It’s a psychotropic plant medicine, used by Peruvian shamans to enter into a trancelike state, where the rhythms and energetic currents of the universe form dance patterns in the air.
“Ayahuasca? It is my teacher.” My scholarly client — a sacred interior designer & mandala artist — spoke the words so matter-of-factly. A small-minded judgment jostled in my cerebral cortex for, oh, a quarter of a second. Mind-altering substances? Man, drugs aren’t teachers. They’re, like, recreation! Right?
And then it settled, like truth.
Your teachers are whoever — whatever — you say they are.
And what is the precise definition of “teacher,” if we’re being pedantic?
One who instructs, informs, enlightens. Who incites curiosity. Who imparts wisdom.
One who opens the door to deeper understanding — of yourself, of humanity, of historical spirals of war & restoration, injustice & awakening.
The etymological roots of the word “teacher” are rich, and peculiar. It’s thought to stem from from the Olde English tæcan, which bore two distinct meanings: “a sign, mark or token” and “to show, declare, warn or persuade.”
My teachers are invisible, and infamous.
Liquid, and lunar. Sensual, and sonic.
Strong coffee is my teacher. Sex is (most definitely) my teacher. Vivaldi is my teacher. So is VNV Nation. Heartbreak & rejection are most excellent teachers. So is acceptance. That woman who crumbled, begging me for money — my god, what a teacher. Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde has taught me so much. Mr. Rogers filled in the rest. The Benedictine monks at Abiquiu didn’t unlock much wisdom, for me…but their music did. The bitter Midwestern winter — so different from my tangerine childhood in southern California — holds lessons I’ve yet to master. The full moon is my teacher. Free time is my teacher. Sickening, senseless fear is my teacher.
Your teachers are everywhere.
Show them respect.
And remember that…
“Anything or anyone that does not bring you more alive is too small for you.” –David Whyte
…too small for you…and probably not your teacher.