PART I: Keys to Finding a Spiritual Teacher Who is the Real Deal
Spiritual Guidance Series (PART I)
by Ronda LaRue
PART I of III PART SERIES
The answer you find after considering this article may surprise you…
A mature healer or spiritual mentor/guide is very important for each of us at certain key times along the path of living and growing in our true purpose, passion and power. There are times in the journey of living where life inevitably takes us through difficult passages into a dark night of soul; times of seemingly insurmountable sufferings, confusion, betrayal, and utter personal hopelessness.
The death of a loved one, change of heart of a spouse, a “terminal disease”, a dreadful injury, confusion and crisis, deep spiritual longing, These are the most miserable and dangerous times of our lives. And they are also the call to a fundamental insight of Self that makes the human spirit come alive in its beauty of our sacred purpose and artistry of wholeness….if we’re graced in our searching…
Seeking spiritual assistance at times in our lives of great hurt, confusion, or “dead-end” paralysis, is an important first key to healing and deepening insight. The act of asking, itself makes a powerful and implicit statement of commitment and courage to the universe and to your inner awaiting Self! “Ask and it shall be given”. Asking is an invocation of intention and it hastens to you the mysterious journey we each are called to make: The journey of living our life according to its fullest truth.
How do we find a spiritual mentor, healer or guide in this e-commerce-crazed culture? With thousands of new web sites entering the world wide web every day, and no watchdog (Ha! I accidentally just typed “with no watch-god” ) to monitor the claims or practices of what anyone can start as a business and hang out as their virtual shingle, how are you to know who is substantial and who merely a good claims-marketer? This is true of any service or product purchased over the Net today, but the concern becomes more personally critical when one is suffering and seeking true spiritual guidance and good reliable healing resources.
With the many thousands of people proclaiming themselves spiritual healers, life coaches, and mentors, and the confusing array of modalities, claims and promises, it can quickly seem both overwhelmingly confusing and disempowering. It can quickly feel impossible to separate who and what is real from those offering cleverly pumped-up marketing hype with insubstantial promises. I know I’ve felt this way, and particularly when I’ve been in moments of real health crisis or in serious need of real solutions to restore balance and well-being.
It’s great that we have the Net! And I love being able to search anything my mind can dream up – and in seconds – have answers right in my own home. I also think it’s a really great sign of our times that so many people are feeling called to step forward with their deep spiritual gifts and genuine interests in serving and helping others by creating a marketable presence over a global community on the Internet. Today we have at our finger tips literally the world of spiritual traditions and therapies, both old and emerging technologies, from a truly global community! You can find and contact a South African Shaman, an orthomolecular nutritionist in Canada, a Tibetan priest, or a top depression and addiction counselor in L.A. in seconds.
Still, I don’t know about you, but when I go to search today I am blown away by the sheer numbers of people, and the overwhelming modalities presented on the simple stroke of my keyword search! Eeee gads!
At times of high personal stress we’re all naturally more needy and more wanting of a quick easy solution. At these times we’re more vulnerable to seductive promises, big claims, enticing fix alls. And at these times more than any other, what we most need are true and good people with deep integrity who don’t over promise what can be delivered on our journey to our healing, wholeness and restored wellbeing.
Last week as I was spending my early morning hours looking at and responding to emails sent to me from people inquiring about the spiritual realization work I offer in my private soul-arts retreat, I received a second email from a woman who was considering coming to a customized private retreat. In this follow up email she pretty stunningly blasted forth all of the fears and confusions she and all of us have had when we need something deeply but don’t fully know or trust the thing we’re considering (in her case it was a private soul-arts retreat in hopes of breaking through a lifetime of stated self-sabotage, betrayal, and despair at not living up to her life’s true potential). She was in crisis and she was vulnerable, and she just spewed it all out there in her anguish, fear and mistrust. It was quite a blast.
Her email caused me to reflect on this very question in some depth, and I think I came up with some useful pointers or “secret doorways” when seeking true spiritual help over the Internet, or anywhere else for that matter.
