“You have to be out there, prominent, visible. You have to speak to people.” My husband told me this one hot afternoon over tea. We sat at the patio of our favorite cafe. The big umbrellas and huge sycamores spread their respective canopies over our heads. They stopped the sun, but not the heat. It was a lazy, slow and quiet afternoon and we were talking about marketing my sticks.
“You have to be out there, speaking, teaching” he said.
Teaching. This was not the first time we had this conversation and, not for the first time, I said: no. No teaching.
You see, I never wanted to be a teacher. During my early Buddhist years there was the subtle competition among students for the best understanding, the best posture, the best silence. The best meditation. Every student hoped, not very secretly, to be the chosen one. The one who will become an heir to the dharma. The one who will become the successor. I later moved on from Zen into other realms and everything changed — but that one thing did not. The desire to become a teacher among my fellow practitioners remained.
Except for me.
I saw nothing attractive in the teaching business, quite the opposite — the prospect scared me. Why? Because of the responsibility it carried. Because every time I spoke an advice, even a small, inconsequential one, I felt the weight of my words influencing the one who asked, nudging their perspective even if just a little bit, realigning their actions. And it was too much. It was too much to handle. For me.
Ha … you know … this is not what I was going to write. I was going to write about how I feel that there is no need for me to teach others because I can see who you are, all of you. I can see the perfection of you and I know that, sooner or later, you will see it as well. I was going to talk about what is simply being and, ultimately, being perfect but …
It is not all crap, exactly … but that is not the reason why I never wanted to be a teacher. Why I don’t want to be a teacher. The reason is that it terrifies me when my dog obeys my commands, let alone a human. It mortifies me that another creature, a free, autonomous creature puts its life in my hands and obeys me unquestioningly, absolutely. Even if it is only a little dog.
I cannot handle the responsibility of influencing others. So … I pretend that it’s my sticks doing it instead?
Huh, what a strange post this is…