Sherlock wrote:Can a non-awakened teacher, nevertheless with good intentions and an understanding of the teachings, still give teachings which will benefit the students?
Sure, but such a person should be honest with themselves and their students and even if they give empowerments, should never insist, encourage, or even subtly imply that their students should regard them as "buddhas".
Yes, I've witnessed this several times:
'If you regard me as a Buddha you will receive the blessing of a Buddha, if you regard me as an ordinary being you will only receive the blessings of an ordinary being'.
In other words, if you gain nothing from the empowerment I give you, it's all your fault. It usually goes hand-in-hand with group encouragement to 'impute' the teacher as a Buddha and regard that as the correct 'appearance to mind'.
Those who buy into this may also then be encouraged or required to extend this to regard the teacher as a living Buddha and be wide open to exploitation by the institution touting this guru's wares.
It is hard for an organisation to survive in this cult-like form without the head being sold as a charismatic figure whose very presence should lead to awe and trembling by the faithful - well, OK, enough trembling for the cash to leave their pockets anyway!