Many people would probably read her aggressive email and say “Oh boy, a crazy! I’ll just let this one race right on by”. In truth I was tempted to do the same. But something in her raw honesty caught my heart and I could see, appreciate (and FEEL) her inner angst and confusion. I’ve been there too! In that written expression of hurt, distrust and dismay I could feel her vulnerable courage to step out and still seek help. And at the same time, I could quickly imagine the challenge at facing some million pages of hopes, promises and miraculous claims – each selling their solution.
And so I began to ponder with her: “how do you find a spiritual mentor and guide in times of life changing transition and spiritual or health crisis?”
I did a search myself. And as you can well guess, I found everything imaginable (and afore unimaginable for that matter!) from snake oil (no kidding) to the Dali Lama; from Robert Fuller to Reiki to ear lobe reading…and everything in between. Now here’s the sensitive and intriguing part: We all have our viewpoints regarding what is “real” and what is “hocus pocus”. And while there are clearly immature and irresponsible practitioners and products that play upon one’s superstitious or desperate need, there are also realms of Spirit and healing that are outside of our current convention and linear mental constructs that do indeed have healing and restorative properties to offer.
Practices that have been effectively powerful for thousands of years are not obliterated or out-dated by 300 years of post-modern thought. Interestingly in fact, modern science and its linear mechanistic model has dug itself into the ground and is breaking through to the other side; into a realization of a whole (nonlinear, non local) vast and intelligent universe that has been recognized by seers and theologians for millennia, as divine consciousness.
Before I became increasingly known as a spiritual author and teacher, I was a research scientist and analyst for 23 years. With a background and graduate degree in research methods, I more than many, fell into the category of “skeptic, you’ll have to prove it to me” club. And yet I was also a born mystic poet and artist. Something in this odd combination created in me a lifetime inquiry and search for “truth”, “ultimate meaning”, and the search for answers of “why we are here”. As a result , I have looked into and studied more healing and self-realization modalities than I will take up space enumerating here.
My curiosity to understand what is genuinely real and what is ego and fear masquerading as real, has led me to study the science behind many spiritual claims (including research on vibrational medicine, the biology of belief, quantum physics, energy/matter and consciousness studies).
What I have found is that particular modalities of healing or pathways to enlightenment most always do have some aspect of true power and effect. And I also discovered something more astounding and to the point. While the plethora of healing modalities, therapies and products each have within them some property to positively impact healing, the real change agent is not the modality, the guide or practitioner.
The real healer is within you! The answer lies within…It is your own God-connected soul that knows what it needs and who can help open that way….if you learn to step into the divine mystery, listen, and trust your own inner wisdom! But how one might rightfully ask?
I suggest to you these progressive steps as you go about your search for a spiritual healer, guide or teacher. Simply become still and listen inside your own body (not your mind but your body) as you reflect upon these four doorways (as I have named them) and you will sense/know in your heart and soul what is right for you at this time… (“Be Still and Know…”)
When you sense the need for spiritual assistance to help jump-start your life again, first and most essential of all, look and see where you are inside of yourself when you are searching for that life coach, healer or spiritual teacher. Try and find (even in the midst of confusion and crisis) that inner faith toward your own Soul’s essential knowing. It feels like a kind of inclination beyond what your mind knows that you know.
Most often, people don’t really “check in” to their motive in selecting someone to work with, and in not so doing, are often unconsciously seeking an outside rather than an inner answer. You see, if we are unaware that we are looking to buy an outside fix to our life’s problems, then we may have to evolve through a process of spending lots of time and money on a plethora of products and services until we mature to a true inner readiness for self-responsible healing and empowered self-realization. This is often the trail one takes, seeking an outside fix and placing responsibility on the power of the practitioner.
This approach is often difficult to get past. We are brought up to support it in our current medical and pharmaceutical model today where we expect doctors and pills to take care of and cure what our lifestyle, hurts and beliefs continue to generate. See where the power is placed in this scenario? Not on yourself, but on someone (doctor/medicine doctor) or something (Prozac/Reiki) to do it to or for you! This gives away your power to an outside authority, and it diminishes your inner character: the very things you most need in your medicine bag for effecting true healing transformation and self-realization. True self-healing and spiritual transformation is an inner journey and a process of change.
