The Price of Enlightenment

By Scott Shaw

It forever perplexes me why people turn to modern spiritual teachers who claim to be conduits of spiritual knowledge when all they do is reiterate the words that have been said a thousand times before. Sure, many people are seekers of truth, knowledge, and a better life, but all these false profits do is to capitalize upon this seeking and this desire for a more enlightened and spiritual life to make a living and gain ego gratification for themselves.

Oftentimes, these people speak of, “Energy,” how and why an individual should live a certain way and how by doing so All-Things will be better for them and for the world. But, they do not speak about this subject from a space of pure knowledge. They speak from the place of ego, or “I am teaching and you are learning.” Mostly, they speak to people who will pay to hear them speak.

This is not true spirituality! If a person is not an ideal conduit of what they are saying, they are a false profit. Investigate whom you are listening to.

Let’s examine this a bit further…

About a month ago I was asked to speak at a symposium. As I took the stage the announcer said, “Here’s Scott Shaw the author of many best-selling books and a spiritual teacher.” I immediately interrupted him, “I am not a spiritual teacher, I am just a guy you asked to come here and speak.” He was a bit taken back. The crowd all laughed. The lecture went on.

You can call me a martial arts instructor. I have the certifications. You can call me a professor. I have the degrees and I teach at the universities. But, I never refer to myself as a, "Spiritual teacher." Anyone who does is false unless they are truly living the life.

For example, when I was Swami Satchidananda’s soundman, I would travel with him and at every venue he spoke there would be hundreds of people in attendance. Sometimes thousands. He lived what he taught and people understood that. That’s why he was so sought after as a speaker.

Now, I am not saying he was perfect. I have discussed him in other writings. But, I will say, he was who he was and he did not pretend to be anything else.

A funny story relating to this occurred at the Los Angeles Integral Yoga Institute. A few of the Swamis were complaining about one of the disciples preparing and drinking coffee in the morning. They asked Gurudev about this. He joking answered, “No coffee in the ashrams. That’s why I don’t live in the ashram because I like to drink coffee.”

That is truth. That is honesty. That is true spirituality.

He was not some fake, pretending to hold knowledge that he did not possess, while attempting to lure people under his spell to make money, live high on the hog, and make a name for himself teaching regurgitated words. He was who he was: whole and honest.

Here we arrive at one of the biggest problems of modern spirituality and those who teach it — the people who are doing it, and doing it wrongly, operate themselves and what they teach like a business. Spiritual truth and enlightenment are not a business. It should not be run like one. Yet, these so-called teachers run a publicity and marketing campaign like one would put in place for a business. They knowingly try to lure in more clients.

That is simply wrong. If you speak the truth, truth seekers will find their way to you. You do not need to say or do anything to get them to listen.

This is my problem, (and it should be yours), with modern spiritual teachers. If someone is charging you for the knowledge they have to offer, there is something wrong in the equation. Knowledge, truth, and enlightenment are free. You should not have to extend any of your money, (or anything else), in order to receive spiritual teachings.

So why do these so-called teachers charge for their services? Because they are simply selling you their ego.

As mentioned earlier, many of these fakes turn to the subject of, “Energy.” Energy has been one of the common focal points of spirituality since the New Age arrived. They will state, “Your energy is this. Your energy is that. You need to change your energy. You need to focus your energy.” But, what is energy? It is one of those nondescript things that anyone can call up and put their own unique definition upon. As it is not defined, it is one of the biggest factors of deception on the spiritual path. If someone is talking about your energy or cosmic energy they are simply using long spoken of false tactics to guide you in the direction they want you to go. And, moreover, energy is one of those things that they can blame when a person does not achieve what they had hoped, “You didn’t put enough energy into it.” Or, “Your energy was not pure and focused enough.” Nonsense!

Let’s look at this process from a bit of a different perspective…

If you want to look to a successful teacher of this modern era and veer away from specifically eastern knowledge for a moment, Anthony Robbins is an ideal personage. He came from a relatively middle-class background and now owns mansions, islands, and all the trapping of pure success. He accomplished this by studying human consciousness and then packaging his studies into a highly defined method that could actual help people move forward and rise up in their life.

I must state, I am not a fan of him or his teaching, but he does provide an ideal example of a success story based upon helping to raise human consciousness and what can be achieved.

There are people like myself who knowingly attempt to live a humble life in a reserved manner. Then, there are people like Tony Robbins who exist on a grand scale. The problem is, there are a plethora of false teachers who claim knowledge, yet they cannot even focus this knowledge to the degree to live at that higher financial level embraced by people like Tony Robbins or Deepak Chopra, yet they aspire to it. Therefore, what does that say about what a modern teacher has to offer you if it isn’t even precise enough to cause such a financial income that they can live on the large scale they desire? What it says is that they are trying to use hype and your desire to know more to get you to pay for what they have to offer so they can climb the ladder. But, that style of teaching and the foundational elements that go into it are just not right. Thus, they will never succeed in their aspiration but may damage the lives of a lot of people while they try.

If a teacher is not an ideal expression of what they are teaching, if a teacher is repeating words that can be heard everywhere else, if a teacher is not a true embodiment of the energy they guide their students to embrace, they are a false profit.

Don’t follow false profits.

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