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Teachers are an extremely vital part of both our personal and professional development.

They guide us through times when we need someone to point us in the right direction.

But one might wonder what characteristics must a teacher have that separates them from the rest. How can you tell a great teacher from a crappy one, and how do you know who is worth listening to?

Today I share some of my best advice for finding a great teacher, and how to make sure you avoid the bad ones.

Here Are The Show Highlights:

  • Is joy and happiness worth chopping your arm off for? (0:45)
  • What is Zen Buddhism and how it can make you happier (9:20)
  • Here’s what to look for in a truly great teacher (15:15)
  • The ‘long-haul’ approach for trying to fix an addiction, and why it very rarely works (16:30)
  • How to stay immune to addiction, depression, and procrastination (20:00)

If you or somebody you know is looking to drop the ‘F’ Bomb of freedom in your life and break free from addiction, depression, anxiety or anything that’s making you feel flat-out stuck, head over to www.liberateaman.com and book a call where we can look at your situation and give you the roadmap you’ve been missing.

Read Full Transcript

It's time to rip the cover off what really works to ditch addiction, depression, anger, anxiety, and all other kinds of human suffering. No, not sobriety. We're talking the "F Word" here - Freedom. We'll share, straight from the trenches, what we have learned from leaving our own addictions behind, and coaching hundreds of others to do the same, and since it's such a heavy topic, we might as well have a good time while we're at it.

Bob: Nearly 1500 years ago, a broad-chested, tall, bearded, wild-eyed, black-skinned, Indian monk set foot inside of the small forested mountain valley, Song mountains in China about a, you know, a short ride from Luoyang. There, he went up and climbed the hill on Mount Song up into a cave and sat there, gazing at the wall, staring. [0:01:01.0]

This was the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism. He was a student of Prajnatara, had come possibly from the Southern regions of India and he had made his way all the way into China to share something that he had experienced in his life, a profound transformation, an ability to see life as it was and to find what people would call nirvana and enlightenment and everything else. His approach was rather different than most of them. Rather than sitting there and having people memorize sutras and recite sutras and do all of these different works and what not that was typical with Buddhism, he was fond of directly pointing to the truth, just straight at it and having people experience their true individual nature. As a traveling teacher, he had wandered all through China. He had met with the emperor and maybe we'll talk about that experience at another time. But he made his way into this small mountain valley where a certain monastery sat - small, red monastery that I visited at and actually performed some martial arts demonstrations at some time ago, back in 2011. [0:02:02.5]

I went and climbed that hill, all the way up and it was probably my favorite place. It wasn’t all the way up to the top. It was maybe 3/4 of the way up to the top. There was a small little inlet and a small little temple cave, a place where this man by the name of Bodhidharma sat, gazing at the wall. Now some legends say that his gaze was so fierce that there were holes bored into the wall and it's really difficult to separate this man's life from the fiction and the legends associated with it - what's fact and what's fiction. But I want to tell you about his disciples. Here was a man who had something so precious to give to the world and he wanted to pass it on, and as he was searching for people to teach, he made his way up to this monastery and he was sitting in deep meditation for nine years. Does that mean that he never got out of it for nine years? We don’t know. But the assumption is that well, he probably got up to poop and pee and he probably got up to go and maybe eat some rice or eat a few things here and there. [0:03:01.1]

We don’t know exactly what his goings about were there at the monastery. But as he's sitting there, there are monks that come up from the temple. Now it's very traditional for them to climb up the staircases up there, to run to the top, to catch water from the stream, to do a lot of, to collect herbs and what not, and they found out his secret retreat. They noticed something about this man that was sitting there. A certain energy, a certain vibe, a certain atmosphere that was around him and they noticed it from time to time, as they moved back, day after day, week after week, collecting their stuff. A couple of people started becoming interested in what does this man have to teach, like is there something he can teach? Obviously, he's some great master of meditation or nobody could sit like this. And finally, there was a student, a young acolyte there at the monastery by the name of Dazu Huikě and he got so interested in what Bodhidharma was doing that he started to just haunt the cave and would hang out outside of it, during the snow, during the summer time. It didn't matter. He was sitting there waiting for a chance to ask for some teaching, some something because he could tell… there was something in this man, something he had, some level of freedom that this man was experiencing, some level of joy, that Huikě didn't have and he wanted it. [0:04:16.7]

