This title does not refer to a four-legged creature indigenous to the Andes. That would be a llama, although I love them too, especially for the endearing way they spit their little llama words and look down at me with big black googly eyes.
The lama to which I refer is a teacher of Buddhism, Tibetan style. Some things Tibetan might seem mysterious or incomprehensible to the western mind, and not for all tastes. However, my guide speaks English, gleaned from the hippies he met in Nepal during the 1960's. A respected teacher of Buddhism, he nonetheless found a kinship in these liberated children of materialism. Formerly and forever a hippy myself, we get along famously.
Some say that a spiritual teacher is meant to challenge you, to bust your egotistical chops and stretch you beyond your limits until the bonds of self-serving mind are broken. To me, this sounds like a medieval torture chamber and nothing to sign up for with unbounded glee.
A real teacher, like a real friend, is someone who cares about your well being and by inference, has something to teach you; a guide who knows the path and has a light to illuminate the way. However, unlike the attitude of gratitude culturally ingrained in our Eastern brethren, deep devotion to a spiritual teacher is not a particularly American tradition, as our country was founded by Protestants. Protest-ants.
And then there are proud folks like my father; he foamed at the mouth when I first adopted a guru in 1971. (Guru means "dispeller of darkness and revealer of light.") The first time daddy saw me bow to my guru, a flash of red light literally flew out of his eyeball - 'seeing red' and mad as hell. He saw my gesture of respect as "grovelling" and unbefitting an Ivy League college graduate who should have been a lawyer and not a devotee.
Blind faith is a self-descriptive term, and not a mindset to be emulated. On the other hand, loving one's lama/guru is founded on a knowingness; once one has chosen a teacher wisely, the natural outcome produces a thankful quality transcending the norm.
A true spiritual teacher, with whom one has a deep connection, can be a savior of sorts...saving one from ignorance, hatred, jealousy and a myriad of other unattractive emotions/behaviors. While having a guru is not for everyone, to the naysayers who scoff at the idea, I would respond that it is like a good marriage. Hard to find, but when you've got it, respect it, cherish it, and love it with all your heart.
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