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How do we follow the path of transformation? One of the first steps is to establish a personal connection with the universal intelligence, or higher power. This higher power exists within everything and everyone. It's the infinitely wise aspect of our being that simply "knows" everything that we need to be aware of at any given time, providing us with guidance from moment to moment, step by step throughout our lives.
There is nothing complicated or mysterious about this higher power. It's a very natural part of our existence. It comes to us through our intuitive sense, our gut feelings. We are all born into this world with this intuitive guidance system. And if we had all been raised in a more enlightened way, we would have learned to follow this inner guidance throughout our lives.
Instead, most of us did not receive much support or encouragement in trusting our own deepest feelings. In fact, many of us were actively taught not to trust ourselves but instead to follow an external authority. Or we were encouraged to be rational -- to the exclusion of our intuitive faculties.
Rediscovering and Reconnecting With Our Natural Intuitive Sense
As adults we can take responsibility for rediscovering and reconnecting with our natural intuitive sense. As we learn to listen to and follow our intuition, we develop an increasingly trusting and powerful relationship with our own inner guidance.
On the path of transformation, it is essential to develop this relationship with our inner guidance because on this path there are no final outside authorities. There are no holy texts or priests, or ministers, or gurus who represent the absolute word of God. There is no dogma to follow. Instead, our primary guidance must come from our inner source.
In the Eastern transcendent traditions, and in many of the New Age groups that are modeled after them, there is a belief that one must surrender to an enlightened teacher in order to progress on one's spiritual journey. However, from the perspective of the transformational path, there are no fully enlightened teachers. The traditional masters and gurus are only enlightened in the transcendent sense. They may be able to teach us a great deal about our spiritual development, but they can't show us how to integrate that fully into our human lives on earth, since they have not yet learned to do that themselves.
We are not alone on this new path. There are teachers who can help us with certain aspects of the journey. However, there is no one who has already absolutely "made it" on this journey, because we are all still learning. We are all moving along the path, more or less together.
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In a very real way we are each other's teachers and mirrors, reflecting the other's process. Some people are more developed in certain ways and can teach the rest of us what they have learned. Each person's journey is unique, however, so ultimately no one but you knows what you need to do.
Do We Need Teachers?
Do we, then, need teachers on the path of transformation? And if so, what is their appropriate role in our lives? How can we relate to them in a way that is healthy and most supportive to our growth?
Yes, I believe that most of us absolutely need teachers on this path. Of course teachers come in many forms, not all of them human. For example, nature is one of our greatest teachers.
Most of us also have human teachers, healers, and guides who come in many different forms and often play crucial roles at certain times in our journey. Someone in our lives, for instance, may be the initial catalyst or inspiration that helps us get on a consciousness path.
In the earlier states of our process, almost all of us need information, feedback, support, and guidance of some sort. In a sense, we are all in the childhood stage of the consciousness journey and may need a wise parental figure to show us the way. As we gain more knowledge and experience, we gradually develop more trust in ourselves, but we still may need wiser and more experienced people as resources, much as we do when we are adolescents and young adults learning to take our place in the community.
Inner or Outer Guidance?
Eventually, once we are mature in our consciousness process, we primarily follow our own inner direction. Yet the nature of life is constant growth, so at times of stress or crisis, or whenever we are going through a major change, or a deepening or expansion of consciousness, we may once again need some outer guidance.
The pitfall in relating to teachers or healers of any kind is the tendency we have to give too much of our power away to them. When we haven't yet fully recognized and owned our inner wisdom, goodness, creativity, and power, we tend to project these qualities onto our mentors and teachers. This is perfectly natural. As we grow, we become aware that these qualities reside in us, and we begin to claim them more and more as our own. A clear and wise teacher helps and supports us in the process of owning our own power. Such a teacher encourages us to take independent steps as soon as we feel we are ready.
Unfortunately, there are many teachers, therapists, and healers who are unclear in this regard. They are overly attached to being in a power position with their students or clients, or to having them remain dependent for too long. This takes care of certain emotional -- and often financial -- needs on the part of the leader, but it inhibits or severely impairs the growth and empowerment process of the client or student.
I know many people who have suffered greatly from this type of over-attachment to a leader or teacher. In fact, one close friend of mine spent years healing herself -- both emotionally and physically -- after finally breaking away from a teacher who had many fine qualities but unconsciously entrapped her students in dependent relationships with her.
So I must warn readers to beware of teachers, workshop leaders, therapists, healers, or any others who claim to have all the answers (or more than anyone else), who regard themselves as more enlightened or farther along the path than anyone else, or who generally seem to have an inflated sense of themselves. They may be very developed in certain areas, and have much to share, but we need to be cautious and maintain healthy skepticism in our relationships with them.
Proceed with caution, especially if you notice that there seems to be a circle of very dependent devotees who seldom become more empowered in their own lives or move on to other involvements, and who never move into a relationship of more equality and balance with the leader. It may also be a danger signal if you feel consistently one-down or inferior to a teacher and he or she seems to cultivate that kind of relationship.
The key to relating to a teacher or healer in a healthy, empowering way is to recognize that person as a mirror of your own inner qualities. If you admire someone for his or her wisdom, love, power, or whatever, recognize that you have those exact qualities within you and that you are drawn to this person as a reflection of the parts of yourself that you need and want to develop. Allow your teacher or therapist to inspire you and show you the way to develop yourself.
Afford your teacher respect, admiration, and appreciation, but remind yourself that you are with him or her to learn to love, respect, and honor yourself as much! Our teachers are in our lives essentially to help us develop, strengthen, and deepen our relationship to our own inner teacher.
I have had many wonderful teachers, therapists, and guides over the years, and each one has helped me in a special way. Like most people, I put them on pedestals at first and gave my power away to them. Once or twice I became involved in a very dependent role for a while. However, each of these experiences was extremely valuable ultimately in helping me to develop my trust in my own inner teacher. Now I have certain people in my life who are teachers and mentors for me. I can turn to them when I need help, support, and guidance, and we have a relationship of mutual trust, honor, and love.
Where Do We Start?
Because so many of us have been thoroughly conditioned against trusting our inner sources, we simply may not know where to begin the process of developing our relationship with our inner teacher. There are teachers and therapists available in most communities who can help us get on a path of trusting our own inner processes more fully. We recognize these teachers, not because they claim to know all the answers, but because they are offering skills to help us find those answers ourselves. Even with the best of teachers, however, there comes a time when we may need to let them go, having developed in ourselves the skills we need to trust our own inner guidance.
Once we've developed a relationship with our own inner teacher and guide, we have access to an unerring source of clarity, wisdom, and direction, right inside us at all times! Needless to say, this can be quite comforting, especially in moments of fear and confusion. It gives us the basic sense of trust that we need to have the courage to make this journey. From it we gain the confidence that we are not alone, that there is a higher power guiding our way and helping us along.
© by Shakti Gawain. All Rights Reserved.
Excerpted with permission.
Excerpted from the book "The Path of Transformation" by Shakti Gawain, ©2000. Reprinted with permission from New World Library, Novato, CA, USA 94949.
Info/Order this book. Also available as an e-Textbook.
About the Author
SHAKTI GAWAIN was an internationally renowned leader in the human potential movement. Her many bestselling books, including Creative Visualization, Living in the Light, and Creating True Prosperity, have sold more than six million copies in thirty languages world. She led workshops internationally and has facilitated thousands of individuals in developing greater balance and wholeness in their lives. For more info, visit her website at http://www.shaktigawain.com.