Originally Posted By: Revlgking
as I read Tolle I have not noticed anything, yet, which defies commonsense. If I do, I will let you know. We can talk about it.

That makes perfect sense and confirms everything I have said about your statements of joining Tolle in at-one-ment and in the presence of NOW. Intellect and instruction precedes the experience of the atonement and the NOW. Then it also makes sense if all of your psychological eggs (so to speak) have been placed in one basket you will need to adjust your focus and attention on something that is different from the habit of your beliefs and ideals, in order to find comprehension in understanding and experience.
Originally Posted By: Revlgking

Also, I notice when class members question his concepts, or even disagree with them, he does not admonish them and treat them as if they are mental and pneumatological (spiritual) midgets.

No he wouldn't, but it is not often unusual for the ego to feel as if he has, and by the feelings generated thru judgment and the ego as it protects its illusions and beliefs, feel as if they are being treated as ignorant.

Andrew Cohen has written a lot of the Teacher Student relationship. Similar in its direction are the writings of John Welwood
On Spiritual Authority

John Welwood

The false prophet and the genuine spiritual master both undermine the habitual patterns of self. Yet one does this in a way that creates bondage, while the other does it in a way that promotes liberation. What is this important difference? How does genuine spiritual authority operate? This is not a simple question.

It is impossible to set up an ideal model for what a true spiritual teacher should look like, any more than we could elevate one style of therapy as the model that all others should follow. Carl Rogers, Fritz Perls and Milton Erickson, for instance, achieved therapeutic results in strikingly different ways. Each had a different personality type, style of working, and probably a different type of client with whom he might be most effective. Spiritual teachers also come in many different forms and guises, and it is fruitless to try to spell out exactly how a good guru will behave.
Instead we need a more subtle analysis that looks at what goes on between teacher and student. Two questions are particularly important here: How does spiritual authority operate in the relationship between teacher and student? And what is the source from which a teacher derives that authority?

Relative Spiritual Authority

Spiritual authority is, in part, interrelational; that is, a given teacher has such authority only for those who respond to his or her presence and teachings. A disciple— literally, a "learner" —is one who recognizes that he or she has something important to learn from this particular teacher. Often the choice of a teacher is as unpredictable and mysterious as the attraction to a potential lover. You sense that you have something essential to learn here, something that no one else has ever imparted to you before. And this recognition is what allows the teacher to take on a certain authority for you.
Many people today question the need for spiritual teachers at all, claiming, in the spirit of democracy, that everyone should be their own master. Many traditions do in fact assert that the true teacher is only found within. Yet in the early stages of one’s development one does not know how to find or listen to the inner master, or to distinguish genuine inner guidance from more superficial wishes and preferences. Just as one would turn to an acknowledged master in any field one wanted to pursue in depth, so a person who seeks to overcome the limitations of egocentricity will naturally be drawn to someone who has actually mastered that work. The role of effective teachers is to instruct, encourage and correct the student, as well as to provide an example of what is possible. Effective teachers also try to see what individual students most need at each step of their development, rather than trying to fit the student into a preprogrammed agenda.
Thus spiritual teachers derive a certain relative authority through the actual help they offer their students. This is not unlike the authority that clients grant therapists in their work together. Although I may feel uneasy with the authority clients grant me as a therapist, I am willing to accept it, especially in the early stages of the work. I understand that clients can more readily enter into the process of shedding old patterns if they grant me the authority to guide them. Beyond the conventional authority granted by professional training and certification, or by transference idealizations, the real source of my authority is my focus on clients’ well-being and my capacity to help them find a deeper relationship with themselves. Granting me this authority can be a step toward recognizing their own authority— that they are indeed the authors of their own experience, rather than passive victims of circumstance.
In a parallel, though far more profound way, a genuine spiritual master’s presence may serve as a mirror that reflects back to students qualities of their awakened being: openness, generosity, discernment, humor, gentleness, acceptance, compassion, straightforwardness, strength, and courage.

