Blog Material, Post By D. R. Butler

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D. R. Butler’s Course of Training

Living In the Truth of the Present Moment

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For more than forty years, D. R. Butler has authored the Course of Training Living in the Truth of the Present Moment, now available via email.

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A Blog Post By D. R. Butler

Who Is A True Teacher?

The first entry is entitled “Who Is a True Teacher?”: The popularity of the Internet has led to a proliferation of spiritual teachers, each with his or her own little niche or specialty. We can’t keep up with all of them; we can’t practice/follow/read/hear all of them. How do we know what is best for us? How to trust a teacher? Which one to listen to?

I was fortunate enough at the age of fifteen to come in contact with a Teacher who had spent seventeen years in lamaseries of Nepal and Tibet before being instructed to return to the West to help individuals to rise out of the Great Depression of the 1930s, through the end of his life in 1961. He gave talks over the radio and wrote a correspondence course that transmitted a clarity of understanding and a palpable experience of the Truth of Being. He had left his body the year before I discovered his course, so I never had actual physical contact with him, except through his wife, years after his passing. I was saved from being attached to his physical form, for the training I received from him took place subtly. Dreams of him took place on a regular basis for many years. I can still vividly recall certain discussions we had in those dreams, mostly in the form of him responding to my questions.

In one of them, he showed me with one glance how the entire Cosmos is put together and how everything works. It was something that took no time, but was an instantaneous revelation, as when Krishna first revealed his true form to Arjuna in the Indian epic saga Bhagavad Gita.

If I were to attempt to tell you who he was, or what tradition or lineage he actually represented, you would probably think I was about two french-fries short of a happy meal. He wasn’t publicly known. He was careful not to be. He was cleverly disguised, as many of the Great Ones are. He emphasized often that the value lies in the teachings themselves, never in the teacher. Teachers will come and go; teachings of Truth always remain the same.

The well-known and popular teachers that we all know about and discuss on the Internet might never approach the attainment or development of someone whom very few have even heard of, other than the small band who somehow come in contact with him or her and experience what comes through as a subtle transmission.

Such beings avoid becoming ‘public’ at all costs, for they know that public knowledge of them can only bring trouble. To a true Teacher, public recognition is the worst thing, and he or she will deliberately remain known to only a relative few. It is the way of the world to take down a saint, to put him in his place, to prove he was never so great in the first place. Once upon a time there were crucifixions; now there are Internet sites that will happily give us all the dirt they can find or imagine.

Do not assume a teacher can transmit to you something of value simply because he or she is popular or well-known, or might have large followings and circus-like scenes wherever they go. Having followed the spiritual scene since the early sixties, I can assure you that the great majority of such teachers come and go. Don’t get attached to bodies, forms, or personalities, for none of these are the source of your true inner connection to your own Being.

Never listen to someone who tries to convince you of something or to win you over, or who acts and speaks so that you will think well of him. A true teacher is detached from the fruits of his work, and whether someone gains anything from him or not will be according to their own destiny, their own karma. He has no interest in how another sees him or whether he is liked or appreciated or approved of. If others are attracted to him, it is because of what comes through him; he does not take it personally.

As the Christ put it, “It is not I that do the works, but the Father within, that same Father that is within you.”

A true Teacher won't go around being your best buddy. If she is true, she will never appease the ego; she will always keep the ego a little bit uncomfortable. Otherwise she is not fully functioning as a Teacher; she is only a friend. A friend is nice; a true Teacher is rare.

Especially don’t pay attention to teachers who 'explain themselves' regarding anything. The Shakti (spiritual Energy) doesn’t explain Itself; to do so would be contrary to Its nature. It doesn’t need to cause you to think in any particular way. How you think is up to you. A true Teacher will never present a dogmatic system of beliefs. Rather, she will free you of the limiting beliefs that already hold you down. Specifically, he or she will free you from the shackles of the mind and ego, and teach you to think for yourself.

The saint can’t help having a human, personal life as long as he or she is incarnated in a physical body. She won’t have a halo, she won’t walk on water, she’ll only shatter your concepts about who you think you are. She might lovingly and compassionately smash your ego into pieces. In the end, she simply reveals the Truth of Being and leaves us established in our own Self, supremely independent and supremely free.

The primary thing regarding a spiritual teacher is your actual inner experience of contact with him or her. Your own heartfelt experience, and nothing else, tells you whether there is something to be gained or not. Your mind might think he is ‘off his rocker’. It doesn’t matter; go by your own inner feeling always.

The greatest Teachers come from the heart, not the head. The Teacher’s words might not make any sense at first, yet you experience a profound opening in your heart. You experience something inside yourself—a light, an insight, an exaltation, some sense of new possibility, of pending new life. Yet you might not even remember what was verbally communicated. It is not something that happens physically or mentally. It is a subtle communication, a subtle transmission that transforms us on a very deep level of our Being.

A true Teacher passes on to us a spiritual Energy that gives a palpable ‘boost’ to our inner work (our sadhana) and to our inner state. If there are only ideas and words to be learned, and especially if they are simply ‘beliefs’, there is nothing of value to be gained.

Never accept another’s words without proving them true in your own life. Truth is always provable and practically workable.

I love this quote from my first Teacher: "He, or she, is great who feeds other minds. He is great who inspires others to think for themselves. He is great who tells you the things you already know, but which you did not know you knew until he told you. He, or she, is great who disturbs you, irritates you, even affronts you, so that you are shaken out of your habitual ways and pulled out of your mental ruts, lifted up above the commonplace. He may be a teacher, or a speaker, or a writer, a clergyman, or a scientist; or he may be a close friend. It makes no difference who or what he is, or may be, but it does make a great difference what he means, and can do, to you.

"The writer, for instance, is great whom you alternately hate and love—whom you cannot easily forget. In his private, personal life he may be proud, arrogant, crude, coarse, irritable, absurd, or even immoral...I grant all that...and yet be great. He is not great because of these reprehensible qualities, but in spite of them. The apparent inconsistencies and inequalities of his nature may contribute in great measure to his power, just as the rocks, boulders, chasms, woods, mountains and valleys make up the grandeur and majesty of the Yosemite, or Yellowstone Park."

A true Teacher, even though our ego may react from time to time, ultimately helps us to feel good about ourselves and to see ourselves in the highest way. Someone who ultimately makes you feel even worse about yourself can never be considered a true Teacher.

Ultimately no one can tell you who your Teacher is—any more than someone can tell you who to fall in love with. At some point it becomes obvious. Since recognizing a Teacher is like falling in love, here’s a tip: Fall in love with your Self and be your own Teacher. This is my truest and most sincere advice.

In the end, of course, we will each live in love with our Self and be our own Teacher, for there could be no other conclusion; it is a simple recognition of the way it always is. The Truth always exists within and never without. Look within and you will know the Truth without any doubt. Look outside and you are lost, and doubt will haunt you at every turn. Remember love. Love is always the best bet in any case.

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