On another forum this question came up. Suppose a teacher appeared and taught some things that were interesting and could be true. You find them stimulating and want to continue learning from him.
Then you find out the guy is a real bad dude. He has lied to you and others many times, has misused people, has an inflated ego, squanders other people’s money etc. In other words, the guy has the faults of a typical cult leader.
The question which arises then is this. Do you throw everything you learned from him out the window? Do you dismiss as untrue everything new that comes out of his mouth?
Suppose he was Hitler himself reincarnated or Satan born in the flesh. Does this mean one should reject everything he says?
One could turn this question around and ask: Suppose you met another teacher of impeccable character and you found out for sure that he had regular visits from divine messengers – or better yet was Christ reincarnated? Are you now to place your powers of discernment on hold and just accept without question everything that comes out of his mouth?
I think most of us know the answers to these questions – at least in theory. In the real world though we humans are fairly lazy and are always looking for the easy way out. If we could just find someone with all the answers then we would no longer have to struggle with right or wrong, truth or error on a personal basis.
There is a great attraction for many to the guy who will do all their thinking for them. It’s a lot like discovering a government program that pays us not to work. Even though one may have reservations about hopping on the bandwagon most would take the freebies and once the free lunch is relied upon the individual will then defend his situation with all his might and will resist doing hard work again.
With our teachers we are like pendulums and swing from one extreme or the other. A teacher is seen by many as being all right or all wrong. For fundamentalists Christians every word in the Bible is true and not to be questioned, but accepted even if it seems to not make sense. Jesus and all the prophets are to be accepted without question. On the other hand, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita or the Book of Mormon is to be rejected out of hand.
Then we witness that the Mormons bypass the filtering process and accept, the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and the current prophet without question but will flat out reject any revelation or prophet not connected to the church.
This black and white attitude is pervasive and remnants still surface even in true seekers trying to rely on the inner voice. When an outer voice comes along that seems to have all the answers the temptation is great to become lazy and quit doing the hard work of discovering and verifying for oneself and to just sit back and accept the other guy without question.
Then we also want a neat littler package of structured beliefs so we can outright dismiss any new doctrine that comes along.
The question then is what is the right approach? Suppose you had a change to interview the Satan himself in a safe environment. How should you approach him? Do you automatically assume everything he tells you is a lie? Is it possible you could learn some new truth?
According to legend he was once an archangel and had access to all the mysteries of God so he probably knows a lot more truth than any mortal and is smart and cunning. We are told he is a liar so you can’t trust anything he tells you but that doesn’t mean there isn’t truth in many things he would say.
They key, of course is to rely on the inner voice and confirmation. If a true seeker listens to this master of deception speak he will register some things as true and some false. If he is able to pick the devil’s brain then he may come up with some interesting pieces of the puzzle of life.
Now, if someone introduces you to a teacher and testifies that he is full of light and truth, what should be your approach in judging the truth of his words?
Verily, it should be the same as if you were talking to the devil himself. Some of what he says will probably be true and other things no so much.
Now merely investigating teachers and attempting to discern the truth of their teachings can be fairly harmless as long as one takes the good and leaves the bad behind.
The problem occurs when the person becomes a follower. If he becomes a supporter and gives his time, labor and money to the teacher then he must make sure he is going the right direction. In this case your leader should be a person of virtue. Giving your support is much more serious than just listening and learning. By giving your support you will now further the goals of the teacher and if his goals further the dark side then your efforts could support an enemy of truth.
The conclusion that the disciple must arrive at is this. Go ahead and listen to all teachers, philosophers and politicians that you find interesting and use your best judgment to assimilate the good and discard the bad.
If you are going to support them, first get inner confirmation to the extent that what you are supporting makes perfect sense to you and you are confident people will benefit from your efforts.
If all would do this, the earth would soon become a paradise.
Copyright 2011 by J J Dewey