There was a thirst that arose in him just from what he felt in the presence of this great master from India. So he would sit there outside the cave for a long time. This happened a lot in China. You know, there are stories about this and in Japan of students who would sit outside the monastery until they were let in as a test of their character. So it's not unheard of. He sat there for a time. Anytime Bodhidharma came out of the cave or went back into the cave, he simply ignored him. Huikě would beg and plead, beg and plead, "Please, master, teach me. Will you teach me some of what you are doing? I want what you have." And Bodhidharma said nothing. Then finally, after some period, a long period of time, he managed to stop him in the middle of his tracks and he said, "Please, please, master." He didn't even know his name. "Teach me." Bodhidharma looks at him up and down. It's winter time. [0:05:03.3]

He's looking out across the valley. He is seeing the snow on everything. He looks out across the valley, looks back at him and says, "When it snows red, I will teach you." Now, any - you or I - might have freaked out at this. This is like saying, well when pigs fly, I will teach you. But he, immediately understanding, looked around him, grabbed a rusted sword, and chopped off his own arm. He passed out from loss of blood and after the wound was cauterized and healed and after like he had come to his senses, he started, you know, working with the master to learn. Obviously, he was in a little bit of pain for awhile, and then one day, he comes in, troubled to Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma looks at him and he says what's the matter. Huikě says, I'm trying to pacify my mind to find peace, but every time I try to do it, every time I try to shut off my mind and get past all of these thoughts that are going on, I can't. Bodhidharma looks at him and he says, okay - well bring out your mind and I will pacify it for you. [0:06:01.5]

And at that moment, something clicked in Huikě's mind and he recognized the truth of what was really going on and all of his pain, all of his misery dropped from him at that moment and he became enlightened. Now, some people hearing this story, it's cryptic for sure, and I want to explore this with you today as we talk about the one-armed man and crappy teachers because it's too often that we miss powerful opportunities because of what is embedded inside of a story like this.

So let's go back and look at this. There's a lot of people actually that bag on Bodhidharma and get on his case and say he was a really crappy teacher. What kind of teacher would not only ignore his student and like make them have to prove themselves instead of answering their questions when they're ready to learn but also demand that they chop off their arm and do all kinds of other things like that and sit there and struggle and have to go through the rest of their life with one arm just to get in there. In fact, Bodhidharma, he only had like… he had a bunch of disciples, a bunch of students but of all of them, there were only two that ever attained to enlightenment that we can find in the historical record and one of them never taught anybody. [0:07:10.7]

The other one was ____. What kind of teacher is this? He's a horrible, miserable teacher who had vile methods and obviously people didn't attain very well, just because of the way he approached them. Now that's one viewpoint, and it's a very valid viewpoint. Anybody who is asking you to do something that's mildly uncomfortable, that's going to demand that you give up something from yourself, you'll have the similar response and nowadays, teachers don’t you ask for you to chop off your arm and leg, but sometimes it feels like it when they're asking you to pay money for their services and to invest in them because nowadays, it's not food and water and life and limb that is our god - it's money that is our god. Maybe we can talk about that at another time, but what's going to be critical here is to understand this is a viewpoint, a very common reaction to any teacher who is going to demand that you do something above and beyond, demand that do something that even seems crazy, even though Bodhidharma didn't demand that Huikě chop off his arm. He only said when it snows red. Huikě interpreted the rest. That's one camp. [0:08:08.2]

