When it comes to spirituality, there’s nothing more valuable than experience. Quite often when I run across a promotional piece hyping a speaker who will be delivering a message at a church or temple I just have to laugh because it’s quite obvious the person who will be speaking has very little spiritual practice in their background. They may have tons of ideas and more education than anyone needs, but if they haven’t spent much time engaged in spiritual practice it’s quite obvious. In fact, there’s no amount of slick wording or false certainty that can cover it up. That’s why most of us with a few years under our belt look back on our early days with a bit of embarrassment. We recognize that while we may have had some people fooled – chief among them ourselves – we really didn’t have any business making the definitive proclamations we remember making. In fact, hindsight reveals to us that not only were we arrogant, we were also wrong about much of what we said.
Of course, everybody has to start somewhere and it isn’t realistic to ask someone to wait until they have twenty years of experience to start teaching. This is where mentors are so important – real mentors, not just the ones we pretend to have by aligning ourselves with them while thinking we already know everything we need to know. Mentors not only help us along the path, they can keep us from embarrassing ourselves too much. Sadly, many people today aren’t willing to take the time to be mentored – and it shows. In the end, there is no substitute for experience.