From: email@example.com (inX)
Subject: Need for a Teacher
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 1997 16:27:56 -0801
I doubt that this one's experience with finding the Teaching/a teacher is typical, but it might contain something that would be of interest and of value to others to consider.
When quite young, I realized that no one around me knew what the hell they were doing or where they even were most of the time. Being one of those gifted/cursed with sensitivity, it was obvious to me that their actions and feelings did not accord with their ideas that they told me about: that their actions, feelings and thinking were all at odds and in constant contradiction each with the other. It was obvious to me that they had no idea what was going on here; or even within themselves. I was even convinced for a time that there was some dreadful biological change that occurred at some unspecified age that damaged a human being so badly that they ceased to be able to function rationally or intelligently beyond that age; that we all just became emotional and intellectual cripples because of some defect built into the human body. It was the only explanation that I could come up with at the time, since I experienced no examples of adults who were living in a way that made any sense at all.
So at a pretty young age the torment of the life that I was living was more than I could bear, especially when I couldn't even understand it nor why it was happening to me. It got bad enough that I eventually tried to escape into insanity for a time. I suspect today that I would have been diagnosed with a depressive personality disorder; but they didn't have that diagnosis then, so who knows what they would have used instead since we must always have a diagnosis.
I lucked out and found a way to deal with ``uncontrollable'' depressions on my own after necessity increased to the point where I had to do something: I couldn't hold down a job any more. That provided more than enough urgency and necessity to do something about my inner state. I believed that I was going to die or end up institutionalized as far as I could discern. Neither probable outcome looked like where I wanted to go, although death held its allure at that time.
I was desperate, and considered everything that I had experienced with living so far, and came up with a hypothesis: that it might be physiologically impossible to laugh and be depressed in the same moment. So I put on every comedy record I could find in the little bungalow that I was renting at the time to test the hypothesis. I forced myself to listen to the records until I laughed -- after all, the only reason I had them was because I had found them funny when I could still laugh.
It took hours, but I finally began laughing. And I discovered for self that the theory was a fact. I discovered for self that I could determine my inner state with a little effort on my part. I discovered that depression and other bad moods were not more powerful than I; that there was something that I could do about the situation; that I was not a helpless victim of my own feelings and beliefs, although the effort to deal with them seemed monumental at the time. But I was not helpless.
I decided that a change in environment and life style was called for, to remove the constant suggestion to relapse into depression, and moved away from the area where I had grown up the next day and found a new job the next week. Then I reflected on what I was going to do to deal with the source of the depression, now that I knew that I did not have to give in to the feeling of being depressed.
A lot of the depression was for the typical human reasons: I wasn't able to be well liked by others (and I ``tried''); I had a lot of problems interacting with those who did like me in an intimate enough manner that I could feel and enjoy their company; I'd been conditioned with enough sexual morality that I couldn't function on a sexual level even though adolescent hormones were demanding that I do something to deal with that aspect of living; and the violence, the violence of it all. In other words, I'd been conditioned by the circumstances of the life so far to generally hate myself, everyone else, and living (to be succinct).
But that was not what had made depression into an uncontrollable force for me, personally. What did that was the fact that I could not figure out why I was continuing to endure all this suffering. What was the point of continuing to live in such pain, when I could see no rewards that were greater than the suffering that came with struggling to get the rewards? Not understanding the purpose for being alive was actually the greatest suffering to me: because it made all the smaller sufferings, that I could have born, unendurable rather than bearable -- by making them pointless.
Having studied the piano for some 15 years at that point, I came to another tentative hypothesis. I could not be the only human being who had ever looked at life this way. I had never met anyone else who had ever felt the way that I did. Everyone else seemed to just take it for granted, without consideration, that what they were doing and the suffering that they were enduring made sense; even though I could see no sense in much of anything that I ever looked into.
But I hypothesized that I could not be so different from the rest of humanity that no one else had ever been born who felt and saw things the way that I did.
And I had realized some years back that I could have learned to play the piano on my own: it would just have taken me a lifetime. I was not sufficiently talented to just pick it up effortlessly on my own as a prodigy. By getting assistance from someone who had already learned to play, it was possible for me to develop what little talent I had for music in a fairly short time, with that guidance. I would still never be able to play as well as I really wanted to, because I just didn't have the talent to play that well. But in 15 years I had learned enough to be able to play alone and with others with personal enjoyment of the experience. Without that guidance, it would probably have required decades to get to that point on my own.
Putting these two observations together, I hypothesized that others who were like me had already answered many of the questions that I felt I had to answer just to go on living. And I resolved to find them; wherever or whomever they were.
I realized at that time that I was in a very precarious position. When I had first started to play the piano, I was in no position to judge the competence of piano teachers. For one thing, I could not even tell by listening to them if they were any good or not. All I could do was compare what I heard to my taste, which was not very well developed at the time. And even if they were great players, that did not imply that they could teach what they could do, as I had found out with a couple of so-called piano teachers, who were fine musicians.
