KIBI - Karmapa International Buddhist Institute KIBI - Karmapa International Buddhist Institute

Why is it So Important to Have a Spiritual Teacher?

October 30, 2013

Why is it So Important to Have a Spiritual Teacher?


Is it necessary to practice the spiritual practice only under proper guidance by a teacher, or can we start on our own if we have faith in what we do?

If the beginning of all knowledge is to know yourself and we have all the answers within ourselves, why is it so important to have a spiritual teacher?


We all have innate, unborn qualities. That is not to say that, in a Buddhist sense, we are already enlightened, but the seed of the potential is already planted inside each and every one of us. It is inherently present.

To really sit down and tell ourselves things, such as, ‘I am inherently pure and decent,’ can be difficult – although we can relate to these truths during unemotional moments. But If we have a hard time accepting these truths, when we are in crisis and have doubt in ourselves, then this is a clear sign that we do need someone to guide us; someone to show us; someone to explain and teach us what it is, and that it is like that.

In terms of the question of whether we need a teacher or not, it is not that we have to go to the end of the world to really find the answer. I believe it is right here, right now, we can just ask ourselves individually ‘do we really have the potential or not?’, ‘do we really understand the truth?’ Or, we can change the terms by saying ‘do I know the nature of mind?’, ‘do I know the universe and phenomena?’ and so on.

For this, we may need proper guidance. And then of course, there comes many questions such as ‘how to find an authentic guide?’ and ‘how do we know that that is the right path?’, and so on. But for that I think it is important to focus on the basic qualities of the teachers or guides, and also use our own basic qualities to assess with a good degree of clarity, i.e. without emotion. So, whether Theravada teacher or Mahayana teacher, there are certain standards or certain basic qualities that he or she should require in order to guide.


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