Gurus and Spiritual Friends

Task: Spiritual teachers of different sorts have long been considered important for meditation practice in South Asia.  Their significance varies, however, in different traditions.  In Buddhist traditions we have seen Thich Nhat Hanh offering basic Theravada teachings and Kathleen McDonald (an ordained nun) presenting Tibetan Mahayana meditations; in the film The Lion’s Roar, we saw the Karmapa, his four spiritual sons (called Rinpoches), and the U.S.-based teacher Chogyam Trungpa.  In Hindu-oriented traditions we have seen Swami Vivekananda, Ramana Maharshi, Kabir and Paltu (see O’Flaherty reading pages 139-142), and Osho/Rajneesh.  Making reference to at least two of these teachers, write an essay that examines some possible roles that teachers can play in contemplative practice.  You might consider questions such as the following: In what ways do the teachers invoke authority from scripture (or not)?   If the teacher is thought to have achieved perfection or enlightenment, to what extent is that perfection or enlightenment important for the role he or she plays for disciples?  How, further, might disciples see their teacher as a being with access to higher realities: does the teacher have some extraordinary cosmic status?  To what extent do any differences among the teachers stem from the teachers’ roles in a particular society at a particular time, the type of practices they offer, and the doctrines of the religious traditions from which they come?

Write about four (and no more than five) double-spaced pages. As always, understanding of the material, depth of insight, and coherence of argument will be crucial to your grade.  And remember: the extended questions in the prompts are merely suggestions to help you start thinking: you are in no way limited by them or obliged to answer any of them.

For those who want to answer this question with reference to Osho/Rajneesh, we are offering a collection of his discourses on meditation as a source

PDF Attached named “Meditation_the_first”

O’Flaherty reading pages 139-142 PDF name is “Hinduism_Dan_Gold