But let's look at the other side. What would have happened if Bodhidharma hadn’t done that? What would have been the gift? Could Huikě have sat in meditation for 20 years and never have gotten anywhere? There are a great many students on the planet who are seeking the same kind of thing that Bodhidharma is asking - that he lift this level of enlightenment and joy and peace that was with him every waking moment and they sit in meditation and they learn all the sutras and they do all the right hand movements and they sit there and they chant or in other religions they pray and they do all kinds of other things and they spend decades of their life doing it and they're no closer to the goal than they were at the beginning. They just had a lot of powerful experiences. What kind of teacher is it that would allow you to spend decades of your life having powerful experiences but never really going anywhere? This is where we find Bodhidharma, a teacher who refuses to allow a student to spend any more time than is necessary in suffering, and it seems like he caused more suffering, but within a very short amount of time, a student of his achieved the kind of joy and ecstasy and delight in life that Bodhidharma had and was able to carry that with him the rest of his life and because of Huikě, we have today what is known as Zen Buddhism. [0:09:27.5]

You see, Bodhidharma came from India, just regular Buddhism, and as he was teaching, he got to China and they couldn’t pronounce the word for meditation, which is dhyaan, so they used, they used the word chung. Well, when chung went over to Japan, they called in Zen, and Zen Buddhism today is one of the traditions that has produced more people who have experienced some of this incredible equanimity within and who have touched these places of extreme joy and ecstasy than many, many other traditions in the world because the rigor and way with which it is passed on. [0:10:01.0 ]

All of that is because we had one teacher who was unwilling to compromise on his own students' happiness. Unwilling to take him on as a student for 20 years and received payment and homage and all kinds of other things from this student for 20 years, just because he wanted the student's happiness. He didn't want the student's devotion. Bodhidharma was complete within himself. He needed nothing. So all he was giving was for this student's devotion and in order to do that, he demanded something exceptionally, exceptionally powerful and what some people would not be able to give.

Let's go over now to a story from the Bible, where Jesus is wandering around and he has something that people want, obviously. I mean like, he's healing people. He's preaching things that are like definitely different than the established religious authority, and people are coming to him all over the place. Most of them don’t want what he really has to offer. Most of them just want to be healed. They want to feel good. They want this hope of a Messiah, but they don’t actually want what he has to offer. [0:11:04.5]

If you, or someone you know, is looking to drop the F Bomb of Freedom in your life, whether that's from addiction or depression and anxiety or just anything that's making you feel flat out stuck, but you have no clue how to shake it and just want help doing it, head on over to LiberateaMan.com and book a call, where we can look at your unique situation and give you the roadmap you've been missing.

Bob: So for the people who he wanted to follow him, what did he demand of them? To Peter and James and John, it was to leave their fishing industry. They literally had to give up their jobs, their livelihood to go be with this homeless preacher, who by his own recollection had no home, in order to learn from him, be with him and help him preach and help him spread the Word. While they were in the middle of that, there was a young rich man who came to Jesus and we may talk about this story in a different vein another time, but I think this is a good place to do it. [0:12:06.6]

It was a young rich man who came to Jesus and he said, Look, look - I've been doing everything. He had been doing what most teachers want to give. Like, here's all the commandments, here's everything. Do this. He's like what is missing from me to attain this kingdom of Heaven? You can call that since Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is within you, you can call that maybe nirvana or enlightenment or what these other traditions are calling it. In that moment, Jesus looked at him. He said, just keep the commandments. Right? In that moment, he wasn’t a disciple. He hadn’t been following him. So he gave him the simple route, which is just go keep the commandments. The kid didn't give up at that. He persisted. He was like, I have been doing that my whole life. Jesus looks him over again, this time with much deeper perception and he loves the kid, loves him more because of the amount of devotion this kid has and he looks at him and he says, Okay, cool - well then, go sell everything that you have, give it to the poor and then take up your cross and follow me. At that, the young man turned around, sorrowfully and went away because the price was too big. [0:13:06.2 ]

