“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.”
The last full moon in August this year was not just a blue moon but the moon of Guru Purnima, the day of rememberance of the great sage Maharishi Veda Vasya, who wrote the four Veda or sacred books of Hindu philosophy. On this day one remembers and gives thanks for the guru or teachers in their lives.
I have been thinking about the role of the various teachers I have had in my life and how blessed I have been to have had them.
In India the teacher is said to appear when the student is ready, the word Guru means dispeller of darkness. A teacher then is anything or anyone who reaches into your mind and does a bit of fine tuning, who leads you from the darkness of your own ignorance to the blinding light of ..well, Love actually.
Everyone learns in different ways, mine seems to be always through some baptism of fire.
My first baptism of fire came in the form of a Mana Wahine called Jayne Matenga Kohu. A woman so fierce, so passionate, so brilliant that she honestly scared people! She was a warrior for women, for the rights of children and of family. She was an artist, a poet, a story teller and her voice would make the angels weep. Jayne paved the way for many women to come, inflamed us all in various ways to continue to dare to spark and blaze and be as brilliant as she showed us we could be.
I wasn’t the only one a little bit on awe and fear of her and yet she was incomparably generous and kind and loving as well. I loved her deeply. She set me up in a way to go on in life and take it fiercely on the chin, to live as a warrior woman unafraid of birth through fire. She burned so bright that her life burned out before I was ready to let her go, she consumed the fire.
There is a common misconception amongst people in the west that enlightenment is something you get after sitting at the feet of your guru, chanting and singing and dancing sometimes. That the guru is some kind fatherly figure who sits quietly while you play at his feet like a child. That service to the guru is easy! Nothing good ever comes easy, you have to earn knowledge I believe and have been taught, you learn through service to the Guru.
While I have heard of these places (usually they charge a fee and demand an aids test before entry) and seen the fall out, my own experience in learning anything has always come from fire. My time with my Indian guru Chandon Giri Naga Baba was hot and hard and passionate, tempestuous and mostly slightly crazy. There were rare moments of enchanted bliss but these were brought on from mental, physical and spiritual exhaustion rather than from any hard core meditation.
Good teachers carry the very fire of creation within them, they burn and flame with a passion so huge, so explosive that the limits of the human body cannot confine.
It basically is the fire of love and teachers who work as a fire are working from a position of love.
“Throw away the shell and take only the pearl”said Sri Ramakrishna of the teachings of a guru.
The perfect gift of any teacher is a distant shore of becomming littered with pearls and light by the light of the fire of love.