This entry comes from the book, Awake in This Life.
As we’ve discussed, no person can enlighten another. Some realized people have a gift for pointing out Truth, but you must realize it for yourself. Whenever we meet another with the fullness of our attention, this allows for one mind to see itself in two beings and for two minds to see themselves as one being. This is a Divine event of Truth. This is the Teaching. It’s the student, the teacher, and the teaching, as neither unified nor separate. Metaphorically, this is like a mother hen pecking on the outside of her egg meeting her chick’s peck from the inside. Once this happens an opening to an entirely new experience arises for everyone. When that part of any person who is enlightened meets itself in another, we awaken to the Big Self as the Big Self. It’s in all ways already here, so in an absolute sense, there are no teachers of Enlightenment. There aren’t any students to teach in this sense either. There is nothing that anyone can teach that we don’t already Know at our core. When we hear someone say something that resonates inside of us as an echo of Truth, it does so because we have been reminded of something that we’ve always Known since before time, body, and mind entered into your personal experience. So in addition to embodying trustworthiness, kindness, strength, clarity, and a good sense of humor, a good spiritual teacher is someone that can relentlessly remind you of what you already know to be True.
At the same time, there are plenty of people who see themselves as teachers who prey upon people’s willingness to project myth into flesh. By this I mean that there are individuals who can interrupt the direct connection that each being already has with the Infinite. This interruption can create a space in the student that allows for a misalignment of realization as Truth starts to unfold. When this happens, the student thinks that the teacher is the one enlightening them. But Awakening never works like this. When we think it does, this can be the source of lots of damage.
The reaction to this damage, however, can also be seen as troubling in some cases. There are some groups of people practicing together who consciously decide not to have a teacher as a way of avoiding the problems that traditional spiritual power structures can offer. While this isn’t as potentially dangerous as having an abusive leader, these groups often will stay stuck in the contracted realm of personal experience and thus never get beyond the natural tendency of clinging to both time and mind. These are often well-meaning practitioners, but there is a continual and deepening confusion in relation to feeling good about your community of friends while at the same time Awakening to Truth. They may or may not happen together, but this misses the point of practice. Once again, spiritual work is not about feeling good, it’s about becoming so conscious that we uncover the True Self that is forever past the limited entity that feels. This practice is about intentionally informing the small self with the Big Self and then coming back into the world as the merging of wisdom and compassion for the good of the entire, evolving Universe.
The masks we created prior to our climb that shielded us from seeing the implications of Awakening have fallen off since we’ve developed enough humility to devote ourselves to living intimately with all things. This intimacy allows for anything and anyone to become our teacher. No matter whom we might meet, if we devote ourselves to meeting them with all of our being, a space is created where the Infinite can shine as that which has always been there in both of us.
Then this same sacred principle applies to any situation. Whatever it is, if we meet it fully, it can’t help but reveal what is prior to all experience. This is the teaching—the freely functioning expression of an Infinity that can never be held by anyone. It is the very essence of everyone and everything. Yet we miss it until, with intense devotion, we let the Big Self compassionately chip away at the shell of the small self. When the shell cracks open, the deeper Truth of an increasingly expansive Universe becomes available. It shows itself through us and as us, regardless of our preferred tradition. And it is All right here, right now, in this life, waiting to be uncovered consciously so that it can dance as you, me, and everything else.