“Don’t show me frogs and snakes And listen for my scream, If I’m afraid at all It’s only in my dreams” – Maya Angelou
One of the things that I sometimes have trouble with is, as a self-appointed practitioner with no “formal training”, the fine line that I am making up myself, the difference between being a practitioner “with all the ‘right’ answers coming from wisdom” and being a human being getting caught up in my own little life and my own personal thinking.
A few things occurred last week, in form, that left me troubled and very ungrounded – and though I’m aware that it’s my thinking around that, I can see where it’s coming from, it has still appeared and felt very real.
A month or so ago, I applied to be registered as a practitioner with the Three Principles Global Community and, after going through the formalities for that – interview, etc. – my application was accepted and I was added to that list. A week or so ago, the 3PGC sent out an e-mail requesting material: articles, podcasts etc. and also asking practitioners to participate in a recorded skype call to be edited and published on the website.
Taking on the responsibility of my own investment, I replied back, sending in some material, and informing them that I would love to do a video, and the arrangements for that were made.
But in doing that video, I found myself with a whole lot of insecure thinking coming up – the feeling of being an imposter, I’m listed alongside people who knew and worked with Syd Banks and who have thirty years experience teaching the principles compared to my meagre two years experience. But also many doubts came up about “what do I know about the principles?” followed by thoughts of, even though I was in a lovely feeling during the recording, that “maybe what I was saying was just a load of old bollocks”. Then I got more insecure thinking about the fact that the video is sent before a committee to decide whether it is suitable before being put on line. In one way, that’s a good thing – my thoughts were “well, if it is a load of old bollocks then I’m reassured that they won’t use it” but also thoughts of “what if they were to judge me as someone who is ‘really bad at this’ and who doesn’t have any grounding, then bump me off the list?”
I have to admit it was a bizarre place to find myself in – on one hand the feeling of being in the flow and unattached to the outcome, while on the other having fears bubbling up around “am I good enough?” and “will I be badly judged?” and the desire “to get it right so as not to lead people in the wrong direction”
The only thing I can come back to around that is where my experience of all of that is coming from, to take me back to that place before thought where there is only peace and quiet.
And then something “more serious” occurred. Recently I have been reading the books by Syd Banks that I had not yet read, Second Chance and Dear Liza. Where I was getting a really nice feeling while I was reading Second Chance, I was most troubled when I got to the end of the book with Richard’s sudden remission from terminal cancer through the fact that he had some kind of inexplicable shift in consciousness. Following the end of that reading, I read Dear Liza from cover to cover and found myself even more troubled by the end of that story. As the basis for the storyline, the outcome came across as being very outside-in – the little girl showed patience and much wisdom and by the end of the story her personal circumstances had improved greatly and, though she was about to die, her new family prays to God for her recovery and then she miraculously appears at the top of the stairs requesting a cup of tea – “my mum always said that when someone who’s ill asks for a cup of tea that means they are on the road to recovery”, or words to that effect had appeared earlier on in the story.
The following morning I woke up feeling fragilized and vulnerable, I couldn’t stop crying and the thought of “if this is what this is about, then I don’t want to be a practitioner any more”. I was furiously angry at Syd for seeming to insinuate such things, for seeming to insinuate that an understanding of the three principles was a cure-all, in the formless and in the world of form. I spend a lot of my time pointing out to “newcomers” to the principles that this is not some kind of plaster cast nor some kind of religious sect, but the praying scene at the end of Dear Liza was, it seemed to me, insinuating quite the opposite.
The whole of those experiences in that week left me feeling ungrounded and frankly incompetent as a practitioner.
We learn to teach from what we know and, after reading what Syd wrote, I didn’t know any of that… and I still don’t. Was I missing something? Was there some secret that I needed to learn? I felt that I didn’t know anything at all!
In 2007, my mother went into hospital for an operation, an operation that appeared at first to be successful. After two days in intensive care, she was moved to a high surveillance ward and asked for a cup of tea and drank it. Three hours later, she was urgently taken back to intensive care with acidosis and died three weeks later in the most horrible state of health and, but for the morphine, she would have been in intense physical pain.
