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Lessons in Learning Spiritual Traditions

Not everyone can teach!

Life´s lessons come from unexpected sources. Recently I had the opportunity to learn a most unexpected and valuable lesson from a person who I entrusted to be my teacher on an Hoodoo course. I was surprised by an overreaction that can only be described with one word: Rudeness.

Rudeness in my book is simply an inner reflection of fears and lack of spiritual advancement. Rudeness does not know the value of temperance; it also does not know when to seek clarification and when to lash out like a bull in a china shop. Rudeness is weakness.

However, in the face of such reprehensible behavior my reaction which can be hot tempered surprised me even more, for it was one of forgiveness. Once the initial shock of the outrage wore out, I felt truly sorry for my teacher. Here is a person with so much to share yet blinded by ego and a fundamental lack of care in the way lessons and corrective courses of action are shared with students.

There comes a time when all teachers will feel challenged by their students. In today’s society where knowledge is more readily available, not all students come like blank slates. Some are already ahead of the teacher in many areas, yet they select to enter a sacred bond and to learn from a particular person. That bond demands respect, caring and sensitivity to many things such as cultural and spiritual backgrounds. Students who come from diverse traditions can be harder to ‘shape’ from the teacher’s perspective. The student needs to learn to lay aside prior knowledge, but the teacher also should understand that knowledge shapes an individual and to ask someone to be stripped of prior experiences in order to make space for the ones is both impossible and unnecessary. Would the student ask of a teacher to stop being who they are to adapt to their world? Then why would a teacher demand from a student to utterly shape to their perspective?

Teacher, I forgive you for not caring how your words made me feel as a student and a human being. I forgive you for taking offense where none was meant. I will set aside your preconceived and rigid ideas and your lack of respect and strive to listen to the voice I know you have deep within you and that drives you to share what you have learned. I pray that you once again listen to your intuition so you can continue to be an effective teacher and keeper of spiritual traditions.

A few words of advice to teachers and students:

1. Listen, think and take time before you answer. 2. Temper your words. Caustic words seldom encourage learning. 3. Value each other’s backgrounds and prior experiences. 4. Forgive and learn to move on.

I am not the perfect student, but I have great teachers and I thank them for all they have shared with me. I want to thank particularly two gentlemen who through their actions and examples have reinforced in me the value of choosing the right words and taking the high road: my Ikofá godfather, Iwori Oddí and by babá Yeguedé.

Omimelli Oní Yemayá Achagbá

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