Starting a spiritual path can be very exciting. There will come a time when you have read as many books as you can, and you’ll realize that you need more personalized instruction. There are terrific spiritual teachers out there, but finding the right one for you will be easier if you keep in mind these 5 things to look for in a spiritual teacher.
Find a spiritual teacher relatively close to you
There can be a certain allure to studying with a teacher at a distance. This may work for some, but for most maintaining a ‘relationship at a distance’ takes too much effort. Therefore find a spiritual teacher that you can see (in person) regularly. The teachings may be the same as the distant teacher but you enjoy community, and there are benefits to being with your teacher, asking spontaneous questions and watching them model their spirituality.
Find a spiritual teacher you can connect with
There is always the teacher that comes HIGHLY recommended from friends. However before starting anything with this teacher, have an informal meeting with him or her. The question to ask yourself is this… “Do I feel this teacher can help ME?” “Does what they’re teaching make sense to me?” “Do I like them personally?” A NO to any of these questions means you should keep looking. Isn’t an aspect of being on the spiritual path trusting your own intuition? Why not start the journey here. Study with someone you connect with and feel comfortable with from the start.
Find a spiritual teacher who challenges you (gently)
New spiritual seekers often confuse spiritual training with Marine Boot Camp. I am not a fan of yelling and screaming as a teaching tool but I cannot tell you how many teachers adopt this practice either literally or figuratively. Find someone who will take the time to get to know you, and who will challenge you to reach your spiritual goals, and will do it gently yet effectively. Ultimately I believe Spiritual lessons teach us to walk more in-harmony with our world, and with ourselves. Yelling and screaming begets yelling and screaming. Gentle is the keyword here.
Find a spiritual teacher who is patient with your learning style
Your spiritual teacher should get to know you, and get to know you’re learning style. Some people just absorb information; others have to ask a thousand questions in order to learn. Your style will most likely be somewhere in between. There is no judgment about what method is better, so find a teacher who is patient with your particular learning style.
Find a spiritual teacher you can live without
Everything in life involves changes (endings) and new beginnings. Over time students sometimes can become dependent on the spiritual teacher for continuing guidance. Your goal should be to spend the time needed with a spiritual teacher to have them help you reach the next level. Your initial conversation with a prospective spiritual teacher is to identify when it is time to find the next teacher. Imagine a sixth grader wanting to stay for years with the same sixth grade teacher. Eventually the sixth grade teacher is no longer adding to the education of the aging sixth grader. There are no grades, per se, on your spiritual path, but the analogy is sound. The ultimate truth is that all good things must come to an end.
Keep these guidelines in mind as you search for a spiritual teacher. The spiritual path should bring light and love into your life. Finally, the best advice I can give is enjoy your spiritual awakening, share with it friends and loved ones, and keep striving to reach your own spiritual goals.