The Importance of Working with a Spiritual Teacher

The following article was written by David Ashworth as part of the Teachings of the Emerald Heart, in which he elucidates why we need seek the guidance of those wiser than ourselves if we wish to grow as human beings.

The Importance of Working with a Spiritual Teacher

For the first in this series of examining the teachings of the Masters and what they mean to us in the present day, we are introducing Rumi.

Jalaluddin al Rumi, 1207 to 1273, was probably born in Balkh, Khorasan, which was a part of the great Persian Empire and now in Afghanistan, but faced by the possibility of a Mongol invasion, his family moved to what is present day Turkey. Rumi was a prolific writer, his works covering deeply impassioned love poems, but also the author of great mystical works, singling him out as one who knows. He was and is considered what some people call enlightened described as a completed human being.

After meeting a wandering holy man named Shams and subsequently losing that friendship when shams was murdered, Rumi entered a phase of such deep trauma that it opened his heart to a point where over 70,000 poems flowed forth.

The important to us of Rumi is that he spoke in plain language, so that the uninitiated could understand. I also seem to have a natural affinity to mix in any circles and also explain things in a way which is understandable and accessible to all, so I’m often told. I believe that Jesus did the same, although it is true that all the great teachings are presented in metaphor, but it is through metaphor that we can relate deeper teachings to the simple aspects of our lives and hence, more easily make progress on the spiritual path.

Upon the path, God sends a messenger when we are ready. As the saying goes, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. This in no way means that the student might consider themselves ready for the lesson which is about to be presented, but for certain, God considers them ready. Sometimes that messenger is human and in the present and sometimes the messenger might be in the written words of one of the teachers who have passed before us. The words of the great teachers are always protected for the students who come later, but of course, as time moves on and we learn to communicate differently, some of those early messages need to be studied and contemplated to gain the full impact of the teaching.

I find that one of the major stumbling blocks on the spiritual path is that the student often fails to reach out and obtain the help and guidance they need in order to maximise the progress of their journey. We are going to begin our journey with Rumi on this very point.

Whoever enters the way without a guide will take a hundred years to travel a 2 day journey!


The words of Rumi above present a huge, but also one of the simplest spiritual lessons and the absolute foundation to understanding how to walk the spiritual path with success. It ties in to one of the Universal Laws which states, You cannot walk the path alone. Anyone who chooses to ignore these very basic principles will attain very little progress on the journey of transformation.

One of our human fallibilities is that we always think we can work it out ourselves, and in truth, sometimes we can. On another level, we often make the journey a lot harder than it needs to be by ignoring the obvious. For example, if you were making a journey in your car to a place not visited previously, you would consult your map, or indeed, Satellite Navigation system. In other words, you would consult the oracle of how to get there. If I said to you, go to Bridgeford and meet me there, would you set off around the world wondering in which country Bridgeford was? Would you wander endlessly hoping that one day you might arrive in the correct location? No, you would consult a map and ask a for a few directions. Well, that is what a spiritual teacher is for. Because they have already made certain headway on the journey, they know how to get to various places on the path. They know the lessons you need to learn in understanding how to access Universal Consciousness and they will know each time you have made a wrong turn. The spiritual path is perhaps the greatest journey which you will ever undertake and unbecomingly to some, we are all on it. Therefore, when that inner calling begins to awaken you and push you in the direction of discovering truth, then only a fool would take to wandering for an eternity looking for Bridgeford.

My King addressed the soul of my flesh: You return just as you left. Where are the traces of my gifts?

From the poem, Be Lost in the Call – Rumi

Here Rumi speaks of taking a journey into a human incarnation and returning to spirit exactly as you left, completely un-evolved.

