I have always loved being a student. If I could I would be one forever. It is a lousy way to pay the bills, and really the path of academics is to get an undergrad, your master’s, PhD., and then become a professor. Then you get to stand in a class room all day and tell others what you know. Not what you did necessarily, but what you know. Being a student doesn’t pay the bills. Being a professor does. I have discovered however a weakness in having an academically oriented mind: Life is not an academic lesson.
I love syllabi. Lesson plans, reading lists, assignments, papers, all that. You go to class, sit up front so as not to daydream or fall asleep, tape the class of course to listen to it on the way home, again while you do the assignment, and then one more time on the way back to school before the quiz. Each lecture four times. Then the lesson was done. There was a beginning, an end, and each lesson fit into its place on the course schedule. One knew what was coming. It was easy to be prepared for that. How could one not get a good grade?
The teaching of the heart though, isn’t like that. Let me share a story with you. I meditate with a group on Mondays, early evening. If you read my earlier posts, you know about my Christmas day experience, and the poem really sums it up fairly well. So I was settling into this open heart “lesson,” as I was framing it in my mind. I was still raw, a bit pained by it all. After we sit for the meditation, we usually stand around and socialize. One of the ladies asked me how I was doing and I said that I was okay, just sort of wondering when the heart lesson was going to end. “Oh, my dear,” she said, putting her hand over my heart, “this isn’t a lesson, so it never ends. It just gets deeper. This is a way of living.”
I was stunned. By two things actually. One was, it never ends? I was transferring my current pain forward in that question, but at the moment didn’t see that. The second thing that I realized was my way of thinking. My world view took a fairly serious shift at that moment, and the impact of it left me a bit speechless. I was looking at life all wrong. If not wrong necessarily, at least not accurately. It was one of those “We’re not in Kansas any more Toto;” moments. Still these weeks later, I mull what she said. I have come to see that even though I might have got laid bare Christmas day, and maybe in a way that others won’t experience, I wasn’t understanding what it meant to be naked.