What are the qualifications necessary to become a spiritual teacher?

—I.S.

A spiritual teacher should have Self-realization, balance, and a knowledge of comparative religions. He should be completely grounded in truth. The greatest spiritual teachers meditate a great deal in order to know the truth in any given situation.

A spiritual teacher should always meditate before teaching. This practice is more valuable than studying books or discussing ideas with others. There is a big difference between fact and truth. In order to transmit truth, one must be inspired by truth.  A true spiritual teacher must have strong faith and try always to keep his mind on God.

To one wishing to become a spiritual teacher I would say this: know the difference between true religion and custom. Separate true religion from religious observances. Always remember the principles for which religion stands.

Use modern methods in your work, but don’t exaggerate. You must advertise, but advertisements and other literature must have attractive power – magnetism.  It is the manager’s fault if the crowd at a class is small. It is the teacher’s fault if attendance continues to decrease. Never use spirituality for commercial gain.

Be prepared to help the two types of people who will attend your classes – those in trouble and those seeking spiritual development.

The best way to persuade people is through your character and actions. Meditate and develop your best qualities. Be agreeable. You cannot transmit truth if you are not sympathetic. Cheerfulness comes from the soul. A spiritual teacher must have a sincere smile. Be natural, loyal, and always keep your word. Your word is your bond.

A spiritual teacher should know the rules of etiquette, but sincerity is more important than manners. Stick to your goal, teach loyalty, do not compete with others, and never allow yourself be controlled by anyone. Never prolong speaking so as to tire your audience, and never become angry with people who criticize you. Talk with them privately if possible, but always stand for the truth.

Only a true disciple will make a good teacher. Believe in, and know well, the things you want to teach. The intuitional teacher is the best. Intuition does not depend on reason. It knows.  Make up your mind that God will inspire you, and He will always send the help you need.

Self-realization should be a teacher’s goal. Such illumination comes through the practice of the principles taught by Paramhansa Yogananda. Meditate at frequent intervals – morning, noon, and night if possible.

From Inner Culture, April 1941.