On all paths of spiritual training known to me, the teacher is of central importance. He or she embodies the teaching as a living representative of the tradition. He or she helps the student to grow beyond the boundaries of self. Since each person can only by definition, operate inside his or her current limits outside intervention is indispensable to make the “breakthrough.” My teacher depicted this state of things with the following analogy: “You can give yourself first aid, putting a bandage on a wound. But you cannot operate on yourself.”
The fundamental changes that the path requires in the students world view and behavior resemble a major operation. The very personality features that the student identifies himself on this level, are also the one that prevent the student from fully becoming what he or she potentially is*. “It is necessary to make so great an effort that you are not left standing, in order that you may recognize what it is that will remain (Fihi Ma Fihi p.311) ” Recent research into consciousness speaks of “being transformed to a supra-conscious state” which “the death of the separate ego makes possible”. The separate ego must die, if one wishes to reach any form whatever of Being One” (Wilber Chakras. p 169)
This letting go, this dying before you die,” as Mohammad calls it, is a painful process that the student cannot put him or herself through. Only an intimate relation to the teacher , one characterize by deep love and unconditional trust, creates the basis on which such a drastic process can proceed. led on by this spiritual pact, two people start to share an intimacy that is aptly described by the Persian Mystics as ”ham-dam” literally “being of one breath
E. Vitray-Meyerovitch, Rumi and Sufism, p 141.
To guide the student safely through this extremely critical time, the teacher must posses extraordinary qualities of characters:
The capacity to be cold, dispassionate, clinical in certain situations, adn not allow any subjective emotions to cloud their judgement, and to be able , if necessary, to maintain a cold or even callous face to the people they are teaching.
Omar Ali Shah – Sufism for Today. p 60
My Teacher spoke of this requirement as “ruthlessness,” to be distinguished from cruelty principally by the underlying intention.
The love and readiness to sacrifice for a student that is at the root of everything makes such an outward disposition seem paradoxical.
indeed the hardest most ungraspable direction of the master has its roots in his love for his pupil…And the deeper the existential bond, the more the teacher will have no qualms about the way he deals with his pupil, including giving him or her signs and instructions that on the natural plane would have to remain incomprehensible: Signs of his untiring readiness, his inventiveness and his courage. The validation for all this is the presence of the other dimension
Without the unconditional trust, a further requirement would be impossivle: that of unconditional obedience. This sounds more authoritarian than it is. Both teacher and student freely follow the same overriding law, which the student, however cannot yet recognize without help.