I do often wonder what I am doing here. Am I teaching? Most of you would probably reply, yes and no. Yes, I am expounding on things of mutual interest and sometimes provide a helpful spin on things. But no, if teaching in the context of things spiritual means one must be a teacher, then I do not qualify. I presume to teach, but I am not a true teacher.
There is something to be said for designating a true spiritual teacher a "guru". This clarifies immediately what we mean by a teacher. She is someone who practices what she preaches. She has experienced totally that of which she speaks. She has 'arrived'.
The difficulty with gurus, of course, is that we have to take their word for it. We have to buy into their message and believe that they have experienced it. I have never met one, but I imagine there are gurus out there who are able to convince people of their authenticity by their very presence. I cannot presume to judge the merits of "buying into" such a one. Only I know that there are many 'gurus' out there who have duped people. But then, maybe we're all duped one way or the other; maybe there are only various kinds and degrees of duped-ness.
As a means to clarifying things a bit, I'd like to suggest four kinds of teachers. There are those who know, those who think they know but don't, those who know they don't know but pretend they do, and those who know they don't know and say so. Obviously, the two most to be avoided, as either a disciple or a teacher, are the ones in the middle. As one who presumes to teach, I try and stay squarely in the camp of the don't-knowers. This is not because I do not aspire to be one-who-experientially-knows, but because I understand that it is a quantum leap from here to there. I feel this distinction in my bones and that keeps me, for the most part (I hope), honest.
One positive consequence of the way of not-knowing is that it tends to keep one relatively honest about not knowing. It is, after all, the sign of one's 'spirituality'! This is putting it a bit cynically, perhaps, but it is important to remember that there are pitfalls everywhere. Nevertheless, it can be a way of honesty. And honesty is essentially that quality which Confucius called sincerity — the sincerity which, when realized, is true authenticity.
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