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Follow the Teaching Package
Fabio: One shouldn’t follow people. A student of Vedanta should always “follow” me – awareness – which means “I” am satisfied with me and me – awareness – alone.
Arlindo: Hello, Fabio, This is a good but confusing statement, which may appeal to some inquirers’ egos. Definitely, we should not follow a person, and the Vedanta teacher/guru is not a person, but a link in the tradition. He/she is but an institution. In our tradition the teacher and the teaching come in one package. For the reasons some of us already know, in most the cases, without a teacher/guru the student will at least delay his/her progress. It is very difficult to interpret the scriptures correctly unless one has been taught or is a spiritual genius.
But the good news is that a competent and honest Vedanta teacher is no other than “the teachings.” The teachings do not belong to the teacher, but to Isvara. It is an impersonal means of self-knowledge revealed only to the individuals seeking to understand the true nature of the self. The teacher is “not” a special jiva, but Isvara’s humble servant with a vasana for sharing self-knowledge. Self-knowledge plus the ability to unfold the teachings of Vedanta do not confer a special status to the jiva in the role of the teacher/guru.
Furthermore, jiva cannot “follow me, awareness,” because awareness is not an object of knowledge and experience, i.e. it cannot be followed. The student is rather invited to have faith in the teachings and with the help of a qualified teacher follow its logic, which is entirely based on his/her own unexamined ordinary experience of life.
Awareness alone cannot teach. Isvara alone cannot teach as well. In order to teach, awareness/Isvara needs the jnani (a jiva with the hard and fast self-knowledge) in the “role of a teacher.” The teacher is meant to unfold the teachings and resolve the apparent contradictions and misunderstandings which are common to the process of self-inquiry.
Fabio: Self-satisfaction is the fruit of moksa, and if a student wants any more than this then they’re in the wrong game, and should carry on trying to make samsara work, as Ramji says.
Arlindo: In other words, self-knowledge is only the beginning. It may be conducive or not to self-realization, which in due time may or may not fructify as moksa. Moksa is liberation, or freedom from dependence on objects of experience as a mean to experience fullness, limitlessness and unconditioned contentment and satisfaction. This condition is the result of a full and unshakable confidence in the knowledge “I am the ever-present, ordinary, changeless, limitless, pure consciousness” as well as the understanding of its implied meaning: recognition of one’s fullness and completion, i.e. absence of the sense of lack.
Vedanta is definitely about “you” – it is not about Vedanta, and much less about any teacher. But unless one accepts the role of the guru without resisting and opposing it, the guru/teacher will be of no help for the student. It takes maturity and humility to become a Vedanta student. In our tradition the teacher will not take advantage of the student’s faith in the scriptures, unless of course he/she is not a valid teacher but an immature person driven by impure desires.
Vedanta should always be about you and the gratitude you have for the Lord for bringing you to a means of knowledge that is perfectly capable of showing you who you actually are. That’s all. A good, honest teacher knows that he/she is only awareness, and that Isvara alone teaches.
Fabio: A lot of people think teaching is a role and a profession, and in the world it is, but in terms of Vedanta it is simply the science of consciousness showing and revealing that we are already limitless consciousness and have therefore always been utterly free.
Arlindo: A self-actualized Vedanta teacher does not think she/he is teaching at all. The sense “I am doing,” “I am teaching,” has been neutralized by the clear and firm assimilation of self-knowledge. The mind of the student wants with all his heart to be freed of its sense of lack and limitations – it wants to believe the statement which says “you are always ever-free.” And this already accomplished freedom can only be appreciated by knowledge and a means of knowledge. It goes without saying that self-knowledge is only “gained” and “retained” (always available) in a pure mind, a mind freed of unnecessary rajasic and tamasic binding tendencies.