Notes on The Integrity of the Student

Regarding teachers – and here we are talking about spiritual teachers, non-duality teachers, and “gurus” – let’s step back for a moment:

In Reality, with a capital “r”, the is truly only One Sage: Conscious Reality. We learn or grow or enjoy in life from Life itself, with a capital L. every moment, and every encounter, potentially, is a teacher. Not just a human figure sitting on  chair in front of a group. An animal, a plant, or a situation can be one. A parent or child, partner or book. A mountain (in the case of Ramana Maharshi). These are all only external manifestation of the inner, so to speak – which really are all one, cannot be separated. 

OK, we all know that.

So why say it out loud, again? Because I am setting the stage, the context, for this discussion. So we don’t forget, an get lost in details. 

No Judgement, But Discrimination

What is the ultimate goal, so to speak, with respect to a teacher? To be independent, to be one’s own guru, our own teacher, without a need for an external figure – to let Life be the “teacher” – not in terms of lessons (as if we were bad, or not good enough) but in terms of unfolding, of Beauty, Love and Truth (the BLT Sandwhich of Life). The real God (Life, true Nature, Consciousness, whatever word you want to use) is a forgiving one, infinitely forgiving – the concept of sin does not occur in the truly innocent.  That is, the “Original Sin” is to be judgemental, to have a “knowledge of good and evil”: to believe oneself – and therefore others – to be objects.

From the author’s perspective, there has  have never been interest in teachers per se, only in an investigation.  For example, even back when I was a philosophy student (30 years ago), the primary concern was about certain questions that were bedeviling me, obsessing me (such as about how the mind works, how it’s possible to see anything, and the possibility of AI how to create beauty, etc) – perhaps because of the major glimpse of pure consciousness, of absolute reality that I had when he was 21 (for a while it was classified as a NDE – a “Near Death Experience”). This experience highlighted the extreme contrast between the worldview he grew up in and was surrounded by, and what he saw, felt, experienced inside, as a subjective and more-real-than-the-world reality. 

So for example, when people would find out I was a philosophy major (I was also studying art, and neuroscience and anything else I was interested in, creating my own curriculum…), they would say “Oh who is your favorite philosopher?” and I would be take aback, not know what to say, because I didn’t have one. I would go from author to author, professor to professor,  doing my research.  Or, when I was in a bookshop 25 years ago that had a lot of spiritual or self-help, psychology, New Age-sih and Earth-related books, I (or her) struck up a friendly discussion, with an older woman there amongst the shelves, and she asked me, “Who are you following?!” excitedly. Again I was take aback. What on earth was she talking about? I am mumbled something, I don’t remember what…

Thus I am inclined to think that many people went (and go) to these meetings looking for a teacher, in some kind of personal sense, or for someone to follow – a saint or guru,  or a figure they consider “enlightened”. There are certain expectations built into that. They may also go for a certain kind of experience:  stimulating, or to achieve a certain state, or be part of a group, and feel they belong and are accepted, or are good people, are loved. 

As I remember, one of my initial impulses was, as is common to many, along the line of self-improvement: to be happier with regards to issues like relationships and works, to have more power over aspects of one’s life, to have greater status, money, love, etc. To find some kind of freedom and peace through having these things – like most of the world. And, I’d heard and experienced that groups were more conducive to this process of self-transformation. I’d also become quite thoroughly frustrated with the “3P” field (Three Principles Psychology – a spiritual psychology movement I’ve written extensively about , originally based on the offerings of a sage by the name of Sydney Banks). Thus Francis Lucille and his incisive mind, and his ability to finally answer the questions that the 3P practitioners were unable or refused to answer, dismissing them as analytical or philosophical – implying the wrong state or belief, really, a fascist dogma or religion –  was a breath of fresh air. And, there was a sense of freedom and honesty that I immediately felt right at home with. 

I heard about non-duality from a couple of 3P friends in a series Zoom meetings I’d bee attending. I didn’t know much about it, and never heard of “Advaita” before I went. And I do admit that at times I was infected with the unfortunate beleif that there were enlightened human beings  that, in other words, peopel become enlightened, and that I wanted to also, and was (hopefully) special somehow, spiritually speaking, and I wanted recognition, and approval. 

