Alexander Berzin has lived in India for 29 years studying under his main teacher, Tsenzhab Serkong Rimpochey, and other Buddhism lamas including His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. In this substantive work, the author tackles one of the most controversial subjects in the spiritual field — the teacher-student and guru-disciple relationship, which in the West has recently been fraught with sexual, financial, and power abuses. Writing from his understanding of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Berzin sheds light on the positive challenges of relating to a spiritual teacher.

For the seeker striving toward liberation and enlightenment, many different types of spiritual teachers are available to help on the path of practice — Buddhism professors, dharma instructors, meditation teachers, spiritual mentors, and tantric masters. They all function as "navigators, escorts, oarsmen, who help propel disciples along the pathways of mind to enlightenment."

Berzin outlines the differences between disciples and therapy clients and then goes on to discuss some of the challenges disciples face, including ethical self-discipline; developing trust, appreciation, and respect; and avoiding over-dependence on others for spiritual energy. The author also lays out some ways that a troubled guru-disciple relationship can be healed. Relating to a Spiritual Teacher presents a cogent and levelheaded overview of a subject that is of interest to more and more seekers given the increasing cross-fertilization of religious traditions.