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 A Rare and Precious Thing: The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Working with a Spiritual Teacher

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Posts : 1617
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 67
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: A Rare and Precious Thing: The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Working with a Spiritual Teacher   Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:22 am

(This book came out in 2006.  John Kain worked at the Buddhist magazine Tricycle.  I had forgotten about this book - and don't think I posted this yet in this reading section.  I was going through some old boxes of books over the weekend and found it.  I probably bought it years ago and never read it, so I can't comment on its point of view, but no doubt there are many useful insights here. -- JB)

A Rare and Precious Thing: The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Working with a Spiritual Teacher by John Kain
(FYI - this book is on sale on Amazon for $.01 - but you have to pay shipping and postage)

According to Kain, the spiritual teacher's duty is to offer new ways of seeing. He acknowledges that this is no easy task, that it requires a "delicate surgery," since both student and teacher, by dint of their complicated relationship with one another, are in vulnerable positions. Power can be dangerous. If misused, it can lead to such tragedies as those of -Jonestown and Waco's Branch Davidians, even to a 9/11. Kain profiles spiritual teachers from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Native American, and Vedanta traditions; with the exception of Joan Chittister, they aren't famous. He explains what to look for in a spiritual teacher, when to be suspicious, and whether a teacher, rather than personal study, is even necessary. He points out that the teacher-student relationship can be life altering, and that "For every teacher who goes astray, there are ten who never waver." Those interested in spirituality, let alone in spiritual teachers, may find this book a useful resource. June Sawyers

“Spiritual guidance can be treacherous—literally a matter of life and death—as we have seen with Jonestown, Heaven’s Gate, and the Branch Davidians. Yet the yearning for spiritual teaching is a constant in human nature and must be answered if we are to be complete. John Kain’s elegant book is a Gray’s Anatomy of the spiritual search. Read it before embarking. It could save you years of wasted time—or your life.” —Larry Dossey, M.D., author of The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things

“It is a gift to be given glimpses into the parallel journeys of these seekers of truth. This book is a fine example of the interspiritual consciousness that is arising today, of a unity that exists at the contemplative level of practice and that offers profound hope for humanity.” —Kabir Helminski, author of Living Presence and The Knowing Heart, teacher, and translator of Rumi

“An extremely worthwhile and timely book that provides an inside perspective of eight well-known teachers and clarifies what to expect of authentic spiritual guides.” —Rabbi David A. Cooper, author of God Is a Verb and Ecstatic Kabbalah

“An excellent, generous book and a much-needed blessing on the varieties of spiritual life. Kain has a genuine feel for the great spiritual quest and enthusiastically immerses you in the many, many ways you can successfully work with a teacher.” —John Tarrant, author of Bring Me the Rhinoceros and Other Zen Koans to Bring You Joy

“Judging from so much publicity about scandals involving spiritual teachers, one might think of the teacher-student relationship as a can of worms. John Kain lets us see it as a basket of herbs—some of them medicinal and bitter, others sweet and fragrant: truly a rare and precious thing. Teachers and students speak for themselves in these pages; no theorizing here. This book is for readers who like to get the facts firsthand and draw their own conclusions.” —Brother David Steindl-Rast, OSB, author of Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer

“Ever since arriving in the New World in bulk four centuries ago Americans have tried to beat their own spiritual paths. John Kain’s fascinating book is a fine guide to the spiritual possibilities of our time.” —Jim Harrison, author of Saving Daylight

John Kain has been associate publisher of Tricycle magazine and his articles on Buddhist teachers and teachings as well as his poetry have appeared in Tricycle, Shambhala Sun, Yoga Journal, and Terra Nova and on Beliefnet.com. This is his first nonfiction book. He lives in Ashland, Oregon.
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