What Rumi is trying to teach here is that there is always someone higher on the evolutionary ladder than you are, no matter how advanced we might consider ourselves to be. In fact, those who have only just begun to taste the power of transformation, perhaps through healing work initially, are always the ones who are most fooled by their ego. But, that’s fine, that is one of the lessons to understand. Even if we are in the full flow and our powers are revealing miracles to us, difficulty can suddenly enter the frame of life to present a further teaching to us. It is through difficulty that the Universe attempts to show us our next lesson and therefore, it would be wise to obtain the wisdom of a guide. Almost any teacher with a higher vibration than yourself will be able to see exactly where your present limitation lies and therefore help to reveal the next lesson that you are trying to learn.

As we have mentioned, one of the problems the spiritual aspirant suffers from is that the ego often deludes us and allows us to think that we are more evolved than we actually are. Even the very thought that we are evolved is the product of the ego-self. Even the very thought that we might be slightly more advanced than another person, is again the product of the ego-self. However, through our inner knowing and the gradual attainment of our ability, or God’s gifts, as Rumi puts it, we do begin to realise exactly where we are on the path in relation to where we began. There must be a frame of reference in order to drive us forward and that frame of reference is always our present actions compared with our past actions and the tangible knowledge of how we have changed and adapted in order to function with a new, hopefully higher, set of actions.

Each time we go through an evolutionary shift we then begin to perceive at a higher level. Also, each shift naturally brings with it the Inner Knowing that indeed the shift was real. However, the ego-self then naturally thinks that we have found all the answers, which to a point is true, but only at the present level. But our biggest downfall is that as humans, we often think that we know best and we can do it alone, which is a fallacy.

Another highly relevant point to Rumi’s saying at the top of the page is that one of the main reasons that we cannot walk the path alone is that as we evolve and reach ever higher degrees of vision and perception on the ladder of ascension, is that as our consciousness rises we begin to enter into the oneness of the consciousness of all things. Once we begin to enter this hallowed ground, we discover that the separation, which was caused by our ego-self or personality-self, begins to dissolve as we become the real-self by degrees. Eventually, as the final aspects of the ego-self dissolve we lose all connection with separation. We become one with the consciousness that rules all things, Universal Consciousness. As we attain the loss of our separation, our whole consciousness needs to change. We need to dissolve mind. We need to begin to see things differently. We need to adopt completely different criteria for living amongst ordinary people on planet earth, for once your consciousness rises to a certain point, you can no longer understand the common perspective, or rather we should say that you can no longer tolerate the common perspective.

You once had a football manager of England, a ripe and evolving person with different views. As soon as your pack hound journalists got a whiff of this slight difference in his approach, the ripped him to shreds and he was cast out. That is what the tribe mentality of collective consciousness does when it discovers one who is not thinking and acting as they, themselves are. But, as a spiritual aspirant, your path is laid out before you and you will find that before you are cast out, you will have to leave of your own accord, such will be the difference in your widening perspective.

God Works in Mysterious Ways

As we walk the path, God lays out the lessons before us and many of these lessons can be very difficult to see and understand without some guidance. What happens more often than not is that as the lesson is presented, life becomes difficult. If you like, God heaps difficulty upon difficulty on you in order to bring your attention to the fact that there is something needs to change in your life. The difficult situation is the learning opportunity being presented. However, the lesson often defies the understanding of the mind, but it is the mind that most of us use in order to work things out. The truth of the lesson can very often be so far removed from your understanding as a human being that without a Guide or Guidance you might struggle to comprehend it for a great deal of time; many, many years, for example. Hence Rumi’s warning about how far you desire to walk before learning anything.

I, being self-confined, Self did not merit; Then leaving self behind, Did self inherit


The above can be described as ‘an ode to the ego.’ Whenever we feel or express the ‘I’ in our lives, or perhaps feel the pain and injury to our emotions from the work of others, it is merely a reminder that we still have some work to do in order to transcend even further. The emotional pain is only felt within the ego-self and therefore, we must work to move beyond that level of captivity, or as Rumi puts it, ‘self-confined. There is no doubt that the work must be done and the only person who can ever do it is yourself. However, rather than spend a hundred years in working out what to do, pick up the phone and get yourself some guidance from someone you trust and who ‘feels’ just right to you for what you need at that moment.


David Ashworth

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