It’s best to choose an older, deeply experienced spiritual teacher. Because the chances are better that older teachers have personally realized what they know and teach.
And so it’s less likely that we will run into the predictable errors in judgment that arise when our inexperienced mind becomes fired up by the spirit archetype.
CONCEPTUAL KNOWLEDGE IS NOT EXPERIENTIAL KNOWLEDGE
Many of the younger spiritual teachers have problems that we can get caught up in. Younger teachers often have impressive conceptual knowledge, but not a lot of experiential knowledge.
They can understand what they are teaching cognitively, but they have not realized it. They have not applied it long enough, or deeply enough, to have transformed their own minds.
And so they too often mistake their conceptual understanding for realization. Or, worse still, they knowingly market it as such, to the detriment of their students.
Spiritual teachers and teachings from other cultural traditions have a transplant problem. For example, the forms of feudal Eastern spiritual teachings do not transplant well in the West.
They tend to do well for a time. But then, like many flowering plants uprooted from their native soil and transplanted into foreign conditions, they begin to suffer and degrade, after an initial breathtaking bloom.
BETRAYALS, FAILURES AND WOUNDS
Spiritual teacher betrayals, spiritual community failures and spiritual practitioner wounds are signs of that suffering and degradation.
For example, the younger prospective spiritual teachers from within the Tibetan Bon-Buddhist tradition have been prematurely thrust on the stage of western culture as fully prepared teachers .
Due to the ruthless Chinese invasion of Tibet, an entire generation of Tibetans has been lost.
And a younger generation of prospective teachers has appeared, before their time, to preserve the breathtaking cultural and spiritual traditions of Tibet.
However well-intended, most premature teachers quite often fail, some more, some less. Because they fall prey to the insecurities and darker egoic forces within their own mind.
Along with the forces unleashed within spiritual communities operating from the Divine Right Monarch Model (DRM). Forces that can trap a teacher in spiritual community idealizations that help lead him or her astray.
THE GOOD NEWS
The DRM model of spiritual teacher may still work in the East, but it’s a dogma without basis or foundation in the West.
Unlike the East, we have no history, traditions or institutions that can support and steward this model. Quite the contrary. Nor are we inoculated against or prepared for its excesses.
The good news is that these problems are actually the seeds for us to devlop a new model for spiritual teachers and their students.