Scott Shaw.com Be Positive

You Can’t Teach Here

Back when I was with the Integral Yoga Institute, we, of course, all practiced hatha yoga and meditation together on a regular basis. Most of us, myself included, when we first got involved with Swami Satchidananda and his teachings, we did so by taking some of the various classes on yoga taught at the Institute. As is always the case in life, some people simply possess the nature to spread what they have learned outwards to others. And, they may do that without having received any formal certificate or permission to do so.
 
There was this one very nice lady and her husband who became involved with the Institute. They came around frequently and eventually got to meet Gurudev and stuff like that. Hatha Yoga Teacher Training came around. But, as it turns out, this lady had already been teaching yoga to a group of people. Yoga techniques that she had learned from the IYI. She had been doing this before ever receiving teacher training. Did this mean that what she was doing was wrong? Did this mean that what she was doing was somehow lacking? Or, did this mean that she was simply mimicking the training she had received, in the classes she had taken, and was spreading this knowledge out to the world?  
 
As the teacher training course was just beginning, she mentioned this fact to the instructor—the fact that she had been teaching. Her question was raised, now what? It nicely went around a little bit, but it came down to the fact that once she had completed the teaching training she would have to start giving the IYI a good portion of the money she was charging for teaching those classes. The lady eventually fell away and did not complete the course. Did that make her ability to teach hatha yoga any less?
 
In the martial arts, it is quite common that a student will earn a black belt and immediately break away from their instructor to open their own school. In some systems, the student is encouraged to do this to spread the brand and to funnel money-earned back to the headmaster. In other cases, however, this is not the case. The student just breaks away and opens their own school in order to focus on themselves, and in some instances, to denigrate or depreciate their previous instructor. They do this long before they have spent the years in training to earn the fourth-degree black belt which is understood to be the point where an advanced student becomes an instructor. Is what they are doing wrong?
 
If you look to the realm of spirituality, there have been many noted western teachers who traveled to the East and/or learned what they learned from various eastern-based teachers. Some formed a conglomeration of what they learned and spread it to others. There are those who have criticized these teachers as not having learned the full-system of understanding before they began broadcasting it to the world. Even respected orators like Gurdjieff had their critics—those who claimed that he was teaching an incomplete system because he had not yet mastered the teaching he was disseminating. True or not, he had an untold number of followers who, to this day, study his teachings. And, that is just one example. Was what he was doing wrong?
 
Some people simply possess the nature to be a teacher. Some people do this based in ego, while others do this based in a true dedication to a subject. If you look to the dissemination of yoga in the western world, for example, many teachers were (and are) not formally qualified to teach. If you look at the primary propagation of the martial arts in the western world, some of the early, formative personas, did not even possess their black belt when they began to teach. Was that wrong?
 
The first question you must ask yourself when you find yourself studying from someone is, are you learning something of value to you? Then you must question, is the person who is teaching you worthy of the title of teacher? But then, the deeper question arises, if you are learning from someone who is not wholly qualified to teach, what are you
not learning?
 
For those of us who walk the life path of knowledge, we want to know—we are constantly studying and attempting to get to the source of knowledge where our own realizations may be born. Can we learn from anyone? Or course. You can always learn from anyone you encounter simply by studying what they say, what they do, how they do it, and the impact of what they are saying and doing is having on others. But, does that mean that they are a True Teacher? No, not necessarily. Yes, they may proclaim themselves to be a teacher. But, self-proclamation does not a teacher make.
 
What does this tell us? For those of us who want to learn, for those of us who want to know, though we can learn from anyone, who we call our teacher must be defined by a grander set of standards. Do not believe someone to be a true teacher simply because they give themselves the title of a teacher and set up a class. Don’t believe someone simply because they are in the position of an instructor. Don’t follow a person's teachings simply because they have other people believing them.  A true teacher has been schooled at the source. They have the support of those they studied from. They pay homage to those teachers they learned from. They are not someone who simply sets up a class and finds the lost, the bored, and the lonely to listen to them.
 
Study who your teachers truly are.