Monday, December 3, 2012

When the Student Rejects the Teacher

There exist a great number of people in this world of ours who carry within them deep feelings of rejection. These people feel that they are meant to teach others what they’ve been taught. Yet, at times, what these teachers (whoever they may be) have attempted to share is turned down. What is offered may be accepted for a time, maybe for a very long time, but the teachings are eventually released by the “student.”

This could occur only in one setting. For example, perhaps you’d been brought up studying Religion A. At 17 years of age you realize that Religion A not really doing much for you, and you make the decision to follow Religion B instead. Or perhaps you drop religion altogether. This may cause feelings of rejection to well up in those individuals who’d tried to instill their beliefs in you since birth.

Rejection of teachings can also occur in abundance. Two good examples are of those who awaken spiritually and those who are in a state of bewildered defiance toward parental control. While these two instances are of a very different nature, they are the same in that whole lives can shift as a result. Deep down there comes such a great desire for change in one’s current life situation that change is then induced on a number of levels.

It’s at this point of shift, this point of tossing out of prior teachings, that the different- and likely distasteful-to-other ways come in. (Please note that arguments as to whether the old or new ways are “good” or “bad” is impertinent here. Such are totally subjective to the perspective each individual.) It’s also at this point of shift where those who’d seen themselves as some form of teacher now acquire a sense of rejection.

The message I wish to offer to any who see themselves in the capacity of “teacher” is that any feeling of rejection from a non-adherent “student” is unnecessary.

Let’s look at some examples as to what the feeling of rejection actually is and how to get around it…

There is no one “right” way to live.
Let’s face it. There are around 7 billion people in this world who are spread across hundreds of millions of square miles intertwining thousands of cultures, religions, languages, environments, and so on. Aside from the fact that we’re all made of the same stuff, we do not otherwise all fit into the same basket. Not necessarily an American and an Asian, nor, even, a father and his own son. As individuals, what makes “I” I is the fact that each of us is unique from all others.

Yet, to a greater or lesser extent, the teacher teaches that there is only one “right” way, doesn’t she? “This is the way life is. This is the way we must follow.” No wonder rejection is felt by the teacher when the student casts off what has been offered.

We can only become this demanding with our beliefs when we are uncertain of them ourselves. If we are secure in our way, we don’t worry about driving our beliefs into others because we know both that our interaction with life will prove out our beliefs and that, as the saying goes, “when the student is ready, the teacher appears”; it’s realized that there is nothing to truly teach because there isn’t truly a student. When we are uncertain, we carry a mentality of I-have-to-feed-this-to-others-as-a-means-of-confirming-it-for-myself. When rejection arises, it’s actually a taste of self-insecurity being reflected back at us.

This type of rejection can be done away with…
1.) …by making one’s self cognizant of what is truly occurring (this being a general rule to everything in life that causes suffering);
2.) …by acknowledging that everyone has their own path, their own purpose, and no one really knows what another’s path or purpose is.

“I don’t want what you have to offer.”
This could just be a simple, “Hey, Mom…I don’t believe in what you’re trying to teach me. I need to seek out a different way.” Or, if we look to more of an extreme, maybe a father is overly regimented in his beliefs as to how his daughter “should” live. In such a situation, it could very well turn out that the girl becomes emotional to the point of angrily rejecting everything taught by the parent as “acceptable” or “appropriate.”

Whatever the case, when all emotional charge is stripped away, a student’s actions boil down to the same basic and neutral thing: This isn’t working for me right now. I have to find a path that fits me. Your way is not my way. Any emotional charge is there simply as a result of a suppressive atmosphere.

But irrespective of emotional charge, the rejection that may well up within the teacher is not actually due to the student. Like I said above, the rejection is of the self. If we’re the teacher, we’re not really sure about what we claim as “true,” so we continually try to put our beliefs on others in order to have them affirmed. When others don’t want what we call “truth,” we get shaken up because we realize, probably not consciously, that our beliefs may not be as absolute as we’d thought.

We can circumvent all of this unease by actively working out our beliefs to see what really is or isn’t true; to see what we may label as “true” merely because it feels appropriate in our own life, not necessarily in someone else’s. And if we’re completely uncertain—fine. There’s no reason we have to “know” any given thing about any given thing. To think this way is just another false belief that will cause us another bout of painful emotion.

