Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Awareness


Last night, I was on the phone with someone I know very well, someone who lives in The Place That Shall Not Be Mentioned, and we started talking about people we've known over the years who we consider to spiritually evolved. Perhaps not to the arahant level, but coming very close.

For me, it is him. For him, it is a teacher he had many, many years ago ~ when he was still in his late teens. Like most young Thai men, he spent some time as a monk and found his teacher to be so enlightened that "I considered him to be closest to a god I could imagine".

He considered ordaining but like many people, he met a woman, loved her, married her and created children. He started a business and took on the life of a householder, provider, father, husband and store owner. Still, he's always stayed close to the teachings and the elders. He's the only person I've ever known who has managed to stick to his spiritual principles while still engaging the material and commercial world. He's in perfect balance.

In my opinion.

He would disagree.

I scanned my memory banks, thinking of many people I've met over the years, trying to think of someone I considered to be "closest to a god I could imagine".

And came up with a goose egg.

That's not to say I haven't met people further along the path than me. There were hundreds of those. At some points in my life, I suspect anyone and everyone was in better balance than me. I depended on books a lot - and organized religions.

When you think back, who do you consider to have been your greatest spiritual teacher?



heartinsanfrancisco said...

Of course my first thought was of people who are very wise and embody goodness. I hate to say it, but I think that our greatest spiritual teachers are those who try us and our principles the most sorely, the ones who are so very difficult that they inspire not our highest energies but our lowest.

If we can overcome the parts of ourselves that wish them ill, then we grow in our own practice, whatever it is.

The Dalai Lama says that compassion is his religion. If we can summon our compassion for those who seem unworthy and realize that ALL living beings are worthy of compassion, even the most unlovable among us, then their presence in our lives has enabled us to learn the most precious lesson of all.

In this light, it would seem that the bane of my own existence, my next door neighbor, will be there until I am able to sincerely wish her well from a full heart. This remarkable transformation has thus far eluded my abilities, but the only way past this impasse is through it.

And I need to learn the lesson soon before I lose my mind (and my temper.)

Carla said...

I will have to ponder this one for a bit. I know of those who I could say are wise beyond their years, but my greatest spiritual teacher...I guess I need to assess what that means for me.

Suki said...

Chani, I can't think of any one person. This might be my very post-modern academic thinking patterns, but to me every role is a place.. a place that can be fulfilled by scattered incidents among various people. Friends, family, blogs, books.. so much.
I have learned from those who inspire me by their good deeds, I am trying to learn from those who test my values most sorely, I am learning from those who tread the same path as I do and sometimes stumble.. the whole world would be my God. Not any single person.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

He certainly isn't my personal spiritual teacher, and I haven't even been in his physical presence, but I'd have to say that the Dalai Lama would be the closest human I can think of to godliness.

Border Explorer said...

These days I look to movements rather than to "one" inspired godly teacher. I would choose the movement of liberation theology as my greatest teacher.

SUEB0B said...

I was so lucky to have Mary Olive Hill in my life for 9 years until she died at 90. She was a teacher of A Course in Miracles and, while she lived and acted like a normal little proper lady, she was so spiritually advanced that she amazed me over and over.

She never had a bad word to say about anyone. The worst she could come up with was "They have forgotten who they are." She taught her classes with perfect focus and wonderful humor, but was not attached to the outcome. She offered her best freely, but did not concern herself over whether people liked it or not.

She knew who she was, a beloved child of God. I don't miss her because she is so much a part of me.

She would have never set herself above other people. She would say we are all equal in the eyes of God.

Village Farang said...

The greatest teacher? I would vote for that wee little voice that comes from deep within. You know, that one so seldom listened to or acknowledged.

Anonymous said...

I hav eto agree with Heart that the peole who try us can teach us much. But I think ultimately, Life is the greatest teacher.

womaninawindow said...

Hum. Maybe this guy I knew years ago. He threw himself at life. He was there, gyrating with it in his essence. I couldn't go on alongside him. His cadence was too different from mine. (Plus, zoinks, turns out he was gay.) But boy oh boy, did he teach me to have fun in life. To drink it up. To let it spill over my chin.

Olivia said...

What a great question, Chani!

My greatest spiritual teacher, without doubt, is my husband LoveHubbie Mark. He has brought out the qualities in me necessary to deal with living with him and they have mostly been spiritual qualities. I doubt that my spirituality would be as important to me as it is if not for him.

I have never had a spiritual mentor who has been evolved that I decided to emulate. I tend to find one or several aspects of people that I admire and that teach me things.

But what a gift you and others have had to find many qualities in one person!

xxoo, O

Anonymous said...

I keep looking! Sometimes the people you might think would be spiritual are so grumpy and not nice and then I find in common humanity moments of glorious centeredness...

MsLittlePea said...

I can't say I know anyone like that. Maybe my Grandma but that's a little girl thing to say :O)