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A Rap on the Knuckles
James: Dear Maurice, it was very nice to see you, if briefly. Normally, I would wait until you asked for teaching before giving it, but you mentioned in a satsang that you saw me as your teacher, so I thought I would share my observations as a service to you. In our tradition, the teacher is the servant of the student and we are obliged to render devotional service to them. Your ego will probably not like what I have to say but I think you would benefit by taking these words to heart. Two incidents prompted me to write. Everyone in the group mentioned that while you made certain contributions, the spirit in which you offered them is not always the best so the group will probably break up if you don’t address this issue. It would be a shame if that were to happen.
In his discourse with Arjuna, Sri Krishna makes the following statement several times and I think it applies to you. He says, “Let not the wise unsettle the minds of the ignorant.” He says this because people who hear this excellent teaching often get enlightenment sickness, of which you exhibit certain symptoms, the most obvious of which is the idea “I know more or better than you.” It is not helpful to volunteer your opinion unless it is very clear that the person is actively seeking it. There is no “right” and “wrong” as far as the teaching is concerned. So a teacher should not take the moral high ground.
Second, the teaching should come from the heart, not from the head. You may think that a fellow inquirer’s bad habits disqualifies him or her for moksa but in this case the person you attacked is more qualified for moksa than you. Yes, you have a nice intellectual grasp of the teachings but it seems your heart does not understand them. There is a big pain inside that you have never addressed, that in fact is covered up by the teachings themselves. It is clear to me that you don’t consider the feelings of others. If you put yourself in their shoes, your words would not be hard and judgmental. They would be soaked in the honey of love and easy to swallow. When there is duality in them people react unfavorably. So you don’t get the result you want. Terry, in spite of certain habits, is qualified by dint of the fact that he is honest, not trying to hide his weakness from anyone. A pure mind is one that has no secrets, that is open and vulnerable. Only in such a mind can the essence of the teaching – love – become established.
Many Vedanta people are very intelligent and think that they know it all. I was a know-it-all until I met my guru. When I met him, I knew I knew very little. Also, knowledgeable people tend to be respected so they like to teach others to get respect. But the need to be loved and respected by others hides a lack of self-respect. There is no reason to go into the causes of your pain, only to encourage you to go deeper into this teaching and let the spirit of the teaching heal your heart. You should cry and cry until all the pain is gone. You should take Terry as a guru. See how deeply sincere he is and find that sincerity in your heart. You should forgive yourself for hiding your anger from yourself and you should make a vow not to tell anybody anything personal unless they clearly ask. Freedom only comes when the heart is pure. Getting more knowledge of the teachings or of Sanskrit, etc. is just a distraction. It will keep you from looking within and coming to terms with your sorrow.
I hope this is good news. If it isn’t, I’m sorry, but you can blame yourself for calling me your teacher. Teaching is a two-way street. If you take a teacher you should expect to be taught. So think of this letter as tough love. If you think it is the pot calling the kettle black, you have only heard the words, not their spirit.
~ Much love, James