THE SPIRITUAL TEACHER


 

What sort of a person is able to teach us spiritual truth in the absence of an omniscient Master ? When we have attained the right attitude we shall feel convinced that the only kind of person who can teach us the truth about spiritual matters in the absence of the omniscient Master is one who has the five characteristics mentioned below. Such a teacher may be a man or a woman.

1.   He does not destroy any form of life, animal, vegetable, or mineral (water for instance), through carelessness of body, speech, or mind. It is, therefore, impossible for him to be a layman.

2.   His speech is actually truth in fact, and is spoken in a pleasant way, and is spoken only when the teacher thinks that it is beneficial to the person to whom it is spoken.

3.   He does not take anything which is not given to him by its owner, and he takes only those things which are necessary for the maintenance of his body.

 

Things which can be given are of two kinds : (1) animate, (2) inanimate.

 

Of animate objects he does not accept any, even if offered by its owner; because although the owner of a parrot, for instance, may be willing to hand the bird over to a teacher, there is the question as to whether the bird is willing to be handed over; and as all things should claim their freedom, the teacher would not take the bird even if it were willing.

 

Of inanimate objects he will not take anything that has been made specially for him, food, etc., because by doing so he would share in the consequences (karma) of producing the article.

 

If the teacher has a superior teacher, or the Master, and is told by him not to take certain things, then these things must not be taken. The obedience here required is not like that of a soldier to his superior officer; the teacher would not kill if told to.

4.   He has entirely given up the sex passion.

5.   He does not own any property in the sense of ownership as understood in law. His clothing is given to him, but he does not have them as "owing" them.

 

It is said that there are at present living in India monks who possess there five qualifications, and who could be found by inquiring.

 

RULES OF CONDUCT

This is the third subject upon which very defiant convictions are held when we attain the right attitude the signs of which are now being added to. A body of rules of conduct does two things: it keeps a man from falling, and it helps him to advance.

 

These rules are rules relating to social life; because all living beings are social. It is by means of our relations with other living beings that our development progresses, and not in solitude. The ultimate outcome of these rules is the doing of good towards other living beings.

 

When a person has reached the right attitude he is convinced that any body of rules of conduct must be based on sympathy, love, pity, compassion, etc., (daya); he is convinced that any body of rules of conduct which is based on injury or killing of living beings cannot be the truth. And this conviction is very strong. He cannot, therefore, follow any religion which requires the sacrificing of animals; there must be a feeling for others.