What Does it Mean to be a Spiritual Seeker in Modern Times, in the Internet Age?
Before the world became so technological, if you wanted to receive the teachings of a master you had to travel across the world, by land, to go and knock at the doors of a guru who likely would test your determination by letting you wait days or months at the doorstep.
Once accepted, the student had to serve the guru and revere his guidance as a servant. In return, he received knowledge. How many of these stories have been known for millennia, in the Himalayas and on the banks of the Ganges! That was the price you had to pay, the fair exchange to receive the teachings of a guru.
Now it’s all different. You can access everything with a click and pay with a bank transfer. On the internet, even we Westerners can access some of the ancient knowledge of yoga and tantra without moving from home or receive it in a concentrated way in a few weeks, without so much effort. On the other hand, the “market of spirituality” is so inundated with any kind of information and concentration of disciplines that for those who want to seriously deepen their spiritual research, it’s not so easy to find the right source of knowledge without running into superficial surrogates rather than any authentic kind of yoga or especially tantra.
In the era in which yoga has become only gymnastics and tantra has been transformed into so many things except the original teaching, how do you find your way? How to avoid taking paths that leave you confused and make waste so much time? Even those who hear the call to teach are confronted with the challenges of spirituality of the modalities of modernity. The teacher no longer waits for the students to arrive guided by the law of karma.
If a teacher now wants to fill his or her courses, he must use trendy language, have a website with gorgeous photos, advertise on Facebook, write a book that becomes a bestseller on Amazon, etc… The truth is that a yoga teacher must spend a lot of time in front of the computer (which is not at all yogic) if he or she wants to spread this knowledge. He must adapt to the language of the world. To carry his message, the yogi must leave the cave where he has meditated for so long and force a foot into the “system.” He must practice using the computer, write interesting articles and put on a good face to shoot videos to post. Only then he can attract attention!
The Hidden Job of the Yoga and Tantra Teachers
The “job” of the yoga and tantra teacher has become inflated. What’s more, let’s not forget that while most yoga teachings now are only oriented to the well-being of the physical body, more spiritually oriented teachers must find their place in the same crowd.
So any teacher who feels in her heart that she must bring the more spiritual and esoteric teaching, and that this is what matters the most, must nevertheless jump into the jungle of competition among the millions of teachers who are out there presenting a mainstream, physical version of yoga. It is not easy to maintain a yogic mental state in these conditions. It is very easy to fall back into mental agitation and lose the “detachment” that is so much taught in yoga.
It is also easy to enter into competition patterns with other teachers, because in any case a school must also survive economically in order to have a future and to be sustainable. What we see in the world of yoga teachers in the twentieth century is that those who are successful and attract many students are not the teachers who have such strong spiritual aspiration and capacity to inspire other human beings – a fundamental requirement of a teacher – but those who are economically strong and can invest in marketing and advertising.
This is an invitation for every yoga teacher (including us of course) to remain fully aware of ourselves, to understand how the compromises we make in order to teach in modern times affect our own integrity.