What Are The Benefits Of Having A Meditation Teacher?

It sound like a trivial question, doesn't it? But as we look deeper into it, we discover a number of pros and cons that may not be that obvious when we first set out on the meditative path.

Most spiritual traditions from India, Tibet and Japan emphasize the need of a guru. Personally, I'm not buying into it.

We live in a time where it's possible to watch spiritual teachings online and on dvd. One can even listen to audio recordings on a portable mp3 player. Here is a link for those of you who are interested in free, world-class meditation teachings.

Now, with these technological advances that didn't exist just a few years ago, there's less of a need for a meditation teacher. With so many good sources of information, meditators can virtually learn and practice meditation wherever they are.

Some spiritual teachers and institutions even offer online support which is great for those who live in remote areas where there are no meditation centers. What you loose out on is chiefly the mental energy generated by a meditation group which is known to have a profound effect on meditation.

The Pros Of Having A Meditation Teacher

Whenever we are surrounded by more experienced meditators, we learn by just being around them. There are great advantages of practicing with a so called meditation master. We can learn by just observing her conduct.

It's possible to learn a lot in a relatively short period of time by listening to meditation talks and asking questions.

For years, I practiced meditation on my own but then I stumbled upon an experienced meditation teacher while meditating at a monastery in Malaysia. So, I wound up spending 4 months with him. At first, I was reluctant to practice his way but in the end I learned a great deal from the time we spent together.

The Cons Of Having A Meditation Teacher

We live in a time where technology advances at a fast pace and so does individualism, especially in western culture. So, we're not as willing to respect and devote ourselves to meditation teachers like meditators were in the old days.

Our egos feed on individualism. This makes it difficult for many meditators to commit seriously to a meditation teacher, and it becomes an even greater problem as you gain more experience.

We also tend to become dependent on our meditation teachers not unlike you depend on a lover. I find this especially negative. Clinging and holding on is not the way - meditation is essentially about letting go. In our meditation practice we should strive to foster independence and not be dependent on external sources of encouragement and support, which would take us down the wrong path.

Balanced Meditation Practice

You don't have to spend the rest of your life with a meditation master but there is definitely a lot to learn by being round one. My personal recommendation is that you spend a few months here and there with an experienced meditation teacher to pick up as much a possible, in a concentrated form.

Not everyone is free to devote this much time to their meditation practice. Anyhow, weekend retreats is a good start...

Best of luck!

Related:   Understanding Meditation   Goenka Retreats   Progress In Meditation

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