A student/apprentice passed these bits of wisdom on to me a few weeks ago. The secrets remind me of Bernie Glassman’s Instructions to the Cook and pretty much match the way I’ve gone about teaching and learning for much of my adult life … adapted with a tip of the moneyball cap to John Cage.
SECRET ONE: Find a person, place or thing you trust, and then try trusting her, him or it for awhile. Be prepared for some challenging and unanticipated teachings.
SECRET TWO: General duties of a student – pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students. “Everything” means everything. But don’t be surprised to find that you might not truly be up for hanging out for long in the Alchemical Crucible.
SECRET THREE: General duties of a teacher – pull everything out of your students. This is a hard one for me, especially when what I pull out catalyzes great pain and reinforces the illusion of separation – the 00.001 per cent of us that makes us seem different and separate. Still doing my best to work with it.
SECRET FOUR: Consider everything an experiment. And realize that a significant number of experiments end up producing unintended results.
SECRET FIVE: Be self-disciplined – this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way. And this is kind of a Catch 22 secret. A certain degree of neural development and integration is required for being disciplined; to get that degree of development, self-discipline is required. This is one place where The Golden Rule of Social Neuroscience might apply.
SECRET SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make. This secret feels related to the well-known Wisdom Tale: Who Knows if It’s Good or Bad?
SECRET SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
SECRET EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes. Left-brain, right-brain, hi-ho!
SECRET NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think. Unless of course, it doesn’t really feel all that light in a particular moment.
SECRET TEN: Break all the rules. Even your own rules. And how do you do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.
SECRET ELEVEN: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. And often more than once.
BONUS SECRET: A skillful teacher/student relationship is also a skillful student/teacher relationship. We each teach the other different things at different times.