The Basic Practice

Whether they are called sages, masters, elders, crones, rebbes, gurus, shaikhs, ministers, or priests, teachers play an important part in our spiritual unfolding. They instruct directly and indirectly through stories, parables, koans, sermons, lectures, and personal example. They recommend readings in sacred texts, assign exercises and tasks to be accomplished, demonstrate devotional acts, and challenge us to reach the sacred fullness of our potential.

Of course, eventually in the spiritual life, there comes a point when we realize that everything we encounter and everyone we meet is a teacher. We can even learn from seemingly negative experiences such as difficulties, personal warps, enemies, suffering, illness, and death. The first step in this practice, then, is to choose to see all of life as a classroom filled with spiritual lessons. Be a lifelong learner who walks in humility and with receptivity.

Why This Practice May Be For You

We hate to admit it, but we keep making the same mistakes over and over again. That is why the practice of teachers is so important and so insistent. These recurrent issues mean we still have something to learn. A major obstacle to this practice, then, is pride — thinking you already know it all, that you (and perhaps you alone) have it figured out.

The shadow side of teachers is surrendering your soul to a leader or cult and giving up personal responsibility for your spiritual growth. A subtle symptom of this tendency is doubting your own judgment and needing the constant affirmation of others. A far better approach is to rejoice in the abundance of teachers, to seek their wisdom everywhere, and to have confidence that it is available and accessible to you.

Daily Cue, Reminder, Vow, Blessing

  • Noticing when my cat stretches or my dog runs is a cue for me to look for teachings.
  • Whenever I attend a spiritual workshop, I am reminded that there are many fine teachers in our time.
  • When I have to work with difficult people, I vow to learn what they have to teach me.
  • Blessed is the Wisdom of the World who constantly sends us new teachers.