Absolute Authority

Beyond the relative authority that teachers assume through the help they give their students, true masters also have access to an absolute, unconditional source of authority—awakened being. Since this is a universal source of wisdom that is available to everyone, the genuine spiritual teacher is more than willing to help others find it themselves, if they are ready.
The genuine teacher is one who has realized the essential nature of human consciousness, usually through having practiced a self-knowledge discipline such as meditation for many years. In contrast to false teachers, who often create a condition of dependency in the student by claiming special access to truth, authentic teachers delight in sharing the source of their own realization with the student. This often involves giving students an awareness practice, along with pointing-out instructions that help them directly recognize their own nature. This kind of guidance sharpens students’ perceptions so that they can better discern whether the teacher’s words are true. Without a practice or method that gives them direct knowledge of what is true, students are totally dependent on the teacher to define their reality for them.
The more the students’ discrimination and discernment grow, the more they can recognize and appreciate the teacher’s mastery; just as when we study and practice any art, we come to recognize the skill of an accomplished master much more than we could have before. When the teaching leads to a deeper connection to one’s own being, this appreciation often grows into natural feelings of love, respect and devotion.
Such devotion may look like slavishness to the secular eye. Yet true devotion does not aggrandize the teacher or debase the student. Rather, it is a way of recognizing and honoring wisdom, awareness and truth as higher realities than the egoic realm of confusion, ignorance and self-deception. Devotion is a sign of a shift in allegiance—away from the petty tyrant of egocentricity toward the call of our larger being, whose wisdom the teacher embodies in fully developed form. Yet devotion can have its own kind of dangers, especially in our culture, and can lead to certain pitfalls on the path unless it is grounded in an awareness practice that cuts through self-deception and sharpens the student’s discernment.

Surrender and Submission

To appreciate the potential value of commitment to a spiritual teacher and teaching, it is essential to distinguish between mindful surrender, which is an opening to a deeper dimension of truth, and mindless submission, which is a deadening flight from freedom.
The notion of surrender is widely misunderstood in our culture. It often conjures up images of "come out with your hands up"—waving a white flag, admitting defeat, being humiliated. For many people today, the idea of surrender implies giving up one’s intelligence or individuality and adopting a weak, dependent, submissive position. True surrender, however, is never an enslavement, but rather a step toward the discovery of real power. It is the act of yielding to a larger intelligence, without trying to control the outcome.
True surrender is not blind. It requires real discrimination—the capacity to recognize the necessity of completely opening oneself and letting go. Surrender does not have a finite object; one does not give oneself to something limited and bounded. If one does, then it is most likely submission—to the teacher’s personality, or the "Cause."
Submission is a handing over of power to a person one idealizes, based on the hope of gaining something in return. One seeks approval from an idealized other in order to feel good about oneself. This is a symptom of weakness rather than strength—"I give myself to my guru because he is so great and I am so small." The more one depends on another for validation, the more one is likely to act in ways that compromise one’s integrity. And the more one’s integrity becomes compromised, the less one trusts oneself, which increases one’s dependency on the leader.
Critics of gurus see all involvements with spiritual masters in this light, failing to distinguish between submission as a developmentally regressive retreat from maturity, and genuine surrender, which is a progressive step beyond egocentricity toward a fuller connection with being. They fail to distinguish between the giving of surrender, which brings increase—of love, intelligence, wisdom—and the giving of submission, which results in decrease and loss.
With a genuine spiritual master, surrendering means presenting oneself in a completely honest, naked way, without trying to hold anything back or maintain any facade. How rarely we let anyone see us as we are, without hiding behind a mask of some kind. Being in the presence of a true master is a rare opportunity to let down all our pretenses, to unmask and reveal all of what we are, our egocentric failings as well as our strengths. This is quite different from submissively trying to be "good" or "devoted," to please someone in order to feel worthy.
Submission has a narcissistic quality, in that followers seek to bask in the reflected glory of their leader as a way to inflate their self-importance. The authentic teacher-student relationship leads beyond narcissism by showing students how to devote themselves to a greater power that lies within, yet beyond themselves.
The acid test is not how well the students please the master, but how fully they meet and respond to life’s challenges. Through becoming more responsive, transparent, and open with their teacher, they learn to approach all people and situations in the same way. In this way, genuine surrender helps one open toward all beings, instead of enslaving one to the parochial perspectives of an in-group.