Clearly, as my friend and colleague, Tammy Furey, pointed out to me, what Syd wrote was colliding with my own thoughts and experiences and, through that, I could see that I was creating for myself a deep internal conflict.
Part of my anger towards Syd and what I read also comes from the fact that I do sometimes wish that the three principles were a cure-all in the formless and in the world of form – I wish, sometimes, that this understand was a magic wand to make my circumstances better, particularly at those times when I perceive them as not being how I would like. Sometimes I wish that this understanding would greatly improve my circumstances and that the life-changing, transformative element would also manifest itself in the world of form.
And the fact that I read those things and that my circumstances, although certain things have improved, are still not the way I would like them to be, only added to my upset.
In my confusion I consulted a couple of friends and colleagues, and the responses I received have helped me gain quite a lot of clarity.
One thing that came up for me is that if Syd were still with us and I were to go to him with this anger and express all of that, what would he say? And it dawns on me that he might just have given me a hug. In any case, that is what I would do if someone came to me with those kinds of thoughts and those kinds of feelings.
But most of all, what occurs to me is that Syd too was a human being just like the rest of us and as such, he was not infallible so whether he was pointing to the idea that the principles can provide that kind of answer or not, in the end is of little importance.
I also am aware that, other than in those particular writings, I’ve never read or heard Syd say anything to that effect anywhere else and I have never heard any other practitioner or facilitator of the principles say anything like that.
And yet it’s true, there are stories of sudden remission, there are stories of miraculous recovery from illness but those examples are not in my experience, so I don’t know that and, as yet, I have had no insight or wisdom come through indicating that that sort of thing is possible.
As a human being, teaching from what I know, I would never be able to say that, and even if Syd was speaking truth that takes nothing away from the fact that I can still only ever teach from what I know, which in a sense creates a dilemma for me. I can only teach from what I know, but what if what I know is wrong?
Because I am a human being with a finite form, even though I have a connection with that formless energy and that formless wisdom, just as much as everybody else on this planet, I can never know all of its secrets, no matter how far I go in this voyage of exploration.
Bearing that in mind, someone else might have an insight that I may never have which leads me to the solution. In sharing what I know, I can help open a space for someone else and they can have their own insights.
The fact is, we all express this in the way that makes sense to us and, all we can do as practitioners and human beings, is trust that the system will be there to guide us in the best way possible.
So teaching from what I know, when a friend came to me the other day and told me that she had recently lost her baby while her pregnancy was well-advanced, all I could offer was my own sadness. When she said, “life can be so unfair” all I was able to offer up was “yes, I agree, it can certainly seem that way”. All I could offer her was my presence and love in, what was for her, a time of intense pain.
Maybe a more experienced practitioner could have come up with something more helpful, more comforting but, me, Rachel, as a human being and as a practitioner, that was all I had to offer. Where I found myself on the scale of consciousness and in regards to my own feeling of “ungroundedness” at that moment in time was where I could speak from and the system was there to guide me in that place where I was personally while accompanying another human being in pain.
So, this brings me to the conclusion that being a practitioner, no matter how much I attempt to persuade myself of it, can never take away from the fact that I am, first and foremost, a human being in all its perfect imperfections. Will I make mistakes? Of course, I will! Will I fuck up completely at times? I expect to, yes!
I remember a conversation recently with Dr. Mark Howard where he told us a story of when he was speaking with a group and somebody in the group asked a question and Mark gave the person an answer. During the break, he felt that his answer was unsatisfactory but instead of leaving it lie, which many would have done, he had the courage and the love to go back in and say “hey I’m sorry, I feel I got that wrong, I feel I didn’t answer in a way that was helpful to you, let’s go over that again”
One of the beautiful things about the principles is that we lose our fear of being wrong, we lose our fear of making mistakes, we lose our fear of being very simple human beings – and yet I am saying that now after having spent a week experiencing precisely those very same fears for myself.
It’s not because we have the insight that we cannot experience the fear and it’s not because we have the fear that we cannot experience the insight.