Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Good Teachers, Ego and

I want to write something about how difficult it has been for me to find a really good teacher in this lifetime; how my own ego got in my way and made it hard to accept anything less than amazing master teachers; and, how I have managed to find a few of those - in spite of myself. But it's hot, humid and my brain cells are moving at a perfectly appropriate speed for this set and setting - just this side of completely stopped. So - I will give it a shot. 

As I've already stated, I have found it almost impossible to locate a "good teacher." Most of this was due to the fact that, my childhood being what it was, I hadn't a very high regard for authority or those who felt they had a right to wield it. That cut out quite a few teachers from the start. Then there are my admittedly high-ish quality standards for both form and content of anything I would be willing to take the trouble to learn. I felt I needed to have a true master from which to learn, so - even when I took a class from someone - I didn't really accept them as my Teacher. That would have been admitting that they knew more than I did. And as insecure as I was, that was the last thing I could have done. My loss.

In spite of all that I managed to run into Elisheva; an amazing woman who was at the time - some 20 plus years ago - everything I always wanted to be when - if - I grew up. Or at least that's how it appeared to me. Because of this, she managed to hold my attention long enough to get some core lessons across to me - all without me even noticing. I'm still not sure how she managed some of it. All I know is that I think I was looking the other direction when it happened. She remains my best friend and mentor to this day. 

About 17 years ago I heard about a weekend of Tai Chi workshops being held over in Northern Kentucky and decided to go down and check it out. I had been teaching Yang style Tai Chi in a haphazard way for some 5 years and thought I pretty well had the whole thing figured out. With a strong grounding in Chinese Medicine and QiGong, I knew more than the average Tai Chi instructor.    . . . Master Ting was NOT your average Tai Chi
instructor. After that first workshop I stopped teaching Tai Chi, because I realized that I knew nothing about Tai Chi. Master TIng was like the blind monk who taught Kwai Chang Kane in that old TV series Kung Fu - except that he wasn't blind and he has never taught me how to use throwing stars. At least not yet. Master Ting is amazing. He truly is a Master - both as a martial artist and a teacher - so of course it took me more than a few years to get around to working with him again. Now - at long last I am taking workshops from him a few times a year. Even bringing him to Cincinnati to teach once a year. (You should really ask me about that if you have any interest in excellent martial arts.) 

Finally, there is Heinz Stark. Back in 2001 I was teaching a series of Shamanic workshops in Cornwall as part of a tour I was leading there. (see my book Dance of Stones: A Shamanic Road Trip) My friend Lisa (Soli in DOS) had just been introduced to Constellation Work in Germany and was overflowing with enthusiasm for this new technique. I asked her to show us how it worked and we wound up spending every evening doing constellations instead of what I had planned. I was blown away by the power and possibilities of the work - as was Patricia who was along on that trip as well.

Lisa gave Patricia and I a present of some Constellation Work with some German facilitators on our next visit to Berlin, and we became even more enthralled. We had to find a way to study it - but couldn't see spending a couple years in Germany (though I was beginning to consider it). Fortunately, another friend and one of my shamanic apprentices at the time found that there was an in-depth training being offered up in Racine, WI. We checked into it and it was clearly too expensive and too time consuming for us to do do - so I went anyway. After the first weeklong seminar, Patricia joined - and we have been facilitating together ever since. But that beginning was not easy. I had to look at Heinz, with all his very human foibles, and accept that he had something very valuable to teach me. That was the first time I knowingly accepted someone as my teacher. And I've never regretted it. 

Now I am hoping to find yet another teacher - and hope to be open to whatever adventure they have in store for me - kicking and screaming all the way. 



Aaron said...

You're just sucking up so that Master Ting shows you the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. He's only going to teach it to Patricia, so I'd just focus on being very nice to her :)

I would have liked to make it to the last workshop. Is Master Ting living in the US? And are you doing qi gong with him as well?

Post Tribal Shaman said...

Hmmm - I KNEW there was a reason I was being so nice to Patricia. I thought it was just that she had be bewitched. Now I begin to see. . . .

Yes - the QiGong I do now is also from Master Ting. He lives in NJ now, and I go to a weekend workshop series in the Poconos twice a year with him, bring him here to Cincinnati once a year and go to visit him whenever possible. (all too rare).