The following is a selection from an article by Sufi master Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, whose title is “What does it mean to be a teacher”:
Most wayfarers are taken Home through the simple power of love working within them… but sometimes the ego is too strong to surrender and then the disciple needs to be broken. This is a terrible task for the teacher because the disciple is always dear to the teacher: the link of love holds him or her in your heart. But …occasionally instructions are given and this dark work of love begins.
It is a subtle process, hardly ever done with any outer show of anger, although sometimes that is necessary. We all have particular weaknesses within us, places where we are vulnerable and afraid. It is here that the teacher begins to pressure the disciple, usually with an energy of cold detachment that can seem heartless. A comment here, a remark there are often all that is needed; sometimes the disciple is simply seemingly ignored for months. There are many ways to break a human being, and when there is great love between teacher and disciple the pain is particularly potent. My teacher called her sheikh her “beloved executioner,” so often did he appear hard, cold and distant to her.
You have to be trained to do this work. It is one of the most painful things anyone can be asked to do. And it is done with great love, a love that does not allow anything to get in the way on the road towards Truth. You can also only do this work if it has been done to you. It is the dark side of love, and a work that is much misunderstood. Something within the disciple is destroyed, torn out, crushed. They are broken, made empty.
…If the teacher were not completely surrendered he could easily interfere with this process, want to make it easier for the disciple, to help in the work. Then the breaking would not be complete and the pain would be wasted. The knife must be clean and cold, and although there is great love there is also an inhuman quality to this work. I have to put all my own feelings aside, and still it hurts: it tears the fabric of my own heart