but a jiva is a jiva – but “you” are the knower, or the witnessing principle, in which the object called “sense of inadequacy” arises and subsides from time to time. Do your karma yoga, your satya-mithya discrimination and your self-inquiry as presented by Vedanta, and all will be well. You took the Vedanta bus – now sit down and relax. Let the teachings work its magic in your mind. It all happens very rapidly once we keep our focus on the most essential and leave behind all which is trivial. I hope it helps, and good luck! I remain at your service.
Iain: Thanks and I look forward to your reply. I read at the website you are moving country. I hope it goes well for you, and please don’t rush to reply.
~ Best, Iain