A search of the blogs produced this article by John Cain, who has a new book out (just elevated to our reading list) called A Rare and Precious Thing: The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Studying with a Spiritual Teacher. As real writers are wont to do, John actually spoke to different spiritual teachers about what they were doing and why. Thankfully, he found a few who actually know what they are doing, too:
I asked Reverend Mother Sudha Puri (teacher in the renowned Hindu lineage of Ramikrishna, of the Bhakti Yoga sect, which is very devotional) how she handled her student’s intense emotions. “I find I have to reduce a student’s devotional attitude so they are not dependent on me in that way,” she told me. “The teachings state that God-Guru-Vedas (the scriptures) are all one, but for a student to have me as their ishta (ideal) is, I think, awful for them and for me too. So I try to be very honest and clear with them, to accept their love and their gifts and their appreciation. But the fact of the matter is that if they get caught up in personality, it’s very damaging for them. I really don’t encourage that kind of devotion.”And Hallelujah!
Adyashanti, the dynamic Advaita Vedanta teacher, explained a similar method. "I tell people I’m not in a babysitting program. I’m not here to crush your ego. I don’t do that. Life’s going to do it for you. I’m not here to correct you. I can understand the value of it for some people at some time and why teachers play that role and all that, but I’m just not interested,” he told me. Sister Joan Chittister writes, “The role of the spiritual leader… is not to make martinets out of people; it is to lead them to spiritual adulthood where they themselves make the kind of choices that give life depth and quality.” Amen!
Here are three examples of the real deal, at least in terms of how these folks handle the overwhelming transference and descent into infantilism that occurs in a guru's satsang. Like Adya (sorta) said, "I ain't no babysitter."
Compare and contrast this approach with that of the Kracki, the Babaster, Sri Sri, Ammachi, Gurumayi, etc. Practically all of the big-time gurus seek to engender a state of spiritual dependence in their devotees. It's what keeps the tills heated and the heads full of nonsense about the Truth... rather than anything that could ever really be called the Truth. Because, like it or not, ignorance has always been very good for business in this business.