He had great wealth and obviously the wealth was more important to him than the enlightenment. So this was a kid, a student who would rather have gone the long, slow route than the quicker route. Now that doesn’t mean that kid didn't turn around later and do something like that. We don’t know. We don’t follow his story. All we have is the story of a teacher, who on the outset might look a lot like Bodhidharma, someone who is demanding that they give all their life savings… like if Jesus showed up in your life right now and demanded everything in your bank account, how would you respond? Would you be like, why - what are you going to do with it - why do you need that - I got to pay for my family - I got to do all this other stuff. No. You're not supposed to charge money for what you do and your services. Like you're supposed to give me salvation for free, Jesus. If you're taking my money for this, like then you obviously can't be the real deal. How would you respond if Jesus showed up and demanded everything in your bank account because that's what he did to the young rich man. He said if you really want to attain, you got to give it all. You got to go sell it. [0:14:01.3]

No, he could have just said, sell it and give me all the money and Jesus could have given it to the poor. But he didn't. He wanted the guy to sell it and then use the money and given it to the poor. Like it doesn’t matter how Jesus would have used the money. The demand was that the man finally sever his attachment to the things that were making him prosperous. In Huikě case, he literally severed his attachment to his arm. In the young rich man's case, it was his wealth and he couldn’t do it in that case. Jesus sounds like this stern teacher, in some ways because he's demanding such a great thing from Peter and James and John, the fishing industry, from Matthew, left - I don’t know if he left being a tax payer or not. I don’t really recall inside the story. People left everything to follow him and he demanded it. Why? Because what could they achieve in such a short amount of time? What was Peter able to achieve? So it looks like a crappy teacher - someone who is demanding it - ohh they're in it for the money. Oh, they're in it for the prestige. Oh, they only think about themselves, but maybe, just maybe, they know what they're doing and maybe, just maybe the one-armed man, not the six fingered man, the one-armed man had the right approach. [0:15:05.9]

That without thought, without concern, upon seeing what was needed, he gave everything to just go and get it. I'm not talking about being scammed here, though, by a teacher. How do you know who's going to be able to help you? How do you know who's going to be able to help you get out of addiction? How do you know who's going to be able to help you get out of debt? How do you know who's going to be able to help you date better? How do you know who's going to be able to help you in your relationships? How are you going to know who's going to be able to help you in a career? These are things that you got to figure out. How did Huikě know? He went to the cave and hung out by the dude. He felt his presence. He listened to his breathing, probably, but with Jesus, the guy probably listened to his words and he gathered information about this - not from other sources, though. Not from what other people were saying, but from his own experience. Let me listen to the guy and feel what it's doing within me and to heck with what anybody else says. I guarantee every other monk in that monastery would have thought Huikě was nutso, crazy, insane for cutting off his arm like that. But is it a bad teacher who demands that much? To be able to give to a student in a short period of time, everything the student wants as opposed to sticking him through some things that over a long period of time won't ever actually get him all the way there? [0:16:17.8]

Now, I'm going to draw a parallel inside the addiction industry because I know this industry well. Use whatever parallel works in your industry. For me and my team at the Freedom Specialists, what we're doing is trying to give people freedom from addiction, from all of it - from the urges, the temptation and everything so that it doesn’t have power over them. The thought comes - it's just a thought and it doesn’t do anything to them, as quick as humanly possible. Ten to twelve weeks is usually about how much time it takes us. I have done it in far less time, far less time for people, but those are unique cases. But we're trying to give it to them as quickly as possible, the results. Right. And so in our attempts to do that, we're putting people through some experiences. They're not like cutting off arms and stuff, thankfully. Right? But we're putting people through some experiences that actually help them drop all the stuff from the past as quickly as possible. [0:17:02.1 ]

We're teaching them skills that will enable them to be immune to it and all the other stuff and everything I built is because I wanted to be free as fast as possible, and I was willing to do whatever it took. In my case, whatever it took meant following the intuition and the ideas that came after spending 5 years and $50,000 plus on my own journey, just trying to figure out how to be free of this stuff. And I had zero answers. I had a bunch of cool tools and big great experiences, but zero answers. So my give everything was okay, fine - I'm desperate enough. I don’t want to live like this anymore. What's next? Nobody had an answer, so I had to follow my own, and some of them were not good ideas, but I gave everything I had. I've almost lost my wife in the process. Okay? For Huikě, he was obviously giving his arm. We're having people… it's not that … but they got to give everything they can so that they can dump all this stuff. Right? Now, contrast that with a lot of other programs you might see out there that say you're going to be doing this for life. For instance, in 12-step programs, and I'm not saying those are bad. There are 8% on average of people that get powerful, powerful results from it. [0:18:01.0]

