A spiritual master truly is someone who has stepped out of the confines and attachments of this world. Their interests in the concerns that are thought to be essential (romance, making money, having a great social network, etc.) are few to non-existent. Their interests tend to focus on what is nourishing, what is healing, and what is real. So if you ever happened to run into a spiritual master staring for long periods of time at a field of unfolding sunflowers, this may not make sense to you because social conditioning has taught you that this is unimportant and that you should overlook it and otherwise assume that this blooming should always happen. But the spiritual master is not that way. The spiritual master assumes nothing and embraces every moment as a beautiful unveiling and unfolding, which will never happen quite like it ever again.
Which brings me to part of the point of this post, and that's about when and how to approach a spiritual master as well as why most of you don't really want to ever meet one.
The Profundity of Spiritual Mastery
In the space of spiritual mastery, there are all types of masters. I cannot give you categories. To categorize those who have transcended categories is ridiculous. If they ever wear a category like "spiritual teacher," it is only because they choose to do so. If at some point they prefer to wear the vestments of a fool, then they'll do that. And the next day, they may practice the artful movements of a turtle. It does not matter, which is part of why society has no place for spiritual masters. This too is part of why many spiritual masters have little to do with the world; it's because the world has little to do with them. So they retire to places where they can hear the song of the universe unimpeded by loud and annoying spiritual seekers and others who care to attempt to disturb their peace. I say "attempt" because ultimately everything is peace. A spiritual master resides in the place where peace is all things and all things are embraced by peace. So the noisy traffic jam is part of the spiritual master's peace, but it doesn't mean that the master will want to spend lots of time around noisy traffic jams. It simply isn't an issue if that arises in his or her life.
And on that point, many images of spiritual masters are those of men. This level of awareness is not a gender-preferred awareness. How ridiculous would that be? Could you imagine if the supreme oneness of divinity within all of us suddenly created a limit to say, "This is a men's only parking spot." How absurd. On that note, you might enjoy my spiritual allegory about "The Coming of the Great Master."
Not All Masters Are TeachersBeing a spiritual master also doesn't mean that the master will choose to teach. To be a spiritual master teacher is only one way this can cut in an infinite number of slices of divine life. So some of you may even be melting into the being which chooses to move as a spiritual master on this world, and you may have no interest in teaching. That's just fine. Don't let that idea of needing to serve in any specific way trip you up on your way to embracing that which you are. In truth, being a spiritual master is a type of role on this world. Just as any role we choose (leader, teacher, healer, community creator, builder, and so forth) has a certain function, this one does too. The natural of function of the spiritual master is to anchor a certain level of consciousness in the world. This sounds like more of a doing than it is. It really is just a state of being. A spiritual master doesn't try to shift consciousness. He or she is one with it. In that way, energy and the consciousness of others as well as the local area starts to shift to his or her vibration.
Perhaps the image of a magnet may help, but the idea here is that the magnet starts to change your polarity. And it doesn't do it to you. Rather you start choosing to change to it. The consciousness in you starts to arise on its own called forth by the presence of the master. The more conscious you are of this, the more you can embrace it. The more unconscious you are, the more upsetting it is for you to be around a spiritual master. In which case, you would most likely not like the spiritual master and create a whole level of scenarios and stories about him or her to justify the upset emotions that are being drawn forth from you. Like poison in a wound, the master's energy naturally starts to draw out the unconsciousness as well as call forth your natural conscious awareness. It is a powerful gift and one that few really come into ownership of.
Finding a Teaching MasterThis probably begets the question that some of you have, which is "Where can I find a spiritual master who is teaching and who will teach me?" I will not go down the path of saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Rather I will ask you quite pointedly, "Why do you think you need a spiritual master? How is another spiritual teacher not appropriate for you?" There are more than a few spiritual teachers who have more than a few helpful things to teach to help you turn inwards towards your own oneness. Oftentimes, I think there's this idea in people of finding the best thing out there as if a spiritual master is some kind of product to be bought over the counter and spread liberally over unconscious wounds. Yes, yes, let's take one spiritual master with water at night to heal all that ails you by the morning.
So immediately, I question interests people have for a spiritual master. Rather I would say, go find all the spiritual teachers you possibly can. Learn as much as you can from all of them, and then when you no longer have any interest in being taught anything, see where you are. See what arises inside. Is something still hanging on to the quest? Is there something that still thinks it needs an external answer or needs to heal another wound? It's when you start to honestly and genuinely engage with these questions that you are getting closer to being ready to even be in a room with a spiritual master.
