Here’s another installment in a series of emails that took place between Michael and one of his senior students beginning the Summer of 2009. May you find the exchange interesting and enriching.


August 14, 2010 (#26)

Student: Is there a perfect time to break from the sweetness of teacher? Won’t this be known and happen naturally, just like the end of a one-on-one practice interview, or dokusan, when the bubbling energy has settled and it’s time to get up and walk out the door?

Michael: It can look that way. As I’ve seen it, it’s totally unique to each relationship. Sometimes it can be filled with pain or even anger.

Student: Anger? Really? Because we realize that we’ll never awaken?

Michael: No. We’ll all awaken eventually. The trick is to do so before we die. But seriously, seeing through any kind of attraction to its end can be difficult. It’s easy to equate it to what romantic break-ups can be like, even though the teacher-student relationship doesn’t fall into that category. There is trust and a special kind of intimacy that develops. Once the student evolves past the attraction to all of their projections of sacredness that they’ve put on the teacher, the break-up usually ensues. Sometimes this split is a thing of beauty, sometimes it’s not.

Student: How is there a seeing through the attraction for the Sacred? I’m not sure how that would look. Does the seeing through having anything to do with thinking there is something outside to bring inside?

Michael: The sacred always shows itself through the lens that we, ourselves, grind. As we grow spiritually, so does our clarity. This clarity allows for us to see our teachers as reflections of our deepest longings. Not that we necessarily want to be just like them, but that we’ve allowed our trust in them to point us towards a truth that we know exists within us. As this process comes to a fruition, and the refinements allow for a kind of finishing to occur, we see the sacred interiority of ourselves as not separate from our teacher. This inclusivity simply points us in a new direction; usually away from the teacher.

Student: This goes for me, too, obviously.

Michael: Let’s hope. There is no greater reward for me than to watch you guys grow past me. It’s like a parent dropping their kids off at college and watching them graduate all at once, I assume. For the record, I’m not sure what our break will look like, but I’m also not anticipating that when it comes it’ll be anything other than perfect… kinda’ like seeing through anything that is sacred.

Student: If there’s any sadness in relation to this, is that an indicator that something is not being seen clearly?

Michael: Is there sadness moving from 3rd to 4th grade? College to work? Any graduation is a rebirth where we bring along what we’ve gone past. It’s just that in this process of maturation, of evolution, we use muscles that we aren’t used to using. Sadness? Who knows? Maybe. Excitement and wonder? Yeah, probably. And yes, it’s a homecoming: the deepest kind. It’s an authentic return to an opening to the teacher-as-Self. In a paradoxical spiritual twist, however, there’s no return at all since we’ve never technically left what the teacher has been pointing out all along. In this way the teacher has both always been there and never been there. The teacher and the student have always been “just this.”

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