STEP THIRTEEN CONTINUED: We follow the principle that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. The witness of our lives is the only message we need to carry to others.
Instruction: Listen with your heart.
I have been drawn into religious and spiritual relationships with different leaders, and most of those leaders were honorable individuals who wanted what was best for me. I don’t recall many, if any, who I would view as mean, self-centered, or abusive. I’ve been fortunate. I had an experience with one individual; however, who wanted to guide me in ways that didn’t feel comfortable to me and who also wanted to do things his way. He wasn’t opposed to using manipulation techniques to “prove” his point. My heart spoke to me and told me that this person wasn’t ready to be a teacher, and/or I wasn’t ready to be his student. Sometimes we reach a point where we aren’t in need of a teacher. Instead, what we need is a companion, a fellow traveler to walk with us for a while. By learning to listen with our hearts, we can discern whether a person will be helpful to us or hurtful.
One of the things that our heart listens for is the witness of the lives of teachers. Are they humble? Are they kind? Are they self-serving or others-oriented? Have they firsthand knowledge of what they speak? Are they spiritually mature? Do they love animals? Do animals love them, or do animals shy away from them? Are they quick to apologize and ask for forgiveness? There are small signs that the heart can hear if we will not allow ourselves to be overpowered by a person’s charms. Step Thirteen is about recognizing when a spiritual relationship should be formed between you and a teacher, or you and a student, because it works both ways. Is the person not only a teacher, but are they also teachable? Be wary of any teacher who has all the right answers, who claims they know the way to The Divine, and who claims that theirs is the only way.
We might find the concept of “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear” difficult to put into practice. Today, take some time to think about what you think the perfect teacher might look like. If you have a mental image of the perfect teacher, try to enlarge that image a little more. Perhaps your perfect teacher won’t look like anything you imagine, and if that happens, you might miss the opportunity to learn from a master teacher.
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Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.