What Defines A Good Teacher Or Spiritual Coach?
By Cinnamon Moon
Often you will hear people saying we are all teachers and we are all students. This is true in the sense that we're always learning and growing as individuals. We all have the ability to share the knowledge we've gained as well as our experiences. But for the student seeking to learn formally there are challenges, pitfalls, and risks as to who we involve ourselves with.
As a spiritual coach for over four decades now, I have come to know many others who work along these lines and often we find ourselves discussing the pros and cons of the work. Students are seeking guidance on all levels of spiritual growth and development ranging from the novice to advanced stages. As teachers, we share what we can from our own knowledge base and years of experience just as others do. More often than not we are put on notice that a student is coming, with or without the name and identity. Our sources of guidance often tell us to prepare for someone new to enter our lives. Through our integrity and dedication to Spirit, and those we serve, we also see the integrity in others who walk the path of the teacher. At the same time it's quite clear that there really are no guidelines out there other than common sense when it comes to the student selecting the person or persons they wish to study with.
I want to share some of those pros and cons with you so you can make good choices for yourself. First of all let me say I am a proponent of eclectic study, and having the right to pursue anything that holds your interest. I believe firmly that to sit at the foot of just one teacher is to create tunnel-vision and limit the perspectives you hold. I believe we have many teachers in life, and they come to us crossing our path when we are ready to hold the knowledge they possess. They come when we need them and when it is time Spirit sees to that, yet we are responsible for those we entrust ourselves to or those we take under our wing.
Some of the pitfalls include having seen the students come to me from others they thought were going to mentor them. They found they’d been duped, that they'd put their trust in someone who abused them in one form or another. In these cases the teachers were coming from an ego-based, power-hungry, or control-based premise. They were insecure teachers, spiritually underdeveloped, and walking contaminated toxic paths. These students were often humiliated, made to feel inept, unworthy, inadequate, and spiritually taken advantage of in countless ways. I've seen people duped into intimacies that took advantage of their vulnerabilities and misled them into thinking they were sincerely loved. This can be devastating and crush their spirits to the point of needing therapy to overcome the depression, or trauma that ensued.
When a vulnerable individual places their trust in the hands of someone they perceive as an authority they run the risk of abuse. The need of the individual and the ability of the teacher to provide the insights that fill that need will create a very strong bond. Any credible teacher is going to hold that bond to friendship because the student, out of gratitude, often mistakes that gratitude for love. It is the teacher’s responsibility to assist that seeker to empower themselves with love. It needs to be accepted that they can hold a love for one and other on a platonic level loving simply for the person they are.
There are teachers that take on groups of people and will abuse in this way through charismatic behavior. They want followers and all sorts of problems result. The troubles are usually only to the detriment of the students while the teacher is the one who profits. Such teachers specifically scam people targeting them for huge sums of money and give nothing or very little in exchange. Some target your assets and property. Others seek to abuse your body, drain your energy or time to make themselves feel superior. In all cases they break your trust and faith, it is all a violation when it is their gain that is the main factor. Ego-based teaching corrupts the spiritual path with misinformation, contaminates the knowledge, and hinders the path of the student with toxic negative energy and resentments. So be aware, to be forewarned is to be forearmed and it allows you to empower yourself.
A good teacher is going to match you step for step, assist you in marked progress and they must do this respectfully. It's up to you to set those parameters because if they are not working with you they are working against you. Most teachers of spirituality are individuals of high integrity and ethics. Often they are empathic, compassionate, giving and caring people. It takes a toll on their heart to say no, to turn someone in "need" away. But there is a difference in the student that *needs to grow* and the *needy student that refuses to grow*. And if they see you are not ready for the knowledge they hold they will send you on your way. Accept that and continue seeking. Spirit will cross your path with the right teacher when the time comes and you will feel that deep inside. It is best to avoid the damage that results from abuse of misinformation, wasted time and effort, or expenditure of energy that could be put to much better service and productivity for both parties.
If you are seeking to connect with a teacher there are some questions you need to ask yourself before you make a commitment:
*Is the focus of the teaching on foundational information that promotes a strong basis for growth and development in a respectful manner?
*Are the teachings an unstructured hodge-podge of this and that leaving gaping holes in the lessons?
*Is the focus of the teaching on YOUR needs? Are they being addressed or ignored?
*Has this teacher taken the time to explore your background experience, knowledge, your insights or fears, listening carefully to your questions and answering them?
*Is the focus of the teaching patient, compassionate, loving in nature or is it demanding, pushy, and dogmatic?
*Is the teacher one you feel comfortable with or someone who intimidates with an egocentric sense of authority?
*Are you receiving help or being converted as a follower of some wannabe guru?
*Is the teacher one you know to have experience behind them or just overly eager to stand in the limelight of appearing important?
*Is the teacher one who exudes a spiritual energy or someone who seems to draw from your energy and drain you with demands or perhaps expect you to follow them blindly?
*Are they respectful of the lessons they give, holding them sacred and honoring Spirit and Mother above all else or is it all about them?