Easy? Hell no! That’s why most people remain looking for someone to give them the answer in a pill; a therapy; a system. Working with a real spiritual mentor / teacher and healer is the most innerly challenging and potentially freeing step you’ll ever take. It requires the vulnerable act of real courage to face, head on, your own demons and painful struggles in order to find the gift of your true nature and radiant presence of being within the wisely-guided process of the search itself!
It takes tremendous courage and character to give up the patriarchal authoritative and external approach to procuring a fix it, and instead beginning the real work of inner awareness and the healing power which is uniquely yours! Courageous openness, a responsible readiness, and the dedication to self-awareness are the traits that most profoundly facilitate healing and self-realization.
If you can touch on this inner sense of “adventure” for paving your own spiritual path, you will already have found the first secret doorway to healing and self-realization: an inner-directed self presence!
When you read a spiritual healer or teacher’s web site, articles, teachings, and marketing materials and review their claims, listen from a place beyond your mind. Listen to how it feels inside of your body (literally!) as you read and contemplate these materials. What do you sense?
If there is a kind of “buzzy excitement” or a feeling of “yes, I seem to already know this that he/she is speaking of”, or if it feels familiar in an odd way, these are signs of truth recognized in your own being. Truth is Truth and your own God-consciousness knows, when you learn how to listen to this voice over the voice of egoic fear and mental conditioning. If you notice that what you have read comes back up in your thoughts a few days later, something real is stirring or being recognized from your inner physician.
You can (and probably will) still have mental worries or questions and doubts. Many times these doubts and second guesses are your fears trying to throw up yet another road block from its bag of tricks (your own repeated conditioning – and exactly what you’re trying to break through)!
So if you can attune and entrain yourself to listen from the inner body (the gut instinct is another way of putting it) you will have succeeded in passing through the second secret doorway to healing and self-realization: to discover an inner knowing that is far more intelligent and true than the thoughts created and overlaid from a conditioned mind!
Engage with the person you are considering working with. Watch or listen to a video, read the testimonials, watch them with other people and see how they respond. How do they treat you or their students and clients? Do they come from a place of superior knowing or consider themselves to be the “force” behind their student’s positive experiences? Do they take personal credit as the healer/teacher and put themselves on a “guru pedestal” you can’t reach, except by the wave of their hand? Or do they show graciousness, humility, and a sense of great joy and inspiration in helping to shine a light on your own truth?
A real spiritual mentor or healer has depth from real living; he or she has obviously been through life’s struggles and does not hide that fact. A real teacher has been so profoundly attentive to his/her own process of inner healing and realization of truth that (s)he becomes the “wounded healer” – one who has walked the dark places of despair and can therefore help cast a light on the pathway through your own. The light is the gift of a true healer; a light that shines on and reveals your own!
If you have passed through doorways one and two and you offer an inner prayer for the right guiding light to help show you your own true face, you will organically arrive at the third secret doorway to healing and self-realization: “when the student is truly ready, the teacher arrives!” In other words, synergy and “coincidence” will show itself in the way of the right person to work with and the right methods to follow if you remain in an adventurous and reverent attunement to your own inner listening!
Doorway #1 and Doorway #2 really automatically shine a light on Doorway #3. Once the first two doorways are entered you can recognize the real from the immature because you have attuned to your own realness.
A deeply mature healer or spiritual guide can really only help YOU to remove the blocks that stand in the way of your sensing and coming to know the shining light of well-being that is already inside waiting your homecoming. You are healer, wise one and guide — you’ve simply lost your way, as we all do and have from time to time.
The wisdom of healing, wholeness and your deepest truth lies within. Your wounds are the keys to the doorway of the shrine of You in all your true artistry of Being. This is discovered when your problems and struggles are faced with open-hearted seeking, vulnerable courage, personal responsibility and a ceaseless dedication to awareness. This is the true gift and rightful promise that is hidden within each of our difficult life struggles and sufferings. It is how we seek and the depth of what we ask for that is key to what we will find.
The journey of awakening to our true nature is reclaimed from our difficult life situations when we come to know our life as sacred artistry. When you enter into doorway #4, there is no more searching or seeking. There is no longer the pit of self against longing (God). There is only the holy whole adventure of living your life as an artisan, fully awake to the evolutionary and revolutionary alchemy of being fully awake in relationship to life as it arises moment-to-moment.
This is supreme art-making. And this is who you really are!