Most of the people who read this Pulse of Spirit are not professional teachers or people who go into a classroom every day to teach. But still, as we engage deeply in life, we have something to teach, and what we have to teach is the very essence of life. You might call it a spiritual teaching, though it is not just strictly spiritual. It is a teaching of the most central philosophy of all: the philosophy of life.
I think about teachers that I look up to—and there have been many I have learned from. Some were “official” teachers, and others were just people who instructed and mentored me.
I’ve noticed that the teachers for whom I have the deepest respect have this paradoxical quality. They bring something that is, at the same time new and original, and also familiar. It is spontaneously presented in the moment while being a continuation of what has gone before.
It is magical how that goes with teaching. I suspect, if you think about the teachers that you have admired, they had those two qualities. They were not just making stuff up that was somehow fabricated by them. They were picking up a stream of truth and giving it expression. A true teaching sounds in our consciousness as a truth that rings in our bones.
Of all the teachers I have known directly, or by their recorded words, Lloyd Arthur Meeker was one of the most amazing of all. He was a master teacher who had a profound ability to illuminate the reality of the human experience.
Then I think of the teachings of Jesus. How could someone say something so profound in so few words? One of my favorites is the simple statement, Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. I have never heard anyone else speak that truth so beautifully and concisely.
Then I think of Martin Cecil, who in many ways did not come off as a teacher, and yet he was one in the most profound way. He was conveying something of the how of life from his own experience—how it all works—while teaching the essential who of life, knowing who you are.
The most meaningful teachers are those who speak from their experience, as it always seemed that Martin did. They may dress it up in abstract terms. But the root of their teaching is from their own life experience. I had an instructor, Ray Berry, in graduate school at the University of California, Riverside. He had been the superintendent of schools in Riverside and successfully implemented busing in the 1970s. Unlike my other college professors who had Ph.D.s, Ray spoke from a depth of successful experience, not theory. I was totally tuned in to what he was saying.
I taught second grade for two years, mostly seven- and eight-year-olds. One of the wonders of that experience was to discover that there was a lot I knew that was valuable to them. The art of it was to identify what that was and find a way to share it. That is a huge component of good teaching—identifying what you know that might be of value to other people.
So how about you and me as teachers? If we have spiritually awakened and we are living an aware life, we have a profound teaching to bring. Think about this. How long have you been on a spiritual path? Most of us tend to count those years from some kind of spiritual awakening. It has been a few years for me, I can tell you! So how long has it been for you? Considering those years, do you think you might have something to teach? Do you know something of how life works? And do you know who you are, at least a little bit? I bet you do. And if you do, you have something to teach.
I’m not saying you should be in a classroom in front of students or offering an online course. And even if you were in that kind of context, I’m not saying you can simply attempt to implant your knowledge in another person. There is a great art to helping another person share what you know.
I am saying that whatever the context might possibly be, and however you might do it, there is likely something you know that would be of great value to another person if you could find out what it was and find a way to share. The art of it is to bring something new that does not contradict any truth that went before but that is, nonetheless, fresh and new as it is presented by you in the moment.
A true teaching begins with this question: Who? Who are you? Who is present? Very quickly, the question becomes How? How does a human life manifest creatively? It is nearly impossible to answer the how question without answering the who question because a creative human life is born out of a creative person. And you know yourself as a creative person when you know you are a part of the Creator. If you don’t know yourself as that, it is impossible to close the equation of life.
In the usual human experience, the sense of who a person is tends to be mixed up. All the factors of life get blended together in such a way that the dynamism of the human experience never gets switched on. And then it all turns to mud. If that happens for someone, we might say that they have to sort it out. And what are we sorting out? The creative factors.
In last week’s Pulse of Spirit, “All of Us,” I wrote about the vertical axis of selfhood. Beginning at the lower ranges of this axis, there is personality—and we have all got one. In the usual human experience, the spiritual nature of a person tends to become intermingled with the personality in a way that does not allow the dynamism of the spiritual to act in and through the personality. So, human experience turns to mud and chaos.
In such case, there are powerful creative factors at work, no doubt. If you meet a person having this experience, perhaps you think, Wow, they are just an amazing, creative person! But if the power of the spiritual is blended randomly with the personality, that’s where you get the mud and chaos. Until the factors are sorted out, the creative power of the spiritual never has an opportunity to activate the personality.
Think of it this way: If you have two solid physical forms and you try to bring them together, they bump against each other. They come together and then, at the boundary of one, it hits the boundary of the other. The two objects collide and bounce away from each other.
That is how it is with the lower levels of human experience. The forms of human experience can bounce off each other. Thoughts and feelings collide and rebound. Bodies bump into each other.
So people combat the tendencies of their personality with elements of the personality they are attempting to change. And nothing changes.
The same thing happens between people. Most of us are witness to this every day. There is a lot of bouncing off that goes on inside us—feeling fighting feeling, and thoughts arguing with thoughts.
The same thing happens between people. And why is that? It is because there are outer, solid forms that just do not blend or mix.
Now think of a physical form, perhaps a human body. Within every physical form, there is atomic power. That power holds it together. Atomic power is easily penetrating the physical form.
In a similar way, the spirit of who we are, when clearly experienced by us, easily penetrates our own personality experience. We bring a commanding spiritual presence, and there is dynamism—dunamis, as it is put in Greek. There is the explosive power of spirit acting through our own human experience.
The same is true between us. There is no bouncing off each other because our spiritual radiance is purely that, without being mixed with the factors of personality that so often bounce off each other in the world where we live.
That’s my experience. Is this a teaching? Perhaps. If a teaching is simply a sharing of what someone knows that is in keeping with the truth that has gone before.
What do you know? And what do you have to teach?