This issue originally published as A Course for Teachers
In the September issue of A Course for Teachers, I cited two examples where when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Since writing that issue, I have had another incident where this has occurred.
After teaching a class in computer science, I was on my way downstairs to grab a cup of coffee. I ran into a colleague who teaches English. He handed me a copy of Alan Watts' book, The Wisdom of Insecurity. He bought the book for me after reading about rage in the September issue.
The Wisdom of Insecurity was written in 1951, not exactly a reflective, or spiritually inventive, or open-minded period. The book deals with experience as part of the ever present now moment. It further describes the past as mere memory, an illusion of what a present moment used to be. In other words, experience does not exist in the past, memories do.
When we think of memories, we step out of being with experience since we are no longer in the now. Experience is a term I will attempt to define.Definition
When we think of the word experience we usually refer to a sum totality of what we either are or have accomplished. We might use the phrase, "She is an experienced painter." Yet, the evidence that we use to convince ourselves that this statement is true rests not in some résumé attesting to the fact, but rather in the observation of the painter's painting (the verb rather than the noun). The painter, painting at this very moment, is the convincing evidence that she has experience. She is both the act of painting and the experience in the moment of the painting.
This is true of any activity. When we skateboard or ski, when we are captivated by the act itself, we know no other activity. We are the skateboarding or the skiing. To step outside of the activity is to loosen our oneness with what we are doing. If we stop to think that we are skateboarding or skiing, we are no longer the experience of skateboarding or skiing. We are the experience of thinking. We might, in fact, fall, or otherwise change our successful moment-to-moment activity, by experiencing something else.
David Bohm, a protégé of Albert Einstein, believes that the microtubules, which were formerly thought to be important in maintaining the structure of the brain cell, are communications devices. He suggests that chance quantum collisions taking place in these tubules determine which thoughts enter our consciousness. I believe these random thoughts occur most often when we are multi-minded, or not in the experience of single-mindedness. We are neither conscious nor mindful when they happen. Without consciousness, we are random experience.
When I handed the first draft of this issue to my wife to proofread, she returned the corrected copy with a newsletter published by Living by Intent, Inc. Avrom E. King writes in Letter on Intentional Living that William Keepin spent considerable time reviewing the life, times and work of David Bohm. Keepin himself is a physicist. Avrom quotes Keepin from an article in ReVision magazine that "...one could say that nouns do not really exist, only verbs exist. A noun is just a slow verb, that is, it refers to a process that is progressing so slowly as to appear static." Thus, experience is a slowed down action of experiencing. We are constantly in the state of experiencing one thing or another.
We are pure experience whether we recognize it or not. Even when we are multi-minded, engaged in one activity while our mind may be racing in another, multi-mindedness is the experience. We can argue that consciousness of the experience of the moment is a return to single-mindedness. It is in this state of recognizing single-mindedness that living in the ever present now moment occurs.
I agree the term experience is more a present tense verb than it is a noun. It is not something that we have done, as in memories, but is something that we are doing right now. We cannot experience what has happened long ago. Some might suggest that consciousness is the recognition of being experience in the present. Enlightenment is ability to be conscious.
In Death of the Soul, William Barrett wonders whether our interactions with other people involve the other's consciousness or just their physical presence. When I teach my classes and have an interchange with one of my students, am I interacting with a physical presence that includes raising a hand, answering a question, turning in an assignment; or am I interacting with a being that is present in the now moment, one that is the experience of interacting with me? Am I an enlightened being experiencing another enlightened being in the moment who is experiencing me? We need to recognize that, like experience, enlightenment is a verb rather than a noun. We have our moments of consciousness and enlightenment. We are just conscious and enlightened. Once we analyze these, we are separate from them. We are no longer them. We step outside what consciousness and enlightenment is.
There seems to be a dichotomy between science and the spiritual mind. While we write and read about consciousness and enlightenment, exploring our psychological journey as temporal physical beings, we also discover that science is claiming to come closer and closer to discovering the human seat of consciousness. What would the revelation that consciousness takes places in the quantum activity within the microstructural tubules of brain cells have on experience? If we discovered the mathematical formula for experience, would that change our discussion?
I believe that nothing would change. The dichotomy between science and mystic search is a division of experience. The division of experience, is at best is an inability to become intra-conscious with the other, even for a moment. Both mystics and scientists are seeking the same answers using the same questions although different vocabulary.
A scientist is a scientist through the experience of science. A mystic is a mystic through the experience of mysticism. The dichotomy is resolved when the mystic experiences science and the scientist experiences mysticism and they recognize that both are very similar.
Recently, I was having a conversation with two fellow amateur radio operators. One is a pure scientist, the other a professor of theology. While listening to their discussion, on the merits and non-understanding of each others experience, I posed them the following question: "What is the difference between a scientist and a mystic?" Each replied from self-experience and their answers were completely opposite with little common ground. While one said he had no need for mysticism, that it was irrational and illogical, the other claimed that the scientific method of inquiry was just another belief system, mystical in its own way. I offered them the following: How many scientists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Two. One to change the light bulb and another to do the control. How many mystics does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Two. One to change the light bulb and one not to change the light bulb.
