Thursday, March 19, 2015

Francis Lucille on "The Teacher" (including some discussion of Ramana Maharshi and Robert Adams)

Q: What is the role of the teacher?

A: The teacher does not give you a new necklace but just asks you to look in the mirror. The teacher does not give you anything new. One should be careful about any misunderstanding in this respect. Indian society is very hierarchical, highly differentiated and, due to these social traditions that have nothing to do with the truth, the guru is way above the fray. For instance, the Brahmin caste is above everybody else and this is an impediment at some point. Although Ramana Maharshi was a Brahmin, he would eat with everybody else at his ashram. There was a special dining room for the newcomers who were Brahmins and initially they would eat there. However, since the teacher was not there, they would eventually move in with everybody else. He was always very careful not to be put on a pedestal. He would even become angry if he received special treatment and rightfully so, because he didn't see himself as different from anyone else.

One has to be careful about traditions that make a god of the teacher. It is true that the teacher is speaking the truth, but from his or her vantage point, everything is speaking he truth. For instance, when the student is asking a question, it is truth speaking to the teacher. Usually, when the teacher dies, when his body dies, his pedestal is raised up to the ceiling at least. Then, each subsequent year, it rises a couple more meters, and so eventually it is at an almost infinite distance from us! We forget that the teacher was and is what we are.

A teacher is very human as a person, very much like us. There is a beautiful poem by Thayumanavar, a 16th century Indian poet, in which he compares the teacher with a deer who is sent towards a herd of deer, in order to lure them towards the hunter. God is the hunter in this metaphor and the teacher is the deer that is sent to the herd. There has to be a real deer or the herd would feel that there was a trap and would not follow.

There should not be any difference between the teacher and the student. It is natural that there is respect because the teacher sees the Self in you. Respect calls for respect, Love calls for love. At the same time, the teacher should make realization seem easy. If a teacher makes it seem difficult and out of reach, then find another one!

The teacher that takes us to freedom, known in India as the Satguru or the Karana guru, wants our freedom above all else. In the Karana guru's presence, we feel this total freedom with respect to the rules. Deep inside we know that there are no rules, although it may be appropriate to follow the rules if a situation requires it. There is totoal freedom. The teacher doesn't judge you. Everything is OK. You are OK.

Take Robert Adams, for instance. He was a beautiful loose cannon! He was an expression of this freedom. It was this quality that enabled you to be free from your own conditioning, from what you thought you ought or ought not to do.

Freedom is the highest good. It is that which is closest to the Self. Above love, above intelligence, above beauty, there is freedom. That is why the game we are playing is called the game of bondage and liberation.

- Francis Lucille, The Perfume of Silence

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