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Our Greatest Teachers

November 28, 2011

We all have someone in our lives that drives us absolutely crazy, someone who, every time they speak, makes you cringe, someone who hurts you with what they have to say – or the way they treat you – or the way they react to you, even though they may not be intentionally doing so.

Most people consider these sorts of persons “trials” or “burdens” or perceive them as some sort of test, something to overcome.

Well, what if that person – the most difficult person in your life – is actually your highest teacher? What if that person is the person that was put in your life TO HELP YOU?

What if you thought of that person not as someone you can’t stand; someone who you barely tolerate, but as a great spiritual master? What if it were true that the person that represents the most difficult part of your life is someone from who you have vowed to learn something, regardless of the way in which they teach it?

Think about it…great spiritual teachers can be very difficult. They do not spend a lot of time stroking their students’ egos. They are much more concerned with helping their students let go of the parts of themselves that prevent them from seeing their own divinity, and although the methods that they use to get the message across may seem like selfish actions designed to purposefully annoy.

Great spiritual teachers are often unpredictable, unreasonable and irrational. They regularly engage in behaviors that defy logic and that make you come up with solutions that you otherwise might not have considered. The guru is notorious for putting their student in a “no-win” situation so that they can learn that the only way they can find happiness is to release their attachment to opinions and preferences.

Does this sound familiar?  It should, for each of us are given great spiritual teachers to guide us on our way; to bring into focus those aspects of our own lives that need the most attention; the most fixing.

Re-perceiving this person (whether they are family, a friend, a partner, an employer, co-worker or even a stranger) as a potential teacher opens up an entire new perspective on life. It can truly make us take a fresh look at the person – not as a person – but a message from god; a directive from the universe; a teacher sent to us specifically to teach us what we most need to learn.

So when does it end?  When is the lesson ‘learned’?  When can we move on to the more interesting stuff; the people and interactions that we actually enjoy and want to be a part of?  Does this mean that we simply have to tolerate those people that we find the most difficult?  That we are stuck wit them?   Is our lesson learned when we can deal with the crap that they dish out and not react to it?

Oh no my friend; it is far more than simply tolerating or not reacting.  If we are open to instruction; to direction from a higher source; from our higher selves; we will find that when it comes to these greatest of teachers, we have to surrender.

Ha!  I felt you cringe.  You don’t like that word, do you?  Surrender has bad vibes for most westerners; it reeks of giving up independence, individuality and control; of submitting your will to the will of another, of losing a part of yourself.  Of no longer being YOU.  But in this situation, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Surrendering to your greatest teacher does not mean that you give up and let them have their way with you; that you become a doormat for every insult they throw at you and submit to their lack of trust or their hurtful words.  No, in this case submission means that you in your mind you acknowledge them as your teacher and embrace the lesson that they are giving you and in so doing open yourself up to instruction and correction.

So the next time that you find yourself hurt by another’s words or actions do not react to them.  Surrender to them.  Allow yourself to feel the pain that is caused by their words or actions.  Feel it fully.  Where does what they are doing or saying hurt you? Can you feel it as a physical pain? Does it hurt in your heart, your mind, your gut?  What emotions does it generate?  Does it make you feel angry, sad, betrayed, annoyed, disgusted?

Pinpoint the pain; the emotions.  Take note of them and allow yourself to feel them, even if it is uncomfortable, for only in experiencing the true nature of these feelings; this pain; can you gain understanding of what the pain and emotions are in reaction to, and only in understanding can you begin to find the answers that the teacher sets you.

Something you will inevitably ask yourself as you work your way through this is “what happens when I’ve learned my lesson?  What happens when I have worked through the issue that this particular teacher was sent to teach me?”

The answer is actually quite simple.  Once you have learned the lesson; once you have worked through the issue, the person’s part in your life will be over.  Either they or you will move on and their influence over you and your reactions and attraction to them will dissipate.

Yes, I know, that gave you pause didn’t it?  It is a hard concept to wrap your brain around, especially since some of our biggest teachers in our lives are those we are closest too; parents, children, spouses, partners, friends; and the idea of simply not having them in our lives anymore may seem unbearable and painful in its own right, but in truth it is not so bad as all that.

Consider the parent/child relationship.  We have our children, we raise them, nurture them, provide them with everything that they need to learn and grow and become, and then we ALLOW them to learn and grow and become.  If they learn and grow and become what we had in mind for them, life is wonderful.  If not, we may be disappointed, and it may make us a bit sad if they choose a different way; if they don’t live up to their potential, but we know that we have done our best and that now it is time to let them live their own lives.

A healthy parent/child relationship will allow for this with the parent still caring for the child; still a part of the child’s life, but allowing the child to go their own way; to find their own meaning and purpose even if it is not what we would have chosen for them.  There comes a point in time where, no matter how much we love them, we have to let them go.

The same concept applies to every great teacher in our lives, regardless of whether we consider them to be a teacher or not.  No matter how close we are to them; no matter what we have shared.  If the lesson they had to teach us has been learned and the time has come for them to move on and learn lessons of their own; to find teachers of their own, then we must allow them to do so.  This does not mean that they will never be a part of our lives again, that is impossible.  They are a part of us and always will be.  It simply means that their part in our story is through.

This can be seen as a very ungrounded way to live; never considering anyone or anything to be a permanent part of our lives; of our existence; but the truth is that until we find the person or persons with whom we are destined to have true soul partnerships (with each partner giving and receiving equally and consciously in a particular relationship) the relationships that we enter into – for whatever reason and with whatever intentions – will wither and die by the wayside as the purpose for them is fulfilled, and to cling to them will only make everyone miserable.

The good news is that when we have learned our lessons; when we have come to an understanding of what this particular teacher had to teach us; our true soul partners will make an appearance.  Whether they are individuals with whom we will be friends; work partners, or even lovers (or all of the above) we cannot be with them, fully and completely, and will not be ready for the sort of mental and emotional intimacy that is required in order to maintain these extra special relationships, until we have worked our way through those issues that our great spiritual teachers have teach us.

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