There are many paths to becoming a spiritual teacher or spiritual healer, and there are many types of spiritual teachers and healers. All of them operate at different levels of ability, and learning what level you operate on is important so that you do no harm and offer the highest service.

This blog post can help you understand more about who and what a spiritual teacher is along with some ideas about these different types and levels of teachers:

What Is a Spiritual Teacher?

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Ego Corruptions of Teaching

For some people, you know you’re here to teach, but it is important to do inner work.

Inner work is all about peeling away layers of ego so that you are truly clear on who you are. Actually, many people who think they are teachers or healers are really just trying to teach or heal themselves. Others try to use teaching and healing as identities and as ways to get social approval. Some just like feeling special, and they see a spiritual teacher as a “special” person.

Being a spiritual teacher is anything but special. It is about making the darkness your work because no one needs a light in the mid-day sun. Much of the work you do will only be known by you and the person you’re with.

The Desire to be Special

Many Trees in the Forest: All Are Sacred 

You don’t all have to be like Eckhart Tolle or Rumi or [Insert your current favorite spiritual teacher here].  It’s impossible. You’re not them. You’re you, and you’re going to have a certain way of sharing and offering to your spiritual students that is all your own. It’s like the different trees in the forest. What they offer to the forest and environment around them can be extremely different from tree to tree. The great redwood provides enormous shelter to many of the beings around it with its huge stature and great boughs. It also holds a great piece of the Earth with its roots and stabilizes the environment around it in that way. The peach tree does not do these things. Instead, it nourishes people and animals with its sweet fruits that it spends all spring and summer growing. Both are very important, and both have amazing things to offer.

But consider what would happen if the peach tree suddenly decided it should be the redwood or if the redwood thought it should be the peach tree? The peach tree would spurn its fruit and struggle and strive to grow taller and hyper-extend its roots to stretch out farther. Meanwhile, the great redwood would twist and bend and slouch to try to stand at the level of the peach tree and toil endlessly to produce edible fruits, but none would taste right. And all in the forest would wonder why these two beautiful trees were so utterly confused.

Types of Development as Spiritual Teacher

There are a number of ways to develop as a spiritual teacher. Some of the ones I’ve seen include:

  • Totally intuitive development–It’s like you’re “remembering” how to work as a spiritual teacher rather than “learning” how to do it.
  • Learning a set path–This is the typical journey where people learn from an established religion or spiritual path and meet criteria to work as a spiritual teacher under that tradition.
  • Placed in the role of a teacher by others–You haven’t been training or realizing you were on the path of a spiritual teacher, but then others started asking you to lead their meditation groups, give talks, etc.

For most people, learning from different traditions is necessary. Few people do it entirely by intuitive remembrance. Those of you who are extremely intuitive about your spiritual teacher development will be able to pick up things quickly and easily. Most others will have to learn how to sift through all the intellectual knowledge that they receive and through trial and error figure out what works for them as they develop a stronger inner knowing.

However, the intuitives need to do lots of inner work just like everyone else. There is so much forgotten stuff in the unconscious ego that it’s very easy for intuition to be corrupted. The more inner work someone does, the more they know what is intuition and what is ego.

What Is Intuition? Part 2

Clearly, there’s more than intellectual knowledge to gain here. Emotional, psychic, and physical spiritual teaching are other important areas of inquiry to be able to help people holistically. As I alluded to, there are many types of spiritual teachers, and trusting your path is important. There’s no need to attempt to teach all levels. If you are not good with your body, don’t be a yoga teacher.

Just be the tree that you’re meant to be.

Expanding Your Natural Gifts

The assumption in all of is that I speaking to people who are doing their own spiritual inner work. As spiritual teachers, you can’t take care of anyone else unless you take care of yourself. If you truly are called to teach, you will be your first and primary student to care for before you expand your boughs to support others.

But in doing your work to dissolve the veils of ego lies that still bind you, your natural gifts often arise. They can guide you in the ways that you need to go and towards all the things that you need to do. Becoming what you are isn’t a struggle, although initially there are some challenging points for all of us because of the density and falsity that we’ve absorbed into ourselves. We have to get that out. Otherwise, our paths are easily perverted by those ego attachments, and the fewer attachments, fears, and desires (especially the desire to help) that you have, the more pure and clear your teaching can be.

Knowing Your Limits

Not everyone who comes to you should be taught by you. Sometimes, this is part of the tests of the universe to see if we can discern the appropriateness of teaching. Some people aren’t ready for you. Some people you’re not ready for.

The ego often thinks that it has to prove something or act a certain way and see certain kinds of results. There’s a lot of immaturity running around these days in spiritual teachers. We’re not here to solve problems. We’re here to be ourselves; we are here to be. If we try to do things we are not prepared to do, pain and suffering can quickly arise for us and our spiritual students. This statement isn’t meant to scare you. But it is meant to caution you about the importance of doing your own work and staying present to the intuitions that you receive. Sometimes I’ve found that craziest and weirdest stuff I’ve been guided to do has been the most accurate and influential of anything I might have rationally thought of.

