The Responsibility and Dignity of the Student in the Unique Self Lineage
Part 4 of 4 of a White Paper on The Evolutionary World Spirituality Unique Self Vision of Dharma, Lineage, Students, and Teachers Based on the Teachings of Dr. Marc Gafni
As a teacher, it is my responsibility to clarify both myself as well as my expression of the Dharma again and again, to remain true to the Dharma as it is revealed to me over time, to resist the temptation to change it in order to make it more popular or easily accessible, and to transmit it in ways the students can receive it. It is also my responsibility to open and hold sacred spaces for the students where they can access their own True Self, their own Unique Selves, and where they feel held in the Divine Feminine. It is my responsibility to create the right amount of tension and discomfort for them, sometimes pushing them beyond their recent limitations, while simultaneously holding them in my personal “outrageous” love. And I must say that Marc Gafni has been a real role model for me in all of this; and I have been learning so much by witnessing his example.
Yet, I also need to say that there is a lot of responsibility with the student. The student needs to open him- or herself up to the teachings again and again. “Lean in, don’t lean back!” I first heard this sentence said by my Dharma sister (board member of our Center and spiritual teacher in her own right) Chahat Corten during the first Summer Festival of Love at Venwoude in 2012, and it spoke to me deeply.
We have a natural tendency to contract and close ourselves. We are used to listening to a teaching only with our conditioned minds, thinking of our own thoughts and responses to what is being said, instead of really and actively listening first. We listen for what we already know and put it into little boxes in our minds, instead of being really interested in what is said, opening to something that we don’t know, that surprises us, something that sets our minds and hearts on fire and causes us to literally think outside of the box.
To be open like that and to listen with full presence to a Dharma is a practice in and of itself. Like in a meditation practice, we need to go back to it again and again, whenever we catch our minds wandering, our bodies fall asleep, or our hearts close. There will be moments of great clarity, beauty, and awe, when we discover something new. And there will be moments of resistance, when the Dharma asks us — as it will inevitably do — to grow beyond our current limitations.
If there wouldn’t be resistance, we would already be enlightened. And I am not speaking of enlightenment as a final state or stage here, but as the process of enlightening that is never-ending. There is always more to discover, more to embrace, more perspectives to be taken, and more service to be done. There is no limit to the evolution of All-That-Is, of reality itself, the manifest Godhead, or what we often call the Goddess. We are part of — while simultaneously embodying — this process of perfecting that is according to Marc “more perfect than being perfect.” And as Marc Gafni often reminds us, each moment we are not opening, we are closing, and the moment will remain closed to us.
It is important to understand that Unique Self is not an object out there that I can reach. It is not a concept. It is a Realization. And it is paradoxically the very Ground of Being that we have always been, always and already from before our birth, while at the same time it is always in the future. While uniqueness is a feature of the universe in all its expressions all the way down to elementary particles, we not only grow to become conscious of our uniqueness as well as our connectedness more and more, but we also grow increasingly distinct from and connected to each other.
In my own life as well as in working with hundreds of people (friends and colleagues as well as participants in the workshops and groups that I have led and clients with whom I have worked one on one), I have seen it over and over again that real transformation takes place when all aspects of ourselves say a big resounding YES to this process — even if we don’t know exactly what will be the result of it, as is always the case with genuine transformation where we enter uncharted waters.
By “aspects of ourselves,” I mean body, mind, soul, and spirit as well as all our sub-personalities or sub-selves (in whatever language you want to put it). Even our inner skeptic (whose job it is to be skeptical, but not cynical) needs to voluntarily step aside for a while to let us experiment with the new. This is of course only possible by “listening” and giving voice to all those inner voices in the first place, albeit only in our minds.
And in my experience, the same is true for the Dharma. In order for it to be truly transformative and to lead to sustainable change (in our everyday lives and in the world!), all aspects of ourselves need to be able to experience, test, and even challenge the Dharma. Only when the answer to it is a resounding YES, can the Dharma do its transformative work. Real transformation happens when every part of us can say YES to the transformation, the leap into the Unknown…
Our job as students — and the second we stop being students (of all the lineages we belong to as well as of our own Unique Self) we should definitely stop being teachers — is to remain present, awake, and aflame, to open up again and again and again, and to let the Dharma work us. It is our job to test the Dharma, to put it into practice in our lives, and to come back with new experiences and questions. That is, as far as I understand, also the way the Dharma evolves through us.
And the Dharma wants everything from us. It consumes us whole and leaves only our Unique Selves, hearts and minds blown wide open. In acts of outrageous love, we evolve the Dharma and the source-code of love itself until no gift remains ungiven. And the Dharma turns her head and smiles…