In a society that prizes hyper-individuality, the idea of long-term relationships of any kind seem to be less interesting to people these days. For example, hook-up culture has turned many romantic relationships into barely anything beyond casual sex, and sometimes neither person really even knows if they’re in a relationship.
Thus, the idea of being in a long-term relationship with a spiritual teacher for a decade or two simply doesn’t make sense to many modern day Americans. Shouldn’t the student have learned everything by now and moved on?
But this kind of relationship doesn’t work the way most people think, and it is a true gift.
Firstly, there are few people that really know another person. The ego projects all kinds of ideas onto other people, but with a true teacher, you are around someone who sees you, at least as best as they are able. That’s a gift. When people feel deeply seen, they often don’t want to leave the relationship.
Secondly, as a student dissolves their identity, deeper levels of connection becomes accessible, and it’s often their teacher where they find the deepest kind of connection. While the rest of society goes on hooking up and barely scratching the surface of connection, a connection with a true spiritual teacher tends to start deep and only get deeper and more profound.
Finally – but certainly not the last of the reasons that people stay in a relationship with a spiritual teacher – there are many, many levels of self-discovery, and it can truly be nice to have some company along the way. Few people can walk very far on the path to spiritual freedom, and there is a lot that a true spiritual student must do on their own. But for many other things, the shared space and the extra help in seeing what needs to be seen is beyond value. That natural spiritual evolution is sacred, and this is yet another reason that people choose to stay for decades with a spiritual teacher.
No Room for Cynicism Today, Only Love
I’m very aware of bad teachers and clingy students, but there’s no room for cynicism in this blog post today. The space of connection between students and teachers is an amazing one, and it opens and unfolds in many ways over the years. As it does so, students find greater and greater freedom, so they do not stay because of need or attachment. They do not stay because they need to learn more. They stay because of love.