About the Book
In the search for inner awakening and self-realization, a spiritual mentor can be key to advancement. Yet the process of finding an authentic spiritual teacher who resonates with you can be daunting, especially for anyone who has had a negative experience with a guide. Exploring the emotional nuances of mentoring relationships, Greg Bogart details the path of spiritual apprenticeship: the process of aligning with a teacher, establishing a dynamic spiritual practice, and the later stages of separation and finding the teacher within.
The author explores the importance of gauging your inner response and feeling of trust and resonance with a teacher and your readiness to receive initiation. He explains how the teacher-student relationship affects the student's state of consciousness over time and how most students eventually need to become independent from their spiritual guides. Describing emotional conflicts that can arise at this stage, he shows how wise teachers accept our need to separate and graduate while immature teachers try to thwart and control us.
Openly sharing his own personal journey, the author illustrates the lasting resonance of his encounters with several provocative spiritual mentors, including Swami Muktananda and Dane Rudhyar. He discusses how some fierce teachers practice "crazy wisdom" to confront our doubts, fears, and fixations and to activate our dormant potentials. Examining practices in Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist Yoga, Sufism, and Jewish and Christian mysticism, he also explores the deeper mystical aspects of the guru-student relationship.
The author shows how, ultimately, initiation leads the spiritual seeker to find the teacher within and how this can naturally lead to teaching others. Describing nine stages of the spiritual seeker's journey, the author affirms that a direct path to self- liberation is still attainable through initiation and instruction in the company of sages. GREG BOGART, Ph.D., MFT, is a psychotherapist in private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a lecturer in the department of psychology at Sonoma State University, an adjunct faculty member at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and the author of numerous books on astrology, dreams, yoga and spiritual depth psychology.
Greg Bogart, Ph.D., MFT, is a psychotherapist in private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. He attended college at Wesleyan University, where he majored in religious studies. He went on to receive his master's degree in counseling psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies (CllS) and his doctorate in psychology from Saybrook University. He is also a graduate of the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco, where he received his yoga teacher training and certification. He is currently a lecturer in the department of psychology at Sonoma State University and an adjunct faculty member at CllS. Previously he taught for twenty years in the field of counseling psychology at schools including John F. Kennedy University and the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. He has published research on therapeutic benefits of meditation, yoga, and dreams, most notably in his book Dreamwork and Self-Healing. Greg is also the author of Astrology and Spiritual Awakening, Planets in Therapy: Predictive Technique and the Art of Counseling, and Astrology and Meditation: The Fearless Contemplation of Change.
I received initiation from a great yogi at age sixteen, sparking my lifelong interest in the subtle, mystical pedagogy that aids seekers on the spiritual path. This book offers a reasoned discussion of this process, but it's also a highly personal work. I describe the lasting resonance of my encounters with several provocative spiritual mentors, openly sharing my interior journey, expansive states, doubts, and occasional foolishness. I've distilled the nine stages of this path from my own experiences, from the teachings of various religions and spiritual practice lineages, and from the stories of people I have interviewed.
I believe this book will be of interest to anyone involved in the process of spiritual initiation and tutelage, including those searching for a spiritual guide, those who already have a teacher, and those who are themselves guides and teachers. I wrote this for both students and teachers of yoga, meditation, and other paths of the Spirit, to provide a clear description of the role of a teacher in a student's life, which changes over time. I see an arc of development in this process that makes it meaningful as a sacred life passage. It's my hope that mapping these stages will prove helpful to anyone whose fiery inner urge for transfomation prompts a search for spiritual mentoring. First published in 1997, now updated and revised, this book is dedicated to the goal of increasing our capacity to receive and convey liberating knowledge.
The Catalyzing Role of Teachers
In many contemplative traditions, learning from an enlightened teacher is considered an important means of advancement on the spiritual path. In India, for example, it is common for an aspirant to seek a guru at a young age and to remain devoted to that teacher for many years. Many illumined beings and mystics, especially those from Hindu, Sufi, and the Zen and Tibetan Buddhist lineages, have maintained lifelong connections with their teachers and are in agreement that the student-teacher relationship is essential to the alchemy of transformation. It is also customary in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions to learn from wise spiritual teachers and ecstatic mystics. Although it's common in some contemporary Western intellectual circles to ridicule gurus and spiritual teachers and to view those who associate with them as naive or immature, many people continue to pursue the age-old tradition of spiritual apprenticeship. perennial rite of passage, training under the guidance of a spiritual teacher can be a powerful initiatory experience.
The major religious texts of humanity are based on the teachings illumined men and women of the Spirit, many of whom instructed students. Indeed, the student-teacher relationship goes to the heart 0 religious and spiritual life. Humanity has always acknowledged the influence of great spiritual teachers and religious leaders, from Zoroaster Patanjali, Buddha, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, to Martin Luther Meister Eckhart, Rinzai, St. Theresa of Avila, Ibn 'Arabi, Chaitanya and the Baal Shem Tov; from Ramakrishna, Yogananda, Joseph Smith and Crazy Horse, to Martin Luther King, Satya Sai Baba, and the four teenth and current Dalai Lama.
Spiritual apprenticeship is the path of training under the guidano of spiritual teachers to achieve inner awakening, enlightenment, or realization of the Self, a state of pure consciousness or spacious awarenes that is transpersonal, nonegoic, and beyond the boundaries of the individual self.
I use the term spiritual apprenticeship to denote the relationship we have to those who guide us on the path of sacred knowledge and inner wisdom, as opposed to teachers of secular subjects. In this book I explore how associating with a spiritual guide can aid a seeker on the, path, as well as detail the challenges and difficulties that can arise.
In this book I examine nine stages of the student-teacher relationship:
• Stage one, choosing a teacher: a look at what impels us to search for a genuine teacher, and how we know when we've found one.
• Stage two, initiation: the prerequisites and transformative power of initiation; the link to a lineage of awakened beings.
• Stage three, discipleship: developing a person-to-person relationship with a teacher, receiving skillful instruction, and finding, spiritual practice that leads to inner freedom.
• Stage four, testing: examination of the student's character motives, and purity of thought and action; the exposure of one' imperfections.
• Stage five, grace and guru yoga: the mysterious infusion of blessings experienced in the company of some teachers; balancing grace with self-effort; contemplation of the teacher's qualities and state of consciousness.
• Stage six, at the threshold of awakening: achieving the goal of spiritual apprenticeship, the experiential knowledge of the real, Self- realization in moments of illumination.
• Stage seven, separating from a spiritual teacher: reestablishing an independent life; resolving emotional conflicts of discipleship; unhealthy merging; facing a teacher's shadow side; individuation from the teacher.
• Stage eight, finding the teacher within: accessing inner sources of guidance, such as dreams, symbols, and disembodied teachers.
• Stage nine, teaching others: with appropriate intention and ethics, sharing what we know; tests of character for teachers; guidelines for spiritual teachers.
Stages one, two, and three describe the process of entering into a relationship with a teacher. Stages four, five, and six describe the ways we begin to be transformed within the relationship. And stages seven, eight, and nine describe the process of integrating the relationship and internalizing the teacher. It's important to note that these aren't linear stages. Some people might not pass through all nine stages or experience them in the order discussed here. These stages often intersect, blend together, and unfold concurrently. Nevertheless, I believe that taken as a whole, they describe the full cycle of the student-teacher relationship in all of its complexity.
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