Why bother working all this out ~ mostly alone?

Those readers who have been patient enough to read this section of the chronicle through from the beginning may be surprised at the range of feeling I've expressed, starting with shaking trepidation at the outset, through increasing confidence to some very forthright statement nearer the end.

It has indeed been an eventful progress and some passages extremely difficult to write, but it has all been sitting inside me all this time waiting for the time when I was ready and strong enough to release it.  The pressure has been intense.  As I have slogged my way from article to article it has felt like a dam about to burst.  It started with a trickle, which became a steady stream, then a torrent and finally the dam has burst.

The dam is an important metaphor, showing how unequal the pressure inside was in relation to what I allowed myself to express.  All these very lively and emotion-laden thoughts and experiences were dammed up inside me.  At this point the pressure on the inside is much more equal to that on the outside and I feel much calmer and stronger as a result.  Happier.  Happy that what I've been wrestling with all these years actually makes fine good sense.  At least it does to me and possibly some of it will to others!

During those long dark times when I seemed unable to cope with more than the merest trifles, suggestions were made as to how I could get over it, get more well.  These were generous suggestions and came from those concerned for me, who didn't want me to waste my life being endlessly miserable and incapacitated.  I could have gone to a shaman, I could have gone into a church, I could have tried harder to find a suitable antidepressant or similar medication, and so on, but I didn't.

In fact I found myself reacting with indignation to the very idea of being healed, of giving anyone else permission to help me take a short cut.  I must say this surprised even me.  I realised that I was absolutely determined to wrestle the monster of my confusion to the ground to properly grasp it, properly own it, properly settle it once and for all.  It was MY BUSINESS and no one else's - I'd been messed up enough by other people's methods.

A lot of readers will rightly conclude that the strength of this reaction was largely due to being messed up by Teri, and this is true.  It resulted in me being very wary indeed of accepting any form of assistance from anyone at all in the helping professions.

Two things have helped however, one of them being a small number of people who listened patiently and who, by and large, restricted their assistance to asking me what it was they could do to help.  Mostly these would have been small practical things, but also listening and reflecting back to me what I'd been expressing and making polite suggestions about one thing and another and offering different perspectives.

The other most helpful thing has been hearing the stories of those brave enough to share their own stories of similar explorations and the potholes and humiliations experienced along the way.  I came to realise that I was not the only one.

In these stories the theme of misguided, false or mistaken teachers has been recurrent.  I talked to a friend who has spent many more years travelling around the New Age circuit than I have and he says that the decline of teacher/healer types into a confused or deluded state is common.  I think there are all kinds of reasons for this, but chief among them must be that confusion is part of life and unarguably part of growth.

What makes these instances more complex is that having set themselves up as leaders of whatever kind, they attract people around them who like to have them in that position; these supporters get in the habit of agreeing with them and then of protecting them.  My guess is that if these leaders then become uncertain or find themselves undergoing significant change their status and role made not permit them to honour that.  In any case, leaders of some years standing may be unable to continue performing at the same inspired pitch with which they started out.

Three main options then are open to them - to withdraw of their own accord, to continue and be protected by 'yes' men and women, which is ultimately destructive, or to get booted out of their own establishment for inadequacy and possibly corruption as well. 

In my view, teachers must accept that their pupils may have the capacity to exceed the teacher's own potential.  This may seem very threatening to the teacher, but unless they do, what's the point?  It's commonly recognised that teachers are not necessarily the best exponents of what they teach.

The success of teachers and leaders should be reflected in the bright souls they attract around them to learn and then ALSO by the quality of people who then cheerfully go off and do entirely their own thing.  Successful people in all walks of life commonly point to one or two significant people in their past who helped them become aware of and strive for something within themselves that might otherwise not even have been recognised.  A good teacher does recognise this sort of thing and then assists the student to bring it forth themselves.  The word 'education' rightly derives from the Latin word 'educare', which means to lead forth. 

So then, lots of teachers, and conspicuously those who are spiritual teachers fall short of this and in doing so go into decline, many of them losing their reputations and probably also their livelihoods.  Well, that's life.  We all have our time of growth, hopefully some maturity, and then decline. 

Thinking about this brought to mind the biblical quote of Jesus saying that "If anyone would be first, he must be last, and servant of all" (Mark 9:35).  I see the situation of teachers in the same light.  In the end, their students will probably (hopefully) end up superseding them, and if there is such a thing as a time and place of enlightenment then very likely the teachers will be needing all the help they can get.  And the pupils, having gone on ahead will probably turn to each other and say, "Oh well, I suppose we'd better take the crazy old fart with us - he/she can't help themselves." and haul them along too.  But don't say I said that!

I have deliberately kept my own beliefs in the background of these writings.  I think we all have to find our own way.  I have no idea what the needs of other people's souls may be: for one person it may be to travel the world, for another it may be to choose lifetime of studying the work of one particular teacher or faith, for another it may be being a bank clerk.  How would I know?  What I have offered here are some pointers to give readers some things to think about along the way, which may make navigating whatever path you chose a little more straightforward, that's all. 

But perhaps there is little to reveal.  If I were to use the term 'God' I think I'd often prefer to substitute the word 'Life' or 'Nature'.  Since God is deemed to be in everything, and the ultimate creator that pretty much covers it and for the meantime that's where I choose to let it rest.

In my family this strand of exploration through a diverse range of spiritual teachings spans three generations and includes my father and his mother.  Although each of us has lived out our lives very differently I have been surprised at the degree of common ground.  Along with our whole-hearted searching for inner truths, we have each experienced the hardship inherent in looking at things rather differently from most other people we've known, and to some extent given up looking for that form of companionship.  Perhaps though, one's spiritual path, the way we come to terms with life and whatever it is we call God, is an intensely personal matter and largely solitary.

Whatever the case, I feel I've reached a point of completion, not just of this part of the Wasteland Chronicle, but of our parallel inner quests which have spanned over a hundred years.  And so I close the chapter, quietly, and with respect for these two who have preceded me from this life to the next one.  For me it is not an ending but a time of transformation, and whatever comes next will be different.
And so in whatever context it has meaning for you
I wish you Godspeed.

This is the final article in Part 3.  To go to Parts 4 click this link:

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