Can enlightened teachers help ‘others’ to awaken; and if so, how?

Yes.  By just being around them…and/or pointing at the illusions of the mind.

The whole idea of a “guru” is about an enlightened one helping others to awaken.  The whole idea of “satsang” is about sitting with an enlightened one to help awaken.  For both ideas, the top person (i.e. the enlightened one) is called a teacher.  In this way a hierarchy is created – teacher and students…the have and have nots (of enlightenment).  The trick that the enlightened one has to pull off is getting you to realize there is no difference between you and the teacher…and that you too are already the Self.  This involves seeing through the illusion of “me”.

There are many different ways of attempting to do this.

One is to just sit in silence, which is one of the main focuses of satsang.  Satsang is more about sitting in silence than answering questions.  Many people go to get answers to questions and forget that sitting in silence is a main focus.  When I hold satsangs, I have a period of sitting in silence at both ends of the question and answer period.  I start and end with silence.  Silence was the primary way Ramana Maharshi taught…especially in the beginning when he didn’t speak at all.  Words so often can get in the way.  Besides, realization of who/what you are will not likely happen after any question is answered for you.  Questions are of the mind…and a way to avoid looking at itself/yourself.

Sitting in silence with an enlightened one helps because of resonance.  I say resonance, because it is like tuning forks of the same key.  Strike one and the others start to vibrate as well because of resonance.  If you sit in silence with one who is totally present and still…abiding in Self…then it kind of pulls others out of their mental illusions and into that as well.  Just being quiet, still, and present is a major doorway to realizing who/what you are.  It is easier to be quiet, still, and present in the presence of one who already is quiet, still, and present.

The other main way of helping others is to point at their illusions.  In the end, you have to see ‘who/what you are’ for yourself – but often it can only be seen after the filters, color lenses, and other illusions of the mind are seen through.

Realization and understanding results from clearly seeing what is.  If you have clearly seen poison ivy and understand what it is, you would avoid it in the woods.  If you have not clearly seen poison ivy yet…you will likely walk right through it…or avoid plants you think look like it when those plants are not poison ivy.  Clearly seeing is the key…to have no doubt regarding what was seen.

The enlightened one can point at the illusions.  But this is only like pointing at a doorway, the person who received the pointing still has to walk through on his or her own.  If you believe you are the body, then the enlightened one could help guide your questioning into whether you really are the body or not.  Simply telling you that you are not the body is not enough…that ‘second hand knowledge’ is not in line with the direct experience/feeling you have about yourself.  You may try to believe you are not the body, but deep down you feel/”know” you are the body.  So the enlightened one can pose questions or point out things within your experience that may counter the idea that you are the body.  Then it is up to you to delve into this deeply and clearly see for yourself what is.

In this way spending time in satsang or with a guru is dispelling darkness (ignorance, illusion, falsehood, etc.)…light is shown on the darkness of ignorance.  Guru is made up of “gu” (darkness) and “ru” (the light – which dispels darkness due to its presence).  Satsang means in company or association with Truth.  The Truth and falsehood are never in conflict…for the Truth dispels what is false by its presence.  Conflicts arise over falsehoods or half-truths at best.

The idea of guru and satsang is there is an enlightenment one who brings something to those who are in the darkness of ignorance.  What is brought is the Self.  One who is abiding as Self helps others realize the Self by sitting together in silence and/or pointing at the illusion that is fooling you into thinking you are something other than the Self.

The Self can not be pointed to directly, because everywhere you point is the Self.  The pointing also has the danger of making the student think that what is not pointed to is excluded from the Self.  That is why teachers typically teach through negation…for example, neti neti (i.e. not this, nor that).  It is easier and less confusing to point at the illusion that is being identified with and getting the student to question that.  In the end, it is not Truth that must be found (for it is ever present), but ignorance that must be removed.

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Modern-day house-holder yogi and lover of what-is; living in peace, contentment, and joy.