May the Teacher’s Role Be Lessoning

A recent discussion in a friend’s journal made me think of a poem I wrote a few years back in response to a thread on a pagan discussion board related to “why doesn’t someone teach me NOW what I want to know” posted by some Veruca Silverwing Salt young newbie.

As far as “Pagan community” is concerned, I am often concerned that some people who claim the name of “Pagan” seem to think that there should be some artificial construct (of course, it does not seem artificial to them) that connects us all at the level of our common beliefs, that there is some kind of “brotherhood” which all pagans should acknowledge and respect. I have a fundamental question regarding this “brotherhood”, however … is this a “brotherhood” of those who CLAIM to be at one with each other, or of those whose deeds prove it to be the case? As was said once earlier in the last century (if may have been FDR who said it), if you are a “Harvard Man”, you don’t need a class ring to prove it – your actions will make it obvious to all that you are of that caliber. For myself, I know my brethren (that are not tied by blood) by their deeds, and not their words. And if a brother (or sister, for in fact ‘brotherhood’ implies something that smacks of patriarchy and hierarchy, of closed rooms and inequality) makes what I feel to be an error, it is my obligation to discuss it with them privately, “on the way to the church” so to speak, rather than standing up and impugning them before the entire congregation. For if we are in fact ALL siblings, then any action that affects the well-being of one affects the well-being of all. All of which goes to show that one cannot choose one’s “brothers” lightly. Yes, we are all related, we all share this plane in which to find our paths, we are all different shafts of the same light. But our “unity” is quite a different matter. The fact is that we are NOT a pagan community because we call ourselves Pagan, but are only a community if we act as a community.
— My response to an on-line discussion on closing ranks behind ill-behaved pagan “leaders” for the sake of the “community”, which I thought was appalling

Why look outside yourself for guidance?
Why claim there is a “community” when none exists?
Why insist that some be leaders and others followers?

No elder, no true teacher seeks
to become the center of a cult of personality;
quite the contrary, they avoid it,
knowing that there are many who would seek their path
(wanting a shortcut, wanting to skip their own wandering search)
and who will find the teacher’s advice —
the solitary, aloneness of true self —
not to their liking,
and therefore fit for derision.

A true teacher knows that each path is unique;
My telling you what works for me is pointless,
unless you can appreciate its application
in your own action.

A right to be disrespectful may not be a given,
and titles and honorary degrees are often bandied right and left;
Who dares to say that another’s path is wrong for them?

Perhaps no one has a right to judge,
but then again, no one has a right to be taught,
either.

As to your assumption that “we are all kin here” —
I do not know you well enough to say if we are related,
but I know my brethren by their deeds,
not words.

21 FEB 2003

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One Reply to “May the Teacher’s Role Be Lessoning”

  1. Great point. We always say “Don’t judge me” but we rarely can muster the courage to tell folks to stop trying to force feed us their knowledge. In my own experience this is because most of the people doing the teaching are well meaning at the root of it. Sometimes I want to shout: I JUST WANT YOU TO LISTEN LET ME MAKE MY OWN CHOICE TALKING IT OUT WITH YOU HELPS ME FIGURE IT OUT FOR ME. There. I said it. Thanks for that opportunity.

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