Recently, I wrote about finding a teacher for our path. In considering that, another aspect of this came to mind – the areas where we may need a teacher.
Firstly, to me, is someone to teach us how to connect with our initially transcendent nature. With our true being. This may be through meditation, prayer, dance; whatever brings you within to peace. While there are books and CD’s that suggest they can teach you meditation, keep in mind that this is an experiential thing so less easily learned from a book. “Knowledge in books stays in books” is an old Indian proverb. Some can, but a teacher is ideal. Someone from a mature tradition is good. You may find a teacher through your local community center, or you may find yourself at the feet of a great master. As I mention prior, they often appear in unexpected ways. Its only later that we can realize how important this is. Many people seek meditation to relax, to sleep better, to relieve stress. A good practice will offer much more. For me, the practice is something I learned many years ago and is about the only thing still in my life now. Best investment I ever made.
Secondly, you will want something to satisfy the mind. Someone who has a deeper understanding of “how it is” that can offer a better framework for you than you typically find on TV. Remember that there is no one truth but rather a series of truths that will evolve as you do. Look to something that resonates as a higher truth to raise yourself up. Don’t try to pretend or make a mood of a truth you cannot comprehend. While it is true we are all one, this is a truth several steps above most of our experience. Its good to know of this possibility but focus more on the next step. You may find a favorite teacher but will also be enriched by the different voices of others. Many speak the same truths but use different words that may help illuminate it.
In the west, we tend to give less attention to the heart than we should. The heart is the gateway to oneness and to experiencing the richness of life. Its also the most direct route to the transcendent. You will find expressing the heart much better in groups such as church or satsang. This is especially an arena where everyone can teach us something. Certainly personal relationships also add value here but these can be closed loops. Oneness is inclusive of everything so it is through all of it that we find the One.
Action is another arena of life. The art of doing. You’ll find lots of material here – systems of exercise, diet, success, abundance, and so forth. Quality is the marker here. Look for quality of life, of food, of doing. In the west we tend to be more concerned with quantity. This is also the arena of perception, of experience.
Each of these areas of life are also considered to be a path home. The path of knowledge, the path of the heart, the path of action and perception. Each of us will tend to have a dominant path, but will be a bit of a mixture. For example, I have a strong leaning towards the path of knowing but also a strong draw to perception, an aspect of karma (action) yoga.
This illustrates a key point here – heart, mind, body, and environment are not actually separate things. They are rather a continuum, a series of values of expression, of degrees of resolution. (no, they are not other dimensions, they are concurrent) Refinement and removal of resistance is the process to open ourselves to the fullness of being. That process takes place at all values or levels, so each aspect contributes to the whole. Even though I have a leaning towards mind, I cannot avoid taking care of the heart.
For example, you may find a teacher like Neelam to be a great value. She has a very simple, heart oriented approach, a rare gentleness. For a heart oriented person, she will also offer a simple, clear understanding. For a mind oriented person, a softening thats also needed, but there may not be enough to satisfy the mind with her alone. Inversely, you may find a teacher like Buckminster Fuller to have the vision you need, a depth of understanding that transcends the science he explored. He sought to evolve the individual by placing them in a more evolved environment, developing the mathematics of wholes. But the precision of his language makes him impenetrable without close study. Neither of these teachers teaches a meditation.
Thus, there is no “one answer”, no one path. Our route will be up and down and all over. Thats why we’re here, to experience everything that can be. Expect to outgrow every teaching and group. Not everyone does, but most groups have a built in bias or limitation that may be a barrier for our completion. And none is a be all and end all. But everything offers us a glimpse of the truth, wherever we might look. Again, the path to the one is through all.
Pay attention. Only attention is.