Training to be a Teacher or Coach
A Toltec is an Artist, their expression their paint, Life thier canvas.
Becoming, and Being a Life Coach or Spiritual Teacher
The word “teacher” has seemed quite inadequate to me for some time now. So I have taken up finding a better term for what I do. As a starting point I looked at the definitions of Teacher.
In many spiritual traditions the term Master is used. In the definition of master it refers to a person’s skill and proficiency as an artist or craftsman. There is also a reference to a religious leader. (I’ll refrain from using this one as religion often clouds things up by putting rules and definition boxes on the Divine.)
So, here is my dilemma. I don’t like either of them as so many assumptions are already projected on to such titles.. I could use term teacher or master just to simplify things for people, they certainly apply. But as I will explain further on, I feel they fall short of the clarity that I am seeking. I could also use Nagual, Shaman, Witness, or Dream Master. In my world of understanding, these are far more accurate, but to people who do not share my experience, and therefore perception, these terms are probably vague and confusing. For some people, the usage is more confusing than clarifying. And this is an attempt to keep it simple, and in terms of common sense. I often use Life Coach these days because it is more acceptable to people although it doesn’t really say what I do.
Let me share an interpretation of the term, master and we might see how other people might not see it this way. A master is someone who has proficiency and skillfulness of their art or craft. Well, in one point of view, we are creators of our life, or dream as referred to in Toltec mythology. Let’s say that our life dream is made up of everything that we think, feel, say, interpret, and do. It is highly unlikely that anyone has created a life identical to our own. In the world of billions of creators, each person’s life dream is an original work. It is also not likely that someone could duplicate such a life, even given all sorts of insights. If you consider identical twins, they don’t create their life the same way. Not even close.
So each of us is a creator of a personal dream, a work of art in the expression of our life and each creation could never be duplicated. I’d say that this is a kind of mastery, a creation that we may not have previously considered to be a work of art.
Now people may disagree and say that it’s not really mastery if it is filled with fear, judgments, jealousy, and all kinds of drama. We’ll I think that there are some great examples of artistry that are filled with drama. Take for example a play by Shakespeare. Macbeth is filled with drama and it is an incredible work of art. Any performer in one of those roles, that plays it well, is certainly a master. Now, what if people have been playing these dramatic roles so well for so long that they are completely immersed in the character? They do this in their life as their personality?
They are so practiced at playing the role of fear, judgments, anger, sadness, etc., that they do it every day without any second guessing. This is truly an amazing feat. We might call mastery in the way they dream their life. Completely unaware of choice, but a mastery just the same. If we look at how people live their lives and see it as roles they practice and play every day, then we see that everyone is a master. Their life dream is different from every other person. Some people are masters of drama, fear, anger, jealousy while some are masters of love, happiness and fun. But most people have some combination of the two. Whatever their life dream, it is an original work of art, a masterpiece. Therefore, everyone is a master. Perhaps it is clearer that what these words mean to me are completely different from what they mean to other people.
About that word “teacher”
Teacher: one who teaches: one who’s occupation is to instruct. ( this definition didn’t help very much) So I went further.
Teach: to instruct by precept, example, or experience. (this one has a chance but we will clarify.)
For starters there is not enough emphasis on the part where there needs to be someone there learning/growing in order for teaching to be happening. If there is a teacher alone in the forest and no one is there learning, is he teaching? But I digress. Here’s my point. If we teach by example, or experience, then isn’t how we live our life a teaching? If we scream at our employees or co-workers, or children, then we are teaching by example. And they are learning by experience. If we shame our children they are learning by experiencing us. If we elevate their emotions and have them embrace happiness, then that is what we are teaching. If we respect people, then that is what people are experiencing. And that is what is being taught. We are teaching whenever we are sharing our expressions with others, and they experience our expressions. People learn by experiencing someone else’s expressions.
I see everyone sharing their opinion, emotions, and attitudes. In doing so, they are teaching others. Where ever people are experiencing another’s dream, there is a chance for learning. People don’t have to be in front of a class to be teaching. Parents teach children, brothers teach sisters, school kids teach each other on the play ground. Children teach parents and teachers as well, just through experiencing each others attitudes, actions, and personal dream of life. In this same fashion adults teach other whenever they interact. So, by this perspective, I see everyone as a teacher. Each person is teaching other people their own life dream through every expression. Each person is sharing their viewpoints, opinions, emotions, and attitudes that they have mastered in their personal dream. Of course most of this is all done without any awareness that this is what is happening.
So, the way I see it, everyone is a master of their life dream and each person is sharing their mastery to everyone they interact with. So everyone is also a teacher to others of how to dream. Whether we are aware that we are masters and teachers or not, does not change the dynamic. Some interact with awareness and others not.
There are many masters.
If there is something that you wish to master, then one of the fastest ways to learn is to study with someone who has mastered what you desire to learn; provided that they will teach you. If you want to master the violin, study someone who is a master of the violin. If you want to master sculpting, study with a master sculptor.
If you desire to master love and happiness, study with someone who is masterful in their love happiness.
If you would like your children to be happy, then practice being happy yourself, for they will be learning from you, just by them observing and interacting with you.
We are all learning from each other, and we are all teaching each other, whether we are aware that we are doing it or not. The thing to keep in mind is that it is all much easier and faster with awareness.
How to become a Master?
I’ve recently had many inquiries from individuals wishing to teach the Toltec work. The questions vary in range, and include issues of marketing themselves, and the various institutions associated with don Miguel’s work. The extrinsic logistical issues are not that important compared to the intrinsic qualities of a person’s personal dream. You can only really share what is in your personal dream.
In guiding others, I came to a realization that I could not teach what I was not able to do for myself. By the same token, I chose to study with people who had mastered what I wanted to learn. They could teach me how they were living. I did not need a better intellectual definition of “impeccability”. It was much more valuable to spend time with someone who was really impeccable, and learn about how they viewed the world and lived their life.
If you were going to climb Mt. Everest, would you hire a guide that had not been there before? If you want to consider yourself a guide, and you can not get yourself to the mountain top of Unconditional Love, don’t expect others to follow.
Consider the journey out of hell. Would you allow someone to guide you who has not found the way out themselves? If you wanted to live a life of unconditional love, would you study with someone who wasn’t able to live it themselves? If you are considering being a teacher, you must be willing to be humbled with accepting what you have not yet mastered. If not, you will eventually become an obstacle to your students.
As a teacher, If you want to teach Impeccability, then live your life that way.
If you want to assist others in dreaming a life of Joy and Love in every moment, then do it yourself. Notice the definition above about teacher where it uses the word “example”. If you don’t know the way, and you want to get there yourself, hire a qualified guide. It is possible to figure it out on your own. A few have done it, but it can be much easier and faster with a guide. Personally, I can not fathom passing through challenges I have encountered without guidance.
The Toltec Route
People who have just read don Miguel’s books, contact me and ask about being a teacher. They want to become one. The whole idea is a little funny to me. It is like asking one of those mountain guides; “How do you become a guide on Everest.” I imagine that you dedicate your life to the process for starters, and then you add a lot of patience for your own process as it takes some years. At least that is what I’ve seen the best teachers do.
Some people have done a great deal of inner work in their life, and it is not too far to stretch to understand this way of teaching. Just in the way some climbers have a great deal of experience before attempting Everest. Some have even ascended the same Mountain, but by a different route. Meaning, they have already mastered unconditional love, and are happy in their life, and all their relationships. Then it is just a matter of becoming familiar with the Toltec route up the mountain, and gaining the experience guiding others along this route. With each person, the time, effort, and process will vary. No two climbers ever step in the same place.
But for those that show up, and have never climbed a mountain, I am at a loss for words to describe the journey that they will undertake to become a master of reaching the mountain of Unconditional Love. But I have no doubt that the journey will be worth it. It is an epic feat.
Do I need to wait for Mastery to teach?
Don’t assume that because you are not a master of happiness or love, that you don’t have something worthwhile to share, or have no right being a teacher. I don’t think I wrote that up there. And if I did write it, it would just be my personal opinion anyway. And nothing that others necessarily are required to live by. ( just keeping this all in perspective here. This whole thing that I’ve written here is just a viewpoint from my personal dream. No one else need live by my words. They are their own master artist. Keep this in mind as we go. )
As we journey one of the interesting avenues that we can explore is sharing our new found awareness, tools, love, and support with others. If this is in the role of a “teacher”, then so be it. When we consider some of the reasons why we teach, one of the most elegant is that it provides us an opportunity to practice the unconditional love that we seek to master. Then share your love in whatever forms you wish. But it doesn’t have to be as a “Spiritual Teacher”. I know people who have incredible personal dreams, and have no desire to teach in a formal setting. They do it as school teachers, office managers, executives, doctors, and secretaries. Without “trying”, without making an effort, just by their everyday interactions of being themselves, the people around them are affected by their presence. Their teaching is in how they live their life, and they don’t have the need to tell anyone they are doing it. This can be just as valuable to transforming the world. When you are living in a more abundant state of happiness, other people around you will be affected, and most of them may not even know it.
A Beginners Trap
What to be aware of as we share the way we dream life with others is the quality of what we are sharing. Too often a beginning teacher will trap themselves in an image of what they believe a teacher should be. They often feel like they should always have the answers, or “be” a certain way. With these kinds of ideas, they limit their behavior, and thereby sacrifice their personal freedom in order to be what they believe a “spiritual teacher” is “supposed to be”. This is a very fast and effective way for a teacher to fall into misery. And a good gate to pass through as we continue mastering unconditional love for ourselves. As I said earlier, this teaching route can be humbling.