…Consequently, since we and the Universe are one, to admit to ourselves that we don’t know is to open ourselves to an ever deepening Universal knowledge and wisdom which had been previously inaccessible.

The “teacher” doesn’t even follow his or her own teachings.
There’s not all that much to say about this one. If we can’t walk our talk, it makes zero sense why we should expect someone else to walk it.

Yet again, any feeling of rejection to arise within this kind of “teacher” is nothing more than rejection of self; perhaps one of the worst kinds, as the “teacher” isn’t even attempting to live their own preaching. The student is but a mirror.

For more thoughts regarding the concept of “walking your talk,” see my post “Change Your Perspective! (Damnit!)

The teacher has false ideas of how things “should” be.
This one is very similar to “There is no one right way to live.” Individually and collectively, we’ve got a great deal of standards and expectations on how we think things “should” be. On attempting to teach these “shoulds” to a student, the teacher feels rejected when the student dismisses them.

The teacher says: “Listen here. This is the truth. I know.”

The student says: “That’s your truth. Please let me find mine.”

Can you guess where I’m going to take this?

The student is a reflection of the teacher’s unwillingness to allow others to live their own lives. They want their personal beliefs affirmed because that’s what feels good, that’s what is easy.

The Blessing of Rejection
Before awakening, my life was very uncomfortable. I led my life as I’d been taught by everyone around me. I followed everyone else’s “truth” instead of my own. Naturally, my personality shifted regularly depending upon who I was with; whose fancy I “needed” to please, whose “truth” I “needed” to affirm.

With awakening, my life became a pleasure. Because it was with this newly arisen, clearer state of perception that I began living my truth; I began being who I am—not who Steve wants me to be, not who Megan wants me to be, not who some societal norm or piece of religious dogma wants me to be, but who I am—who I already am—when all faulty appearances, as real as they may ever seem, start falling away.

Accordingly, this required that I drop or modify nearly everything that had been taught to me as “true”…just for the simple reason that in their pre-awakening state all these things were of other, not of self.

In opening myself up, I became very aware of how my choices to be myself have caused many of my teachers to feel rejection. Sometimes this affects me adversely. I don’t want to see others suffer. All I have to do is look at them or be in the same room as them to feel their emotional hurt.

Yet when I look more deeply, I see that there is such peace to be had—peace that is so close but still so far away for so many.

If you will, please let me tell you where that joy is to be found. Please let me tell you why there is no need to feel rejection…

When a student rejects a teacher, regardless of reason, regardless of whether the one called “teacher” is a parent, friend, or instructor, even if what the teacher says truly is the best for any foreseeable outcome, the student is in rejection because the teaching being offered doesn’t work for the student in that moment.

And get this: A teacher’s feeling of rejection is personal—it doesn’t make the student wrong. Instead…
1.) …it gives the teacher the opportunity to revalidate his or her own beliefs and teaching methods,
2.) …it gives the teacher another chance to make peace with what is,
3.) …it gives the student the opportunity to see what ways of life he or she doesn’t want.

In the role of teacher, there is such an unbelievable amount of peace—joy, even—to be found in acknowledging this. For not only does it empower the self, but it brings about a sense of respect in knowing that the student is being the student, not an automated device which runs on everyone else’s input. The student is thinking for the self, the student is learning for the self, the student is walking a life path determined by the self.

And if mistakes are made by the student—what of it? Has the teacher never made any? Is the teacher no longer making any? When the teacher puts on her feet the shoes of a student, doesn’t she prefer to learn in her own way? To learn for herself, whatever the cost? We all know the teacher has made mistakes. We all know she wants to learn for herself. And if only deep down, the teacher knows this, too.

But what the teacher usually doesn’t know is that the peace, the contentment, she is looking for by trying to affirm her beliefs in others will not be found by such means. No. The teacher’s peace, the teacher’s true satisfaction, will come about through detachment: by observing the Law of Non-Interference; by honoring the student’s power of free will; by loving the student enough to let him walk his own path, to attain his own successes, to make his own mistakes.


Teachers: Even of those students who’ve rejected your teachings, I can tell you this with surety: You have placed great value in the lives of your students—regardless of their response or reaction to your teachings.

A teacher’s job is not always to show a student what he or she does want; sometimes it’s to show a student what he or she does not want. Nor is a student’s job always to learn, but sometimes to be a mirror: to teach.

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