The Desire to be Special to Your Spiritual Teacher

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The spiritual teacher-spiritual student relationship is a profound one. It really is unlike any other relationship, and it is unlike most other teacher-student relationships. There is a depth to it that is unmatched, and the tenderness, power, and intensity that merge together create a power of love, intimacy, and connection that can overwhelm the student from time to time. The combination of those qualities, however, can elicit a desire in the student to be special to their spiritual teacher, and this can be problematic.

Different spiritual traditions handle this type of attachment--because desire is a form of attachment--in different ways. Today, I wanted to offer a few thoughts on the issue to help guide you towards an appropriate orientation to your spiritual teacher. With the right orientation, your relationship can lead you to greater spiritual freedom, and without the right perspective, a beautiful relationship like this one can stagnate or crumble.

Communicating From Greater Depths of Vulnerability

When many people first start working with a spiritual teacher, they have to learn to communicate from the heart. They have to learn to be vulnerable. Otherwise, the work doesn't even really begin. Too often, students hold back and share only whatever they feel is "safe." But for my long-time readers, you already know the problem here. Whatever is considered "safe" is determined by the unconscious ego, and the path towards spiritual freedom is about liberation from the unconscious ego. So is the ego that is standing in the way of freedom going to be able to determine what is or is not right to do?

Obviously, the answer is no.

Which means the student has to learn to share what does not feel safe to practice being vulnerable.

However, rarely is the vulnerability complete. As intense as it feels at first, initial vulnerability tends to be quite shallow. The unconscious ego only shares a little of him/herself, and the student generally has a lot of self-ignorance. There are things people are so used to hiding that they forget they're even hiding them. But over time in this relationship, the student learns to see more. That gives them access to greater depths of vulnerability, and that can lead to greater connection with the teacher. That connection can evoke a greater desire to be with the teacher and to be special to him/her. That in turn makes it critical to learn to communicate from this newly discovered depth of vulnerability.

Revealing Your Deepest and Darkest Desires

I know that reading that above subhead sounds spooky. The unconscious ego has so much to protect, and sharing the dark desires within oneself sounds threatening somehow. But never forget that if you have chosen your teacher well, then s/he is here to guide you through any and everything. There is nothing that can trigger her/him or cause them to change the way they hold you in love. So if your intuition tells you that you need to share something, then those desires need to be shared. That's all there is to it.

Your Expanding Intuition: Getting Comfortable with Difficult Messages

One of those desires may be that the student wants to be special to the spiritual teacher, and so you see, communication continues to be key in this relationship. While a lot of communication is done non-verbally through energy, verbal communication is still a vital part of this process. No one should assume that their teacher psychically knows all. Only God knows all. And to deal with the desire for specialness, talking is often really important.

Ultimately, most teachers don't need to hear every batshit crazy desire someone has. It all comes back to intuition and knowing that something needs to be shared and sharing it. Since the desire for specialness in the eyes of the teacher can potentially impede the work that is being done, communication about this desire tends to be critical.

Being Ground into Nobody

What is the opposite of being special? On the spiritual path, it is being nobody, and the true spiritual path is a millstone that grinds us into nobodies. We're just dust under the feet of existence, and this is very rarely what any ego wants. Most egos want to be special in some way. Whether specialness brings pleasurable feelings or some feeling of safety, the ego is constantly on the look out to get certain experiences. If there was a lot of pleasurable experiences and feelings of connection with the teacher, then the student may interpret this as the experience to get. This made them feel special, and this can be the reason many students stick around a teacher while forgoing other more important work.

If it is seen that the student is lost in this desire to be special, the spiritual teacher can handle it in a variety of ones. One way is to send the student away. If a student wants to be close to the teacher to feel special, then the attachment can get confronted by sending the student on his/her own for a time or even permanently, depending on the situation.

Another way is to talk about it more. If the student hasn't brought it up, then the teacher may have to. That's not preferable because if the student can't realize or acknowledge his/her desire, then the student is likely to be less able to handle the conversation. In that conversation, the desire needs to be illuminated in how it is manifesting and how it may be preventing the student from doing the proper work.

The third way is to continue the work without verbally addressing it, but the teacher increases the energetic intensity of the nearness. Being connected with a teacher is a powerful thing, and so if the student wants to feel special by being close to the teacher--special meaning feeling good--then the teacher can amplify the energy so that it no longer feels good. This is a tricky thing because it depends on how the student responds. The intent is to break down more of the ego faster and break the desire to be special at the same time. This can erase the good feelings of being with the teacher and make the connection feel miserable for a time. This causes the student to be confronted with their desire since they are no longer getting what their ego wanted.

Ultimately, these tools are part of grinding the student down to dust so that s/he is liberated. In the space of nobody, we can be anybody.

Video Recording: The Bliss of Being Nobody

Reactions that Reveal Ego Desire

Teachers and students can have a lot of conversations, but very often, the change in their interaction will still be required. Egos don't disappear over a cup of time, and usually a certain amount of Divine fire is required to burn them out. For example, with being sent away, a student may become frustrated. Why? The ego is no longer getting what it wants. It enjoyed being close, and it had been trying to keep getting the same type of experience again and again. Now, the person is physically far away, and the ego is exposed in this scenario. That reaction is a clue to the student of the power and extent of their desire, and it is an opportunity to go deeper into the ego beliefs responsible for it.

Burning in the Awakened Fire

Another reaction is the general desire for validation from the teacher. Many students want to be physically close to the teacher and to receive praise much in the same way a child seeks love from their parent. Spiritual teachers are more than aware of this dynamic, and each "child" gets treated differently. However, since we're dealing with adults, they need to learn to discover self-love on their own. So a teacher may choose to give the student the opposite of what the student considers to be love and specialness. The teacher may be harsh, insulting, or otherwise averse to the student. Because few Westerners really understand this form of teaching, there can be confusion that the teacher is just being mean or likes being mean. But the true spiritual teacher uses any and all means at his/her disposal to facilitate greater freedom for their students. And by not getting the attention the student desires, the student is forced to face this desire and learn to go within to rest in their own presence rather than relying on the love and presence of the teacher.

The Teacher Operates from True Love

True love sees and accepts all of life as it is, and the true spiritual teacher practices this love. This love embraces harshness, overt-love (the warm, enjoyable kindness most people think of as love), physical nearness, and physical distance. Everything in life is a tool at his/her disposal, and the teacher can be relentless in their work to free the student from the ego, including those ego desires that arise in the student-teacher relationship. A student's desires in relationship to the teacher are qualities that every spiritual student should be mindful of so that they see how they act them out. Additionally, assuming that the student has chosen a true spiritual teacher, they have to learn how to be with the myriad of spiritual tools and techniques that a teacher will apply in the work.

In time, the grinding down of the student leaves the student at greater peace. They come to see the teacher as not special at all too. The spiritual teacher is a nobody. In understanding the reality of being a nobody, the student can realize an amazing amount of freedom and discover unimaginable depths of true love that have always been within.

Here are some more thoughts that you may find useful on this topic:

How to Find Your True Love

The Spiritual Teacher and Spiritual Student Relationship


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