'A Marvelous Geometry'
Nasrudin had gone fishing.
He did not have a license.
He heard someone walking
and hid his fishing pole.
A game warden arrived out of the woods, asking,
"Sir, what are you doing?"
"I'm teaching a fish how to swim."
We know trying to teach a fish to swim would be futile, like trying to teach our lungs to expand and contract. Likewise, to provide spiritual guidance requires simplicity, for we are naturally spiritual swimmers, our home in the living waters.
Too much advice and too many teachings can hinder one wanting to enjoy the living waters. The spiritual guide has to trust the spiritual aspirate is seeking, for she is akin to the waters she desires to be at-home in. If she were not of those waters, she would not feel drawn to them.
No one can teach anyone a spiritual life. And one would correctly assume living a spiritual life is living life as life is present for living. If we lived naturally, the idea of spiritual life would be useless. That we err from being in communion with Spirit and Nature means we use language to encourage ourselves to live what we would if living naturally, rather than unnaturally. Not to live a spiritual life is as unnatural as a fish trying to climb a mountain, rather than swim in water.
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This applies, also, in how one relates to her spiritual efforts. One can entertain too many teachings, books, and practices, while losing the benefit. This gluttony is easily an avoidance of the Work. One can listen so much to what others say, inner wisdom has no room to arise.
Jesus says, "The Spirit will guide you into all truth," in speaking with his students in the Gospel of John 16.13.
Hindus refer to the satguru, or the Inner Teacher, lit. "The guru of truth." The satguru is the inner, final teacher. The outer teacher, a human, is a mirror of the internal. In the strictest sense, the external teacher does not teach, only points in varied ways, including silence, to the Inner Teacher. A spirit-filled guide does not need to speak to provide guidance, and the wise learner will be receptive to what is said through this silent being, for the teaching will come through movements, disposition, and energy.
Quakers speak of the Light as the one who speaks to us, conveying guidance to us from within. This can be the Christ or the Holy Spirit, yet many Quakers simply speak of the Light, honoring different Quakers will understand it differently.
In the Jewish scriptures, we find Hokmah, or Wisdom, herself being a guide from within.
These traditions remind us no person is the real Teacher of anyone. The human teacher provides wise guidance - mostly not theory, but from personal experience, encouragement, inspiration, and example. He or she has to guide but withhold guidance, giving enough but not over-giving. So, in providing guidance spiritually, one is more a hinter than a teller and knows the aspirant needs listening to more than being given information.
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The late, renowned Christian monk, Thomas Merton, wrote and spoke much on Contemplative Prayer, including publishing a book by that title. Merton never defined it. He trusted one willing to engage the Prayer would be taught the Prayer from within.
Yes, seeking guidance from humans helps and is essential, but to do so without an overreliance on anyone, not expecting another to give answers one cannot be provided, only grow into. As I have written elsewhere: In walking the Way, the Way reveals Itself.
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*(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2020
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher FirstBooks. The book is a collection of poems based on mystical traditions, especially Christian and Sufi, with extensive notes on the teachings and imagery in the poetry.