I am going to be blunt here. I don't have much use for the traditional notion of the "guru" or "spiritual master" insofar as this means that a person claims to have transcended his or her own human needs and neuroses. What I object to is the idea that a guru "has it all together." I firmly believe that a spiritual master is a person who has the same struggles and issues as everyone else, but who spends ever-decreasing amounts of time wallowing or stuck in those issues because they've found the tools that help them move toward liberation. But the issues still DO come up! Besides, even if a guru were to work through all of their own personal issues, they would still remain so united to the struggles of the WORLD that they would then be continually wrestling with everyone else's struggles FROM WITHIN. This is, of course, the principle of Christ, who is forever shouldering - and working to transform - the suffering of the world inside himself, and of the Bodhisattva, who vows not to enter the final liberation until they are able to help everyone else attain liberation as well.
In connection with this, I also do not believe in the possibility of "enlightenment," at least insofar as it is erroneously viewed as a finished and completed state of perfection or awareness. What I do know is that there IS a progressive enlightenment which innately contains the possibility for ENDLESS deepening. Here I've been deeply influenced by the Eastern Orthodox Tradition (Greek, Syrian, Turkish, Egyptian, Armenian, etc.) that understands perfection as a process of endless growth, even in the next life. This is in fact a major feature of the teaching of St. Gregory of Nyssa, who lived during the fourth century in what is now Turkey. Accordingly, every attainment in the journey toward divine union simply becomes the starting point for reaching out toward the NEXT horizon, and so on - ad infinitum! Here we might imagine that an ordinary person has traveled 1 millimeter on the spiritual journey, while a "master" has gone ten times as far, or 10 millimeters. However, since the journey is endless in length, the difference between these two is actually just a drop in the bucket! :)
Photo: Sunburst, Aspen trees and Pyramid Peak, Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness, CO, September 27, 2015
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I am available for one-on-one spiritual direction / mentoring via phone or Skype. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. The rate is $65 per hour-long session. You might also want to check out my Spiritual Direction with Stephen Hatch Facebook page.
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.