What is embodied by those great teachers is their humility. In their humbleness they act to serve their students. They are not there for the accolades or praise from their students, they are there because they enjoy serving them. And what they are serving them is their love. As a teacher, you become the servant, placing the student’s needs ahead of your own. You operate based on what is best for them, and their freedom. And not, based on what you think would be best for them. This is a very fine line that becomes clearer through experience, practice, and time.
In the early years of teaching, as your mastery is still growing you may encounter individuals that have more unconditional love and happiness in their dream than your own. They are seeking, but what you have to offer, they already mastered for themselves. A person may also grow to this level through working with you. At this point perhaps they have outgrown you as a teacher. At this point, this student is best served by sending them on to a teacher that has more to share. This level of service to your students is truly a gesture of humility. There is a lot of that humility to be found on this teaching route.
Responsibility to the Student
There is an aspect of teaching that is profoundly important to me, yet is rarely talked about. It has to do with the responsibility that a teacher has to a student. Students will often put the teacher on a pedestal. They assume that the teacher knows something that they don’t, and then rely on the teacher’s guidance. Whether the teacher realizes it or not, people will make an authority figure out of him or her. By doing so, the student puts their faith, or personal power, in the words of their teacher. This is not necessarily bad. If a person is in a high degree of hell, and they need help to get out of it, they are often better off listening to someone who has moved past those demons, than to the judge and victim in their own mind.
When a student puts their trust in a teacher, the teacher then has a great responsibility to the student. The teacher is in service to the student. But, this does not mean that the teacher is responsible for the student. The student remains always responsible for their own choices, actions, and results of their actions.
In the beginning of my time as a teacher, I did not appreciate the level of responsibility that students put in my hand. In one manner I did, because I was aware of my own process and don Miguel’s guidance. On the other hand, I was naïve of how much faith my students would put in what I said. As I became more aware of people’s willingness to put their faith in me (something that I didn’t really consider the impact of early on) I became more careful of my instructions and guidance.
Through my experience with don Miguel I became aware of how a dedicated Spiritual pursuit will bring change to your life. In the way you view the world, feel emotionally, what career changes might be incurred, relationships, and everything else.
The integration of these changes in ones life can be challenging. They often take time. If rushed, they become sources of drama that interfere with our creation of happiness. When the integration of change becomes more a source of suffering than a source of happiness, we are moving too fast. I often find myself instructing them to have patience in accepting things the way they are,,, and never to hurry up. The price of too much change too fast, is too high.
Don Miguel’s has often said, “We are not in a hurry, and there is no time to waste.”
As a teacher, these words have a profoundly deeper meaning when I consider my responsibility to my students.
One of the greatest lessons I learned from don Miguel had to do with Power. Through an experience I had with him, I discovered what an extraordinary connection he had with Intent ( Spirit, Power). I was quite impressed. I didn’t understand it very well, but I knew it was big. What I immediately began to wonder was why he didn’t do more with it. Why not do big acts of power all the time? It could have an incredible impact on people to shift the whole dream of their life.
As I journeyed into this question about don Miguel, I saw the amount of refrain he had in the use of Power. What I then saw was behind this motivation of refrain. I saw that don Miguel had no desire to change anyone, or their life. He only loved and accepted people just the way that they are. His love was/is, so unconditional, that he loves people just the way that they are. In that unconditional love, there is no desire or need to change anybody. This is when I saw the real nature of don Miguel. I understood what unconditional love was. It means not needing to change anyone, and that includes yourself. This realization became much more powerful to me than any act of power could have performed. His unconditional love was more powerful than any Ceremony, or act of Power or change could ever be. He loved me just the way that I was. I didn’t have to try to be anything any more. I was lovable. I was good enough just the way that I was. He loved me no matter what I was. And in his reflection, I began to love myself just the way that I was. No conditions.
For me, to love unconditionally became the most powerful act of transformation. It transformed me and my entire personal dream.
And the irony is, that it came to me through someone who didn’t have a need to change me. He was teaching by example. It was simple. He was just living it, and wasn’t even doing anything to bring attention to how he loved me.
To me, Unconditional Love is at the heart of what a teacher has a responsibility to impart to those he or she is responsible to. It may be the only thing they have a responsibility to.
In my quest to find a better term than teacher, I have not come up with one. So, by default I will use the term teacher. However, I don’t know anyone who isn’t a teacher of their own dream. What I teach is about my personal dream. It is quite a bit different than it used to be, thanks to don Miguel. I will continue to share my dream. The words that I use to describe my dream will change, but the essence of my practice and mastery will continue to be Unconditional Love.
__________updated note. Someone proposed that I use the word “un-teacher” since I am essentially guiding people to unlearn all their reasons and excuses not to love. I liked it, but in using it I’ll keep having to explain all this again.