The Many Types of Spiritual TeachersSome time ago, I wrote a blog called, "What Is a Spiritual Teacher?" It's still a good one for many of you to reference as you consider what type of spiritual teacher will best be able to support you in your spiritual path. I like to emphasize that every type of spiritual teacher has a sacred role to play. Some people just need someone to give them a structure to begin to cultivate a regular discipline. Others need spiritual teachers who can help them to open up their hearts. Still others need someone who has a strong psychic awareness, but may also be able to help them with matters of the body in an integrative way. If you come to see all spiritual teachers as operating in the greater divine plan, you will begin to see how each individual thread is just as important as another no matter how profound or powerful a given teacher is. And let's please put aside worrying about the con artists, child-molesters, and other spiritual teachers who have abused their power for a moment; yes, they are out there, and they are engaged in their own karmas. But most spiritual teachers who come to this work generally come with a sense of love and interest in serving others. I encourage you to appreciate this vast array of teachers, to which in this digital age, we now have so much more access than ever before.
Spiritual Mastery and the Lessons of Pure BeingPure being, pure consciousness, pure love, pure energy, pure whatever term you want to use has its own set of lessons in this world. Spiritual mastery doesn't mean you stop learning, but it does mean that there is no need to learn. It is not about perfecting, but it can be about discovering the infinite number of ways that oneself and life are already perfect. For a spiritual master, it is a delight to simply discover. So like Herman Hesse's Siddhartha, the spiritual master sits by the river of life listening to all the sounds and seeing all the different sites of life woven into this rushing current of consciousness. Again and again, the spiritual master finds joy simply in the space of being and observing being around him or her. In this way, the spiritual master is partly a child grown-up, yet ancient and timeless. The spiritual master is deeply wise beyond any other people you may have met.
He or she is not be trifled with either. Trying to draw the spiritual master out into the games of your life will be most disappointing and more than a little upsetting if you are not ready to hear the truth about the illusions you have immersed yourself in. Most of the time, he or she will not be engaging with others out of any need to engage, be seen, be validated, or be heard. The spiritual master goes where he or she wills almost vicariously, almost deliberately, seemingly blindly, but still very clearly in tune with where the flow is going. To others it may seem quite maddening to try and understand this individual, so stop. Don't bring definitions if you do happen to find a master. Those definitions are a cage, not for the master, but you. Your definitions actually show your limitations of understanding, and as such, the spiritual master (at least one who teaches) will see this very clearly.
And yet, if the master is guided and moved to, he or she may teach you regardless because s/he listens to that divine song within all. Sometimes a chord strikes true, and the spiritual master picks up his ears and says, "Ah, Here....there is something here. What is it?" With that curiosity, the master may invite you a little closer.
Energy Shifts in the Master's PresenceThen, perhaps, one day you are invited into the master's presence. Maybe it even happens randomly so you do not even know that this has arrived in your life. Suddenly, there's all this heat, energy pulsations, or pure quiet and stillness within or around you. All kinds of shifts may happen depending on the nature of the spiritual master and your own true nature. Or nothing at all may happen. Each master is unto him or herself, but teaching masters may exude a certain quality of energy that calls to the consciousness in all things. It is like the voice of the Mother calling to the little buds all around her to sprout. "Wake up! Wake up silly lilies! Come, come my lovely daffodils! Will you hide in your buds all day and all night? Will you not come out into the glory of your own light?"
As such, the transition to cracking out of the old shell can be quite unsettling, and this is why I said some of you really don't want a spiritual master. Those who are not accustomed to this and don't know they're in the presence of a master may suddenly decide that this person is quite obnoxious, rude, mean, or altogether upsetting. And maybe the master is! The spiritual master can use any emotion, idea, or physical ability to teach if he or she chooses. The whole of consciousness is available to the spiritual master, so why would s/he limit her/himself? The master would not, and the master teacher only cares about liberation. The spiritual master doesn't care about improving your love life, helping you get better jobs, getting you more spiritual friends, or any of that. Only spiritual freedom matters, and that is exactly what starts to arise just being in the presence of the master.
Spiritual Masters Come When They WillUltimately, a spiritual master may come into your life when they choose. Because they are awake and conscious of how they create their lives in accordance with the divine will, they are not interested in deviating from that plan. While that greater plan accepts all deviations anyway, the master knows where s/he is called, and they know when they want to teach someone. A spiritual master doesn't care so much about money (although they may accept some because they appreciate the laws of this world and reciprocity), as they take action based on what feels true and not what they'll receive. They trust in the greater divine plan to always provide for them in whatever way the universe chooses to do so, and from that truth, they flow in whatever way they choose even if life chooses to bring challenge and adversity.
I should emphasize that a spiritual master's life is not necessarily an easy path. It is not necessarily easy because this world is not full of ease. Difficulty, sickness, and other challenges are all part of this world, which the spiritual master accepts. In accepting all of life as it is, the spiritual master transcends his/her own bodily/emotional/psychic/intellectual limitations, which in turn opens the master to his or her greater abilities. Ultimately, it is about flowing with all of life and the divine will, so a spiritual master flows with life. So if you truly want to find one, start to find that inner flow in your life. See where the currents pull you. Then perhaps one day you will find one, sitting on a park bench watching the amazing unfolding of grass growing serenely under the early morning sun.
The sunflowers photo comes from Becky Stiller. You can check out her beautiful work on this flickr link.