The other 92% probably just don’t align with some of the things that are in there or all of them and so because of that, the results are just not as powerful because you have to know, you have to go and feel - is this right for me, but their mentality is hey look, you know, you're broken. You've messed things up. You need a power greater than you to help you fix it. I'm not saying any of these things are false or not true or anything like that. This is just what they're saying. And you're always going to be an addict. You're always going to need to go to meetings. You're always going to need help for the rest of your life. That's the long-term approach to freedom from addiction and they don’t call it freedom. They call it sobriety, which is very different in my book. Inside of a counseling circle, what you're going to get are they're trained to believe that addiction is non-curable. It's a mental disease, that it's not … there's no way to get past it. You can manage it even into like non existence of behavior. You can cope with it but you'll be dealing with it your whole life. And so their long-term goal is getting you to the point where you can manage and cope, overall, and hopefully, if you get free, that's amazing, but you know, that's amazing. Right? [0:19:01.0]

That's a longer term goal, and inside of that longer term goal, you're going to be doing things each week - going to therapists a lot, and ultimately, that's going to cost a lot more in the long run, but it's a long-term approach - meaning, sit and meditate for 20 years - just keep doing it. Pray to Jesus. Believe in Jesus and eventually it will happen and the people I know… many, many clients have done this for 4 or 5 decades - 50 plus years, trying this approach and it hasn’t worked for them because like it's the long haul. You're just going to do this the rest of your life. They come to us. Within a couple of months, their whole life is turned around because our approach is very different. What's the approach? It's not as comfortable, for sure, because we're demanding that they look at things and let go of things that they've held on to for a long period of time, that have comforted them in some ways. But the result on the other side is a level of freedom that I would much rather people have. So when people come to me, I often say this to my team - you know, I want to give them what they want in the hopes that one day they want what I want to give them because ultimately, freedom is about something so much more than just leaving behind all of these behaviors that people have or these habits or these emotions that people have. [0:20:13.6]

Freedom is a kind of living that bursts from the inside of you out. It's a kind of joy that just glows. It's a kind of happiness that sits in the background, even if there are events on the surface that might cause grief. There is something else going on in the inside that just makes your life something beautiful. Freedom is that. That is what makes you immune to addiction, depression, procrastination, all the other stuff that people are stuck with.

So today, as we talk about crappy teachers and the one-armed man and as we're wrapping things up, I just want you to consider this - how are you going to know what's going to best for you? How are you going to know a crappy teacher from a good one? Go listen to them. Go hang out outside their cave. Go sit there in the snow and the rain until you feel this person, yes - this person has what I'm looking for, and then do everything you can to get in their path and say, look, I need help, I want this, what do I need to do? [0:21:12.0]

And when they tell you that when it snows red, you can join in, make the snow red so that you can experience what you've been looking for instead of having to sit for 20, 30, 40 more years learning all these meditations and all these practices and things and missing that same number of years of joy and happiness that could come from doing it a different way.

Next time, we're going to talk a little bit about freedom. I think I'm going to talk about the four levels of freedom and just so that we can go deeper into this, it might be a slightly shorter episode so that you can understand the four levels of freedom and we're going to talk about Keanu Reeves fan freedom. So looking forward to it. We will talk soon.

And that's it for today's Alive and Free Podcast. If you enjoyed this show and want some more freedom bombs landing in your ear buds, subscribe right now at wherever you get your podcasts from, and while you're at it, give us a rating and a review. It'll help us keep delivering great stuff to you, and plus, it's just nice to be nice.

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