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Unsung Spiritual Teachers

Someone asked me recently who my spiritual teachers were. I replied that at this point I would have to say each being and each moment were spiritual teachers. But he actually wanted to know about Adyashanti. "What did he give you?" he asked. I answered, "Nothing. He pointed to Nothing and gave me Nothing, and that was his greatest gift. He never gave me advice about life or encouraged dependence in any way. He had absolute faith and trust in Truth as it moved in each one of us." 

While there is unspeakable gratitude for both Ramana Maharshi and Adyashanti as spiritual teachers who pointed to the inner Guru of truth and love within, today I want to draw attention to life's unsung spiritual teachers—those who get little press, and often little recognition, but who shape our journey and offer love in countless, if sometimes disguised, ways. These are the people and situations we encounter every single day in our own families, and in our family of friends, co-workers, neighbors, Sangha--the family of beings and Being, day-to-day, moment-to-moment. 

Each of us has our own unique collection of spiritual teachers, constantly showing us the places we are stuck, attached to our own views, open or closed to any given moment, identifying with a familiar role instead of the truth of what we are, trying to do it "right" rather than being deeply authentic, trying to control rather than being present to one another. 

Whether our teachers are our children, partners, parents, friends or enemies, past or present, each give us untold opportunities to see our Self, to love and be loved regardless of perceived shortcomings, idiosyncrasies, or insecurities. They give us opportunities to forgive, and perhaps to learn there is simply nothing and no one TO forgive. Ultimately, nothing is truly hidden in life, regardless of how far we have tried to run from it--not even our deep love for one another, which for some may be very scary to feel or express if there has also been pain. 

Life itself--family in particular--provides a continual retreat where whatever needs to be seen, understood, met, or loved will be invited to appear. Family life can be a cooking pot for whatever needs some heat, a rock polisher where rough stones are tumbled smooth together, a soothing balm on hurt places, an invitation to expand our loving. Sometimes family life is a warm hearth, a playground, a circus, a boxing ring, a challenge, a joy. Like Life itself, it is whole. Dark and light appear together as One. And the One is playing all the roles! 

It is tempting for some seekers to imagine that "truth" is only discovered on the meditation cushion and that our day-to-day relationships, especially the challenging ones, are interrupters of truth or destroyers of peace. But look beyond such thoughts. We are mirrors to one another. Can we look deeply? Can we allow ourselves to see, to grow? If authentic, our realizations eventually transform our lives. Transformations may come slower than we would like, but can we remain open to seeing, to inquiring, to being transformed in the midst of life as it is, not as we fantasize it should be? 

We may imagine that not being given love in abundance from parents or partners has made it difficult or even impossible to give or receive love. Here, life invites us to go deeper to find Love's source, to experience the unlimited wellspring of love that is always here in our own true nature. Once we find it within, we realize that whatever it took for such a discovery was a gift from beyond—whether it was an abundance of love, or the perception of its scarcity, supportive "teachers" or difficult ones--each was a gift of love, no matter what. For they brought us to this point, where we can explore for ourselves who we are, what is true, what is love, what is real. 

The next time we want to blame someone for holding us back, can we see how we are holding ourselves back--pretending to be fragmented and limited when we are whole, unlimited, and an expression of Love itself. Can we unclench our fist, put our palms together, and bow in gratitude for the unsung teachers of the moment?

© Dorothy Hunt
Photo courtesy of Dorothy Hunt

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