In Search of a Genuine Master

How then does one recognize a master one can trust? Certainly no single teacher or teaching could be expected to appeal to all people, any more than any single psychotherapist or school of therapy could be effective for all potential clients. The ultimate criterion for judging teachers is whether they guide their students toward a more authentic, transparent quality of human presence and being-in-the-world.
Genuine teachers encourage self-respect as the basis for self-transcendence. And they are willing to reveal the source of their authority and wisdom to their students, so that the student’s path is based on experiential realization rather than on ideology or belief. They also recognize ambiguity and paradox, rather than insisting on absolute certitude in the One and Only Truth. They do not give their disciples any privileged status above the uninitiated. They do not manipulate the emotions of their students, but appeal to their innate intelligence. Instead of promoting herd behavior, they recognize the importance of solitude and inner inquiry. And their own realization is based not just on dramatic revelations, but on extensive testing and practice.
A teacher’s embodiment of love, truth and living presence is a much more reliable gauge than whether his or her lifestyle, appearance or personal quirks fit our image of what a spiritual person should look like. The annals of all spiritual traditions include examples of masters whose behavior and lifestyle challenges the prevailing conventions.
Great teachers also have their share of human foibles. Often they are effective precisely because they are so human, because they are so deeply in touch with the nature of the human sickness in themselves. The Buddhist sage Vimalakirti, to whom many bodhisattvas came for teachings, was always sick in bed, and when asked about this, said, "I am sick because all beings are sick." If the spiritual path is about transforming our core sickness and neurosis, then we can hardly expect spiritual teachers and communities to manifest in a totally pure, spotless way. Yet Americans are often quite naive in their expectations of teachers, as the Zen teacher Philip Kapleau points out:
"In the West a roshi is expected to [have] flawless conduct ... But this idealistic view can blind one to the merits of a teacher ... A Japanese long experienced in Zen once told me, ‘My roshi does have character flaws, yet of the teachers I have had he is the only one who has taught me real Zen and I am exceedingly grateful to him.’ "
Undoubtedly the most important guideline in evaluating a teacher is the effect he or she has upon us. In replying to a question about whether a master should be "a man of self-control who lives a righteous life," the Vedanta teacher Nisagardatta Maharaj replied:
"Such you will find many of —and no use to you. A guru can show the way back home to your Self. What has this to do with the character or temperament of the person he appears to be? ... The only way you can judge is by the change in yourself when you are in his company ... If you understand yourself with more than usual clarity and depth, it means you have met with the right man."
The Buddha responded in a similar vein when approached by a group of villagers, the Kalamas, who had been visited by various monks expounding their different doctrines. They asked the Buddha, "Venerable sir, there is doubt, there is uncertainty in us concerning them. Which of these reverend monks spoke the truth and which falsehood?" To which the Buddha replied:
"It is proper for you to doubt, to be uncertain ... Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing, nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias toward a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another’s seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, ‘The monk is our teacher.’ Kalamas, when you yourselves know, ‘These things are good, these things are not blamable; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness.’ "
The Buddha specifically advised the Kalamas that they could recognize a worthy teaching by how much it helped them reduce the afflictions of attachment, aversion, and delusion.
In sum, the question of spiritual authority is a subtle and difficult matter that permits no easy answers or hasty conclusions. True and false teachers represent but two ends of a broader spectrum of more or less spiritually mature human beings. Some teachers may have some genuine realization, but have not fully integrated it, so that their teaching remains incomplete. Some start out with good intentions, but are not ripe enough to avoid leading their followers astray. Others may be quite wise, but lacking in the skillful means necessary to communicate their wisdom in a way that truly helps their students.
To discount all spiritual teachers because of the acts of charlatans and false prophets is as unprofitable as refusing to handle money because there are counterfeit bills in circulation. As Nevitt Sanford stressed in the classic study, The Authoritarian Personality, the abuse of authority is hardly any reason to reject authority where it is useful and legitimate. In the present age of cultural upheaval, declining morality, family instability, and global chaos, the world’s great spiritual masters may be humanity’s most precious assets. Glossing over important distinctions between true and false teachers, and how the student’s relationship with them differs, only contributes to the confusion of our age, and retards the growth and transformation that are required for humanity to survive and prosper in the times to come.

