A teacher is no more than a student at a later stage of development than the people whom they are teaching. All true teachers of a true art, having put aside their own superficial "bright ideas", emptying themselves to receive the teaching, are then fully supported by what flows internally from their own genuine teachers and their teachers' teachers.
Finding a Teacher
Teachers express their personal understanding of the universal principles, varying their teaching with time to suit the circumstances and people involved. From this each student understands what is taught in their own particular way. When students have studied for 10 years with a good teacher, they will understand what that teacher is trying to express, although it will take at least that time again to make it their own. First look for a teacher who has trained for at least this length of time, or an instructor who is still under the direction of such a teacher. Then consider the lineage or quality of the teaching in which the teacher or instructor has studied, and the teacher's nature or ability to accurately express that teaching. Lastly consider how openly the teacher gives out that teaching. The end result of these factors can be seen in the quality of the students that the teacher has attracted and the atmosphere generated in the classes.
We sigh at those who believe that as all knowledge is inside no guidance is necessary, while we shake our heads when they preach this to others. Those pressing the other extreme, that some teacher or god will do everything for you if you just believe in them, evoke a similar response. The first of these theories is promoted by those who wish to do as they please and the second by authorities looking for power along with students seeking to avoid responsibility. Practical experience does not support the wishful thinking of either of these impractical dreams as a means to individual conscious achievement.
Finding a Student
"It is difficult to find a good teacher", laughed Master Huang, "but it's more difficult to find a good student." What are the qualities of a good student? To wish to learn, whatever the effort required. To understand that true learning involves changing yourself - not just adding new things to an unstable base. To temporarily put aside what was known before - later the useful elements of previous knowledge can be integrated with the new. To understand those around you, rather than criticise. To remain positive towards the teacher - this opens an inner connection through which subtle aspects of the teaching can flow.
As good teachers teach on several levels simultaneously, their teaching seems to grow as fast as your understanding. If you feel they are repeating the same things then you must realise your progress has stopped.
If for some good reason the time comes to leave your teacher, do it as correctly as possible. Be thankful for all the help given in the past. Go with a positive feeling - any negative feeling is completely your own responsibility and will strongly interfere with your future evolution. Maintain a positive memory and speak well of your past teacher. Few true teachers are willing to accept a student who has left their previous teacher in a negative way.
Payment. The price of becoming a genuine teacher of a deep art is decades of training as a genuine student. Those who assume the position of teacher without wishing to pay that price with their own sincere effort, are imposters who mislead their students and waste their inner potential. No person can choose to be a genuine teacher. Only if you follow genuinely can the possibility arise that you may be asked to lead.
Money. A genuine teaching cannot be bought and cannot be sold. True teachers hold it in trust for those who, due to their sincere and intense efforts, are in a position to receive it. Any money paid is simply for the teacher's time and expenses. It is each teachers choice what outer price to charge, though neither excessively high nor foolishly low prices help the students attain balance in their attitude towards the teaching. Usually, genuine senior students who contribute more internally, are asked less externally, while for beginners it is the opposite.
There are not many real teachers around the world, maybe a few dozen past the 4th initiation, many of those hidden away from the public, the majority of them concentrated among the Sufis of the Middle East, the Yogis of India and the Himalayas, and the Sages, both Daoist and Buddhist, of Asia. Those who have passed the 3rd initiation and are progressing towards the 4th, are barely more common. Mouni Maharaj himself noted that there are many fewer sages nowadays in India, than when, as a youth, he began his inner training. If you can find a true sage to train under then you are lucky. Their teachings are remarkably similar, generally beyond religious and sectarian boundaries. Their genuine students number in the tens or hundreds at most. Without any sense of self-importance they realise all power flows through them from above. They know they are young members of the group of all people who have refined themselves in the past, a small part of a large and complex universe with apparently endless numbers of beings.
The rest of the teachers in the world fall into 2 categories. The genuine but unbalanced teachers, and the charlatans. Of the charlatans I can say little. Cunning or delusional, recognizable by their lack of long training under an experienced teacher, cut off from their Deep Mind, they attract students - often in the thousands - like themselves interested in power, prestige, money or sex. The inner cost of such a path is high, the debt being collected on the death of their body.
While understanding something, unbalanced teachers, are either narrowly entrenched in a particular outer teaching or similarly caught by an inflated sense of their own inner state, either or both factors blocking them from further inner progress. Sometimes past the 3rd initiation but with the ego appropriating much of the person's spiritual power for itself, they are held back in a partially developed state. They do much good in the world, helping people rise towards their own level, though they build into their students the same weaknesses they themselves possess. They may encourage the search for psychic experiences and visions. Again they may attract thousands of students, allowing these students to worship them almost as a god. In the extreme they may come to believe they are the greatest teacher of the age and typically prophecise the coming destruction of the world. There is such a range of these people that it is hard to group them as one. Passing the 3rd initiation, the 'conditional enlightenment' spoken of by the Buddha, gives limited access to the 4th energy level and may or may not escape rebirth depending on individual past karma. The difference between a person recently past the 3rd initiation and someone who has been on that level for 20 years can be tremendous. However, someone achieving the 3rd initiation may rest at that point for 20 years, believing they are completely enlightened and never move on. Because of their different work on the Earth, different teachers can have access to widely differing sources of power.