Devotion To The Teacher

There is a tendency to project the source of truth onto another. This often happens in our relationship with the teacher and it acts as a barrier to true awakening.

One Thursday evening, at one of my teaching sessions in Corte Madera, Laura raised her hand to speak. She is an earnest young woman who had recently attended one of my five-day residential retreats.

"I feel confused," she said. "A part of me wants to give myself over to you completely. I can feel devotion arising within me. But another part of me feels afraid. I do not trust you and I want to run from you."

"That is perfectly natural," I replied. "When someone is very present with you, it is a beautiful experience. It is the most perfect gift we can share with each other. It is appropriate that you would feel love for me. But the danger is that you will project the source of that love onto me, and that you will lose yourself in your devotion."

She confessed that she had done this with a guru she had been with several years ago.

"There are many people on this planet who happily encourage your projections and are supported by your devotion. They want you to give yourself over to them and it is not surprising that mistrust should arise as a byproduct of your devotion."

I paused for a while to allow my words to be absorbed.

"A true teacher will not allow you to project the source of love onto him. He or she will be very skilled at reflecting the love back to you, until you recognize that the love you feel is arising within you, and that you are the source of the love. A true teacher will insist that you reclaim all your projections, both positive and negative. A true teacher will not allow you to lose yourself in devotion."

I could see that she was relaxing.

"What are you feeling in this moment?" I asked.

"I am feeling very present," she replied quietly. "And I am feeling very intense love for you."

"That is beautiful," I told her. "It is only natural that you would feel love for me if you are very present with me. Just as I feel love for you. Now turn from me and be present with these flowers."

She turned and was very present with the flowers on the table next to me.

"What are you feeling now?" I asked her.

She looked quite radiant as she responded.

"I am feeling very intense love for the flowers."

"Good," I said. "And if you were to behold the distant mountain, you would feel love for that. When you are present, you are love and everything that you are present with reflects that love to you."