Teachers On The Path To Enlightenment
Someone recently asked me,”Who’s your spiritual teacher?”
My mind was stunned by the question, how could I come up with one? After some reflection I would say; “My greatest spiritual teachers were the people in my life who I exchanged love with. The experience of loving each being has crafted me into a many faceted gem.”
Here are some of the spiritual teachers I have walked with on the path.
I began going to Mount Madonna retreats for yoga and there I was introduced to Baba Hari Dass. I went many times and gave serious consideration to living in community at Mount Madonna. The times that I shared at Mount Madonna doing yoga, floating in deprivation tanks, sitting with Baba Hari Dass was a special time of spiritual exploration and discovery.
After two years of spiritual direction, I took vows as a third order monastics, choosing the St. Benedictine Camaldolese order. New Camaldolese Hermitage Benedictine monastery in Big Sur is situated in the rugged coastal mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean. A natural setting profoundly conducive to the contemplative way of life. As a Camaldolese Benedictine Oblate I took vows to live by this unique spirit of balance, moderation and reasonableness. St. Benedictine’s Rule became one of the most influential religious rules in Western Christendom. For this reason, Benedict is often called the founder of western monasticism. I often went on retreat to the monastery, embracing this unique spirit of balance in my everyday life.
In the early Middle Ages, there lived a group of hermits in the wilderness areas of the Middle East. They were known as the desert fathers. They lived in small isolated communities for purpose of devoting their lives completely to God without distraction. The contemplative movement traces its roots back to these monks. They were the ones who first promoted the mantra as a prayer tool. The meditation practices and rules for living of these earliest Christian monks bear strong similarity to those of their Hindu and Buddhist renunciate brethren several kingdoms to the East … the meditative techniques they adopted for finding their God suggest a borrowing from the East. These writings and those of the christian mystics were my contemplative tools.
In 1987 during the Papal Visit of Pope John Paul II, I was in attendance with the my monastic brothers and sisters at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco. It was a thrill as he entered the Cathedral and on his way out he took my hand for a moment and directly behind him the archbishop put a rosary in my hand that felt just like the Pope’s skin. It was a mass I shall never forget and to have a personal moment with the Pope was an amazing experience. Raised as a Methodist, received into the episcopalians and confirmed into the Roman Catholic Church, this was never something I expected to be doing. Later I also saw him at the stadium for a large communion, which was also a memory I will never forget.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Teresa’s spiritual life was of deep interest to me. When I got to meet her face to face during a visit to San Francisco I came to understand how ‘She was a real mother of all of us’. This tiny women with her message of love and service won the nobel peace prize in 1979 and her legacy knows no boundaries. It was amazing to hear her speak to us in a small room. Even with steps up to the podium her small frame looked dwarfed. Such a powerful women in such a tiny frame. It was remarkable to be in the same room with her.
I knew the gentlemen that orchestrated the Dalai Lama affairs and I was invited to meet him while he was here for a visit in Berkeley. I couldn’t believe I was standing in front of him talking with him at a gathering just like you would and other being. It was surreal. I had studied his life and listened to his teachings and know I was standing and chatting with him. Another great memory.
She is the current spiritual head of the Siddha Yoga path. Informally known as Gurumayi (the word translates to “immersed in the Guru”). Gurumayi came to San Rafael and was received by a very large gathering. This was my first exposure to a women guru. As the siddha took place I walked up to be blessed by Gurumayi carrying roses from my garden. As soon as she saw me she asked about the roses. When she found out they were from my garden she invited me to sit right next to her. They were peace roses and very large and beautifully fragrant. Again another surreal experience. I started to visit the ashram and on one occasion found myself taking a personal stroll with Gurumayi. She has such an amazing essence, it is a thrill to be in her presence.
Vasant Dattatray Lad is an American author, Ayurvedic physician, professor and director of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is considered one of the foremost experts on the subject in the United States. I studied the Ayurvedic Certification Program with Dr.Lad. I found the principles and practical applications profoundly useful while raising my son and incorporated the learning into my lifestyle.
Gabriel practices and teaches holistic medicine. He was my personal physician, counselor and teacher. I became a Reiki Master under his guidance. I also became more interested in live foods as a life therapy, and considered joining the “Essene Order Of Light”, a modern version of the Essenes. After much contemplation I took vows with the Benedictines as I felt they were more moderate.
I also took many workshops that guided me along my path. Some of them include; Life Training, Concept Therapy, Watsu, Ikebana, Aromatherapy, Human Design, Gene Keys. And then you have all the authors of our time like; Andrew Weil, Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, M. Scott Peck, Don Miguel Ruiz’s ‘Four Agreements, etc. It is impossible to name one teacher. It’s endless all the ways I have been guided along.
I can’t even remember them all. I thank each and every one whether I remember your name or not…Thank you for touching my life in profound and gentle ways.
In the 80’s I became a spiritual director myself and have been enriched with the people I have guided along the path. Spiritual direction is offered one on one.
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