Here is my answer as to who I would say is qualified. First, I would say to be qualified, someone must have a genuinely open heart and mind, and a natural love and care for other people. Whatever their own condition may be, they need to have a natural curiosity and interest in the well-being of other people.
Second, they need to have enough of a realization of their true nature as limitless that they now know, deep down, this is the truth of who they are, and the truth of who the other is, no matter how much they have or have not stabilized that in other areas of their life. Experience has told me that you are a good facilitator of awakening if you know for sure, beyond an intellectual understanding, that who you are is this limitless consciousness.
The third thing I would say is that somebody is qualified to help you in the embodiment of awakening in any area of life where they are familiar with the territory. They have either passed through the journey of mastery in that area, or they are in the process of doing so enough that they know the obstacles and the triumphs.
I remember going to a conference many years ago. Everybody had gathered together to listen to a celibate nun from India, a young woman who had grown up her whole life in her spiritual tradition and almost without doubt had never even been kissed. A very pregnant woman stood up in the audience and said, “I am eight months pregnant, about to have my baby, and I would like to get some guidance from you on how to raise my child.” I looked at this scene with disbelief. Why on earth would you ask that question of a celibate nun who has never even contemplated what it would be like to have children? It is crazy! She may be gifted at guiding you in esoteric monastic practices, but one area that she has definitely not even begun to explore is family life.
Very often we do this. We ask for guidance about money from monks or religious figures who never deal with money. We ask for advice about relationship from people who do not have relationships. Someone who is qualified to guide you in the embodiment of awakening in any particular area is someone who has some degree of mastery or experience in that particular area. That is why, when we train coaches, we ask them and encourage them to develop an area or a niche.
Excerpt from Arjuna’s book, Better than Sex: The Ecstatic Art of Awakening Coaching
photo credit: http://green-mom.com/topics/home-and-personal-care/a-valentine-for-yourself.html#.Uo8Ajo2E7MU, http://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/4473414070/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/bies/107729240/