Opened Toolkit, Honored Teachers

Mother Daughter

Mother and Daughter, Meinrad Craighead

This Thursday! October 22, 2020, 6-7pm Eastern Time. A conversation with Amy Dosser, Executive Producer of “Meinrad Craighead: Praying with Images,” the 2009 documentary about visionary artist Meinrad Craighead—one of my most influential mentors. You can rent or purchase a streaming version of the documentary here, to watch before the conversation. 

Pre-register for the Zoom discussion at my contact page; please put “Meinrad Craighead” in the comment box, and you will receive a Zoom link from me.

“Honor your parents, teachers, and elders,” is one of Reiki’s five precepts, or principles, as translated in the lineage of Usui Shiki Ryoho. This contemplation is an invitation to reflect on the spark of life, the glimmer of illumination, offered to us by those whom we recognize as “key players” in our life—or as I think of them, “ki players”—however briefly or deeply they may have been active in our lives. 

For myself, I tend to place both parents and elders under the broader umbrella of “teacher,” along with everyone and everything under the sun that has showed me a way (or ways) to live this life that I have been given.

As we tilt into the longer nights and chillier days of an autumn and winter that looks to be different than anything we have ever experienced, I have been thinking long and deeply about my many teachers. I have been considering the gifts, the teachings, that have been shared with me, discerning which of them I can tap into during these uncertain times. It’s been like opening a toolkit, or maybe a box of art supplies, and assessing the state of what’s inside. Some practices, like my Reiki self-practice, are in excellent shape; others are so-so, and some are downright rusty. And that tube of red paint? Totally dried up! I’m going to have start again, re-invest in forging that connection, by consciously choosing to practice again.

How do we honor our teachers? We honor them by practicing what they have shared with us. We open the toolkit, blow off the dust and take a look at what’s inside. We pull books off the shelf; we open old journals with notes from that class we took years ago. We look to the natural world for teachings that have been in action for millennia: the animals that hunker down for winter, the water that shape-shifts and does as it was meant to do: flow, and flood, and freeze.

Our teachers come in many forms. I invite you to set aside twenty minutes to meditate on your teachers: the in-person instructors, the authors, the animals, the elements, and dreams. Even situations or experiences that we move through are teachers. Give some time and thought to those who brought you to better places, helped you to move forward and engage with Life in ways that felt empowering, practical, sustaining. Honor them by practicing, today, even in some tiny way, whatever wisdom they shared with you.

And if you have Reiki hands, well, you know what to do! Place them on your body, perhaps starting with your heart—or wherever they feel called to.

May I recommend:

My Octopus Teacher—For one year, a man goes into the ocean every day. What he discovers is thrilling, beautiful, profound.

Robin Wall Kimmerer’s interview on the podcast On Being—Kimmerer is a plant ecologist whose research includes the role of traditional ecological knowledge in ecological restoration, and the ecology of mosses. In this interview, she talks about adopting the Anishinaabe term “ki” to speak of non-human living beings—and draws a connection to that same sound in Japanese, a word often translated as “life energy”—the ki in Reiki.

Lao Tzu’s Tao te Ching—I never, ever tire of Stephen Mitchell’s translation of this classic of Chinese literature—but I’m very fond of David Hinton’s wonderful translation as well, which offers this gem, in Chapter 27:

Without honoring the teacher
and loving the resource,
no amount of wisdom can prevent vast confusion.

This is called the essential mystery.

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