54 On Blind Devotion, “Role Models”,
and other Spiritual Errors
I believe you are confused.
There is no comparison between "role models" and "blind
devotion", they have nothing to do with each other, aside from the
fact that both are very dangerous things.
A "role model" is usually someone who you are seeking to imitate,
because you believe they have certain qualities that are admirable.
This is encouraged by our culture, and certain "acceptable"
role models are put forward to aid in cultural conditionings.
Looking at a teacher as a "role model" is of no use in spiritual
work, yet it is a mistake commonly made by spiritual seekers.
People think that if they dress like a teacher, or talk like one, or have
their hair the same way, or do the same things they do (drink tea because
he drinks tea, or smoke a pipe because he smokes a pipe), it will make
them more spiritual.
The fundamental error here is in believing the goal to become more like
That is not the goal.
You are supposed to become you, not your teacher.
You should not play a role modelled on another human being, no matter
who the human being is.
Blind devotion is an entirely other issue.
There is a difference, between real devotion and blind devotion.
Blind devotion can be called "worship".
It is where instead of allowing love with the teacher to propel you to
transform yourself, you use a worship of the teacher's person as a substitute
for having to transform.
People suffering from blind devotion are easily recognizable by how much
they talk about or try to show off their love for their teacher, and yet
don't actually do any of what he tells them to try.
It is one of various means by which seekers make themselves feel spiritual
without actually doing any work.
Another is trapping yourself in absurdity; wierding out to the point that
you are incomprehensible to anyone and can try to convince yourself or
others that this is "zen", "masta", "not being
trapped by society"; when in fact the only thing you are evading
Another is listening to the teacher speak, but lacking the will to carry
through on acting on his words: instead you keep looking for some "revelation"
or "explanation" that will just allow you to jump into "enlightenment".
This is a misunderstanding of teachings like Tao or Zen, which seem to
say that there is no need to do any work, and that enlightenment is instant.
Enlightenment is instant, but it is not possible unless you have all the
It is like thinking that because an explosion is instant, you do not
have to do anything for an explosion to happen.
In reality, there are many things that must be done: the explosive must
be gathered, a catalyst must be prepared, a fuse must be lit.
If these things aren't done first, then no amount of waiting will lead
to the explosion.
The moral of all this:
Do not imitate the teacher.
Do not worship the teacher.
Do not make assumptions about the teacher.
Do not try to find enlightenment in the teacher's words.
Just do the work.
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