It took many years before it hit me I will never be enlightened. People do not become enlightened. The Self simply reveals itself to Itself, and knows what the human, the person is: an illusory sort of show, a concept, or an arbitrary conglomeration for practical purposes of getting along with other loving beings in and of the play of plays, this dance, this wonderful show, a gift to enjoy, to celebrate, love. It’s rather too simple for words, but is known for sure in the heart.

This is what the spiritual teachings are pointing to: as hard as it seems sometimes, it’s as simple as could possibly be. “It’s about happiness, stupid” Francis would often say (trying to make fun play on the old Bill Clinton political quip of “It’s the economy stupid“).  Whether you see it from the cold harsh light of a philosopher scientist engineer artist Buddhist Advaitan, or the warm friendly glow of a Christ presence in Love ad forgivenesss, it’s all the One – it has to be.

So wandering in to La Luz – the retreat center and house on the hill in Temecula – which, conveniently (since I lived in San Diego at the time) happened to be the location of the teacher of Rupert Spira, who my aforementioned 3P friend had mentioned  – I got much much more – or much less than I bargained for: dissolution of the personal self. This is akin to that going back to the Source that I’d experienced in that “death” experience when the author was 21, but now in a way that reveals that it is part of living in this world, and not some separate reality or realm. Bringing oneness back home. It’s the difference between the mystic and the sage you could say.

I relate all this to give some context, because it seems like a whole different emphasis from most people that I meet at these satsangs (a meeting of “like minded” people that meditate and having dialogues with a teacher ) and gatherings. 

So when he finally met “his teacher” as they say – in other words, the mouthpiece for the teachings that resonate, make sense, and finally brig together and connect all the dots for what he’s bee searching for for 35+ years – it was not a “my teacher” experience, it was a experience of truth, of certainty, of clarity, of peace and joy – of finally finding solid ground. It took a while to get established – the was rocky going at times, and is a ongoing journey of course.

Ultimately, this investigation is about, and into, Truth, Beauty, Love, and the enjoyment thereof. The Self,  short.

(But what is “Reality” you may ask? That is for another article).

But I see many interesting and baffling, or comic dynamics happening around (seeming) individual teachers.

One phenomenon observed is that people set up rules in their mind, and form opinions without investigating facts. Just as with conspiracy theories, humans seem to need a way to make sense of what is happening in themselves and in the world, and feel safe, and be part of a group (for or against something, usually). An explanation for their feelings.

E.g., “No relations with ‘students’”. Or relations between lovers have to be a certain age in our culture, a certain percentage perhaps, or they will gossip and be offended (or act as if they are…). Is that absolute? Who creates these rules?

E.g., “Lack of transparency” by a leader of the community. It’s a judgment call how much a supposed “public figure” shares their personal life, and in relation what’s really going on, and how much they consider it purely a private matter. There’s a difference between, say, a politician and a spiritual teacher.  How much of their sexual and personal life and habits are the publics business? Only if it has to do with the teaching, such as if there’s a contradiction. There has to be real issue (financial exploitation is a clearer example: a cult leader demanding all of someone’s money), such that it’s the public’s business.

In short, in order for there to be an ethics violation, there has to be a harm done.

Was there exploitation or taking advantage of power? If not, then there is no ethics violation, only suspicions, judgements, opinions, expectations, projections, hurt feelings, etc.

There is a difference, for example, between on the one hand, a Muktananda having sex with 13 year olds via a secret door to the dormitories and using the “shaktipat initiation” ploy to exploit those that don’t know better, and on the other hand, a middle-aged European woman going aggressively after an older European teacher, and the teacher eventually saying ‘yes’, and then eventually leaving his wife when he sees it’s the right thing to do at the time. You can’t compare.

Facts Versus Opinions & Reactions

It’s not about rules, it’s about facts. And what do you know, versus a personal reaction, or to speculate, opinionate, judge, hear from other personal opinionaters and hearsayers and gossipers, judgers… and let’s face it: people react to mere words, like dogs hearing a whistle, and love drama, soap operas, watching the news.

Heaven and Earth are impartial;
They see the ten thousand things as straw dogs.
The wise are impartial;
They see the people as straw dogs.