Discovering Unconscious Associations and Feelings

No Where to Go as a Spiritual Teacher

You have no where special that you need to go to do your teaching. Every corner of the Earth needs it. Now, you may feel called or guided to go to some place, and that’s perfect. Trust that guidance, but for any remaining ego that thinks it needs to set up shop in an ashram or some other “spiritual” place, just know that that’s not inherently necessary. All of life is spiritual.

Some of you may not always be as in-tune with your inner guidance, and to those of you, I really encourage you to keep up your work. I encourage you to keep going with your self-care and self-work. Clear away more and more ego until you truly feel like you’re about to burst if you don’t do your spiritual teaching. Then keep clearing more until there is no pressure at all, and there is simply a clear knowing that you want to teach others.

This isn’t a race, and there’s a lot of internal leg-work that has to happen so that you’ll be in integrity and so that you can maintain your energy, body, mind, and emotional health. Depending on your type of spiritual teaching, this work can be very demanding. It’s not a path that should be taken lightly or as a way to save the world.

The Path to Nowhere

When the Teacher Is Ready, the Students Will Appear

My experience is that students pretty much started appearing almost as soon as I announced on my blog that I was a spiritual teacher in 2010. My doors weren’t kicked down by students, but they appeared. Over time, as I’ve completed important aspects of my own work, new waves of students appeared. It’s remarkable how intelligent the whole process of establishing a spiritual teaching practice can be when it is the right thing for you.

As such, just accept that, you’re going to have as many students with whatever issues they have as you’re ready to be with those students and those types of issues. That’s part of why doing your work is so key. There’s just so many people who think they have to teach or heal the minute they’ve had even a flavor of truth or a brief glimpse of a spiritual awakening. But they can quickly get into trouble or get drained, and then they can’t give to anyone. And they don’t know what’s happening. Well, they got going a little too quickly before they had their own foundation set. It’s always good to finish building your own home before inviting people into it. But once it is built, then you have to figure out just how open the doors should be. You may be surprised just how many people want to come in when you’re ready to the be the amazing and beautiful teacher that you are.

Finally, there’s a lot that goes in to dissolving your ego and then being able to help a wide variety of other people dissolve their unique egos. So I encourage you to get to work and to use the many resources that are available on this blog and on my YouTube channel to help you truly know you and to realize spiritual freedom.

Jim’s YouTube Channel

If you are interested in being mentored as a spiritual teacher by me, here are some details on that path. However, I only work with the most serious and dedicated people who are interested in being spiritual freedom teachers.

Jim Tolles’s Spiritual Teacher Mentorship Program


I'm a spiritual teacher who helps people find freedom from suffering.


  1. Everything you said on the above is so true. I haven't figured out really which direction is mine but the process is already written in my spirit. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for your guidance, your words resonate with these energies that are bubbling up inside. There is a knowing that to teach is the only path for this form, I would very much appreciate any further guidance on how to begin.

  3. Thanks for sharing. The world needs lots of spiritual teachers helping people from a deep space of love and integrity. That means beginning to be a teacher is all about going within inside you, not teaching others just yet. The more you learn to face and resolve your inner pain and illusions, the better able you are to help others find similar spiritual freedom inside themselves.

    Here's a post to help you:

    How to Find Spiritual Freedom

    Let me know if it helps.

  4. Hello Jim,
    I am having this enormous will to start teaching. I am not sure if it's my time or not, but I know deeply in my heart that my sole purpose in this world is to help people, by spiritual practice. I am not good at speaking, nor I feel comfortable in that position, nevertheless I know for a fact that I can help people in other ways.
    I still have some issues to resolve but I believe that this path would teach me so much fast than in the one I am going through…
    I would much appreciate your thoughts on my comment.

    Kind Regards,

  5. Hi Goncalo,

    It's a beautiful thing to want to help people, but the most important thing first is to truly go within. In doing your inner work, you become a clear conduit for others. If you want more of my thoughts, you can reach out through my contact form.

  6. HI JIM.
    My name is Tonymatthews a former Alcoholic and sober for 9 years now. My Spiritual journey started along time ago, I just always felt different, thus the Alcohol was what I believed I was using to shake what now I embrace. I never claimed to be a Spiritual person, it was only after a healer and his partner started to tell me about things I had no way of explaining. As young as 15, school friends, especially young ladies would ofter call, seeking advice. Now 35 and having other spiritual teachers, reach out to me and ofter my mother when she is with me, explaining what I process, some things can't be explained away to be clear, nor do I try too. From being called a Alchemist, to star- seed, by meeting shop keepers practicing Spiritual growth, they all have the same look, when they gaze at me.
    Then I became draw to study the TAO Te CHING, 81 verses and some 7 writing pads full, the teachings and my downloads on each verse took me 1 year of writing. No thinking seemed to be required, the pen just met the paper as I would scribe for hours. All of this was done in 2 remote spots , no phone reception, wild rivers and completely cut off.
    I would like too know your take on this happening, this awakening, why I seem too know things beyond my years, why people, complete strangers feel free to embellish their deepest feelings to me. Where is this going, my only Idea is that I was called to teach this scripture by the late Lou zui, TAOIST philosopher around 600BC. "The more I resist ", the more it persist ". Yet I must admit it sure is lonely, as most people I meet , spiritual beings, don't seem too of heard of it in Australia.

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