The Scarlet Letter
Volume II, Number 1 | August 1994
From the Camel's Back
By Sr. Continuity, Camp Master
I suppose that any amateur behaviorist could tell me that to get my time under control I have to settle my priorities, define my activities, and make a schedule and stick to it. Yeah, I know—that would work great if damn bloody chance didn't operate quite so actively in my particular orbit. It would work just fine if things would just stop happening.
Interestingly, the philosophy of yoga suggests that things don't happen to you, they happen around you. How you choose to deal with them, and feel about them, is up to you. This is certainly in accord with magickal practice and the good conduct of the magician in general, who, as an adept, is expected to act definitively, and to leave re-action to the slaves. Right action could be defined as the continuous consideration of all stimuli as it relates to you and your true will (or, in the event that you do not know your true will, the principle of loving all that crosses your path, without agenda) resulting in deliberate action or non-action. Sometimes the right move is no move at all.
Recently, all of these fine theories have been put to the test by the events in my life, and since I look at adversity as a gate to be passed, by-passed, or closed (but never ignored) I choose to view this period as a marvelous chance for growth and progression.
Situationally, I am caused to consider the result of channeling energies that are mostly archetypal. Specifically, archetypes such as the Friend, the Lover, the Life Partner, the Leader, and the Teacher. All of these roles are played in relation to another person, or one's self. Behaviorally, one's actions within the context of these roles is whatever it is—the archetype comes with the appointments, expectations, and beliefs of the individuals who are in relationship to one another.
You may note that in the first three archetypes I mentioned, the main assumption of privilege has to do with time and attention. It's personal. To be in these relationships implies that there is a great deal of natural affinity, and that the relationship has developed from these affinities of personality and purpose. In the latter two archetypes (Teacher and Leader) the energies are somewhat different; affinity is apt to be toward a body of knowledge or a body of individuals—a more general affinity of purpose, as it were. And yet we are enjoined to look well at the behaviors of our teachers and leaders, and to consider what we see and how we understand it. As a westerner, I have been taught to make my comfortability and understanding of a teacher's behavior a factor in my choice of who to learn from. Some eastern systems involving guru and disciple suggest that the behavior of the teacher is beyond reproach since the student is, after all, just a student, and not enlightened enough to be making a judgment of this sort. Of course, in these "my way or the highway" situations, the High Way is always an option. Presumably if you are there it is your will to be there. There is certainly room for discipleship under the province of true will, if indeed it is within your will to access a body of knowledge that is available to you through this method.
As a teacher, and a westerner, I have decided that my main responsibility to my students (and to myself) is to be consistent in my actions. The first day I called myself a teacher (as opposed to the first day someone else called me that) was the day the responsibilities began. The archetype of Teacher is a lot like the archetype of Mountain—it is Satchadinanda who says "the class doesn't change for the student; the student changes for the class." In the case of the mountain, you know you will find it exactly were you left it. In the case of the teacher, consistency comes through a steady course of action in accord with espoused principles—the teacher may not be right where you left her, but the attentive student should have some clue about which direction to look!
The relationship between teacher and student is based on mutual respect, attention, and interest, all of which does not necessarily or automatically imply friendship—but instead alliance, out of which a friendship may (or may not) grow, depending entirely upon the existence of the all important personal affinity. As a teacher, one's position is to give the student what they need, as opposed to what they want. This implies judgment on the part of the teacher who is in fact empowered to make this judgment based on the assumption of the role. Things get sticky when the student is in need of personal (as opposed to professional) attention and relationship and the teacher fosters this, not because of personal affinity but out of a sense of misplaced obligation, because they Can.
It seems to me that this situation provides the excellent opportunity to channel the archetype and to offer real technologies by which the student can develop their own net of personal friendship and support appropriate to them. Again, this is based on the natural affinity of the student, as opposed to their instinct to attach themselves to an available, prominent, stable surface—in this case, you. This to me is the basis of so called professional distancing, a term oft misused as being synonymous with "assumption of the right to blow off the annoying." If you call yourself a teacher you have the responsibility to deal with those you consider your students—but you get to make the call. My recommendation is to keep it as clean as you can by being as careful as possible not to be manipulated (either towards or against) by another person's need. And good luck to you.
Ultimately what I have learned from all this is if you call yourself a teacher, get ready for lessons. Taking them, that is. And from the least likely sources.