In the guided meditation I attended, you said: “find your teacher, find someone who can guide you on your path to finding truth”. Even though I am very lucky to have many wise people around me, deep in my heart I feel that you are like a guide to me. Until now I preferred to remain passive, listening and receiving whatever was given to me, but now I’m trying to change this perspective a bit and start to take my shots. So, how do you see this teacher-student relationship and what can one do to become one of your students? Is coming to the classes/events and reading your notes enough?
A teacher is only a teacher when it has a student, so, in a sense, the student makes the teacher.
Yes, I have something to offer, and if you feel that what I offer is useful to you, then take every opportunity that appears and don’t waste it. More so, be active in the sense of creating more opportunities where the knowledge you appreciate, the new ways to see and experience life, can be given to you or other people. If you don’t know what this means, you can always ask me. A teaching is absorbed when three apparently separate things happen at once: the first one, and the one with which everyone starts, is when I make efforts to learn for myself. But then, I also need to learn by being with other people that have similar kind of interest and I need to help create learning opportunities for other people.
It is true that for now there is no structure for these three things to happen. But even so, many times people tell me that they would have loved to come to this or that event but they happened to have a party or a meeting or they had already planed a trip or had to work or whatever. I, of course, understand it and it is perfectly reasonable, but, at the same time, our whole life is nothing but a choice. Everything that we do in our lives, everything, is only a choice. And these choices shape our life. What is really important in your life? Whatever that is, make it a priority.
I remember several years ago when I lived in California and I had some business in Rome. I took a flight via Frankfurt. On the flight, I learned that there was an exhibition of Rembrandt’s self-portraits in Amsterdam. In my understanding, Rembrandt was not just a great painter, he was also a teacher of truth. I had already experienced the fact that looking at his paintings (and particularly at his self-portraits) one could also see into the depths of life itself. And that exhibition was happening at the same time that my meetings were scheduled in Italy. They were important meetings, and I knew that not going to them was going to have some repercussions; it was not a life or death situation, but it was going to be a problem. But I also knew that the exhibition was going to be once in a lifetime, and I went for it. When I arrived in Frankfurt I got my luggage and took a train to Amsterdam. Although I did have some problems, even some unexpected ones, I still don’t regret it. Not at all. I learned a lot in that crazy trip, and not only because of the paintings, but also because it become very clear to me, clearer than ever before, what my priorities were: I wanted truth, I wanted presence, or, my own words at that time, I wanted to find God.
Of course this does not mean that we don’t need to take care of our basic responsibilities. Not at all. It is almost funny to see, for example, so many Westerner dropouts walking the streets of India. These are often people that could not keep up with the demands of everyday life and escaped to follow some idealized dream. What often happens is they spend a few years in India and then, out of boredom and confusion or something like it, return home as empty as they left (or remain there and slowly deteriorate). Of course this is not a rule, but I seen it happen many times.
What I am talking about is not really an obvious outside change, but a different inner attitude towards life and its demands, and this is what makes it interesting and challenging. There is no ‘one size fit all’ solution, and that is why we need to be alert and present to the demands of our everyday life. What is important to understand is that the world we have created in our minds, the world that we ‘see’ and ‘experience’ in our everyday life – a world that is unconnected to presence – is like a dream (a dream that creates great amount of suffering, sadness and unhappiness) and the dream ‘wants’ us to stay in it. But we can awaken from that dream. I had a teacher that used to say: ‘In my life I have gone against everything, except presence.’ In this case, presence means anything that can help us reconnect to presence.
There is a Spanish song that says: ‘Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar’ (Walker, the way is not made, but you make it as you walk). One way I interpret this is that we make our life with our choices. In your own particular case, what do you really want in your life? Make that a priority. Go for it with all your might; and particularly, don’t miss opportunities. Take your chance; follow your heart.