Sunday, January 20, 2008

Teacher or Father... or God?

"Many people in the West find life overwhelmingly complex and confusing. Because anxiety, tension, and worry fill their minds, they cannot find inner sources of strength. The kindling is wet and in disarray. Their emotional states are unstable and nothing inspires them. With typical Western low self-esteem, they are unsure of themselves. Afraid of making mistakes, some may want to give the responsibility for decisions to others. They desperately long for someone to know what is happening and to take care of everything, like an ideal father or God.

Some may join the army so that they simply need to follow orders and not think for themselves. Those who are more spiritually inclined may turn to a Dharma center. Although their spiritual longing may be genuine, the emotional and cultural baggage that they bring along may cause them to seek relationships with spiritual teachers as father or authority figures. They may wish to establish such relationships to enable them to give up responsibility for making decisions in their lives. Many hope that this will make life easier and solve their problems.

Westerners who enter this type of overdependency relationship, however, do so only on a voluntary basis. No one likes to be forced to obey someone else. If people have chosen to submit themselves to another person, and they have chosen the individual to whom they submit, they usually feel comfortable with the situation."

~ From Relating to a Spiritual Teacher: Building a Healthy Relationship

Going further, I quietly wonder to myself if my need to find a god is related to this psyche's hunger. For instance:

"Sigmund Freud had suggested that God was a projection of the attributes of one's parents onto external reality. Carl Jung, in turn, had said that this projection was an expression of the father archetype ... and that it served the biological purpose of actualizing the father complex in the psyche of the individual. Archetypes for Jung were common, inherited, and unconscious mental facilities for guiding the behavioral development of the individual."

~ From God as an Expression of the Dominant Male Archetype


Vincent said...

These are interesting quotes but i think Freud and Jung were each being simplistic. In their day, perhaps there was less confusion and more consensus about what "God" means. Freud was a Jew, Jung a Christian: both came from middle Europe.

Your first quote reflects the confusion of today, but blames the seeker rather than the multiplicity of offered "ways". I note that the author from whom you quote is an advocate of Tibetan Buddhism.

It absolutely hinders the seeker that the various "ways" are so concerned with marketing their product. this completely obscures the basic fact that the seeker gets nothing really from the "way" on offer. There is only one way, and that is the way that an individual takes.

If I am drawn to some teaching, fine, let me follow that. But the only thing of value that I will ever find is in me already, and cannot be found anywhere else.

All these religions and spiritual teachings are like a bunch of diets and dietary supplements and herbal remedies and so on. They all try and fool us into thinking we need them, as if good proper food was not enough in itself.

In fact it is marketing which has caused its customers to lose sight of what good proper food is. As Hayden said on her blog, in a comment: "Good food is what my grandmother would have recognised as food."

In spiritual teachings, it is worse than advertisements for dietary supplements, for at least with those it is easy to distinguish the advert from the product. You read one and ingest the other. But with spiritual teachings, i.e. sermons, I am not sure whether it is possible to distinguish the marketing from the teaching.

Siegfried said...

It's time you came out of Zeus' head.

Aisha La Estudia said...

Dearest Sophia,

Although I have only recently found your blog through the Traceless Warrior.. I can say I admire your spirit, your soul, your search et al. It is with this attitude that I say:

The importance of the search for oneness, God, G-d, The Divine Essence, et al. is the cornerstone. In life, in happiness, in recovery programs of all kinds. Because only That One, who created you can really understand your heart, your mind, your feelings, etc. That, to me is the foundation of a relationship... if anything is.
Find in yourself the spark of the Divine that breathes through your poems, your inspiration, your love, your passion.. and yes somewhow even through your sadness. may It take your hand and guide you sister... as It longs to not leave it's beloved creatures alone.

Peace, and wellness. Positive energy and light. Hugs too.. because everyone needs them :)

Sophia said...


I think some of the "ways" that you speak of are religions in general, for often it seems many religions go about marketing themselves, as if it is more important to collect followers than it is to impart truth. There are, however, some esoteric schools or teachers that are so hidden it is difficult to find them. These teachers have no need to advertise or solicit students.

I don't know about you, but when I see a spiritual teacher with a big fancy web page, showing a photograph of themself and advertising themselves, asking for money or donations, etc., I am turned off because I get the feeling they are only in it for fame or money. I once saw a "spiritual teacher" pretend to be someone else in advertising their own book.

Students can be just as fake as false teachers, as some students are only in on the ride for gaining abilities, stimulation or power as opposed to receiving real wisdom and achieving self-development.

Sophia said...

Siegfried, perhaps you could further elaborate. Enlighten a clueless soul like myself on your meaning. :)

Sophia said...

Hello Aisha,

You found me through a very wise man, that Traceless Warrior! I am happy to have you here, and that we share a common friend.

