How To Judge A Spiritual Guru or Mentor (video)

Wisdom without levity is a tragedy if you ever meet a quote-unquote spiritually awakened individual with no sense of humor they haven't gone...

Aubrey Marcus; You will know the spiritual master by the sound of his laugh, that is how you will know them. That's how you will recognize them, a big a smile and a laugh. Every great spiritual person I've known has had that. Even if they're flawed, they've touched it, when they can really laugh. That's a sure sign that we are here to have fun, we're here to enjoy ourselves. It's not life or death, life or death is the illusion.

Follow the example set by Masters (Guru's and Mentors)

The mentor-protege relationship is the most efficient and productive form of learning. The right mentors know where to focus your attention and how to challenge you. Their knowledge and experience become yours. They provide immediate and realistic feedback on your work, so you can improve more rapidly. Through an intense person-to-person interaction, you absorb a way of thinking that contains great power and can be adapted to your individual spirit. Choose the mentor who best fits your needs and connects to your Life’s Task. Once you have internalized their knowledge, you must move on and never remain in their shadow. Your goal is always to surpass your mentors in mastery and brilliance.

Keys to Mastery

Understand: all that should concern you in the early stages of your career is acquiring practical knowledge in the most efficient manner possible. For this purpose, during the Apprenticeship Phase, you will need mentors whose authority you recognize and to whom you submit. Your admission of need does not say anything essential about you, but only about your temporary condition of weakness, which your mentor will help you overcome.

Strategies for Deepening the Mentor Dynamic

One repays a teacher badly if one remains only a pupil. –Friedrich Nietzsche

 Choose the mentor according to your needs and inclinations. The mentor you choose should be strategically aligned with this. If your path is in a more revolutionary direction, you will want a mentor who is open, progressive, and not domineering. If your ideal aligns more with a style that is somewhat idiosyncratic, you will want a mentor who will make you feel comfortable with this and help you transform your peculiarities into mastery, instead of trying to squelch them. If you are somewhat confused and ambivalent about your direction, it can be useful to choose someone who can help you gain some clarity about what you want, someone important in the field who might not fit perfectly with your tastes. Sometimes part of what a mentor shows us is something we will want to avoid or actively rebel against. In this latter case, you might initially want to maintain a little more emotional distance than normally recommended, particularly if she is the domineering type. Over time you will see what to absorb and what to reject.

 Gaze deep into the mentor’s mirror

To reach mastery requires some toughness and a constant connection to reality. As an apprentice, it can be hard for us to challenge ourselves on our own in the proper way, and to get a clear sense of our own weakness. The times that we live in making this even harder. Developing discipline through challenging situations and perhaps suffering along the way are no longer values that are promoted in our culture. People are increasingly reluctant to tell each other the truth about themselves–their weaknesses, their inadequacies, flaws in their work. Even the self-help books designed to set us straight tend to be soft and flattering, telling us what we want to hear–that we are basically good and can get what we want by following a few simple steps. It seems abusive or damaging to people’s self-esteem to offer them stern, realistic criticism, to set them tasks that will make them aware of how far they have to go. In fact, this indulgence and fear of hurting people’s feelings are far more abusive in the long run. It makes it hard for people to gauge where they are or to develop self-discipline. It makes them unsuited for the rigors of the journey to mastery. It weakens people’s will.

Masters are those who by nature have suffered to get to where they are. They have experienced endless criticisms of their work, doubts about their progress, setbacks along the way. They know deep in their bones what is required to get to the creative phase and beyond. As mentors, they alone can gauge the extent of our progress, the weaknesses in our character, the ordeals we must go through to advance. In this day and age, you must get the sharpest dose of reality that is possible from your mentor. You must go in search of it and welcome it. If possible, choose a mentor who is known for supplying this form of tough love. If they shy away from giving it, force them to hold up the mirror that will reflect you as you are. Get them to give you the proper challenges that will reveal your strengths and weaknesses and allow you to gain as much feedback as possible, no matter how hard it might be to take. Accustom yourself to criticism. Confidence is important, but if it is not based on a realistic appraisal of who you are, it is mere grandiosity and smugness. Through the realistic feedback from your mentor, you will eventually develop a confidence that is much more substantial and worth possessing.

 Transfigure their ideas

To learn from mentors, we must be open and completely receptive to their ideas. We must fall under their spell. But if we take this too far, we become so marked by their influence that we have no internal space to incubate and develop our own voice, and we spend our lives tied to ideas that are not our own. The solution is subtle: Even as we listen and incorporate the ideas of our mentors, we must slowly cultivate some distance from them. We begin by gently adapting their ideas to our circumstances, altering them to fit our style and inclinations. As we progress we can become bolder, even focusing on faults or weaknesses in some of their ideas. We slowly mold their knowledge into our own shape. As we grow in confidence and contemplate our independence, we can even grow competitive with the mentor we once worshipped. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Poor is the apprentice who does not surpass his Master.”

Create a back-and-forth dynamic

In theory, there should be no limit to what we can learn from mentors who have wide experience. But in practice, this is rarely the case. The reasons are several: at some point, the relationship can become flat; it is difficult for us to maintain the same level of attention that we had in the beginning. We might come to resent their authority a little, especially as we gain in skill and the difference between us becomes somewhat less. Also, they come from a different generation, with a different worldview. At a certain point, some of their cherished principles might seem a bit out of touch or irrelevant, and we unconsciously tune them out. The only solution is to evolve a more interactive dynamic with the mentor. If they can adapt to some of your ideas, the relationship becomes more animated. Feeling a growing openness on their part to your input, you are less resentful. You are revealing to them your own experiences and ideas, perhaps loosening them up so their principles don’t harden into dogma.

Such a style of interaction is more in tune with our democratic times and can serve as something of an ideal. But it should not go along with a rebellious attitude or a lessening in respect. You bring to the relationship the utmost in admiration and your total attention. You are completely open to their instruction. Gaining their respect for how teachable you are, they will fall a bit under your spell. With your intense focus, you improve your skill levels, giving you the power to introduce more of yourself and your needs. You give them feedback on their instruction, perhaps adjust some of their ideas. This must begin with you, as you set the tone for your hunger to learn. Once a back-and-forth dynamic is sparked, the relationship has almost limitless potential for learning and absorbing power.


It is never wise to purposefully do without the benefits of having a mentor in your life. You will waste valuable time in finding and shaping what you need to know. But sometimes you have no choice. There is simply no one around who can fill the role, and you are left to your own devices. In such a case, you must take a virtue of necessity. That was the path taken by perhaps the greatest historical figure to ever attain mastery alone–Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931).

If you are forced onto this path, you must follow Edison’s example by developing extreme self-reliance. Under these circumstances, you become your own teacher and mentor. You push yourself to learn from every possible source. You read more books than those who have a formal education, developing this into a lifelong habit. As much as possible, you try to apply your knowledge in some form of experiment or practice. You find for yourself second-degree mentors in the form of public figures who can serve as role models. Reading and reflecting on their experiences, you can gain some guidance. You try to make their ideas come to life, internalizing their voice. As someone self-taught, you will maintain a pristine vision, completely distilled through your own experiences–giving you a distinctive power and path to mastery.

Source: Mastery By Robert Greene