I just changed my Facebook profile to read "Teacher " instead of "Spiritual Friend ". I did this in response to some recent posts on Facebook regarding teachers. I try not to become part of "trends ", and my changing teacher to spiritual friend was partly due to a trend I saw around me, but the main reason was a degree of reserve that I have found unnecessary.
It's been almost a year since I dared to refer to myself as "teacher ". Although my "teaching " has been almost exclusively my writing on the internet; both on Facebook and my Blog, I have found a number of my readers enjoy my writing.
As I have said many times, I did not make a decision to "teach " until 20 years after an "awakening experience " that was as simple as it was profound. Along with the awakening itself came the compulsion to share and "teach ". I can not imagine an "awakening " without this element; this desire to share it with the whole of creation.
In Plato's famous story; The Allegory of the Cave, this is very wellA illustrated. If you remember, the scene is set deep in a cave where the fire, hidden from view, is the only light. Prisoners are tied so they must look ahead, and are facing a wall where all they see is the light reflected from the fire, the fire being hidden from view by a low wall. Slaves walk behind the wall, out of view. Each slave holds up a flat wooden figure of an animal, or a man or a tree. All the prisoners see is the reflection of these wooden objects, as their shadows are reflected on the wall. They are seeing shadows of artificial objects.
An occasion arises that one of the prisoners finds his bonds loose, and with great effort, escapes. He finds that once untied, he is weak from being in one position for so long, and that it is necessary to climb out of the cave with great effort. Upon reaching daylight he finds the sun is too strong and he must adjust to it. Once he is adjusted to the new discovery, he begins to remember the others down in the cave. Forgetting the struggle to reach the light, he returns down the cave to tell the others.
He finds that very few even want to listen to his story of the light. Those that do listen, are put off by the story of his struggle, and never mind, your interrupting the shadows!
Plato knew the difficulties of being a "teacher ". But let me get back to this idea of "teacher vs. spiritual friend ".
We, in the spiritual community are all "spiritual friends ". This is as it should be. We all learn from each other. If a spiritual teacher is not learning daily, momentarily, then they are living a remembered existence, a remembered "awakening ", not an ongoing unfolding. There was a time when it was recommended that "Fathers and Sons " become "buddies ". This was thought to bring father and son closer together. It was found that what a son wants from his father is for him to be his father! I think ultimately, after all the "democratization " of everything is gotten over, we will find that a "teacher " is what we want.
The Christ taught us to pray to "Our Father ". This image of Father is an image that is comforting and "corrective " at the same time. The teacher has much of this "comfort and corrective" about him as well. The image of Father also has the factor of Love. The teacher needs to be recognized as the one who climbed out of the cave and came back to tell you about it. Because he loves you. He has seen the light, He has become the light, He knows it's real. He can't bring it to you, nor can he find words sufficient to make it real for you, but he can tell you he's seen it.
If he's truthful, he will tell you that even though it is there, freely available to everyone, it is a life of acceptance and earnestness that will open it to you. All he can do is Love you, and like a good father, be patient and steadfast in knowing that you are no different than he. He will return to the cave again and again if necessary, and all he will ever ask from you is earnestness.