Marketing the Spiritual Teacher

Dr. Charles T. Tart, Mindfulness, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology,

Lecture 4, Part 19 of 19 parts. To start class from beginning, click here.

Student: So what’s the reason why you enlighten people?

CTT: It’s a friendship act. That’s all.

Student: Yes. Why would an enlightened person not say that they were enlightened? Because you keep being humble, and I just wondered.


CTT: Let’s work around that this way. In ordinary situations in life, you like to have influence over people, or power over people. And there are some ways in which you have direct physical power over people, especially if you’re the head of an army, or you can have psychological power over people by controlling who they think you are by the way you project your image.

I would say any reasonably aware person would realize that if they let somebody else think that they’re enlightened or just very spiritually developed, they know that person is going to immediately project all sorts of strong and probably unrealistic expectations on them, and that may well block the learning process. It creates an impression. You’ll be expected to do miracles of one sort or another. You’ll be expecting to understand very deeply, and you’ll be expected to give blessings.


And it just traps you in a role that is very limiting.

Student: Okay.

CTT: But what happens in life has something to do with flexibility. If you want to be of help to other people, you want to keep your options open to find what will work best with them and not be locked into a narrow concept.

Student: But there’s the whole marketing thing.

CTT: I’m impressed with my answer. I never thought of that before.


Student: It is a good answer. It is a good answer. But marketing works too, right? And the thing is that presumably there’s a theory that the universe is trying to become self-aware, and according to that theory, you could say that – arms and legs – that…


that we, you know, why wouldn’t the universe… (inaudible) .

CTT: You see, when you keep some attention in your arms and legs, questions are more grounded.

Student: Yeah.

CTT: They make more sense. Yes, marketing matters. If you think you know some things you’d like to teach to people because it will make them happier, then clearly you need to get their attention in the first place. And so you have to market yourself at a minimum level so that they’ll want to pay some attention to you. Now ideally it will be the aura of sanctity that you project that automatically does the job for you. But if that doesn’t work, you can wear a robe. 😉

Student: Yeah, but maybe not. Maybe people want to be drawn to their normal traditions, you know?

CTT: To some extent that’s true, but it is my belief that as you become more present and mindful, other people detect that on some level. Gurdjieff talked about these three brains: emotional, body-instinctual, and intellectual; but he really said we’re five brained beings. We have a higher emotional brain and a higher intellectual brain and these brains are fully functioning already. If we could tap into them that would feel like enlightened functioning to us, or at least a hell of a lot more enlightened than ordinarily.

We ordinarily pay no attention to the information in these brains. But they can have effects on us. So it could simply very well be that when you go into the presence of someone who’s more awake, some part of you picks that up. You may not know what you’re picking up. You may just get restless or whatnot, but it may attract you and make you want to do more.

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