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Down the Rabbit Hole
Paul Kiritsis, PsyD candidate, DPhil., MA (Psychology), MA (History)

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The Mesa World Retreat: Parting with the Teachers

Paul Kiritsis - Sunday, December 08, 2013

The day before checking out of the beautiful wooden cottage we were required to consult with our respective teachers and say goodbye. Thinking about the projection exercise I came to the understanding that certain individuals, whether enlightened or not, come into our lives to facilitate our psychospiritual development. I honestly feel that answers we seek are not outside us or locked away in some impenetrable ether of the vast, majestic universe. They are buried in the mantle of our own being; they are dormant, awaiting stressors deep enough to open up gaping fissures from whence they might slip back into our consciousness. These stressors are created by significant others, teachers who are equipped with the emotional understanding, experience, and wisdom to assist in the remembrance of what we already know, to put it in Platonic terms.

I feel that I established intimate rapport with two particular teachers–a Buddha statue in the meditation space and a dead tree some four metres off the Serenity Walk track at the retreat. They both helped me come to terms with content that remained latent in the recesses of my own unconscious mind; they both consolidated and cultivated the relationship with my own higher Self. These valuable developments were facilitated by a natural environment in which there was a complete absence of automata, computers, and other electrical gadgets. When one withdraws from the industrialized world and dis-identifies from societal norms and conventions, the mind becomes a virgin slate most receptive to creative intelligences operant in the cosmos.

With respect to teachers, I must confess that I have sought them rather aggressively in the past. This I attribute to the fallacy of idealizing teachers as fountainheads of intellectual authority. It is, dare I say, a form of hero worship. Humans are inherently wired to seek superiors that may lead by example; to model themselves after them; to parrot their manifest behaviours and actions; and to idolize them. We all aspire to someone–a Hollywood star like Angelina Jolie, an intellectual figure like Albert Einstein, a sporting legend like Roger Federer, and so forth. There needs to be a valiant, innovative someone a step or two ahead, paving the dirt road and laying neat little yellow tiles for us to tread upon undaunted. At some point we realize that we’re meandering and manoeuvring about in a way that doesn’t really complement our own higher Self, along yellow brick roads that promise Emerald Cities but deliver us to swamps, quicksands, and deadly precipices. What most don’t seem realize is that the yellow brick roads being paved by our heroes are theirs to walk, not ours. No two roads are ever the same. Similarly no single teacher has exclusive monopoly on Truth, no single one can answer all our questions. There’s no problem in seeking guidance and advice from well-travelled and versed individuals, but ultimately each and every one of us must arrive at the Truth through our own emotional and intellectual faculties. Originality is without a doubt the greatest mark of an authentic life.

My first expression of gratitude goes to the cogitating Buddha statue standing humbly on one side of the meditation space. He taught me a lot within a short space of time–how to persevere through hardships, and how to remain receptive and vigilant in my search. I can see him even now; perched on a pile of bricks, he warns of dangers that manifest when one pushes the mental envelope in an aggressive manner. He wants me to temper my impulsion in drawing hasty conclusions and my overt curiosity. He wishes that I remain silent when in doubt. He compels me to remain indifferent to success and failure. He knows a thing or two that Buddha…         

The second teacher I had the pleasure of meeting was the dead tree heralded by the great wanderer Jupiter. It was unresponsive, defensive, and somewhat defiant at first but it eventually warmed to my advances. The first lesson I learned from the Jupiter Tree was to be multifaceted in my approach to problem-solving. There are cerebral compensations to be had when one does not abandon ship. The second was to remain persistent in my faith. The third was to make the best of my physical, emotional, and intellectual dowry and to be grateful for what I do have in my life. As we know, some people are far less fortunate than we. Mindfulness goes a long way!

There were ambivalent feelings towards leaving the teachers behind; I was sad to be leaving, but at the same time I knew that the distance of three-dimensional space was illusory in light of the notion that all created things in the universe are psychically connected. Each time I need guidance or advice, all I need to do is call them telepathically and they’ll be there, ready to dispel qualms and answer the big questions. From this angle it appeared that there was no good reason to be melancholy about anything. Once found the sagacious teachers remain in the heart, the higher seat of emotional understanding, for all time…

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