Most of the causes that have destroyed your dignity, your pride, your glory, your splendor are the doings of so-called teachers. There is a subtle egoistic joy in teaching because the moment you teach someone, without saying anything, you have become higher: you know and the other does not know. This has created great trouble for human beings.
So many false teachers go on appearing…perhaps it is the greatest crime in the world to teach things which you have not experienced. But what are your bishops and cardinals and popes, imams and shankaracharyas? – just a long line of false teachers. They don’t know what they are saying. They may be quoting the right scriptures, their words may be coming from right sources, but it is not the sources and not the scriptures – it is the man who speaks that is the ultimate criterion of whether what he says is true or not.
One great master, Naropa, has repeatedly said one thing: “Don’t listen to what I say, listen to me! It does not matter what I say; what matters is what I am.”
A true teacher speaks out of spontaneity, experience, awareness, his own realization. The false teacher is very learned; he knows all the scriptures, he quotes them beautifully and he can easily deceive people. In fact it is very difficult not to be deceived by such a person, because you don’t know how to judge. He is speaking the right words, but his right words are just like a gramophone record. You cannot make a gramophone record your master; what it is saying is absolutely true, but there is no one inside. It is just a dead record.
Your memory is also a dead record. Teachers teach through memory, masters teach through awareness, intelligence; hence it is possible to find inconsistencies and contradictions in masters – in fact, they are bound to be found. This can be used as a criterion: if somebody is continuously consistent, he cannot be a master. He is only repeating things mechanically.
The master has to respond each moment, and each moment is different. The master never answers the question; he always answers the questioner – and the questioners are different. The master is not concerned whether what he says is in tune with the scriptures, tradition, convention, or is against. His whole and sole concern is the real person whom he is encountering…nothing else matters.
But the false teachers have not stopped, and will never stop. It is so easy to be learned; it is so difficult to be wise. Any idiot can be learned; all that he needs is a good memory system, a good biocomputer. But to be an authentic master is a rare flowering, and one has to understand some indications through which he can make a judgment in order to avoid the false and to listen to the authentic.
The first thing is: the false teacher is always repeating somebody else’s words; he has none of his own. All his statements are within quotation marks. The second thing: the false teacher, howsoever articulate, learned, clever, will not be able to practice what he preaches. Look at the man rather than looking at his words, and you will see the disparity.