"Do not make for yourself an idol." --God
On non-dual sites and pages and groups everywhere, there’s frequently wordy discussion about how we’re nothing and there’s no self and it’s all illusion and all a dream.
And then in the next breath, the very same folks pounding their not-there fists in certitude, fervently extoll the virtues of their favorite Teacher.
There’s a whole lotta worshipping going on in our spiritual worlds.
Downright idolatry, often.
There’s feet kissing and eye-gazing and lining-up for intense hugs. There’s spiritual tourism to India, trekking to sit for a few minutes in a long-dead Wise One’s cave.
As if the cave contains that Teacher’s magic, which is apparently stuck in there and unable to be transmitted to some fluffier location such as, say, Poughkeepsie.
But I digress.
There’s huggy, smiley selfies taken with the admired Teacher after satsang, complete with held-up autographed book, soon to become proud profile pictures.
There are even literal altars- dedicated spaces carved out in tiny living spaces- with photos of the Revered One along with crystals, prayer candles, various talismans and statues of the Buddha.
All of which seems kind of weird.
If only because a picture of Ramana or Amma or Parmahansa XYZ is not what those sages are or ever were.
Pictures and altars and books are symbols- substitutes for something else- maybe a longing for oneness.
Though oneness can’t be experienced or recognized via symbols. Representations are a step removed from the "real." That creates the appearance of two, not one.
Which every good non-dualist knows is the opposite of what is being sought.
Besides, if we're not-a-self, then these same Teachers are also not selves, also not there, also illusion.
So who or what is being worshipped, and by whom?
Not that any of this is the end of the world, or even a problem. I mean, jeez, let us adore happily away in peace. Seems harmless enough.
It’s just that, when we idealize the Teacher- who is after all human just like us- we’re pretty much missing the point their teachings are supposedly intended to pass along in the first place.
We're actually missing what we've been seeking all these years.
The story of the wise Other, the Not-Me, who has Something that we don’t, pulls attention to the guru as the Provider of answers, connection and love, creates a sense of Them and Not-Them (aka us),
And solidifies the individual’s already pervasive sense of lack, missing something, and needing improvement.
Idolization of teachers anchors the sense of self.
This is probably not what any acolyte wants or seeks.
Perhaps a bit less harmless though, is that teacher idealization causes us to miss that we already have, and already are, exactly what we’re hoping to find in this Other.
Which means the sought is not in the Other.
It’s not over there.
It’s here. It’s us.
We’re the love for them and the feelings of missing something and the thoughts and the images and the selfies and the wisdom.
We’re Them. We’re It.
What we’ve been looking for in teachers, has been here, as us, all along.
So we’re not lacking.
What we seek is already ours. No one else is needed to provide it.
Which is good.
Because there is no one else.
Buddha statue optional.
“A yearning arises,
To find oneness through another.
The search continues for an anchor."
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