The space between heaven and Earth is like a bellows.
The shape changes but not the form; The more it moves, the more it yields.

More words count less.
Hold fast to the center.

–Lao Tzu

How many people will understand this – what is being pointed to? Very few. One in ten million. Perhaps.

Have you actually taken the time to research deeply, to think through, investigate actual facts? Do you really know what facts are in general – the difference between relative, phenomenal truths (which are never 100%, are hard to come by – which is why we have scientists, philosophers journalists, a system of law…) and absolute truth? Can you be scientific? All you know is from the outside.

All I know is that I do not know; but most seem to claim they know a lot. That is the real problem: the knowing.

Can you see inside another’s heart or mind, experience from their point of view, or know what really happened… in the past?

The infinite complexity here and now is even more than I can possibly grasp a tiny bit of, and then only temporarily. And here one is asked to know about some other time, place, person … and what is a person?

People listen to hearsay and gossip and draw conclusions. The ego loves to feel superior or above, to judge, because it’s harboring a feeling of inferiority, and wants someone to tell it what to do, how to think, how to see things (like a spiritual teacher). Can you stand on your own two feet, be independent?

There’s a difference between living in your imagination, or drawing conclusions from what you imagine, and facts.

People take offense because they don’t like someone else’s freedom when they themselves are not free. And, they also get jealous – not just of freedom, but of other things that others have that they secretly want. Or get angry because they take it personally when an older man or woman throws a older partner overboard for a younger one, and see it as unfair. Instead of the cosmic dance, the play, the tragi-comedy it is. There’s no personal idiot, just impersonal players. 

Judgements, opinions, personal reactions.

So the only “problem” one usually sees in fact boils down to personal reactions being confused with facts and truth, when there is no actual practical issue. It was all created by the mind: the loop of thoughts and feelings, the not-now appearing as real.

A sense of humor would have gone a long ways.

It’s interesting that for students, even after many years spent around a “spiritual teacher” – a pointer of of Truth , an alarm clock of Freedom, of Consciousness – and doing practices, supposedly listening – that many, if not most, still cannot discriminate between facts and opinions, personal and impersonal, relative and absolute. Why is that? I do not know.

It’s almost as if most of these students of non-duality teachers do not understand that there is no such thing as objectivity, absolute objectivity – they cannot discriminate between (their) mind and Reality, see the subjective in the objective, the objective in the subjective, the false duality of the division they had created, and the subtle flexibility and power of their own true Self. They hand their power over to the mind, to teachers, to other students, to friends, family, society, to relativity, to objects, to seeming others adn opinions. They don’t know who or what they are.

The only harm was in people’s minds thinking there was something wrong, and that is not the “teacher’s” fault or anyone’s – just ignorance. The teacher figure can’t be blamed for student figure’s ignorance.

Hurt feelings – people taking things personally, or not being able to let go of personal opinions – is not an ethics violation.

A teacher or person seeming cold or rude and probably being slightly autistic, is not a crime, it’s just rudeness and clumsiness.

Not understanding their teaching and looking for a “teacher” and being Bhakti and or Karma yoga-oriented around a Jnani, and still seekers, still having heavy residues of ignorance, and the teacher not being that kind of teacher for that kind of student such that the student doesn’t understand or resonate with the teaching (but keeps going, for some unknown reason), or the teacher’s actions … is not the teacher’s fault.

There are no saints that I have ever experienced. All embodied beings – or seeming ones – are by nature incomplete, still have some residues of ignorance, are still on the path – including all “teachers” and sages. Expecting them to be other than they are, expecting them to be saints, to be absolute yet embodied, is stupid. Wanting that is itself something to investigate in oneself, and not blame someone else for when they don’t live up to it. That is childish.

Perhaps this is an opportunity to look within yourself: is there a sense of heaviness remaining, a sense of needing or wanting a teacher, a master? Are you still not seeing that there is only One teacher, One Master, One Sage in Reality, and all is a “manifestation” of that?

So again, I have never been interested in teachers, only the investigation into Truth, Beauty, Love, and the enjoyment thereof. I am interested in the underlying unity, which I know is there – the Reality – in all teachings, religions, wisdom philosophies, and experiences. And, being friends with everyone and everything, where possible.