How do I know that I am growing and doing my work properly?

By Acharya Purnata

How do I know that I am growing? How do I know that I am doing my work properly?

Here are some of Nityananda's words that may lead you to the answer.

Even if you perform tapas (purification)
for a thousand years
if you work for results
Self-realization will not come.
Perform tapas for even a little while without desire, and
you will see God and all in God.

Here, Nityananda tells us to do our practices without attachment to outcome. An obstacle to spiritual work is the trust that is required to know that we are working towards something that we may not yet truly understand. We read about experiences and our spiritual teachers can point us in the direction. There is a part of our own self that is guiding us to Self-discovery. The paradox is that the more we work for a specific goal, the more we may get lost and find ourselves caught up in mind, ego, and frustration.

True worship is not performed by the hands,
or by the mouth.
The Self is not realized by the mind.
Action, work, is not performed by the hands
nor the legs.
O mind! Act with no desire for results,
do work without attachment.
Attain desirelessness and see all equally

Nathaji says...
"This is not your process. This is God’s process. It just happens to be played out through you, as you. Spiritual growth is an organic process, and what determines the pace of it is the depth of your wish. You will not always understand Grace, and you will not always understand what It is trying to unfold in you. What you can always do is allow It to work within you, instead of rejecting and fighting against It. The purpose of Grace is not to confirm what you know, but to reveal what you don’t know within."
The 15th Century Indian Mystic-Poet, Kabir said...
Everything unfolds
at its own pace,
One may water the plant endlessly,
but fruit is only borne in season

The Role of a Spiritual Teacher

By Acharya Purnata

Ramana Maharishi said, “The God, guru, and the Self are the same.” We may begin our spiritual work by seeing our teacher as external. We live in duality and this is a natural first step for many of us. My experience is that the more I understand my teacher, the less I see of him and the more I see that light inside him mirrored in my inner self. Resistance to the teacher and the development of resistant thought constructs is a natural result of the tension created between teacher and student. Overcoming this resistance is necessary for spiritual growth.

Rudi said, "I am not here to give you answers. I am here to give you the energy so you can get your own answers and find within that which you are." The teacher's role is to serve the God that resides in the student and not the student's ego. This type of interaction will inevitably cause the ego to respond and struggle for its survival. The ego does not want to be enlightened.

What is the ego?

Google's dictionary defines it as, “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.” Webster's defines it as "the self especially as contrasted with another self or the world.” Nathaji says that “The ego and its grip on us are real. Our hurt, our fear, our need, our reaching, these are all actions of the ego. They’re real, but they’re not the highest reality. Those actions are of the mind and the emotions.”

Sometimes what we think we need is not what we actually need.

It can feel like we are not being served. It can feel like we are being ignored. We can feel insulted. It can be confusing and painful. This is why we must trust the teacher. To be clear, this does not mean we trust the teacher with our body, our money, or our will. We trust the teacher's intent and we surrender to the grace and Shakti the teacher is offering.

We trust that the part of ourselves that brought us to the teacher knows better than the part of ourselves that functions out of tension and resistance. By surrendering to the teacher, we surrender to grace, the part of ourselves that is trying to wake up.

This means that when the teacher says or does something that we don't like, we should reflect on whether our resistance is based on an egoic need or pattern. Are we perceiving out of anger, frustration, or old patterns? What thought constructs are we building around the teacher or our practice that are preventing our own growth?

The ego is a great storyteller and can keep us entertained and distracted for lifetimes. When grace descends, a part of us says, "Maybe it is time for the stories to end and the truth to be revealed?" What kinds of stories are we creating that reinforce our resistance to growth?

The main thing we should be asking a spiritual teacher is, "Open my heart. Provide the energy I need to find my true self." The deeper we ask, the more we receive. We should also make this request inside each time we meditate.

A spiritual teacher is not a therapist or a psychic.

It is not the role of a teacher to give answers to every question or to always give life advice. It is not the role of the teacher to make us feel warm and fuzzy. Again, Rudi says, "I am not here to give you answers. I am here to give you the energy so you can get your own answers and find within that which you are."

This practice is about surrender. If we cannot surrender to a spiritual teacher, then how can we possibly surrender to our own ego?

I can say emphatically that the most fruitful part of my practice has been in committing to unconditional surrender to the teacher that exists both inside myself and outside myself in the form of my Guru. The God, guru, and the Self are all the same.

Rudi has some more insight on the topic:

A very important factor in the relationship of the student to the teacher is the understanding of the difference in dimension between the two. You should only study with someone you feel has gone beyond yourself. Upon first meeting, the teacher should implant this difference on the consciousness of the student. After a short period, the ego of the student and the beginning of an unrest caused by the upheaval within create the possibility of an emotional attachment to the teacher. On the occasion of this first emotion change the student should remember his initial feelings about the teacher and reaffirm them. Growth during this first period of study is only possible by a continual act of faith.

The flow of force between student and teacher is a conscious exchange helping both to evolve. The flow is the highest creative force which the teacher can open to and share with the student. A great teacher is a great student and great students are great teachers. There is always this balance between them. If a gap appears, it is because one or the other is not working deeply enough. It is for the student then to remove all blocks and search himself in order to set the relationship back into harmony. A teacher should be the servant of the student; he should help him in overcoming obstacles in the flow of the relationship any time he is asked to do so by the student.