Who Are Your Teachers?
Posted by Robin Easton
I’ve been blessed that my “life-teachers” encouraged me to learn through experience, not through words and concepts. In almost all cases they didn’t give me the answers or direction I thought I needed, but instead taught me that I was the answer, that the answers I sought already existed within me. Who were my teachers? Over the course of my life, my teachers were intense physical pain, irreplaceable loss, the raw honesty of Nature, other animal species such as poisonous snakes, crocodiles and stinging trees. My teachers also have been my mistakes and fears, as well as love and pristine solitude.
Physical pain taught me that I could endure, that I was not always in control nor could I change every situation. But, I could choose how I responded. Pain taught me that I was much stronger than I ever imagined. It forced me to let go of the â€œfutureâ€ and live only in this one single moment. Pain brought me to my knees and humbled me. It taught me to forgive myself and others, and helped me to better understand human suffering. Pain brought me the great gift of compassion.
Loss and Grief
Loss connected me with all of humanity because none of us can go through life without feeling the wrenching grief of losing someone we love. Loss taught me to more fully cherish that which I had, and to never take anything or anyone I love for granted, whether that be someone close to me or the Earth I walk upon. Loss showed me what is really important in life, and that petty arguments, grudges and hanging onto anger are not worth one second of my time. Loss told me to actively tell (and show) those I cherish that I love them, and to do so every day.
Nature and the Wild
Nature taught me so much that I had to write a whole book about it. Most of all she taught me to love and find peace, and gave me both (and still does). She also showed me how beautiful I am, just as I am. She doesn’t judge, define, conceptualize, or categorize me into good or bad, right or wrong. She just IS. Nature was my first experience of nurturing “Mother”. I’ve known her to be fiercely wild and untamed, even impersonal and far beyond my control. And yet, she also is so profoundly intimate and personal that I can only weep. She knows who I am. And I am Nature.
Poisonous snakes and other potentially deadly species showed me that I too had to be aware. They brought about my consciousness. If I wanted to survive in the wild I could no longer bungle along like an unconscious idiot who unknowingly destroyed everything in its path (the current state of humanity?). I too had to be aware in order to not be bitten or eaten. I grew to respect the survival skills of other species and saw these beings as my equals. I reentered the oldest brotherhood on Earth and lived as “part of” and not “apart from” the natural world. In the process, I lost all loneliness and awakened to the abundant intelligence that surrounds me.
Often we’re taught that mistakes are a bad thing. However, I’ve found that mistakes are wonderful teachers because we cannot know what we donâ€™t yet know. We can only learn what we don’t know. If we are blessed we fall repeatedly into mistakes until we’re able to embrace the lessons Life offers. None of us are perfect, and mistakes are a great way to learn things we might not choose to learn on our own. Embrace mistakes as gifts. We’re not here to appear flawless; we’re here to learn and experience Life. Dare to get your hands dirty and your feet wet.
Fear, a Potent Teacher
Fear is one of the most potent teachers we could ever embrace. If all we did was explore our fears, we could change the world overnight. Fear is a doorway to freedom. Facing fear revolutionized my life. Often we shove fear so far “down” we experience it as anxiety, greed, anger, disease, fatigue and more. But when we actively pinpoint what we fear, or at the very least embrace that we experience fear, we can then begin to grow. Sometimes when fear is so big all we can do is consciously “be with” our fear. In time we grow to better understand it, and become emotionally tougher.
Love and Solitude
Love and solitude also are teachers that have given me crystal clear contrast. In the face of unexpected and generous love from a stranger or a loved one, I am humbled, healed and want to reciprocate. Love encourages forgiveness, openness and healing for all involved. In solitude (especially in Nature) I am replenished, calmed and find vast stillness to hear the voice of my heart.
Who are your teachers and what have they taught you?