Every Thursday night, I go to my teacher’s satsang (gathering), with other local members of our sangha. (Most of Kitabu Roshi’s students are scattered around the world.) In recent meetings, I find the connection between him and myself growing stronger, communication clearer, and the “presence” increasing. To put it simply, being with him is probably what being with Jesus was like for the disciples.
A spiritual master, an enlightenment teacher, is a very different kind of instructor than any other. They are not self-help coaches, psychologists, or “spiritual directors.” They’re not interested in your subconscious or your dreams. They are there not to teach you things to “believe in,” to affirm your beliefs, or even to affirm “you.” Rather, they reveal the true You to you, and that means helping you to get your f%$@-ing self out of the way. It takes commitment, courage, perseverance, and humility from the student. Teachers are not always easy to understand, especially at first, and the teacher must stretch you and help you change your mind, to see beyond the appearances of things. And this kind of change is very threatening to the ego, which will resist it, as surely as the sun rises in the morning.
But a true teacher loves you like no one else does… because he or she knows what you really are. A teacher is committed to helping you overcome the barriers. When we saw that the martial approach wasn’t working well for me, Kitabu Roshi encouraged me to come to satsangs, which was exactly what I needed. What is a satsang like? Kitabu’s satsangs have a lot of teaching, then some time for either questions or meditation, followed by socializing and fellowship with delicious food.
There’s a saying in wisdom traditions around the world, that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. This is true. But more people need to become students and get ready. The world needs more people to see past appearances. Now is the time.