Topic: Continual Learning
I have been observing a phenomenon in my life for some time now. I am noticing that in my daily living, my personal relationships, my professional relationships and experiences, even in chance meetings and experiences there are continual lessons and messages being sent to me. I do not ever remember noticing this phenomenon occurring at the current rate before a period that began about two years ago. At that point two years ago I noticed that I would be struggling with an issue, looking for an answer and then suddenly I would have a client come in and almost echo my thoughts verbatim. Or a friend would come to me with an eerily similar problem to mine. Some how through looking at the issue from this removed perspective the answers to my own issues would come as well. At first this freaked me out. I would look around for the hidden cameras or wonder if someone was setting me up because the coincidence was too great to just happen. Over time as it continued I came to accept that this was just an answer to my prayers.
When I think back about when this all began for me I can remember a very particular change in attitude. Previously to my noticing this I would have a problem and I would rack my brain trying to figure it out, trying to plan for the details of how I was going to work my way out of a problem. My issues got bigger and bigger and harder to deal with until this period about two years ago where I finally knew that my brain, my ego could not work through the issues coming at me. I was actually making things worse. At this point, out of sheer desperation, I laid down on the couch on a cold February afternoon and sighed and said “ ok I give up, show me where you want me and what you want me to do. I give up and I am giving you control”. The feeling inside was like one of absolute surrender. I was no longer going to fight. I was no longer going to need things all my way, I was giving up and opening up to whatever the Universe, whatever God lead me to. All my controlling did was lead to bigger problems. The few times I had surrendered and said “ I trust the Universe, I trust God completely” even the most hopeless situation turned around. I had beaten my head against the wall enough times that I finally was ready to stop.
I had no idea how that statement was going to change the interactions I had with others. How it was going to change the way I looked at my profession, my relationships, and my day to day experiences. Almost immediately I noticed people coming to me with my same issues. At first I was taken back. “How am I supposed to help a person with the same thing I am currently struggling with?” I felt unworthy. I felt like a fraud to the people I saw professionally. That voice inside me said “just be in the moment and listen to these people stories, detach from the ways they mirror your issues and just listen”. In that place of openness and listening something magical happened. I was able to see the issues clearly and see the ways the clients I was seeing or my friends and family added to and kept their problems going. It was not lost on me that if I took the advice that I had just given to my clients and sometimes to my friends and family that I could improve my own situation. This was not an act of a brilliant mind; it was nothing I could take credit for. If these solutions, these insights were of my mind I would have already applied them in my life. The insights came through me. They were answers to my own questions brought to light through interactions with others. Not only did these interactions help me know I was not alone in my struggles but they provided objectivity and an emotional detachment that allowed divinity to express through me. I was learning to be a student again.
For years with in my work and within my relationships I had approached things from the view point of how I can help and what can I teach people around me. I was thinking that this was the way to be. I mean great masters, yogis, saints, they all functioned from a place of service. They had wisdom and were known as great teachers. That is what we are striving for right? To be one of these great teachers is the goal and to be it you had to view yourself as a teacher first. My experiences over the past few years has shown me something important about these great teachers. If you could talk to one of these masters, if you could ask them about how they view themselves, they would not label themselves as great teachers as great keepers of wisdom, they would tell you that they are students. They would say that the people they “teach” everyday are actually the ones who are teaching them.
There is a very important difference in these views. It makes a person who is wise and a good teacher into a great teacher. That shift between seeing yourself as a person who is teaching others and a person who is learning from others is huge. To see yourself as a perpetual learner takes ego out of our interactions and helps us to be listeners, to be open to receiving guidance from the divine both through ourselves and through the people around us. We stop judging people as having insight and wisdom or not. Divine messages can come from anywhere, from anyone at any time. When we limit our view of ourselves to that of a person with something to say, then we stop listening. When we view ourselves as someone with something to learn we are open to all of the messages, lessons and experiences that surround us from all sources without judgment.
I am sure that my experience with noticing clients and friends coming with similar issues, coming in ways that helped me to understand my issues was not new two years ago. My ability to perceive it was new. Previous to that conversation I had with God where I surrendered and said “ you take control” I had always viewed my interactions in terms of what I brought to them. What did I have to teach people? What did people get from me? Along with my surrender came a new way of perceiving interactions with others. I began approaching experiences and interactions from the view of “What do I have to learn from this?” “ What does this person or experience have to teach me?” “What messages are the Universe/ God sending me that can help me continue to improve?”. I still slip back to my old ways and come from that place of ‘teacher” sometimes but, oddly enough when I am in that place of “learner” people express having learned more from me than when I am in “teacher” mode.
The challenge right now is to renew our commitment to be learners. If the great masters such as Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Sufis and Sages etc. viewed themselves as life long students, than surely we are all students as well. We are a group of learners teaching each other through our own learning. It’s a wonderful thing.
With Love and Truth