It could be my arrogance, but instead of studying the works of students, I would choose to pursue their masters. One of my major paradigm shifting points in understanding what could be possible, was when I read "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Paramahansa Yogananda and "Black Elk Speaks" back in early high school. Both individuals spoke from a place of experience, they captivated their audience not only with their spiritual growth, but their flowering. You're not getting second hand teachings with these masters, but witnessing first-hand the footsteps that breath the teachings.
As an example, I've read a little of Deepak Chopra and seen some of his lectures. No doubt he's built a spiritual empire, a power-house that will only keep expanding. He is a phenomenal stepping stone, a catalyst for people to pursue more from their spirituality. But for me, his work has always fell significantly short. You can't go from Nisargadatta Maharaj and have expanded experiences of Self, and then read Deepak Chopra, unless Nisargadatta went over your head. However, Mr. Chopra is a great place to be an entry-point to higher teachings. I carried a personal preference of Mr. Chopra's colleague, Dr. Wayne Dyer, who would not only disclose/cite to other teachings, his teachers, etc., but he would bring us along on his personal spiritual journey to help us reflect on our own lives.
As my own intuitive abilities are expanding and experiences are deepening, there's something more in studying the works of masters. In the Hindu tradition, we would call this Darsana, I presume. Though defined simply as auspicious sight of a deity or holy person, I've come to believe Darsana to be a telepathic exchange of energy, one that noticeably alters consciousness. Nisargadatta's texts are ones that I feel I'm constantly being thrown out of my body, in reading the words of a man whose consciousness has dissolved personal ego for infinity. I've found the same with channeled material, especially the Seth Speaks writings, where The Nature of the Psyche left me consciously feeling funny and having long movie-like dreams though the night. I share similar sentiments with devotional Tantrik Mantras, particular to the Shiva-Shakti (Parvati) dynamic, the divine couple who taught the world meditation and yoga. Such mantras energetically envelope the physical body, causing the practitioner to feel and experience heightened states. Practicing these mantras is like going directly to the original masters, who will continue to guide you on your spiritual journey.
What seeded this post is due to the vast amount of information that is now arising due to the popularity of these subjects. It's great that more and more people are attempting to dive deeper, and many of these new teachers are stepping stones to greater learning, but I feel that many are teaching subjects for which they lack experience. Should the subject be pure logical knowledge based, it's great and more information can be used to create differing perspectives, which I found to be useful in studying differing esoterica. But when it comes to meditation and experiences derived thereof, I'm finding many lack the experience but make up for it by citing to the tradition.
This morning, I watched a youtube video where a western teacher attempted to synthesize meditation with sex. The video was under the banner of a spiritual company I've somewhat kept my eye on, has over 300k views with plenty of positive comments, and had an overall professional appeal as if it were Ted-Talks. In addition, the teacher is elevated with high credentials including "Vedic", having spent numerous years in India. Excitedly, I gave the video a go hoping to find just a few tidbits to broaden my practice. However, the video simply went downhill until it crashed and burned for me.
The teacher immediately began with a statement somewhat stating that it is impossible to stop the mind, where then she somewhat further alluded to the purpose of meditation is not necessarily stopping the mind. Just because she hasn't been able to do it, doesn't mean it can't be done. I should have stopped the video then, but decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. What she then thereafter presented was numerous logical-scientific reasons for meditation, relieving stress, and even gave a quick meditative practice in being mindful to the senses as a way to turn on the sixth sense. In summation, what I saw in this video was a meditation teacher who stated that it's impossible to turn off the monkey-mind, and then given me numerous reasons of why she herself can't successfully do that. If you're engaging the logical-scientific aspects of meditation, and attempting to be mindful to your senses, it's going to be difficult in moving beyond (transcending) the logical-mind and the bodily senses that keep us limited within our egoic expression. It's like when the Dalai Lama was asked about the meaning of Om Mane Padme Hum, where he simply responded with, it's really not about the definition or meaning, it's what arises within you and the shifts that occur from doing the practice.
The teacher did bring up the two schools of meditation in India, one for monks, the other for householders. Though, she didn't present much more than that other than the householder one may be more powerful. I'm not sure if she understood that the householder meditative practice is known as Kriya Yoga, which is what Yogananda and his Self-Realization camp teach. The techniques appear to be similar to Mantak Chia's taoist techniques, from my studies of both Chia's work and Stevens work Kriya Secrets Revealed.
Though my sentiments on this teacher may be harsh, it's something that appears to be arising very rapidly in the western world. I've seen what the western world has dangerously done with the concept of tantra, where many are quick to enjoy heightened sexuality, but without facing their demons/blockages held in their light-body/chakra system. The same appears to be done with meditation, especially if you're doing techniques beyond calming the monkey-mind. Through meditative practices, such as Kriya Yoga, one develops an inner awareness and the ability for inner engineering, so that one may handle the kundalini fire, which clears the way for Higher Self, which is found through transcending the monkey-mind and bodily senses. These teachings are not just found in India, but all throughout the world, though hidden in occult and spiritualist settings. However, a lot of these western meditation teachers do not fully dive in to truly unlock the inner potential that meditation is capable of accomplishing. Again, I'm not trying to be harsh, but there's a lot of information being presented, and to a very large audience, which may be a result of misunderstanding.
India is known for having many teachers. My understanding is that you can probably find one in every corner. It's a blessing in that there are so many individuals willing to dedicate themselves to this practice, to look for truth and experience. However, the problem isn't finding the right teacher, it's more-so, how far are you, as the adept, willing to take this. Many people are complacent with relieving stress so that you can better manage their egoic life, some may even dabble in concept of siddhas to help shift their egoic lives in certain ways. But you attract the teacher based on your intent, relevancy to your blue-print, and your sincerity in seeking. In other words, you don't have to go to India, especially living in the age of information. Even if you do go to India or anywhere else, law of attraction will put you before what you are ready to handle. It's understanding the whole "when the student is ready, the teacher will come" based on the law of attraction. However, it seems many are not attempting to attract Self-Realization as their utmost goal.
In the Sri Tantraloka, Abhinavagupta discloses the search for a proper teacher. Essentially, the teacher must be so elevated, that he must be none other than Lord Shiva himself. For an individual who believes that enlightenment is far away, who is simply attempting to manage their day-to-day egoic life, use these teachers as stepping stones to greater information, when you're ready. Use the law of attraction to put yourself before the teacher/teachings that will take you the highest to reach your own full-potential.
For the sincere seeker in search of the highest, look for Shiva (infinite consciousness). As Abhinavagupta further states, if you can't find such a teacher in human form, conjure his Shakti, the Goddess of Wisdom. Conjuring Shakti through mantras is the path I took, which has brought me before numerous teachers/teachings and dissolved density for heightened awareness, all of which have pushed me further in expansion than I would have dreamed possible.
When it comes to spirituality, it behooves you to only settle for the best based on your resonance. That someone may not necessarily be someone with a large business, ashrams, titles, a large resume, etc., but may be a simple householder like Nisargadatta Maharaj.
Overly educated and continuously exploring and revealing more behind the veil.
"It cannot be too highly emphasized that the mystic swims in the same waters in which the psychotic drowns."
-James Wasserman, The Mystery Traditions