Recognising Spiritual Attainment

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    In his first meditation video, Bruce mentions “spiritually advanced elders.”

    I’m curious to know how we might recognise a state of being spiritually advanced, both within ourselves and others. I’m guessing a noticeably high degree of compassion might be part of this, and I wonder what other kinds of qualities, perceptions and experiences this might entail.

    Any thoughts?



    I find compassion a difficult word, but this complex enough for another thread.

    For me, part of recognizing spiritual attainment in other was always just recognizing. Or, as one of my teachers likes to say: “Look at it. No, stop looking, and start looking!” (Sorry, it sounds much better and clearer in German)

    As far as “objective” features are concerned, one sign is consistency of word, deed and being. Does the Person live up to his oder her own standards of moral, ethics and honor?

    Is the person true to his word?
    Can the person plausibly demonstrate claimed insight?
    Is she modest? (But modesty can be false, and a person can also diplay a huge ego and still be modest)

    Being true to ones word is also one of the main keys to spiritual attainment. Lies will never lead to truth.



    Hi Robin,

    what a question :-) I don’t have any answers for you, just ideas and questions :-)

    What do you mean by spiritual?
    Are there any objective tests for spiritual progress?
    Why does any of that matter?
    What do you believe about the nature and purpose of human life?

    In my experience spiritual advancement is often recognized within a framework – Taoist, Buddhist, Christian etc. – and there are plenty of writings/teachers that document things to look out for. So, pick your framework and find your markers…

    If you choose not to adopt any framework then you have the lovely responsibility of working it out as you live, moment to moment.

    But, there’s also that pesky ego aspect of wanting to identify where you are on some ‘imaginary’ scale :-)

    Then there are questions like – is compassion something that lives independently of humans that we work with or is it something generated by humans…

    Anyway, I’ve found that practicing the material the Bruce teaches opens up more subtle realms of perception and communication that enhance my ability to engage with life (human or otherwise).

    Not sure if that says anything but it popped out :-)



    Hi Robin,

    I once asked Bruce a similiar question

    Bruce had invited Lama Wangdor to give a teaching to his students during one of the summer retreats in California. Bruce was talking about Lama Wangdor in really glowing terms and talking about how he had been studying with him for a while. You could tell that he had a deep and genuine respect for his teacher. This left quite an impression on me.

    Bruce was the highest level teacher that I had studied with. If Bruce thought that highly of Lama Wangdor, then this was no ordinary teacher of Buddhism. This was a world class master.

    And yet, there was no way for me to tell. Other students that were more sensitive to energy would talk about how amazing it was to be around him. But to me, he just appeared to be a nice guy in orange robes.

    I asked Bruce “How can I tell if I’m standing in front of a genuine master? As opposed to some nice guy that threw on some orange robes?” If you’re sensitive to energy, you can tell from your own direct perception of what it’s like to be around the person. But what do you do if you are not sensitive enough to do that?

    Bruce said the best thing to do in that case is work by referral. Find the best people that you know and ask them, who are the best teachers that they know.

    I’ve since taken that approach to heart. Whenever I hear Bruce talk highly about a teacher, I make sure to note it. I’ve heard him or his students speak highly of Lama Wangdor, Lama Lena, Garchen Rinpoche, The Dalai Lama, Namkai Norbu and Lingtrul Rinpoche.

    I also continue the pattern. So when I heard Lama Lena say that Lama Tsultrim Allione was the best person in the west to learn Chod practices from, I made a note of that.

    Hope this helps,

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