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Teachers & Pedestals
by Graeme Urlich

I am writing this article after having a discussion with someone who had put some teachers up on a pedestal and granted them some authority in her life. I found her very disillusioned after some of these people let her down in her eyes. They had behaved in a way that she thought was unbecoming of a spiritual leader.

When I was much younger and first starting my journey to becoming a shaman and a teacher of Huna I searched and searched for books and teachers who “knew” more than I did. When I found an author I liked I would buy every book that they wrote and hang off every word that they had written. I essentially became a groupie and gave up my power to them.

When the opportunity came to do workshops with some of these people I would try to get as close as I could to the teacher, seeing them as more advanced and being better than me because they had grown so much along their path and knew everything that was going to get me everything I wanted, even if I didn’t know what that was yet.

There were times when I became very confused and frustrated because some teachers contradicted and criticised other teachers claiming that what they had to say was the real truth. At times I became disillusioned and lost wondering if I would ever find the “right” and “true” way. At times I think I even became depressed and thought I would lose my mind trying to figure it out.

In one period of my life when I was working with one particular teacher I found myself becoming increasingly uncomfortable about some of the behaviour of the teacher and some of the people he had gathered around him. After a time I decided that I could not continue to train with him, even though I valued what he had to teach a great deal, because I had to compromise my principles too much to continue with it.

Over time and as I began to teach myself I began to get a better perspective on things, I began to realise that these teachers were all just human beings, like me, with all of their own ideas, values, principles, fears, doubts and foibles and that my reactions to their behaviour stemmed from my own expectations and rules about how other people “should” behave.

All of the people that gathered around them like moths to a flame each had their own reasons for wanting to be close to the teachers. Some sought recognition by association and some thought that it made them special while others were there out of a genuine search for knowledge. Bickering and jostling for position often ensued out of fears and jealousy.

At the same time many of the teachers thought they were super beings who were saving the world by teaching the lesser mortals all the while scoffing at them for not understanding well enough the lessons that they offered. They sought to be revered, worshiped and followed without question.

A good teacher in my opinion recognises the synergy between himself or herself and the students and does not see them as being on a lower level. When I teach it is not to save the world or to indoctrinate people with my personal view of the world. I teach so that I can come to understand Huna more and more and to bring it more and more into my own life. I don’t consider those who come to hear me speak students but companions on my journey.

As a teacher it is not my role to impose a way of thinking onto others but to raise questions and curiosity that will lead them to making their own choices. If they take away something of what I have taught and used it to improve their lives to some degree, and many do, then for me that is a wonderful bonus. Without people to come and listen I am no teacher. Without their questions my knowledge does not grow and evolve. Pedestals are for works of art not people and certainly not teachers.

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