Though no one would go to a brain surgeon without checking out their credentials first, or fly with an airline that hires pilots who’ve never actually left the ground, seekers commonly turn their spiritual lives over to teachers who claim enlightenment but may be, on closer inspection, just as cracked as the rest of us. In this month’s edition of the The Seekers Forum, we’ll be looking at the thorny issue of how to choose a teacher or guru wisely. Nowhere are we more vulnerable – or gullible – than in the matter of how to determine the legitimacy of teachers professing spiritual mastery. And yet, there are criteria for choosing wisely, and for recognizing red flags before we place our trust in anyone.
But what are these criteria, exactly? How can we know if a teacher’s for real, or simply glitter posing as gold? How can we test our spiritual leaders? What are the parameters of healthy devotion, and when does exploitation begin? Finally, how do we respond to imperfections bound to arise in a human teacher, and judge which flaws matter and which do not?
Seekers Session Teleconference
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Dive Deeper: Describe your relationship to the person you consider a spiritual teacher or mentor. Are there limitations? Unresolved issues? Unexpected benefits? Questions?
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Guest Interview with Polly Young-Eisendrath
Polly Young-Eisendrath, Ph.D., is a Jungian Psychoanalyst, Psychologist, author, and speaker. She is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Vermont, founding faculty at the Vermont Institute for the Psychotherapies, and past president of the Vermont Association for Psychoanalytic Studies. She is in independent practice with individuals and couples in central Vermont. Polly is the originator of Dialogue Therapy, a time-limited couple therapy that integrates psychoanalysis and mindfulness and helps couples move from disillusionment to intimacy.
Polly is the author of fifteen books, as well as many chapters and articles. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Her most recent works are The Present Heart: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Discovery (Rodale, 2014); The Self-Esteem Trap: Raising Confident and Compassionate Kids in an Age of Self-Importance (Little, Brown, 2008); and The Cambridge Companion to Jung: New and Revised, of which she is co-editor with Terence Dawson (Cambridge University Press, 2008). In 2018, Shambhala Publications will publish True Love Ways: Relationship as Psycho-Spiritual Development, Polly’s new book which sets out the principles of Dialogue Therapy for a general audience.