*Is this individual pretending to care about you seemingly offering the moon and stars only to be drawing energy from you shortly after they reveal some mysterious knowledge you can’t make hide nor tail of?
*Are they asking you to send them energy for healing or some other need when they should already know how to tap universal energy?
Anyone....anyone with any body of knowledge knows that they do not need to draw energy from others but have at their fingertips a bottomless well of Source Energy derived from Spirit, Universal energy that is available to us all. A good teacher is going to want to know what you are seeking and why you want to occupy their valuable time. They are not going to waste time on anyone who is not serious, but they will not waste your time either. They will remain focused on the issues, keep your confidences, share and help you assimilate the answers, and give you a body of knowledge that you can validate for yourself. They will devote as much time as they can to your needs and be dedicated to your growth through lessons and exercises that lead you into experiences of your own. They will focus on empowering you, not themselves
A good teacher is going to want to present a solid foundation of basic information and will question you as to your depth of knowledge in those areas. They will then fill in any gaps and make certain you have a comprehensive understanding before offering intermediate or advanced knowledge. They will see your needs and help you develop them along the way customizing those teachings to meet your goals and talents. They will be protective of your progress and watch over you with great care, taking things a step at a time. They will walk with you along your path until you feel you can journey on alone. That journey together depends upon how much study you want and the relationship that develops between you. As you progress they will help you through rites of passage and initiations, assimilating and polishing the fine points along the way and exude a desire to help you be the best you can be for your sake, not theirs.
It is important for anyone to realize that the tradition you seek to study should be one that holds interest for you. There is no "one way" or "right way" since all paths contain the spiritual truths in one form or another. However, each teacher is going to present their knowledge based on the path they walk...find one appropriate to your interests and avoid a lot of frustration for you both. While the basics remain the same on all paths, the techniques employed tend to define the tradition or style of that path. Your interests are there for a reason, they are guiding you to what is right for you. The semantics can be confusing, each tradition will have its own way of expressing the knowledge and its own way of approaching it to wield it. Remember, you need to feel comfortable with that.
A good teacher is going to be patient and understanding of your frustrations, know how to help you confront blockages and fears, insecurities and doubts so that you can overcome them. . They are giving, and yes, sometimes stern, but there is always good progress with them because they come from a premise of sincere love and devotion to truth. A good teacher will also recognize when a path is not appropriate for you and often will suggest that you take another course of study, recommending another mentor if at all possible. They will not be inundating you with material you cannot use or throwing too much at you too fast and leaving you feeling overwhelmed.
They will guide you in ways that help you tame your ego and bring forth the powerful spirit within instead. They will be tolerant of your shortcomings and do all they can to help you strengthen them whatever they may be. They will do all they can to show you how to tap into the enlightenment of understanding and ultimately to a relationship with Spirit and Mother that will take you far beyond the world of form. Are there signs around this person that either confirm or negate the relationship between you should develop? If so are you heeding them? Coming to your coaches or teachers you need to be open, eager to share thoughts, feelings, efforts around the teachings, and you commitment to the course of study. Your teacher is going to be bringing you into the light of understanding and offering a hand as you find your balance progressing along your path.
It is important to recognize that the greatest teachers are not of this world. Once you have connected with your Guides and Spirit Helpers you’re introduced to the Master Teachers. They know your needs, how you think and process information and they work with you on very personal levels. At this point the role of the teacher becomes more that of a mentor helping you to assimilate symbols, visions, dreams, spiritual growth, and relationships with those Guides and Spirit Helpers. Once those roles are established and functional you begin moving on and the teacher remains a friend or parts ways as the case may be.
The ultimate path of spiritual growth and development is that of being self-sufficient, able to decipher the truths for ourselves, developing confidence and self-assurances that allow us to walk our path. No teacher worth their weight will stand in your way and there are repercussions for those that abuse the role. Rest assured that retributions will be called for and occur. If someone is abusing the role of the teacher their reputation will be tarnished quickly, their path contaminated and no matter how much effort they put into developing adoring followers, it will come back three-fold to impact them in a destructive way. Naturally the same applies to the student that is going to use their knowledge to take advantage of others for selfish gain. If you are not willing to put forth the effort to grow you will not develop. No one can do that homework for you, you simply can’t progress if you don't do the work. Nor can you push the tide of time and expedite things without putting in the extra effort to accomplish that. There are no shortcuts.
You can devote yourself to a course of study and commit to exercises that will develop your abilities, skill, and knowledge. Through the gathering of knowledge it will lead you into experiences where you will hone your own power as you gather it to you. But it is not a power to be abused and those experiences will teach you that. Through experience we gain wisdom in knowing when and when not to exercise that knowledge. We learn who to share it with and who not to, who to serve and who not to serve. Ultimately it's all about Spirit, and if our heart is not there all we are doing is wasting our time and the time of others. It will be up to both the teacher and the student to recognize these things and take responsibility for them.
May the path you choose be blessed and may Spirit keep you well.
Listen as the Wolf and the bear
"Two Moons Talking"
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