What if everyone was my teacher? What if not only those I respect, but everyone had something to teach me? What if the lover who just left me, the person who cut me off while driving, the people who irritate me, the ones who make my face crunch up and cuss words stream from my mouth…What if I looked at everyone as my teacher? It would mean that I would have to sit into the humility required to be the student.
I am not, by nature, a humble person. I jokingly refer to myself as an ‘Alpha Bitch‘ – and I’m one of those people who can do a lot of things well…unfortunately, what this often looks like is a conviction that I can do things better than others. I know – it’s an annoying monster ego. And while taking this position shores up my ego, it also disconnects me from others. It elevates me into a kind of hard over-confidence, rather than surrendering me into the yielding place where learning can actually occur.
There is a Buddhist adage that says, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” If I am perpetually a student, then there will always be a teacher nearby. I tend to orient towards a practical spirituality, and Buddhism carries with it a lot of practical tools for living that make sense. It also carries within it the guru principle, as do many religions, which I always find disturbing. I’ve seen far too many people relinquish their own wisdom for some supposed Guru/teacher. I’ve seen far too many Gurus become corrupted with power. But, if everyone is my teacher, then I am not raising one person above me or abnegating my own wisdom, instead, I am willfully softening my reactivity to other people, so that I may learn. Perhaps I need to learn patience, well then, of course it makes sense that someone will come into my life that I find frustrating. Perhaps I need to value myself more, then perhaps someone will come into my life who will not treat me well and I will have to learn to be an advocate for myself.
Of course, being the student does not mean that people are no longer responsible for bad behavior. It just means that I have a choice in how I receive that bad behavior and what effect it has on me. I can become righteously incensed, or I can soften into the humility of student, and ask myself, what is the lesson here for me? Everyday we are given at least a handful of opportunities to deepen, grow, learn. It is up to us to decide what to do with those opportunities.
May we find humility to enter into the role of perpetual student. May our learning be of service to others. May we be worthy and humble teachers.
Sabrina Santa Clara ~ Authentic Alchemy x3
Spiritual Counseling, San Diego & Riverside County, CA