John Welwood, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist in San Francisco, associate editor of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, and author of six books, including Journey of the Heart, Love and Awakening and Ordinary Magic. Material in this article will appear in his forthcoming book, Toward a Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation. John Welwood, 1999.

The words that I remember from my childhood still are true.
That there's none so blind as those that will not see and those who lack the courage and say its dangerous to try.
Well they just don't know that love eternal will not be denied
-Justin Hayward-(The Moody Blues)

The truth needs no defense. If anyone remembers that there is Eternal Truth or not is irrelevant; fortunately, truth is not democratic.
Once, everyone was convinced that the earth was flat and the sun rotated around it, but no change in the orbit of our daystar ever occurred because of mankind's beliefs. Nor did our spherical globe contract to a plane to align with ignorant humans.
Similarly, for more that two thousand years, most of our race have believed that the Absolute One was a myth or inaccessible to all but a fortunate few who were monks or nuns - those who have renounced everything of the world in order to devote their entire lives to the realization of the Eternal.
In the absence of knowledge of the effortless path of growth of consciousness, any strange belief about the difficulty of growth of consciousness has been taken for the truth. But the Truth has never changed. It has remained crystalline, pure, forever isolated from the strange mutations of space and time, patiently waiting for the forgetful children to remember. And as soon as even one remembers, the Truth is there, Wholly and completely, in all its radiant Glory, for the Truth also permeates every particle of the created worlds, the Truth is everywhere, always.

The enlightened have undying Love for humanity. Like good parents, they have saved the best present for last. Our race has matured greatly in the last five thousand years.
This is not to say there is not still a great deal of work to do; there obviously is. This is not to say that we have yet healed the Earth's problems, created by human ignorance and greed; we obviously have a long war ahead.
But the fact is that more and more people today are dedicating themselves to love and the healing of humanity; once a certain threshold is passed, once there are sufficient members of fully enlightened people walking the Earth, the entire planet and the entire human race are going to experience a phase transition of consciousness.
Those who wish to continue to destroy will no longer be able to do so; those who wish to create in expanding immortality will receive unlimited support from the infinite One. Every desire of theirs will be fulfilled, from the slightest to the greatest.
Those who have learned to align their hearts with one-pointed faith will find that there are no limits to their eager, numinous minds. There are no restrictions of time or space that do not bow to the will of the fully realized human.
Like good parents the enlightened have saved the highest teaching for this moment in the evolution of the Human race.
There have been other experiments of releasing the teaching of enlightenment throughout the unending centuries of human dominion of the earth, but the most important time is NOW. Now we stand at the beginning of full enlightenment and immortality for the whole human race.

The enlightened seek those who wish to align themselves fully with this endeavor, they seek those who have the root desire to become part of the solution and cease to be part of the problem. This process of alignment can be as quick as a soul desires; there are no limits to the rate of acceleration of consciousness available to the human. The only choice is how quickly this will occur.
The curriculum was set long ago, human free will consists only of how quickly one chooses to learn it.
Learn it quickly and enjoy the endless fruits of love, joy, perfect health and immortality; learn it slowly and flirt with fear, illness, misery and death. Choice is everyone's personal pathway, toward the standing path.

The pathway to culturing Eternal Freedom in every moment of Now is not difficult or hard to follow. Indeed, it is present everywhere at each and every moment of created time. Built into the fabric of Creation are certain Ascending pathways; these 108 primary channels are found throughout the structure of all of existence, inside every cell, inside every nervous system, throughout every planet, every sun, every galaxy, every particle from the smallest to the largest of Creation.
These 108 channels lead one directly to the experience of the Absolute; when one has opened ones heart to innocence and ones mind to one-pointedness, the infinite light of the One floods through the human soul, bringing completion to the otherwise endless dance of the Ego, bringing fulfillment to every Human's age old quest for perfection. The dawn of complete enlightenment is inevitable once one innocently treads down even a single Ascending pathway.

