Monday, May 7, 2012

You Are Your Own Teacher

Namah Shivaya Gurave
I offer myself to the Light, the Auspicious One,
Who is the True Teacher within and without,
Saccidananda Murtaye
Who assumes the forms of Reality, Consciousness and Bliss,
Nisprapancaya Shantaya
Who is never absent and is full of peace,
Niralambaya Tejase
Independent in existence, the vital essence of illumination.

I love the Anusara chant, because, as a singer, it's one of my favorite melodies to sing...and in a typical Anusara class we get to sing it three times :)  But what I love most about it is that it reminds us that consciousness, the energy of the universe, the one and only teacher, is in everyone and everything. In fact, it is everyone and it is everything.

“If you know how to listen, everyone is the guru.” – Ram Dass

Ironically, the founder of Anusara has come under accusations and has stepped down from his Anusara throne because of "scandals" he's been involved with.  People loved John Friend. I've been to classes of his where students are piled on top of each other's mats because of overcrowding.  His classes were fun, spiritual, creative and heart-filled.  I learned long ago, however, that it's okay to revere someone - but not obsess over them - and to take their teachings with a grain of salt.   They're human, just like you. They make mistakes. They have imperfections.

"When the hurt disappears, the realization might just dawn that it's okay to separate the teacher from the teaching. When someone sidesteps, there's no need to throw out the baby with the bathwater. That teacher inspired us because he/she brought something valuable to the world -- at least for a while. Whatever that valuable teaching/inspiration was, however long it continues to uplift and inform us, that has a value in and of itself."
Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D. from a post of hers in the Huffington Post

It's great to have a teacher or a "guru" that you admire if he or she is someone you feel comfortable with and from whom you love learning. I think it's important to have someone in your life you can go to and trust, or if they're a teacher who's not accesible to you, someone who at least you can learn from through readings, lectures and the like.  But once you take all these teachings into your home practice of yoga postures and meditation, you become your own instructor. After all - the very purpose of yoga is to unite the individual self with the divine...and to do this, as Ram Dass says, you must listen - to yourself - and everything around you.
You can always learn something from everyone you meet.  You may not agree with everything someone does or says, but it's what you take from interacting with them - what may resonate with that intuition inside of you - that makes you your own teacher.  Your own intuition is older, more wiser than intellect. When you were born, you first felt your intuition without relying on all that "learned intellect." Your intuition, especially if you cultivate it in positive ways, is almost always more reliable. If you think about it, you have the knowledge of the entire universe and the cosmos within can you not?! And what could be more reliable than that?!

"Being human is never easy. But that's the point....Hex me with all the bland management jargon in the world, zap me with all the perfect theories and models you like, but I'll never, ever accept the idea that triviality, mediocrity, and futility are appropriate goals for any human being, much less our grand, splintering systems of human organization."
Umair Haque, from a post of his in the Harvard Business Review Blog

Looking around me, listening to daily conversations of passersby, colleagues, friends, watching posts online, I wonder how many people are settling for mediocrity. I wonder how many people are fine with being told what to do instead of actively seeking out knowledge, listening to their inner purpose and letting it shine.  I know I feel much more purposeful - more like I'm contributing to the positive energy of the universe - when I make an effort to do what I love; just a little...every day. 

Not sure what your life calling is? Sit in silence and listen. Repeat the mantra, "Om mani padme hum" to yourself to quiet your mind. Be aware of your universal energy and trust it.

To sum up one of the Buddha's many tenets, every "teaching" the Buddha ever delivered was only for you to understand your own true "Buddha nature".  Every buddha that ever lived was just like you and I that had a materialistic, egotistical, dillusional outlook on life.  When the buddha  became enlightened and spoke to his disciples, it was only to remind you of the teacher already inside of you. To harness that, you have to listen more. Quiet your mind. Trust yourself.

So today start listening to yourself.  Listen to those around you. Inspire yourself and inspire the world around you. Never stop learning. You are your own teacher. 


 Photo by Ashley Daige of