Being a Student is better than being a Follower - 16 Jun 11

Yesterday I described the last one of 10 types of followers whom I have written about in the last weeks. These were the ten types:

  1. Blind Followers
  2. Intellectual Followers
  3. Proud Followers
  4. Secret or Ashamed Followers
  5. Bribed or Paid Followers
  6. Strict Followers
  7. Flexible Followers
  8. Mass Followers
  9. Personal Followers
  10. Celebrity Followers

I have seen many followers in my life, during my time as a guru in India and also now on my travels in the west. This is how I could sort them into these types. Not everyone fits into one single category, most of them belong to several types at once.

What happens usually these days when I meet followers is that they don’t stay with me for a long time. The reason is that they usually search for a guru and I am just not a guru or master. Many leave because they realize it and others try to stick around, try to find a way of being my follower without me minding it and actually develop some closeness. What I do is to always try and let them experience that they are their own gurus.

I don’t really like the word ‘follower’ or ‘disciple’. I think it is good to learn from someone, to be a student and to keep on learning. Guru simply means teacher, so if you have the need for a teacher, a guru, why don’t you simply call yourself student? I think rather than being a follower who follows blindly like a sheep, you should be a student, eager to learn more, enthusiastic for getting more knowledge and experience.
Many gurus are good teachers and you can learn from them. Don’t make them holy and don’t see them as Gods. They are human, make their mistakes and have their faults. Don’t worship them. Give them respect as persons who have some knowledge or wisdom which they share with you.

Keep a realistic view, ask deeper than what is on the surface and see who that person is. Don’t get dependent on one individual and don’t get confused if you hear contradictive statements of several of them. In the end you need to see that you are your own master inside yourself. There is the truth and you can feel for any philosophy and teaching whether it is right for you or not.

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This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Uma

    I enjoyed the series and appreciate the message in this diary entry of yours. A very enjoyable blog with a lot of ideas for me on how to differently see my own attitude towards my teachers. Thank you

  2. Deniz

    The magical layers people place over relationships like those with friends and teachers, like labels of “soul mate,” “twin flame,” and “guru” create many problems by projecting unrealistic expectations on the relationships. It’s best to just relate as friends and teachers. That way you keep the relationships grounded in reality. Teachers regarding spiritual subjects are just like teachers of any other subject, different ones for different levels and for the different aspects of the subject you want to study. And like other teachers, once you’ve learned what they have to teach, you can move on. I think in the area of Hindu religion, guru problems are largely based on the importance placed on the guru in Vedic literature. But they were talking about very different times and cultures in the Vedas. I’m sure the ancient Rishis did not have in mind the celebrity gurus of today.

  3. Ramona

    Thank you Deniz for this wonderful comment. It is very true that people place very high expectations on such words. Especially the expression ‘soul mate’ has been abused very much in the last years and the further development of the esoteric scene – at least here in Germany. People expect the other person to act just as they want him or her to, after all it is their soul mate and should know what to do…And of course this problem also happens with Gurus. They can involuntarily be placed into that situation by others who want to admire and worship them in all ways and not only respect them for their knowledge and wisdom.
    Much love to New York!

  4. Jessica Baer

    It seems as though a person seeks a Master when s/he doesn’t feel content with “what is” in their life- past, present and future. i don’t know about many Eastern cultural “norms”, but in Western conceptual thinking, this happens partly because we struggle with cultivating a healthy ego. Healthy ego= knowing how to love yourself and others without “losing” the self in relationships. As grown-ups, we’re still searching for approval from others in our daily life. It’s a struggle to which i can relate. The good news is, i am learning how to watch my mind and remind myself that i am inherently good and worthy of being here, right now. One particular yoga teacher inspired me to do so in the context of a very healthy, equitable relationship.

  5. Jenni Stammeier

    You are so right! The word “follower” is pointing out nothing but the hierarchy, presuming the guru being the only one who has something to teach. But what you have been pointing out so many times – it is a dualistic learning process! Isn’t your worst enemy your best guru?

  6. Asyla ten Holt

    life is full of surprises, When you think you learned something another creepy surprise pops up. Just enjoy the challenge

  7. Niharika Mishra Mitra

    yes exactly, most people miss out this point. Even when we worship, I have hardly seen anyone trying to adapt to Gods/ religions teachings….just worshiping hardly helps us or anyone else…

  8. Manfred Samui

    Agreed, the aim is to bring make the student understand that he is, what he wishes to achieve, only have to become aware of it, in raising awareness!

  9. Swami Balendu

    Dear Jessica,yes, unfortunately many people have a problem loving themselves and thus search for someone who does it for them. And for some this is not a partner – which would also not lead to a healthy relationship – but a guru whom they can worship as someone better and higher. And getting approval by him then seems to strengthen their self-esteem. Of course it is a struggle sometimes but it is necessary and as you say, with practice you learn.
    Thank you for your nice comment. Much love!

  10. Swami Balendu

    Dear Jenni,Thank you for your words. Of course, you always learn in life, from any situation and from any person. In this way I say that the whole world can be your guru, every child can be your guru and certainly also your enemies, because they show you what emotions are deep in you.
    Sending you much love!

  11. Swami Balendu

    Dear Asyla,Nice to read your words! Whether the surprises are creepy, frightening, shocking or worse, take them as the way life is going and enjoy treating them, taking them as beautiful, interesting and good developments. Love to you, too!

  12. Swami Balendu

    Dear Niharika,Unfortunately this is what many people believe – they do a fire ceremony and are done with praying. There is nothing in their heart, they have done their duty and what they were supposed to do. The point is to do it from the heart with the openness to change. Only worshiping a guru and not listening to the words of a teacher won’t bring you very far.
    Much love!

  13. Niharika Mishra Mitra

    yes that’s right.. the whole purpose of education is to get people to “know” and open their eyes. But its not easy for many to get out of the shackles of blind faith.

  14. Swami Balendu

    Yes, Manfred, everything is already in us, we only need to recognize it. Much love

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