Lately I have been reading Chögyam Trungpa's 'Cutting through Spiritual Materialism' - where I came about this passage:
(These questions were posed to Trungpa by some of his students and were answered by himself.)
Q: Do you think it is possible to begin to see what is, to see yourself as you are, without a teacher?
A: I do not think it is possible at all. You have to have a spiritual friend in order to surrender and completely open yourself.
Q: Is it absolutely necessary that the spiritual friend be a living human being?
A: Yes. Any other "being" with whom you might think yourself communicating would be imaginary.
So I was pondering the question whether or not I should somehow "seek out" a spiritual teacher or friend as Trungpa said.
Basically this is a question I have been carrying with me for a long time and seemed to have answered several times. Quite a while back I was initiated as a Vedic monk and lived with a so-called spiritual community for about a year. That was the time it took for me at that moment to realize that this was neither a "community" nor that it was spiritual, but that the teacher we (a rather small group of five students in person and about 20 on the internet) gathered around was a psychotic sociapath. Some years after I left this "sangha" the whole thing turned into a shroom-bdsm-sex-cult, which although sad and tragic for those involved - reassured me of the correct step to leave this chapter of my life behind and learn the lessons connected to that.
Hence I am of course extremely skeptical of any organized spiritual or religious group, with or without a teacher. But still the ideal of a "real" teacher, one without ego-issues and hidden agendas, a true bodhisattva one could say, should or would be a very challenging and thus helpfull ally in wielding through the nets of ego that hinder one's sight.
I have been to another community about two years ago, here in Berlin, who are studying under Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, a Bön-Teacher. And I only went there once, because I found their behaviour towards the lama who came for a dharma-lecture very offensive. Which brings about another problem of contemporary organized spirituality: Often the teachers that are the heads of some lineage do not reside at one place or at least not at the ones in close proximity of the place one lives. So there basically just remains a community of people who ascribe to themselves to be followers of somebody which brings about a lot of nasty politics and spiritual materialism. Randy mentioned Trungpa's Shambala-lineage in another post somewhere on the forum - and I suspect that these problems are prevalent there as well. I found a center of them here in Berlin but I can't see a reason to visit them. For basically I do not need a buddhistic sangha. I would simply appreciate a low entropy individual withouth any affliction what so ever, without personal, spiritual or religious dogma...
But this just raises more and more questions: Is it not that way, that if the student is ready, the teacher will come? If you are looking for a teacher aren't you just finding someone who reflects what you project out as "spiritual qualities"? Even if some spiritual advancement has been made and discernment is getting better: Aren't we still prone to fall for different traps when associating with such persons? Who can even reward anyone of being "spiritually advdanced" - and hence a bona fide teacher? If it isn't organizations - which is always the wrongest direction in which to go - then how to find anyone? And wouldn't a truly developed seeker just blend in with the crowd not standing out in any way and - of course - not "showing off" his allegedly advanced realization?
I know that I basically answer my question myself. That it is a bad idea to stick to that phantasized ideal of a spiritual teacher. But I would really appreciate the thoughts and views of you on this subject matter.
For my problem is a very specific one: One could say, and for good reason: "Just stick to the forums. Pose your questions. Tom, Ted and all the other members will do their best to help you and each other along the way - if they can assist. And just keep on meditating, read the books you feel are helpfull and act out of love etc. etc."
Basically this is a very sober and realistic approach. But: Somehow I am struggling to overcome my attachment to this "person" - to my ego.
Yesterday I was standing outside and not particularly thinking of anything special when I realized: "A hell lot of your thoughts just cruise about you
. Who you
are. What you
do. What you
want to do. How you
want to improve. etc. etc." And if I simply read books, the forums, meditate and interact with those around me - I can still manage to wear a mask, to filter out all that stuff, that my ego doesn't want anybody to notice, so that I can hold up my spiritual seeker image
Of course I know that in this case I do make progress and it shows to me as well as to others. But somehow I simply feel that having someone around in person, who can see through these masks, should I wear them, and smack it into my face as soon as I try to pretend or get all puffed up - or what have you - would be very helpful. Someone who will not fall for my tricks and rhetoric and simply doesn't care about what games I might play.
I am not expecting this person to take any burdens off of me - but rather to remind me, to show me where the dirt is, so that I can get my shovel and dig through it.
Well, then again I think: "What about simply trying as hard and good as you do and let experience, reflection and meditation take care of it." Somehow I haven't quite found an answer I can really live with. Or maybe I just don't want to see it...
Hopefully, this makes some kind of sense to someone around here. ;) Looking forward to your views! :)