Two people recently made the same remark to me. They both complained that they weren’t getting through to people. That they were getting negative responses to their spiritual path. They were rubbing people the wrong way.
I told one that I felt that if she found she wasn’t reaching people, she wasn’t ready to be the spiritual teacher she apparently thought she needed to be. But there’s a deeper truth here: if you’re not ready to accept that most people are never going to be interested in your spiritual truths you’re not ready to be a spiritual teacher. In other words: if you need to be validated by every person you meet, you’re not yet independent enough to be a spiritual teacher.
All this reminded me of a story about the Buddha talking to Ananda I found on my own website the other day (no, I don’t know everything I’ve ever put on there by heart). It basically says that no: not everybody can hear the spiritual truth. Even people who came to spiritual lectures by one of the greatest spiritual teachers in the history of mankind, weren’t all ready to hear what he had to say. I would venture to say: most were NOT ready to hear what he had to say.
And that’s assuming we have the spiritual truth in the first place.
It takes a few things to be a real spiritual teacher – and I’m saying that without any claim to be one.
- A sense of priority: knowing what’s most important for that person to learn. However much math I may know, is a student can’t add and subtract, I will have to make sure they learn that first.
- The ability to keep silent. (Before the voice can speak in the presence of the Masters it must have lost the power to wound. – Light on the Path)
- Knowing your own limitations (Be humble, if thou would’st attain to Wisdom. Be humbler still, when wisdom thou hast mastered.- Voice of the Silence H.P. Blavatsky)
We live in a world that is in many ways very different from the world our parents lived in. It’s also very different from the world the Buddha lived in. But basic human truths haven’t been changed that much. We may know how to read, but we often still don’t know how to get along.
I was talking to a psychotherapist the other day and she noted that many of the things that go on in daily life would not be believed in a soap opera. Given how hard it is to keep things going within families, in the work place, in relationships – I personally cannot blame anybody for not being all that interested in going any step further than that. I mean is the metaphysics of the universe REALLY more important than just staying awake and compassionate enough not to cause problems in our own relationships day to day?
Anybody who wants to teach people stuff they aren’t ready to hear needs to take a good hard look at themselves: WHY is that so important to me? And just stop. Just because you’ve learned a few things in this life, doesn’t mean you are ready to teach others the same. Not every person who has ever learned to read, is ready to teach kids letters. Sure, if you are called to do so – go right ahead. But in general there is a reason why there are teachers colleges: it takes more than the ability to read to be able to teach reading.