Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Respect the Meconium

One topic that came up during the Nashville training (in addition to Ayurveda) was transference and counter transference in the student/teacher relationship.  We were mainly discussing it in relation to our roles as teachers - many of us also will begin mentoring other yoga teachers trained in this tradition as well.  Our training is preparing us/has prepared us to work with people one-on-one, which creates a much more intimate relationship than in a typical 1.5 hr. group yoga class.

People come to yoga looking for something - usually they are seeking moment of calm in their stormy lives or they want to do a headstand.  One of those two.  (I'm kidding!!)  A teacher worth their salt is embodying the practice and discipline that she teaches, so it isn't difficult to see how one could fill in the blanks in a way that skews reality one way or another.  People need their teacher to be better than they are, else why have that person as a teacher?  Yet, there is not a direct relationship between knowledge, understanding and realization and being a good person.  In fact, one can have a stunning depth of understanding and realization and still be a total asshole.  It is hard to reconcile this fact because if you "get it", indeed, not just "get it" but have a penetrating insight into the true nature of things, why would you go around harming people?  It doesn't make sense!  And yet, it happens.

I think delusion is like that first poop that babies produce after they are born - the meconium.  It is dark green and made up of the waste of everything the then fetus ingested while still in the womb.  Just as  you might look at the teacher who has done something so harmful, so painful, to others that you simply can not believe it, you look at your beautiful, little baby and experience a kind of shock and awe that this tiny, perfect being has managed to produce such a horrific substance.  The sheer volume alone is alarming but mainly it is the way it defies being cleaned-up: its tenacity as it clings to everything that comes within a foot of it.  You have to tip your hat to it, man.  It is not fooling around.

And so with delusion.  Composed of everything we ingested before we even knew we were ingesting things, it clings to everything.  That's its nature.  Sometimes we are not covered in it.  For some of us, even a lot of the time we are clean.  But. if we think we have cleaned it up completely, you can be sure that you will find a big, old schemer down the front of your shirt the next time you look down.

One of my projects over these past several years has been to learn to respect my delusions.  First, however, I need to get to know them.  Of course, I can't know them all but I have noticed that they have patterns and tend to run along thematic lines.  Occasionally when I get a glimpse of just how deep seeded they are, it is a moment of breathtaking humility.  Perhaps this is what a good teacher needs above all - breathtaking humility in the face of their own delusions.  This isn't a false modesty - it is ok to know things and even be good at certain things.  It is more like what Donald Rumsfeld said about the known knowns and the unknown knowns.  Know that the unknown knowns run deep.  And are very sticky and difficult to clean up.

It is a good place to start.

1 comment:

J. Brown said...

Indeed. That meconium is some seriously sticky sh**. Great post.