Now I was in an even more precarious position: I had no way at all of telling ahead of time whether someone who had dealt with the questions that I wanted answered about living knew anything or not -- because I did not have those answers -- so how could I tell whether they did or not? I would have to just rely on my own abilities by accepting that I might be easily conned, but that over a period of time I would notice that I was not getting what I was after, by testing everything that I was given for myself and believing nothing, no matter how tempting.
I had to accept the possibility that I would have to abandon what I had thought I had found (someone who had looked into living and questioned what was really going on here) and necessarily continue looking for what I wanted because it didn't test out as valid from my own experience.
There simply was no other alternative. I would just have to trust that I would be able to tell when I was being conned by being honest with myself about whether I was getting what I had set out to find.
And then I discovered that there was a lot more to the question and answer game than science and Christianity. I ended up in one of the most confusing, weird, twisted maze of ridiculous crap. Stranger than anything that I could ever have possibly imagined ahead of time. Fortunately, I was not the one who was in charge of the search, even though I didn't know that at the time. The One Who was in charge did just fine, of course.
And I found out that this hypothesis, too, was a fact. I was not alone. Others had answered the same questions that I had, and many more that I hadn't even imagined asking. And some of these people were willing to teach others who asked those same or similar questions. And the one that was found for me actually expected me to find out for myself and not accept what they said as if they were an authority on the subject.
I have since discovered (by meeting some of them) that the hypothesis was entirely correct. Some apparently do have a talent for this, just as there are talents for all the other aspects of living. And they do it more or less on their own, without a guide, in a fairly short period of time. But they are few if my experience is any guide. Most who believe that they can make it on their own in the inner world, without a proper education, are just as deluded as everyone else. But I have seen a few who have, with my own eyes. I accept that it can be done by some.
I'm not sure that I am one of them, although I'll never know for sure, because I met a man who had been guided himself, and who was more than willing to give everything that he had ever received and everything that I ever needed -- and never any more than I needed, bless his Soul. And, just as in studying the piano, I was given principles and ideas to work with and left to study and practice on my own. Every so often the level of competence so far was demonstrated, and new principles and ideas were given to study and practice on my own. Eventually I was told that I had demonstrated proficiency in self-knowing and Self-remembering, and it was suggested that I quit clowning around and take the next step. At that point instruction more-or-less ceased, although I was given a push at the appropriate moment to take that step and remained in some contact with the fellow for quite a while after that in other capacities.
I won't tell anyone that they can't do it on their own, because I have seen it done. I have also noticed that the number who do it at all are few, and the number who do it on their own are a very, very small number within that few. Were I to turn it into percentages, it would be a shock to many. I feel very grateful that at the time when I considered all these things, that I knew nothing about the ``esoteric teaching'' game. I might have been daunted and not even tried. At the time, I was willing to accept the risk that I could be fooled by trusting in my own abilities to recognize that fact. But that was before I became aware of just how many there are who are willing to play the role of fooler to my foolee. Perhaps I, too, would have let my own confidence in my abilities be overwhelmed by the fear of the consequences of being conned if I had seen what some of the con artists have managed to do with the ``spiritual'' game.
Perhaps I, too, would have decided to believe myself one of the prodigies who could do it on my own -- and discarded my personal experience with the piano as a guide to a similar thing (allowing myself to be taught about living). Perhaps I would never have seen the necessity of that first experience of humility: that I was not so unique and special in the way that I believed -- that I was not the first to ever feel and experience life that way. That I was but one of many. That others had already gone where I wanted to go. And that some would be willing to work as guides or teachers, just as some musicians are willing to teach the next generation of musicians. Piano teachers taught me that the best teachers are those who either are or have been working, professional musicians themselves -- not the theoreticians, who don't have the actual experience of doing what I wanted to learn.
I'm very glad that I allowed that small humility to enter the awareness and affect my point of view; because I'm not sure that I could have afforded to believe myself one of the prodigies who could do it on their own. Most of them, I have noticed, start at a very young age, and are pretty much there shortly after or during their teens. From then on they do whatever it is that folk consciously and freely experiencing living do, depending on their unique perspective and individual gifts and talent(s). (Although I will acknowledge having seen one exception even to that. But it was under very specific conditions which did not exist in my life.)
A suggestion: the way of the world is to use everything to gain comfort and pleasure and attention and approval and self-importance. If the one who offers to guide is basking in the attention and approval and appreciation and comforts that the students are understandably more than willing to offer, perhaps they are simply playing the same game that everyone else in this world is playing. If they recognize these offerings, and do not seek them out nor bask in them nor use them to make their life easier -- but rather go own making their own way in their world, in spite of all the offers to make their own lives easier -- there is a chance that they are really only interested in the freedom of all, having discovered it for their self.
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