A recent statistic about life coaches states: "Aided by low barriers to entering the profession, coaching has grown into an industry of more than 53,000 practitioners worldwide in 2018. In the US alone, its market value exceeds $1 billion."
Nowadays we may all be familiar with the term "life coach" as a person who helps us progress in life, get out of a rut, become financially successful etc. Or perhaps it brings to mind some very loud individuals who motivate others with insults and take large fees for doing so.
The industry of life coaching is growing tremendously because the effects of the present time are that people will suffer more and more the degrading nature (now everyone has the experience of the global pandemic COVID , which has caused great suffering to everyone in some way or other), other living beings in the forms of war and harassments, and their own bides and minds being malnourished and worked half to death. In times of distress we look to guides for answers and help. But we should know what real help is. A life coach is basically a modern term for a guru, which is the Sanskrit name for a spiritual master. In anywhere in the world there is always some suffering. The difference between today and ancient Vedic India is that people approached bona-fide spiritual masters coming in disiplic succession for solving their problems rather than some coach who got some cheap certificate or some "verified" check on their twitter account.
What is a spiritual master? The very term itself is the meaning. When we want to hear from a spiritual master we should be inquisitive about spiritual life. Spiritual life means something different to material life. In material life we are concerned with our body and our mind. We try to make our body healthy and fit by exercise and diet, and we keep our mind engaged and distracted by relationships with the bodies of others, work in the material world, and desires for enjoyment of the senses. So keeping the mind and body healthy is not spiritual life; the soul is beyond the mind and the body.
The soul is who is observing the mind and body. Without the soul in the body, the mind and body no longer works. So the soul is what is important. The soul is the owner of the mind and senses, and simply by taking care of the mind and body is like taking care of a dress. If we neglect the soul body within the dress we will feel dissatisfied and eventually die. Similarly, if we neglect the soul we will not feel satisfied despite all efforts to please our body and mind.
In approaching a guide to solving the problems of life, or a spiritual master, therefore, we can know that he is not a master of the spirit if he equates spiritual life or practice with maintenance of the body and even the mind. We can know he is a cheater if he never speaks about the goal of spiritual life, which is the attainment of devotional service to Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Material life means service to the mind and the body, but spiritual life means service to the spirit. And the supreme spirit is Krishna. By serving Him, who is the absolute whole, of which me, you and everyone and everything is a part and parcel, everyone is served on the spiritual and material platform.
So-called spiritual masters who talk of the body and mind as the emphasis while neglecting Krishna do so in order to generate name, fame and a comfortable material situation. By preaching about maintaining our material situation, such so-called life coaches actually condemn us to waste our life, but nonetheless he misleads himself and others away from Krishna, which is the cause of our suffering in the first place. A real spiritual master is not liked by the general mass because the general mass of people are not ready to accept Krishna.
If one is actually serious to stop the sufferings of the body and mind, he cannot adjust it by material means, or by material friends, or health of the body, or even encouraging words. He can become free from the suffering once he realizes his eternal relationship with Krishna. Having realized this, he no longer has to deal with his temporary body, mind, or rascal cheaters in the forms of bogus spiritual masters.