The "I" behind all of this is Shawn Nevins. I've spent the last twenty years becoming a seeker and finder. Because of that, I am in a position to offer my thoughts on teachers I encounter. To those who find some affinity with my writing (and therefore my being), my thoughts will be of use. Those who do not will go on their way. I have no interest in convincing them of anything.
Besides these occasional reviews of spiritual teachers and media, much of my creative life revolves around Poetry in Motion Films, where we produce "Documentaries for the Soul." I also write on the spiritual path. My essays appear in the TAT Forum monthly magazine, and in the book Beyond Mind, Beyond Death. Poetry, as well, came to me as a result of listening, and translating the silence. Some of my early work appears at Poetry Chaikhana, which has an amazing collection of spiritual poetry from all over the world. Images of Essence is a full-color, hardbound book of my poetry matched with photographs by Bob Fergeson. It is also available on iTunes for only $1.99. It was great fun to work on and is a darn good book. "Let the stillness without reveal the stillness within," it says in the foreword and the entire book drives towards that home. Many of my other poems, all with a spiritual bent, have been published in the previously mentioned TAT Forum — a free, online magazine to which any serious truth seeker should subscribe.
I started once-a-month self-inquiry meetings at our house late last year — San Francisco East Bay. Sometimes there is a prepared topic, sometimes there's a burning question, sometimes the air itself is afire, and sometimes it's just good to see friends on the path. Whatever happens, every month reminds me of the gift of meeting others face to face and finding common ground. If you are interested in attending, send me an . I would also love to get a self inquiry group started on the UC Berkeley campus.
A few have written me criticizing the idea of rating spiritual teachers. Generally, they argue: I am in no position to judge "enlightened" people, that I am doing irreparable harm to seekers who discover that I gave their teacher a low ranking, or I can't possibly have devoted sufficient time to studying their (low-ranking) teacher.
Addressing each point in turn: If I didn't think I had a useful perspective, I wouldn't be writing. I can't tell anyone something they don't want to hear. One person's junk is, truly, another person's treasure.
I welcome correspondence regarding teachers with whom I am unfamiliar. General comments are also appreciated. Please don't waste your time trying to convince me of the error of my ways. If you're a fan of one of my one-star teachers, build a website and tell others about your experience. That's the way to accomplish something.
Finally, this verse from the Tao Te Ching captures the spirit of my perspective on the spiritual marketplace:
Extol the great illusion and the men of the world will gather.
Talk of success, security, happiness
and the multitudes will flock.
Offer music and tasty food,
and travelers will stop in.
Talk of Tao has no flavor.
Look for it — there is nothing to see.
Listen for it — there is nothing to hear.
Merge with it — there is no boundary or end.