Selecting a Teacher
There are so many teachers in the world and so many theories about life.
When selecting a teacher, ask yourself…
Is my teacher a well-balanced person? Is she or he happy?
Does my teacher reflect and demonstrate the quality of life I desire?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, move on in your journey.
Otherwise you may become one of the blind, led by the blind.
Sydney Banks, from The Missing Link
You can exchange the word teacher with other words, such as guide, coach, leader, boss, spiritual guide, enabler. The word doesn’t really matter anyway, but oh, how these words ring true for me.
I remember Lama Kathy Wesley stating in one of my favorite podcasts how important she felt it to be to look at the elders of any tradition of faith that you found interesting. By their appearance, health, harmony, you know, whether or not to venture forth into that tradition or not. In a nutshell, she’s stating exactly the same thing as Syd Banks is pointing to.
And at the same time, well-balanced doesn’t mean a person who is ”perfect”, and never gets out of whack. On the contrary, I would say. I do not require my teacher, coach, guide (yeah, you get it! That whatever-word you place here!) to be ”a perfect human being”, in the meaning that they do not live the human experience.
Because that’s part of the trick for me – living life, experiencing all the up’s and down’s of human experience, and doing it with grace, with balance (that is, returning to balance when off-centered for a moment or two), and a lot of love, laughter and light. Tears commingle with laughter, grief with ecstatic joy, boredom with the feeling of flow where time seemingly disappears. All of that is part of the human experience, but how I live into it, or perhaps, how I live out of it, is what tells a well-balanced person apart for me.
Writing this, I just had an insight.
This quote isn’t only about looking for external teachers. It’s also a great reminder to myself, on my ability to be my own guide and enabler.
When I am well-balanced, happy, reflecting and demonstrating the qualities of life that I desire – then I am a good teacher for myself.
And when I am the opposite (off-centered, miserable, definitely not demonstrating the qualities of life I desire, but rather the opposite), it serves me well to remember to take myself a lot less seriously, as it’s as if I am one of the blind, leading myself. And boy does it hurt when I stumble into all sorts of obstacles along the way, attempting to lead my blind self. In situations like that, the best thing I can do is to pause, to stop in my tracks, and wait for vision to return. Go about my day, doing the routine things that I can do blind-folded, staying clear of making radical decisions, and not expecting too much of myself either. It’s not always easy though.
So am I the only one dumb enough to try to lead myself even when I am in no shape to lead?