It’s a slow Sunday morning. You’ve just put on your comfy meditation outfit and sip a cup of the fragrant, decaffeinated green tea. You’ve popped open that new Thich Nhat Hanh paperback, and in just a few minutes you will light a stick of imported sandalwood incense, wrap that old, blessed mala around your left wrist, sit down on the handmade zafu in front of your exquisite Nepalese brass Buddha from Dharma Imports, hit the Japanese bell, and try out a new meditation app from Buddhist Geeks.
You’re DIYing this spiritual thing, and you think you’re doing pretty well — after all, any info or support you might need is at your fingertips online, right? That, and your sterling judgment, and way-seeking mind.
Oh, dear spiritual seeker — I know you can do it on your own. But you really, really, really shouldn’t. Choosing a spiritual path is likely one of the most important decisions of your entire life, and you need a fully transmitted Teacher if you want to do it right. Here’s why:
1.They have loads of expertise
Want to grok the color code of evolution, slide through the spiral, evolve into teal, integrating all those lines and states as you enter 2nd tier? Want to get through the dukkha nanas, reach a sweet fruition, or even full cessation, and become an arhat? Want to get through the koan takei, including Nanto and Goi?
Spirituality has its own language, full of semi-arcane jargon in weird languages like Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, and Buddhist Hybrid English, and your transmitted Teacher is trained to speak that language fluently.
Plus, getting a genuine Enlightenment experience usually requires dozens of retreats, including complex meditation practices, chanting, and devotional practices. Genuine Teachers have the expertise to help you pick the most efficient forms of contemplation — while avoiding delays and costly mistakes that can seriously mess up your body-mind.
2.They have turbocharged Charisma
The Internet is awesome. You can find almost anything — anything! And with online enlightenment services, such as our friend and partner Ken Folk’s, you can get a bliss-hit any time you want. But guess what? Teachers with a genuine transmission have access to even more fun and interesting mind states. And through skillful use of their charisma, they can help you find those hidden gems.
Plus, a real Master is going to know your spiritual needs way better than you ever could yourself. Have your eye on a particular attainment but it’s just out of your Samadhi power? Your Master is equipped to know the ins and outs of virtually every form of meditation, so he or she can direct you toward intense states of bliss and illumination uniquely suitable for your current needs.
3.They’re connected to everyone
Contrary to popular beliefs, spiritual Masters might not know everything, but they make it their mission to know just about everyone who can possibly help in the process of attaining enlightenment. Zen Masters, Vipassana teachers, Tibetan lamas, MBSR instructors, Integral self-help pundits — the list goes on — and they’re all in your Master’s network. Use them!
In addition, when you commit to a fully transmitted Teacher, you actually get immediate access to the accumulated spiritual value of an entire lineage of enlightened Patriarchs.
4.They adhere to a strict code of ethics
Not every Roshi, Sensei, Rinpoche, Tulku, Ajaahn, Integrally informed coach, or Advaita hack is a genuine and fully transmitted Master who belongs to a Nationally Recognized Authentic Lineage.
What difference does it make? Well, fully transmitted Masters are held to a higher ethical standard than, for example, Zen teachers, who are known to get away with pretty much anything.
5. They’re your sage, parent, therapist, and occasional lover (if you want) — all rolled into one
The thing about genuine Masters: They wear a lot of different hats. Sure, they’re salespeople, like everyone else, but they actually do a whole heck of a lot to earn their money. They’re constantly listening to their students. They spend a lot of money on marketing the Dharma. Sometimes they’re even writing bestselling books for the benefit of all beings.
This is the biggest spiritual (and possibly financial) decision of your life, and guiding you through it isn’t a responsibility the transmitted Master takes lightly.