An awakening takes place. You awaken. It can happen slowly or fast. It can come out of the blue in a flash of inspiration, be of the heart or mind; or develop and unfold piece by piece and bit by bit. You begin to feel and see there is something more than only this world, this life, and this time.
There are even psychological and psychiatric conditions explaining this. It is spoken about in the major religions and mystic teachings. You yearn for what is more. Remembering, far away, that there is something. It draws you. You feel yourself moving toward it. You feel yourself as something greater than just your body. You begin to associate with others who feel similarly - drawn inexplicably together or sought our deliberately. You find books, writings, readings, sayings, all of which motivate more.
Your priorities begin to change. What is important now is not so much being successful or wealthy or accomplished in outer endeavors. Questions of "What am I?", "What does it mean?", "Who am I?", "Where do I fit in?" replace "How can I make more money, or be famous, have fun, or acquire the next thing?" They move toward "What is important?" "What is lasting?", "Is there more?"
Then inklings grow. Experiences happen which lead you to consider more what you are doing. Some may be violent upheavals in your life. Some may be soothing revelations and understandings. You begin to hear about and take more seriously the possibility that others may know about what you are experiencing and can assist you in finding out more. You start to pay attention to outer processes with names like ESP, Psychic, Life-Progression, Tarot, Mysticism, Occultism, Magic, Spiritualism, and a host of psychological and other named arenas.
You eventually discard them as being too shallow or limited. The heart begins to yearn for something Real. The lost avenues and alleys with ends do not suffice. The spiritual path beckons. You commence and continue your seeking. You hear about teachers, paths, processes of enlightenment and realization. It strikes a chord. You want to take part in that. Maybe this holds your answers. You start looking for a teacher, or path, or process, or group to help. You are on the stepping stones which will eventually lead you to your answers; and might possibly lead you to them sooner rather than later. The journey begins now. The journey continues. You seek a Teacher: To Learn.
The problem you face now is how to find the Real Teacher and Teaching; and if you do find it, how to recognize and evaluate it. You can't do this only with the outer senses and criteria; and the other tools at your disposal are either unused, not developed, missing, or covered with filters, needs, and desires.
The problem is compounded by the fact that many, if not most, of the people who put themselves out there as teachers, or who are placed in that position by others in various groups or organizations, ARE NOT. This includes many who are learning to teach, in whole or in part, through groups which resulted from a real inspiration and transmission, but have now degenerated. So what you are faced with can seem like an insurmountable difficulty. How can you find something that is a real Teaching and a person who is a real Teacher without either the tools to evaluate it fully or the ways to determine if a group has deteriorated - when its current function may still be beyond your present development?
The short of it is that you will get what you deserve. That is primarily determined by you, and secondarily, by the teachings and teacher you encounter.
You get what you deserve as a response to your intentions, desires, and needs. As a precursor to real learning, you must have the capacity to do so. This is determined in part by openness to instruction, and in part by an understanding of the signposts of a true Teaching and Teacher, and a clarifying of your wants and desires. It also in part is determined by how much you have satisfied the outer circumstances of living. That is, how well you have adjusted to and are able to handle the day-to-day aspects of life. If these are not in at least some rudimentary balance, they will have to be dealt with first.
That is why - but only one of the reasons why - a person is given rudimentary outer jobs in a living group; and more importantly, and to this case, why a teacher will generally not accept an aspirant until he or she can demonstrate a minimal competence in living in the world. The other side of this is that when you have aspirations for success, advancement, experiences, or other worldly desires that are not satisfied, then they will get in the way of further learning. They will have to be satisfied, let go, or transmuted to proceed. The real Teacher will assist you in that process first before guiding you further. That immediate, outer work essentially then also becomes the highest spiritual work that can be done.