There are a lot of teachers out there that get one thing, and poof, they're off to the races. I can read, or listen to some, and yet, whatever it is, they don't have it. Many don't speak to me. Many don't have it for me. And some are dangerous. Not dangerous in a good way.
Speaking mildly, there are a lot of teachers out there that are full of crap. They had some experience, their ego grabbed it, they crowned themselves and set up shop. They can't see their ignorance, and neither can the naive student. Caveat Emptor!
Getting one thing doesn't make one enlightened. It's a little more subtle than that. I've said before, a couple whami satoris doesn't cut it. A bird with one wing can sit on a stool, but he can't fly.
A true teacher will have authority, but it will be tempered with humility. Look for a light heart. If they don't laugh, if they don't have a sense of humor, run for the hills!
I've woken up at night from a bad nightmare, but I've never been awake in a dream. In daylight, I'm pretty awake, and crap looks like crap. I avoid it.
There seem to be two major groups of Advaita, one group says you don't exist, the other group says you do. One group insists that you are nothing, have no freedom, and no choice. The other says we do exist and have the responsibility of growth.
One group tends to sees things rather simply, the other group seems more nuanced. The later group accepts that people do exist, that enlightened teachers exist, that there is Karma, and there is some freedom within Karma. There are teachers in both groups that ring true.
If all is one, it can be easily said that the individual does not exist, is nothing, a fleeting image at best. Being nothing, free from responsibility, appears to be quite liberating. This group celebrates no individual, no meaning, no purpose, no goal. Yet, can you trust a teacher who has no meaning, no responsibility, no goal? If neither he nor you exist, why bother?
In the day to day lives we lead, in this appearance, freedom has never been separated from responsibility. Is it different than above? Is "As above, so below," a myth? Go ahead, try being free without responsibility in this appearance. It won't last long.
Both groups can agree on oneness, unity, and eternity. It is the individual which poses the difference. Is the individual real or not? Does the individual have one appearance and merge into the One at death? Or does the individual have many lives, and limited choice due to Karma, and join the One as a soul after death?
If you read the stories and books on the near death experience, it becomes pretty clear that consciousness as an individual can and does exist outside the body.
My own brother, fell from a bridge one winter day, hit the river, broke through the ice and sank. He tells how he floated up the river bank looking at his body under the water. He began yelling at it, "If you don't move, you're dead."
He could see all around. He watched his buddies get out of the pickup truck, scramble down the bank, reach under the ice and pull his body out by the hair. When they dragged him back into the truck, suddenly he was back in the body, cold and shivering.
My voice mail from him said, "I drowned, but I'm alive." He was so amazed! I also work with a guy who was in a near fatal car wreck. He was revived in the emergency room. He too can speak about being out of the body, conscious, as an individual.
Of course, those without the experience, or without an open mind, can dismiss these as hallucinations. To dismiss these accounts they will use whatever suites them. This does not however prove NDE's invalid. Studies show that an out of the body experience does not change the person very much, but an NDE does.
I marvel at the complexity of life -- the creativity and outrageousness of it. So, although the simple answer is easier to grasp, the outrageous that rings true, seems more like what I see around me.
Since I appear to be here, and sense that I am is here, I don't deny it. Will I merge with the One after this life, or after many lives? Is there a progression of lives, and Karma to be dealt with, or not? The end result is the same. Eternity reigns. The One is.
Is this appearance as an individual a lie? Can I discount it with impunity? I admit I didn't create myself personally as an individual, so I must be part of a larger whole. A part, expressing a part of the whole, is still not separate.
Are their levels of consciousness? Levels of enlightenment? Can a teacher, like the rest of us get stuck on one idea? Are some teachers more open after awakening than others? Does growth stop in the teacher?
All of this today is to keep things clear. No one has all the answers. No one has the one answer pinned down. It is still up to the individual to determine what resonates. The truth will set you free, but only if you experience subjectively.