fallen gurus buddha

On spiritual teachers: Don’t look at the finger, look at the moon

I’ve always felt grateful to Yogi Bhajan. It was through his teachings that I found my practice of kundalini yoga. I hunted for years, truffling through all sorts of yoga styles, before I discovered this one. And when I did happen upon this extraordinarily powerful practice, I felt as if I had come home. Since then, the kriyas and meditations have continued to open me up in magnificent and unexpected ways. I have changed on so many levels in the years since I started my journey with kundalini yoga – the most treasured change being that I am truer to myself than I ever was before. My daily practice has been integral to that, and when I think about kundalini yoga, I think: ‘YESSSS! Thank you.’

But the buck stops at gratitude. It must always stop at gratitude, because beyond gratitude is idolisation, and idolising anyone is dangerous territory. Saint or spiritual teacher, a human is a human after all. And we humans are a paradoxical lot: we’re beautiful as well as ugly; compassionate as well as cruel; loving as well as fearful; light as well dark; insightful as well as blind. This doesn’t mean to say we can shirk our accountability because, hey, we’re ‘only’ human. It doesn’t excuse bad behaviour. It also doesn’t demean anything brought into the world by us humans. Just look around: we have created some poetic magic! But as well as immense shine, we have shadows.

So, where does that leave us with our spiritual teachers; those we pushed up onto lofty crystalline pedestals so high above us human lot? We must acknowledge their shadows as well their ‘saintliness’. Whatever idealisms we project onto the spiritual teacher are exactly that – idealisms. This ugly/ beautiful/ painful/ blissful/ bitter/ sweet experience of ours is never monochromatic: a healer may also be a hypocrite; a guru may also be a rogue; a teacher may also be a narcissist.

As our Bruce Lee once wisely said on pointing at the moon: ‘Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory’. The finger – teacher – is finite after all, but the moon – teachings – is infinite, and its light is brighter than the teacher will ever be. The teachings tell us that all we will ever need is within us. Look within. Find the teacher inside, in the Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo. It’s here that we discover all the heavenly glory.

I hope all find peace and healing.

Sat nam x

3 months ago