teach from experience

Teach From Experience, Not Beliefs

Teach From Experience

“If a man clothed in beggarly garments should see himself in a vision rich, and on waking from sleep should see himself again poor and naked, so those who utter a spiritual discourse seem to speak suitable enough, but if they have not the thing they discourse about verified in their mind by tasting and power and personal experience, they stand in a vain show. Or like a woman decked out in silks and arrayed in pearls, who offers herself in a place of ill fame, the heart of these men is a resort of unclean spirits, while they set themselves up to discourse of righteousness, when they have never had a glimpse of the realities.

“A fish cannot live out of the water; no one can walk without feet, or see light without eyes, or speak without a tongue, or hear without ears. So without the Lord Jesus, and the working of divine power, no one can know the mysteries and wisdom of God, or be rich and a Christian. The wise, the warriors, the brave men, the philosophers of God, are those who are led and shepherded in the inner man by the divine power.” ~St. Macarius the Egyptian

Beggar Dressed as a Rich Man

What St. Macarius is saying in the first sentence is that if a poor man who has always been dressed as such, is suddenly dressed as a wealthy man, it doesn’t mean he becomes a wealthy man. While it is nice to say “clothes make the man,” the limited truth behind that old saying will not literally make it true. By the same token, if I find a stethoscope and carry it around with me, it does not make me a medical doctor.

Plato tells a story about Socrates in which a young student is bragging that he had sat with and talked to some of the great philosophers of Greece, therefore, he must now be a great philosopher as well. Socrates replied that he had sat with a group of wealthy men, but it didn’t make him wealthy. Continue reading “Teach From Experience, Not Beliefs”

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Speak Truth and Knowledge to Those Who Seek It

“Speak concerning the truth to those who seek it and of knowledge to those who, in their error, have committed sins. Make sure-footed those who stumble, and stretch forth your hands to the sick. Nourish the hungry, and set at ease those who are troubled. Raise up and awaken those who sleep. You are this understanding that seizes you. If the strong follow this course, they are even stronger. Turn your attention to yourselves. Do not be concerned with other things, namely, that which you have cast forth from yourselves, that which you have dismissed. Do not return to them to eat them. Do not be moth-eaten. Do not be worm-eaten, for you have already shaken it off.

“Do not be a place of the devil, for you have already destroyed him. Do not strengthen your last obstacles, because that is reprehensible. For the lawless one is nothing. He harms himself more than the law. For that one does his works because he is a lawless person. But this one, because he is a righteous person, does his works among others. Do the will of the father, then, for you are from him. THE SWEETNESS OF THE FATHER For the father is sweet and his will is good. He knows the things that are yours, so that you may rest yourselves in them.” ~Gospel of Truth

Speak Truth

It sounds simple to tell people to speak truth, but it isn’t. First, you need to know the truth before you can speak it. Man of us think we know truth , but all we really know is widely-accepted opinion. So we need to recognize the difference between truth and opinion, and actually know truth before we can speak of it to others. Second, you can’t speak truth to just anyone. You can only tell a person that which he is ready to hear. This is especially true when speaking of spiritual matters. And you have to try to avoid telling spiritual truths to evil people who will misuse that knowledge for evil purposes. So speak truth, but only when doing so serves good.

Make Sure-footed

It is our responsibility to help others, provided the want to be helped. We do need to help those who stumble. Curing those who are sick is also a good thing. And there is certainly good in feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. But more important than those physical needs are spiritual needs. We need to help those who are blind to spirit to see truth. Those who are spiritually hungry need care as much as those who are physically hungry. So helping others is an important part of spiritual growth, but most important is helping them grow spiritually as well.

Strong Get Stronger

Following the path of spiritual growth and enlightenment is not an easy one. It requires mental strength and stamina. It requires a willingness to work for what you want. For that reason, the path of a true spiritual awakening is a tough one that makes us stronger. His is necessary because as we grow, we will be faced with strong opposition from Satan and his demons.

Do the Will of God

It seems obvious to me that if you want to grow spiritually and become enlightened, you should do the will of God. Yet there are those who say we can do the will of Satan and the will of God. They believe there is no good or evil, everything just is. The only beings who ever teach that are the ones who are evil and don’t want you to know.

So we must do the will of God. We must speak truth, we must help others. We do those things within the limitations of the physical world, but we do them.

divine food, aid others

Aid Others With Their Spiritual Growth

“Desiring to follow closely the divine leading, I expressed to you the other day, sole sentiments you were not able to receive. I perceived at once, that on account of your resistance, I could say no more. From this experience although painful as regards yourself, I learned the extreme delicacy of the spirit that seeks to aid others; and the strength of man’s freedom to oppose this operation. I realized, also, my inability to act of myself; for as soon as the spirit in me was silent, I had nothing to say. I had, however, the extreme satisfaction of knowing that this good spirit alone conducted me.” ~Madam Guyon

Lead to Water

The old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” The spiritual version of this is that you can point a friend or relative toward the path of awakening and eventual enlightenment, but you can’t make them follow the path. They must decide on their own when they are ready. We may desire to aid others, but there isn’t much we can do if they don’t want it.

Even those who say they are ready for spiritual development, but are following what you know to be a false path, will be reluctant to listen to you. The usual answer they have been taught by these fly-by-night schools is, “There is no one path, we must each follow our own path”. That is like saying rain surgeon doesn’t need to follow certain procedures, or learn certain techniques. He can just wing it, and eventually someone he treats will be cured. Perhaps, but why not learn to do it right from the beginning?

But we usually can’t change any of those people, so we must just accept that the path is only for those who are truly ready for it. It isn’t for those who are fed up with materialism and are looking for some alternative. It isn’t for those who are depressed and are looking for some magic elixir to make them happy all the time. The path is for those who truly desire spiritual growth and development, and will work hard and sacrifice much to get it. Continue reading “Aid Others With Their Spiritual Growth”

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Teaching, Learning and Sharing Spiritual Knowledge

“A wise man, whether teaching or learning, only wishes to learn or teach those things which are useful. He who merely has the appearance of wisdom, whether asking or answering questions, only deals with relatively trivial things.

“A person who through the grace of God partakes of divine blessings is under an obligation to share them ungrudgingly with others. … He who hides the gift in the earth accuses the Lord of being hard-hearted and mean, … while he who sells the truth to enemies, and is then revealed as avid for self-glory, hangs himself.” ~The Philokalia

Teaching and Learning

Teaching and learning are never entirely separate. The wise teacher always learns something from her students. Likewise, the student always has some knowledge to share with the teacher. Instead of teaching and learning, we should probably call it information exchange.

Unfortunately, not everyone who acts as a teacher is wise and not everyone who professes to be a student really wants to learn. This is probably more true in spiritual disciplines than in the more materialistic learning and teaching. I would dare say that one way you know you are working with a real spiritual teacher is that he is willing to listen to his students. He may not agree with them. Letting them do whatever they want is also not reasonable. But he will listen and respond politely and respectfully.

On the other side, there are always students who attend classes with no real desire to learn anything. We have probably all been like that on occasion. I know I have sat in lectures I didn’t pay much attention too because they were required courses that I had no interest in. Months or years later, we find out we could have benefited by paying attention. There are also those who think they know more than the teacher and are their just to show off. The wise teacher generally avoids them. Continue reading “Teaching, Learning and Sharing Spiritual Knowledge”