What was interesting about their response was that each one of these two gentleman thought that my riddle was supporting their way of thinking or relating directly to their experience. I could not see the difference between being part of the control or separating oneself from the changing of the light bulb. In either case, the two have the same result.
I suggest that the dichotomy between these two points of view is an artificial one created not by experience but by a lack of open consciousness, or the recognition that intra-consciousness includes becoming the experience of the other consciousness. You might call this stepping inside the shoes of the other's experience, or experiencing the other. This is the definition of compassion.Galoshes
In teaching, medicine, construction, manual or mental labor, when we engage in our chosen vocation, our performance is a direct result and function of our compassion. We succeed best when we are the experience (the verb) of the activity of the moment. When we notice the student, patient, or whomever and try on their galoshes, we step into and join their experience as our own. Teaching and learning then become a duplex singular activity between two or more intra-conscious beings open to compassion.
The same can be said for our daily workplace if it involves working with material goods rather than people or other sentient beings. Our relationship with the object, whether lumber under construction or pottery under formation, is a duplex experience. We can argue whether the house or bowl is conscious of our activity. However, our vision and investment in our creation establishes a self recognition that our end product is the result of our creativity, compassion and experience. We and it become experience. Suffice it to say that any two objects, whether animate or not, set up a relationship. An example that comes to mind is the relationship an individual with an eating disorder has with ice cream, pizza or other food.Effective Teaching
Effective teaching takes place when we are intra-conscious and compassionate, when the teacher and the student are experience, stepping in and out of each other's galoshes. A Course in Miracles states, "In teaching - learning situations, each one learns that giving and receiving are the same. The demarcations they have drawn between their poles, their minds, their bodies, their needs, their interests and all the differences they thought separate them from one another, fade and dim and disappear...He (the teacher) has seen in another person the same interests as his own."
In the teacher - pupil experience, there is a vast possibility of learning. One of these possibilities is a choice to establish conditions for effective learning. Effective learning, involves both teacher and pupil. Effective instruction comes from a conscious mutual choice to engage in effective instruction through a dedication to and communication of intra-consciousness. Our commitment to such a belief increases the probability that people will choose to join us in effective learning.
We strive for the perfection of the teaching - learning and the teacher - pupil balance. As the Course suggests, the teacher and the pupil might not necessarily recognize that the balance has been reached, "in fact, they generally do not. They may even be quite hostile to each other for some time, and perhaps for life. Yet should they decide to learn it, the perfect lesson is before them and can be learned."You Never Know
Recently, I heard a about a former student. This former student was asked to leave our school for various reasons, some of which involved discipline. Academically the student did poorly. Socially, he had problems. While this student was in my classroom, I felt his hostility. Though I always believed that the miracle was possible, that this student and I at any moment could exchange galoshes, I wondered whether he was learning anything. What I found out recently was that this student recognized the experience of the miracle, had praise for the teacher - pupil experience. He was grateful for the being in my classroom. As a teacher, (and we all are teachers), you never know when something taught or discussed has impact. The assumption should be that the miracle of learning can and does take place each moment. The miracle is the experience and the experience is the miracle.
Experiencing teaching as experience, and teaching experience as effective learning, requires trust, honesty, tolerance, gentleness, joy, defenselessness, generosity, patience, faithfulness and open-mindedness. These ten characteristics as described in A Course in Miracles' Manual for Teachers suggest a commitment to learning. Though the superficials may differ, style or appearance, a teachers claim to these ten characteristics will lead to learning. "These are special gifts, born in the holy relationship toward which the teaching - learning situation is geared."
In Teach Only Love, Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D., states that, "Love is the part of us that is real... Communication with others is from love to love and not from our past experiences to theirs." Past experiences are memories. There is nothing to be gained by letting these memories get in the way. Effective learning is born from the love within teaching.Closing
Some might argue that some sort of effective teaching model is all that is necessary in order for learning to take place. They might say that this is the rational approach based upon proven observation and theory. The scientist offers that what we can think about, what we can plan and what we can practice is, the course of action to follow. It is true that the rational mind is a powerful instrument. Most of the time, we use it to enhance our ego. We change the environment in order for us to master a particular situation producing a desired result. The skeptic is quick to say that he is incapable of seeing experience as a verb, that compassion and love are inappropriate or irrelevant in effective instruction. How do we answer such critics?
Let us look at the most admired and successful rational thinkers in recent history. From them we learn that a new paradigm is in order. Albert Einstein said, "A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move towards higher levels." In Be Here Now, Baba Ram Dass says it well: "It is interesting that in the autobiographical accounts of the great breakthroughs in man's understanding of the universe, the role of intuition, or some mysterious comprehension, led to the breakthrough rather than any systematic analytic process." We might heed Einstein's words when he said, "I didn't arrive at my understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe through my rational mind."
The power beyond the rational mind is Love. If we experience life as love and each encounter between two people as a miracle about to happen, we cannot help but make the encounter successful. The teacher becomes one with the pupil. Teaching and learning are the same. The experience happens.Meditation I know that I know and that I don't know. But I forget.
I see that I am blind and I see the blinding light in everything, but I forget.
I see what I know I think I know what I see. But sometimes I forget.
And this is the Way It should be. At the end of every forget I remember.
© 1994 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski