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All Wayist teachers and clergy (in the religious aspect) junior to the highest ranking few, are called Counselor in English language and Shesta in Sanskrip (see pronunciation guide below).
Note the difference in English language between Counselor, one who counsel’s others, acts as a guide and advisor, and a Councilor who is an elected official, represents people on a council or in court. Also note the difference between American and English, Americans dropped one L, from the original Counsellor. Council as in city council; counsel (verb) as in giving advice or guidance.
A tradition that started in the 7th century still prevails, is to add a + behind one’s name to indicate ‘spiritual counselor’. Tradition has it that the + stands for the swastika, some say the sun which signifies Light, therefore spiritual counselor is what is communicated. This, of course, is only valid, and only works with internal communications. One would not communicate one’s job designation within an organization, to outsiders where it carries no meaning. Example, the spiritual name and rank of one of my friends is Priyah+, within Waysim International.
In Sanskrit of the northern areas, the adjective shesta, शिष्ट (śiṣṭá), is pronounced /shest.u/ almost as if saying shEs.tip with a silent p, accent on the e. Or as a Canadian student one taught me, it is like when a drunk person tries to say sister. It is a commonly used word in Sanskrit literature with a variety of meanings that all indicate good character. It also means, disciplined one, taught, directed, ordered, and commanded; as one who was prepared, then sent for a noble reason. Furthermore, the word speaks to character in that Shesta means disciplined, cultured, educated, learned, and wise. As in a learned or well-educated or wise person. It also means eminent and superior, chief and counsellor.
As a noun it is also applied to immaterial objects and concepts, such a good rule or precept.
In Wayism, therefore, Counsellors+ and Shesta+ are more than teacher. Their knowledge of the ins and outs of the Tradition and is assumed but emphasis is on more than that. They were prepared (over lifetimes and now) to be messengers and guides who would walk alongside us, whose presence in society is a boon, who teach by example, persons of good character, conduct and good learning.
A final word on Shesta. The root of the term comes from, what is left over, the residual of something. After burning away ego, turning from base needs, denying oneself what others cherish, what is left over, the residual, is a purity hard to find in society, a core that is close to the Lord, simple, humble, compassionate; stripped of many typical human traits associated with ego.
This does sound like a bit of a tall order, but it is the word of choice, an ideal and code of conduct that we try to live up to. We may be less ego-driven than most people, but we are still human and will err, in other people’s eyes nonetheless. We talk more about this later.
In secular life Acharya can be a last name, an academic degree in religious studies, or an academic title likened to Professor. In certain societies in North India the term was also applied to a senior teacher at secular school.
In the Wayist West, the highest ranking clergy / teachers are called Teacher; Acharya in the east. These individuals are highly qualified, mostly academically, in Wayist Tradition, lore and Scripture.
The task of a Teacher/Acharya is rather different to that of a Counselor+ in that they had to take a step away from enjoying the association of the average Wayist. They live more time in front of computer screens, or nose in a book, than with people. They counsel and groom Counselors+.
Two levels of Acharya/Teachers exist. Those taking care of smaller geographical areas and those above them in rank who care for multi-national or large national areas. To make it easy for us to differentiate who is who, the traditional way is for them to add a + before the name of the most senior, as in +Teacher, and Teacher+. For example, my spiritual name and designation in Wayism International is +Yajn.
The +Acharya / +Teacher designation is bestowed upon teachers who are qualified, and had made a lifelong vow to uphold the purity of the teaching.