Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lesson learned

I love learning and I honor my teachers. I always have.

I love the hierarchy of teacher/student - when it works, that is. Idolizing or developing a crush on a teacher is a wonderful way to soften the heart and open the mind of the student. When I fell in love with my teachers, I was able to take in what they were teaching at a very deep level. The knowledge penetrated me to the quick. Even after I was old enough to "know better" (whatever that means) I continued to hold my teachers up on a pedestal. It made going to their classes so much more fun!

I did not idolize all my teachers, should say. Just the good ones, only the ones with whom there was a singular rapport.

For this situation to work, the teacher must not take advantage of that trust and openness. The teacher must remember not to let his or her ego get wrapped up in the adoration. The greatest teachers I've had were aware of that responsibility. They saw me spin out and held the space for me with respect and affection. They guided me through the dizzy infatuation, knowing it would pass after the class ended. It always did. I honor them!

There was one teacher, way back when, who got lost in the energy. We had an affair, a total disaster on every level you can imagine. I was so young then; I don't blame myself. He was only 33. I don't blame him anymore either, but I used to. I blamed him for a long time. Clearly things can go very wrong. The hierarchy of teacher/student is tricky. When done well, it's wonderful.

Mostly in my life, my teachers have respected the sacred hierarchy. Not only did I learn whatever they were teaching, but I also developed a passion for learning when I could dive headfirst into the process, no holds barred. I'm not interested in the "auspicious friend" kind of teacher, no. I wish to study with the gods.

Recently, I've been back in touch with one of my very greatest teachers from my time in Reclaiming. Though I never had romantic feelings for her, my adoration of her teaching, approach and perspective was powerful. I took in every word, every idea. When she offered a class I often signed up more than once, to make sure I got it all. I use what I learned from her every day as a shaman and healer. She was one of my great benefactors.

Once I located her on Facebook, I was excited to work with her again. I signed up immediately for something she was offering over the internet, a collaboration that inspired her to produce a "circle of stones," a necklace of beads she chose to help me with an intention. The process was great, but when I received the necklace, I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that there was something not right about the beads she chose.

I tried to love that necklace, but could not. Finally a friend who creates beautiful malas from semi-precious stones explained that the biggest beads on my necklace were made of dyed bamboo coral. They were an ugly reddish orange, very large, and seemed to me to have nothing to do with my intention. They felt ill, damaged, to me. Yanked out of their natural terrain, coated with a thick, toxic dye, how could those beads have helped me with anything?

When I asked her about it, she told me she loves the dyed coral, says she finds it "powerful," whatever that means. OK, then. Wow.

With this great teacher I've moved through all the incarnations of student. Initially I idolized her and as a result I learned deeply from her, but now I see through her and recognize I can no longer learn from her. I've graduated from being her student. Now she is someone who was once a teacher but with whom I no longer share the wavelength. I'm slightly disappointed, but will get over it. It's interesting to think about.

I threw the ugly dyed coral in the trash, along with the chicken bones and the crumbs I swept up from the floor. Should I need a circle of stones, I'll make my own from real stones, maybe jade, I'm thinking. But maybe I don't need a circle of stones. That kind of work is magic, something I never do anymore. So there's that, too.

It was a shock to understand what has happened, but I'm good with it. You can not grasp the river so don't even try, the Voice in the Shower always says. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since I studied with her. Onwards and upwards.



Steve Reed said...

I think it makes sense that you might outgrow your teachers. The road of life takes us all in different directions, and when we're young and haven't quite embarked on the road our experiences are limited and we have "new mind." But as we age that mind is necessarily narrowed by our experiences of the world. (Stating the obvious here.) Anyway, now you have the Sufi acupuncturist and the VITS!

Reya Mellicker said...

I don't know that I've outgrown her, but we aren't tuned to the same frequency, hence what works for her doesn't make any sense to me.

I'm a life-long learner, but yes, I connect much less often with human teachers, and working in a less personal way, if that makes any sense.

The Voice in the Shower is available to everyone!

ellen abbott said...

You are learning differently now. You may not have outgrown her but she can't teach you what you need to learn right now maybe.

Anonymous said...

All that you've written is important, but excuse me honing in on you had an affair with a teacher?? Him being 'ONLY' 33 means he was old enough to know better - completely unprofessional in all senses of the word. He was in a position of trust which he abused.
You have written a very interesting post here Reya - I've had both parents and students idolize my husband for the work he's done over the years with high school students, but on the home front, let me tell you - its reality city here and in my daughter's teenage years, very hard for her to take.
We are very proud that he was a finalist in the State's 'Teacher of Excellence" awards a while back, but it was at a time that she and her Dad were not getting on. I'm sure many in the public eye have such situations.

Barbara Martin said...

Teachers inspire in a variety of ways, and for the student to be fully cognizant of what transpired is a blessing along the path of life. Nicely said, Reya.

Reya Mellicker said...

Yes, she can not teach me what I need to learn now. Perfectly said.

As for the professor I had an affair with, I went through years of work to let go of my feelings of anger and betrayal, and righteous indignation. At the heart of it, the two of us fell in love. It was a fucking disaster and a cornerstone story of my life.

After his first wife died, he remarried to someone he cherished for the rest of his life. He died a couple of years ago.

I still feel love for him. I no longer feel even a pinch of rancor or regret. We weren't the first, nor the last, to make that kind of a mistake. I learned a lot from it.