(I found this post tucked away in a file, forgotten until I began cleaning things out. It was written partially as an e-mail to a new teacher. It’s as important now as it was when it was written, I should make some sort of note to re-read it often.)
It’s often said that “those who don’t know, teach” but I’ve discovered that what it should say is “those who know, teach, then discover that they didn’t know things as well as they’d thought, and proceed to reinterpret their lives and learn, learn, learn.”
The odd thing is as a spiritual teacher, you’re still further ahead than those you teach. Life’s an ever-unwinding path; you’ve just seen a bit more of it than your students have.
Spiritual teachers go through frequent crises of self-worth: how can I teach others if I know so little myself? It’s a sign of humility, which is a good thing, I suppose. At the same time, one has to remember that the definition of a mentor or guide involves the idea that they’ve been where the student is now, and so are in a position to offer advice, a helping hand, or valuable information. It’s kind of like following someone through a forest, and seeing that they’ve left signs of their passing in disturbed greenery, a footprint here and there; and every so often, there’s a shout back from ahead that tells you to watch out for that root you’re about to trip over.
They will ask questions; you will not know the answers. They will become frustrated; you will become angry. They won’t get it; you will despair.
But you owe it to your own past teachers, whether they knew they were teaching you or not, to keep on.