Spiritual teachers and the enlightenment process. I would like to address what I consider to be the most difficult topic for a person who seeks enlightenment to deal with.
There are different types of spiritual teachers. The ultimate spiritual teacher is life. Life is constantly teaching us, if we'll only open our eyes and observe.
Because we have so much, such a large self, such a developed personality and persona, we don't really see. We see ourselves. We're always basing everything that we see in life on a comparison with our own views, our feelings, our ideas. It's only after the self has been swept away that we can really see. Otherwise, everything is colored by our own perceptions. But when we are no longer a separate finite individual, then all there is is the universal, real - perfect sight, perfect seeing, perfect perception, untainted by personal want, desire, gain, past recollection, sorrows, hopes, ambitions.
Life is the teacher. We are part of life. We are the teacher. Our own body, our mind, the aging process - all of these things are teaching us. We learn to listen to the wind. The wind is a wonderful teacher. You could learn much more from the wind than from myself, unless I happen to be the wind, which I am some days. The earth, the water, all of the elementals, the things that go to make up this universe teach us. Each has a force, a power.
You see, a real spiritual teacher makes you independent, not dependent. They're not interested in worship.
Human beings teach us all the time. We can observe them; they're all our spiritual teachers. Observe people when they're happy and understand why. Observe them when they're unhappy, angry, hateful, jealous and understand why, with no judgment, no recrimination. Just with understanding. This is how you study consciousness. You observe. You sit and watch, quietly. You don't think about yourself or worry about yourself, your problems, your ambitions, because you won't see correctly if you think of these things. You must push them all aside, just as when a physician is performing an operation. The surgeon is in a critical moment, he can't be thinking about other things. All his attention must be on the operation. So you have to place all of your attention on that which you study, to learn it. And the more you can do this, the more complete will be your knowledge and your learning.
Every moment, every day, is an opportunity to learn, to observe what I call the theater of the soul. The orchestrations of eternity. If you're by yourself you can watch yourself, watch nature, watch your house, watch the time pass, watch the moon rise, the sun set. Each time of day teaches you something, each time of day has its own mood. The morning, noon, the afternoon and the sunset, the early evening rounding around till midnight, after midnight, the sunrise, the early morning - each has a mood, each a power. Naturally if you're completely caught up in your thoughts, in your ideas of what's important and not important, you won't learn. You have to be still, you have to learn to listen. Listen to nature. Observe human beings. There's a lot to learn there.
Practice meditation. Stop your thoughts and learn from meditation. Practice self-giving. Self-giving is a wonderful spiritual teacher. And observe what happens. It's like lifting weights or working with your body. If you do it on a regular basis, your body changes, it becomes stronger. When you practice selfless giving on a regular basis, you change.