The term seeker is only a new-age addition to twentieth century spirituality. Even though there were seekers in the ancient times, they were very different from those of the new-age. Let us examine the qualities of the ancient seekers vis-à-vis the new-age ones for the purpose of discovering the success ratio.
There are three important aspects of seeking: quest, perseverance and humility.
The quest identifies a seeker. Every individual on the face of this planet has been seeking something or another all his life, and all these desires do not come within the purview of seeking. Anything that can be humanly achieved or accomplished, again, would not fall within seeking. Only those ambitions which cannot be accomplished within the human scale makes a person a seeker. Somebody eternally suffering from diabetes, cancer, or similar discomforts may go to any extent to seek cure. But these quests, no matter how strong or everlasting they may be, could not be called seeking. Someone seeking knowledge beyond what all the books in the world can provide can be considered seeking. That includes a scientist engaged in discovering a cure for an unknown disease or extraterrestrial life in the universe.
The quest of the seeker should not be frivolous. Whenever someone does some ‘seeking’ as and when time and opportunity permits would not be called a seeker. Seeking cannot be a part-time activity. No matter how many people of the modern world may choose to disagree with this, the second important aspect of seeking is perseverance. Anyone calling themselves a seeker should honestly contemplate to find out how far they can go seeking, how much of their present comfort they can compromise in order to find their objective. Seeking does not necessarily involve giving up your present state of life and running around like hippies. The perseverance of seeking implies how willing and determined a person is to renounce at the face of an opportunity.
Another aspect of perseverance is sticking to a spiritual practice until it yields benefits. It is often noticed that people are always constantly on a lookout for an ‘easier’ and ‘shortcut’ process to spiritual realization. For the determined, nothing is difficult, and nothing takes too long a time. It is only the fashionable seekers who look for shortcuts and easy ways out. Hundreds of new-age teachers have emerged, primarily because modern-day seekers are interested in easy and shortcut ways. It is important to choose a path on the basis of its correctness rather than its convenience and affordability. In the search of easier processes we often meet a lot of people who have experienced dozens of different kinds of practices. For success in seeking, it is necessary to arrive at the final stage of a practice without being too self-opinionated about its efficacy. If it has worked for the teacher, then it should work for you. In case of any failure in the practice, it is important to let the teacher fix and straighten your practices and point out if there was any mistake. Every teacher must be allowed to teach until the student gets to the state of the teacher. It is not true seeking when one jumps the gun too quickly about a path or a teacher and runs to the next ashram.
The third important aspect of a seeker is the rare quality of humility. Seekers are often very proud of being a seeker. This pride usually comes from the length and weight of the seeker’s resume. Many seekers with honest origin end up with really long resumes and totally forget about their seeking. One often comes across groups or circles where people are busy exchanging views and experiences from the long lists of ashrams, gurus, babas and practices they have encountered. There are several internet forums and chats where people visit to post their opinions about certain practices and their teachers. These people seldom stick to any practice. They are only in the process of acquiring as many bits and pieces of experience from various socio-religious places to add to their pride resume. They continue to travel to various teachers to ‘check them out’. And they are constantly busy ‘evaluating’ the credibility and genuineness of various teachers.
Humility is an important aspect of a seeker because it allows a seeker to be accepted as a student. No spiritual teacher is waiting out there to be evaluated by a prospective student. In fact, it is the seeker who presents himself for evaluation that gets the opportunity to study with the teacher. If the institution is looking for students, then it will surely evaluate the student before accepting. But if the institution is looking for customers, then it would not mind being evaluated. After all, the quest is of the seeker, not of the teacher. So the one who loses a good teacher is the one who is out to ‘check out’ the teacher.
As many modern-day seekers are worried about fake gurus, so real teachers are wary about fake seekers. Since it is the seeker who loses the opportunity, it is advisable to reevaluate one’s own quest, perseverance and humility before seeking guidance.