What is the difference between a layman and an expert? A layman has expectations and opinions, maybe also a few experiences. An expert has no expectations and no opinions. He has knowledge and a vast amount of practical experiences. He knows everything about his topic, at least as much as possible and for sure 100% more than the layman with his 0% of understanding.
Now, this means that it makes sense to ask an expert and to trust him if you have a problem where you are a layman or a beginner. You have opinions. The expert has real answers.
But because we are humans, this approach is too easy. Besides the position of the layman and the expert, there is the pseudo-expert, the ego and quite often the ego is more expert than any real expert.
And this means that the layman often orientates on the opinion, needs and desires of the ego instead on the profound knowledge of the expert. This is a fascinating, psychological phenomenon.
This explains the failure and problems of the layman. The advice or instructions of the expert are ignored, not taken or are modified in a way that they become useless. In the worst case, the layman then blames the expert for his failure which is again a psychological tactic to protect his ego.
In conclusion, this behavior does not work out. The layman is not happy, and the expert is disappointed too. A good and useful cooperation for the future is finished before it can really start.
Now, while this problem with the ego as the pseudo-expert is normal, the spiritual seeker should overcome it as soon as possible. It can be one of the biggest obstacles for real progress. When a spiritual teacher with a bright field of knowledge and experiences offers hints, instructions and specific techniques for making progress, then the student should be open to work with them. Otherwise, he can stay stuck in his situation or problem. And here it is important to understand that the ego as the pseudo-expert is responsible for the problem, for being stuck.
A useful attitude for spiritual students and for laymen in general is to be open for the well-meant advice of an expert and to try things. And if something is not clear or completely understood, then it is very important to ask as long as needed for a real comprehension. So, the layman or student needs to understand the reason for specific recommendations. He also needs to know the effect and why certain techniques will work. It is NOT the blind following of any instructions. It is the right understanding and then the right application of techniques and knowledge with the motivation for progress.
The pseudo-expert which we all love to consult just takes good care that we stay where we are, in our wonderful comfort zone, without any need for changes, where we “know” that any advice against staying in the comfort zone simply cannot work. We prefer our problems, our pains, all the suffering because we know it, we are used to it and because it offers safety while changes come along with uncertainties, with fears, with effort.
This pseudo-expert, the ego, can be called also the weaker self or as we call it in Germany the “pig-dog”. It is the guardian of our comfort zone, the guardian of our present state with all the problems and the good aspects. This guardian must be managed. Otherwise fate will knock at your door and will force you out of your comfort zone when problems get too big.
In the end, - progress is natural. We just have the choice between proactive progress or being forced to progress by fate. A proactive attitude takes effort. The call of fate for progress takes a high amount of effort and comes along with suffering. An increasing level of suffering will force you to progress. So, it is wise to learn your lessons in a proactive way.