Having a mind of Your Own
I’ve been on the spiritual path for about 16 years. In this time span I’ve spent 13 years with Enlightened teachers: 2 years with a non-living teacher and 11 years with a direct living teacher. I deeply believe that contact with an authentic deeply Self-Realized being is of immense significance and value for one’s spiritual evolution. A connection with a real teacher coupled with one’s earnest love and devotion to Truth is in my eyes a very successful formula for spiritual flowering.
However, over the years with a spiritual teacher I’ve seen a phenomenon that deeply disturbed me. It was almost impossible to find a dedicated student being able to learn from the teacher and at the same time truly and deeply think for themselves. Deeply intelligent people, beautiful Souls, despite their unmistakable growth, on a deep level remained spineless and without the capacity to think as true autonomies.
I’ve literally seen students change their minds and opinions in an instant following exactly what the teacher said as if they could not have a wise judgment and discrimination of their own. One day the teacher would share his thought about a person/subject and they would speak as if it was their own opinion, with such conviction. The next day, the teacher would change his mind about the very same subject, and boom, the students all of a sudden thought exactly the same – even though it was fully contradictory to what they yesterday talked about with full conviction and apparent certainty.
Are you a Free Thinker?
Jiddu Krishnamurti, the great Enlightened Master, spoke incessantly about this subject. Seeing how people are so biased and afraid to question, to look and think for themselves, he passionately talked against the Guru institute and pro intelligent and deep free thinking of the individual. He was trying to bring people to a place where absolutely no constriction would limit their mind, a place of total newness and openness from which truly intelligent and revolutionary thinking could arise.
Although I never followed J. Krishnamurti as a major influence, I discover that on a deep level I’m very similar to him in this regard. I was always a free thinker. I always made sure that I remain 100% loyal to the inner truth that is revealed through my direct seeing and never succumb to the pressure to think or see things through the eyes of another – no matter how brilliant of enlightened they are – if that doesn’t deeply echo and resonate with my inner truth.
The Incomparable Importance of Honesty
To me it always boils down to Honesty. How honest can we be? How honest do we actually want to be? You see, oftentimes people hide behind their Guru, and use Him or Her as an image of superiority over others. One who isn’t walking the path of their Guru is inferior. And if a long-term student leaves the Guru it is surely interpreted as a betrayal, a falling from grace, taking a wrong turn and acting out of selfish motivations. As long as you were part of the Guru’s teaching you were considered a friend, and oftentimes great proclamations of love and friendship are done between the students…that is…until you leave. Then, all of a sudden, people judge you, derive so many conclusions about you and your chosen path…and the most puzzling thing of all is: they derive all these conclusions without actually meeting you, checking in with you, but rather through projections and long-term automatic Guru-Biased conditioned thinking.
The lack of free thinking, one that can actually go beyond the limitations of their devotion to a specific path, doesn’t allow them to really see another, not even someone they called a close friend! Now as you can probably already guess, I’m sharing here my own personal story. Since I’ve parted ways with my former spiritual teacher (which I still love dearly) I’ve got so many negative judgments and projections coming my way without a single former student-friend truly checking in with me to understand my deep motivations and choices. This in my observation, is the actual meaning of a cult. A cult is not something dangerous, but rather, this form of conditioned and automated behavior and thinking.
This kind of behavior raises many questions:
- How honest do we really want to be?
- How much do we want to actually know the Truth?
- Can we think in a free, mature and unbiased way?
- What is real friendship?
- Where is the balance between devotion to a Guru and remaining Free within?
However this article is dedicated to the question of real free and unbiased thinking, which also has to do a lot with personal Honesty and the love of true freedom of mind and heart.
The Guru and the Student
The real Guru, one that truly cares deeply for the spiritual maturation of their students, should aspire to cultivate within them Spiritual Autonomy rather than an ongoing dependency on Him/Her. Seeing a student act like a sheep or a parrot should immediately ring an alarm for the teacher – that is if they truly care for the student and not for their own control and power over them. They should insist on supporting the student to become spiritually independent.
The real student on the other hand, should approach a real Guru with love, openness and a sincere willingness to learn and grow, to receive the offerings the Guru has to offer. At the same time, the real student should develop full ownership of their journey and have the maturity to understand that no matter how great the Guru is, he or she is also human, and as such, imperfect and with inherent shadow sides. That should compel the student to on the one hand listen deeply to the teacher and learn, while simultaneously also listen to their own heart and mind and not abdicate their inner power, common sense and healthy moral judgment.
Separating from Mom and Dad – the Birth of Independence
Oftentimes this incapacity to think for oneself is simply a result of a weak inner spine, a weak inner center and a deep lack of Trust in oneself. There’s a feeling that the Guru is the owner of Grace and that without Him or Her one won’t have any access to that Living Truth. However, in my own experience, there comes a point where one has to take a quantum leap of faith and learn to be a light unto themselves. It is like a bird taking that first leap off a cliff just to discover that now it can fly on its own! It is but natural not to remain attached forever to Mom and Dad, or in our context, to the Guru. One has to discover their own Spiritual Wings. And amazingly one actually discovers: “Wow! Grace is here with me, guiding and informing me with the Living Truth”. It never belonged to the Guru, but rather, the Guru was a living portal that helped me to awaken into the Living Grace within me.
Enlightenment without Corruption
Due to all the reasons described above, I often say that Honesty is a greater value than Enlightenment. What I mean by that, is that even if one has a thundering Shakti, powerful inner realization but lacks the depth of honesty – corruption is just around the corner. And just check the real stories of great and powerful Gurus…you will often find some very inhuman, contradictory and immoral behaviors. I believe that if Honesty and Purity of heart motivate one’s journey to God-Realization, then and only then, Enlightenment will be clean, beautiful and not distorted.
So can you think for yourself?