Undoubtedly, everyone is familiar with Lord Acton's observation that "power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely". Today, I came across this twist on that, spoken or written by the Nobel Laureate novelist, John Steinbeck: "Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts ... perhaps the fear of a loss of power".
Although it may be a case of hair-splitting, I think he's right. After three decades along the spiritual path, it is clear to me that it is virtually impossible for the separative egoic identity to escape fear in some form, and that it is our fear which determines and shapes almost everything we do. If we are afraid of the dark, we get a flashlight, and then our fear shifts to something else, say financial insecurity, so we win a lottery, and then the fear shifts to something else again, say of physical brutality, so we learn karate, and immediately our fear shifts once again to something else, and so on endlessly. Primarily and overridingly (if there is such a word), I suppose it is always at base fear of death. As UG insists, in the end it is always about survival.
And that may be the "litmus test" of a True Teacher. If we come across someone who has no fear whatsoever, that person is Free ... indeed, that person has transcended the separative egoic personality and is no longer "a person" (and of course never ever was, anymore than we are, despite the illusion -- in the words of the wondrous Nisargadatta, "There is no such thing as a person".). Think about it: Whatever other characteristics all the great Teachers may seem to share, one characteristic they all exhibit is a lack of fear.