It's often simple to forget the divine spark that is contained within one's heart during times of mundanity. Intellectually we somehow know of it, but every now and then we forget to feel it.

Thank you for your visit; it was a pleasure to have you here. I'm returning the favor with a visit to your blog; your poem about the traveling wind is just wonderful, even though it speaks of sad news.

Anonymous said...

I only rarely meet a traveler who is traveling for its own sake. But it is true that a fixed destination is not necessary because once one arrives, one knows to stop. In the meanwhile it is perhaps better to experience more than less.


Sophia said...


I sometimes feel like I enjoy the traveling, simply because it keeps me occupied. While I would of course be thrilled with finding the destination, I know that without traveling towards it, I would feel that I have no purpose. In other words, I would be bored.

I can't remember who said it, but after enlightenment, there is supposed to be even more growth. I think it was Jed McKenna in one of his books, but I can't recall for sure. So the good news is, if I reach enlightenment, there will be more for me to do. Which tells me there must be different stages of awakening. I guess you can be awake, and then you can be really awake. :)

Thanks for sharing your wonderful comment tonight.

jim said...

Sophia, my opinion is that people are at different levels or places in their journey, in their growth toward the goal of understanding God, call that enlightenment, call that the goal of understanding life and its' purpose or activities. As they each are at different stages of maturity in this matter, they need different manifestations of God, so there are different explanations for each of the stages...Freud, Yung, different standard disciplines of spirituality, different religions, different esoterics and strands, they all are the same thing, just different manifestations....that is, assuming they are each honest in their offerings and not simply scams or ripoffs.

Even one person can have different stages manifesting at different times in a single age, because a person is complex in psychology, so one might need one day, a father figure as authority, another day the same person might need the intellectual understanding of that same thing, ie, why I need an authority figure....these are all parts of 'complex' growth that human psychology actually is. There really are no hard and fast rules or orders to the Torah, it is said like this, 'Jehovah said to Moshe, there are no steps to my altar.' The altar of God is that we put ourselves out, sacrifice ourselves, in our growth processes psychologically, we have to give up somethings to get other things of growth and developement.

That is how I have come to understand the maze and the need for the maze in the public sector, all things serve someone at sometime in someway....again, this is assuming honest ones and not ripoffs.

I really enjoyed thinking about this, and reading all these comments, great stuff and very enlightening in themselves. Thanks, Sophia, and love to you always.

Siegfried said...

According to classical mythology, Athena the goddess of wisdom, came out of Zeus' head after he swallowed his pregnant wife, out of fear of being overthrown by her offspring.
And indeed in many instances Athena overshadowed his father. But inspite of this Zeus gave his favourite daughter free rein over very important matters.
See Athena, wikipedia.

Vincent said...

"There are, however, some esoteric schools or teachers that are so hidden it is difficult to find them. These teachers have no need to advertise or solicit students."

Is this a belief or a demonstrable fact?

Sophia said...


I can think of something that applies to what you've said about the different manifestations of God. Some people feel they need a teacher, others don't, as you have probably clearly seen in the blog comments as of late. The people who don't think they require a teacher, I believe, have reached their own level of maturity and feel that they can do it on their own, or have found their own source of inner wisdom. Others, like me, spend too much time looking for their own source that they miss out on the lessons that life has to teach us. I'd much rather stop wasting time looking for my own inner guide, which has, anyway, eluded me for years, if I know someone else can give me a shortcut to what I seek. We all need different manifestations of God, that is clear just by the seemingly endless number of religions on this planet.

Thanks, Jim. I have an idea that you know a lot about human psychology, as well as spiritual psychology.

Much love to you, too!

Sophia said...

Thanks, Siegfried, I'm not well versed in mythology though I do take an interest in it. It's one of those things that I wish I would have learned more of in school, like philosophy. I appreciate the summary you've given me. Thanks for educating me. :)

Sophia said...


It comes from my own personal experience. I started looking for my own spiritual teacher in January 2005, and I still haven't claimed one yet. So they must be hard to find. The ones that advertise are easy to find, sure enough, and most of those want you to buy their books or pay lots of money. I once had a spiritual teacher answer my request by sending me to her website. On the website, I saw she wanted more than $15,000 a year for her services. My husband would barely let me spend a dime, though I know some amount of gifting is necessary, as I've heard that there must be an energy exchange.

It's a long story, but I think I've had lessons from someone so esoteric, that not even they would tell me they were teaching me. All I know is that a few times they showed me God. So I know they're out there. This person was very opposed to me telling others about him. He also made me vow not to share his methods with others. I'm still unsure if this person was my teacher or not as I feel a lot of confusion about them. In the long run I went my own separate way, anyway, as we had personality conflicts.

My point is, that there are some extremely esoteric people out there who don't advertise.