Once one has discovered an effective method to know Truth and is systematically opening to the 108 passageways, there are certain additional processes which can accelerate growth. There are certain foods that assist ascension, there are others that hinder it; there are certain behavior patterns that further growth, and there are others that retard it; there are certain exercises that speed development of consciousness, there are others that slow it down.
The fundamental principal is this: the earth is not world of unlimited choices. Rather the earth is a world of unlimited choices, but not all choices available lead to enlightenment.
In fact, reviewing the rather pathetic condition of modern humanity, we have to conclude that most choices lead to suffering and death.
If someone wishes, therefore, to think, It matters not what I do; I can do anything I please, this of course is that someone's choice. But the end result of such thinking is sickness and death, That is precisely the philosophy that has killed every one of our ancestors; do you really want it to be yours?

The wisdom of enlightenment offers another way. Adopt a useful series of boundaries to gain unbounded freedom.
This might sound contradictory: How can boundaries lead to the Unbounded? Even a moments reflection reveals that there is no other way. Perfect invincibility is born from perfect harmlessness. Invulnerability comes from mastering the art of non-violence.
That this flies in the face of traditional thinking and belief is a good sign of the Truth of these words. Rather, it can be such a sign, if one has the necessary humility to analyze honestly the nature of Creation. With perfect fluidity of Grace and utter economy of effort, the Universe continues along the path of least resistance.
Water is ultimately soft, and yet its persistence wears away mountains.
There are no limits to the expanding glory of the human mind, but the way to attain this Reality is through adopting a useful series of limitations, to culture life to realize the Eternal Freedom of perfect Union with the will of God.

What must one give up to realize God? Absolutely nothing. What must one be willing to give up to realize God?
Absolutely everything.
It is the attachments that cripple the growth of consciousness. Where your treasure lies, there will be your heart also. If you are more attached to your home or your family or your job or your status than to the Absolute One, you will have your home and your family and your job and your status until death comes knocking on your door and you will not have the Absolute One, in knowledge, experience and in the nature of your being as you move in and out of the manifest creations of life and death.
If, on the other hand, you seek first the Absolute One, you will have your home and your family and your job and your status, but you will have them all fully for the first time in your life. Instead of a life of compromise, you will have a life dedicated to the healing of humanity -- which is always and forever based in the healing of your own soul.
Those who wish to oppose you in this transformation -- and for the present, at least, we have to assume that there will be those that try to oppose you -- will find that their words and actions have less and less of an impact on you as you become more and more filled with the pure joy of alignment with the One.

"Our recent experience is that as we become more successful, as we teach more people to align with their true hearts desire to realize the Eternal One, the violence of the frustrated ego in others that do not so desire to structure full enlightenment screams more loudly."

"The absurd and bizarre stories about the teaching of enlightenment and spirituality and the enlightened increase in volume and ferocity as we accomplish our task to heal the Earth."

This was predicted and understandable; if it is inevitable or not remains to be seen. The enlightened and the teachers of enlightenment continue, one-pointedly, marching to the goal; those who wish to join them in the noblest of tasks will do so with joy and harmony; those that do not will go their own way, cursing them perhaps as they walk out the door.

"How dare they offer to help them break attachments and be free? How dare they offer an alternative to their painful and short lives!!"

Someone learned a statistic from an MD, a Dr, Joel Wallach: the average life expectancy of an MD in the U.S. is 58 years. The average life expectancy of an aspirant of enlightenment in Perpetual Conscious awareness of the ONE is more than six times that. The average life expectancy of an enlightened individual in Unity is incalculable in modern standards.

The ego worships allopathic medicine as God. This is true because modern medicine will kill you if you practice it religiously.
The Ego fears and hates enlightenment because it will kill the Ego if you practice it correctly.

Life is supremely simple, but people tend to make it complicated. A life of compromise leads to death, quickly, painfully.
A life dedicated to Truth leads to Eternal Freedom.
I was addicted to the Hokey Pokey, but then I turned myself around!!