One Teacher



"You can get someone to teach you things me­chanical or scientific or mathematical like alge­bra or English or riding a cycle or operating a computer. But in the things that really matter, life, love, reality, God, no one can teach you a thing. All they can do is give you formulas. And as soon as you have a formula, you have reality filtered through the mind of someone else. If you take those formulas you will be imprisoned. You will wither and when you come to die you will not have known what it means to see for yourself, to learn.

Look at it this way: There have been mo­ments in your life when you had an experience that you know you will have to carry with you to your grave because you are quite unable to find words with which to communicate the ex­perience to anyone. As a matter of fact there simply are no words in any human language to communicate exactly what you experienced. Think of the kind of feeling that came upon you when you saw a bird fly over a lake or observed a blade of grass peeping out of a crack in the wall or heard the cry of a baby at night or sensed the loveliness of a naked human body or gazed at a corpse lying cold and rigid in a coffin. You may try to communicate the experience in music or poetry or painting. But in your heart you know that no one will ever comprehend ex­actly what it was you saw and sensed. This is something you are quite powerless to express, much less teach, to another human being.

That is exactly how a Master feels when you ask him to teach you about life or God or real­ity. All he can do is give you a formula, a set of words strung together into a formula. But of what use are those words? Imagine a group of tourists in a bus. The shades of the bus are down and they don't see or hear or touch or smell a single thing from the strange exotic country that they are passing through, while all the while their guide chatters away, giving them what he thinks is a vivid description of the smells, sounds and sights of the world outside. The only things they will experience are the im­ages that his words create in their heads. And let's suppose the bus stops and he sends them forth with formulas about what they can expect to see and experience. Their experience will be contaminated, conditioned, distorted by those formulas and they will perceive, not the Reality itself but Reality as filtered through the guide's formulas .

They will look at Reality selectively or they will project their own formulas onto it, so it is not Reality they will see but a confirmation of their formulas.

Is there any way you can know that what you are in touch with is Reality? Here is one sign: What you perceive does not fit into any formula whether given by another or created by yourself. It simply cannot be put into words. So what can teachers do? They can bring to your notice what is unreal, they cannot show you Re­ality; they can destroy your formulas, they can­ not make you see what the formula is pointing to; they can indicate your error, they cannot put you in possession of the Truth. They can, at the most, point in the direction of Reality, they can­ not tell you what to see. You will have to walk out there all alone and discover for yourself.

To walk alone-that means to walk away from every formula-the ones given to you by others, the ones you learned from books, the ones that you yourself invented in the light of your own past experience. That is possibly the most terrifying thing a human being can do: move into the unknown, unprotected by any formula. To walk away from the world of human beings as the prophets and the mystics did is not to walk away from their company but from their formulas. Then, even though you are surrounded by people, you are truly and utterly alone. What an awesome solitude! That soli­tude, that aloneness is Silence. It is only this Si­lence that you will see. And the moment you see you will abandon every book and guide and guru.

What is it that you will see? Anything, every­thing: a falling leaf, the behaviour of a friend, the ripples on the surface of a lake, a pile of stones, a ruined building, a crowded street, a starry sky, whatever. After you have seen, someone may attempt to help you put your vision into words but you will shake your head-No, not that,­ that's just another formula. Someone else will attempt to explain the meaning of what you saw and you will shake your head again because meaning is a formula, something that can be put into concepts and makes sense to the thinking mind, and what you saw is beyond all formula, all meaning. And a strange change will come about in you, barely perceptible at first but radi­cally transforming. Because, having seen, you will never be the same again. You will feel the exhilarating freedom, the extraordinary confi­dence that comes from knowing that every for­mula, no matter how sacred, is worthless; and you will never again call anyone your teacher. Then you will never cease to learn as each day you observe and understand afresh the whole process and movement of life. Then every single thing will be your teacher.

So put your books and formulas aside; dare to abandon your teacher whoever your teacher may be and see things for yourself. Dare to look at everything around you without fear and without formula and it won't be long before you see."

from the book "The Way to Love" by Anthony de Mello truth, OdiliaCarmen