The Teacher Appears

Lessons in the Dirt

You’ve heard it hundreds of times – when the student is finally ready, the teacher is going to show up and set things right… maybe lead you triumphantly into the promised land.

But have you ever had a teacher come tapping on your shoulder, ready and eager to reveal to you all the secrets of the ages?

Most people will laugh and tell you that, no, their teacher is really, really late for their appointment. Don’t be too hasty, however, to answer this question. If you’re like me — like most people — you may have unwittingly turned away more teachers than you’ll ever realize.

In the first place, have you ever wondered why a teacher would take you on as a student? Anybody can understand why you’d welcome a teacher to guide you forward. But how do you know when one appears? And what does a teacher look like, anyway?

Not Like You Were Expecting

If you’ve been imagining a wise looking personage draped in a bedsheet and carrying a little wad of flowers, you’re almost certainly going to be disappointed.

In real life, most teachers aren’t even people. When was the last time you over-ate and got indigestion? Or drank too much and felt hung over the next morning? I’ll bet you never thought of those feelings of discomfort as your teachers.

There they were, tapping on your shoulder, offering you their wisdom, but you may have ignored the lesson they wanted to give you. Instead, you may have downed a quick stomach-soothing potion or popped a headache pill — some kind of “quick-disconnect” to keep from suffering the results of your own actions.

Well, pay attention here — as long as we use quick-disconnects between our actions and their results, we’re refusing to learn from the most common form of teacher.

So do you really welcome lessons?

We all say we’re trying to learn, to improve, to master life’s lessons. Yes … that’s what we say …

But not all of life’s lessons involve noble-sounding eternal truths. Life has lots of things to teach us, and so it scatters lessons everywhere amidst our day-to-day affairs. Often the most important lesson we can learn today awaits us in the humble, nitty-gritty details of life, down in the dirt.

And we never have the opportunity to meet that lesson till the day we stumble and fall, and we’re lying face-down in that dirt where the lesson is waiting.

For a lesson like that, you won’t ever learn it until you’re reduced to that level. Only then are you in a position to receive that particular wisdom from life.

Even then, you may not be ready. You may actually meet that problem again and again, each time treating it as an annoyance brought to you by the perversity of life. But that problem can teach you important lessons.

However, something has to change before you’re ready to learn from that teacher.

Only when something changes — something within you — only then can this “problem” become a teacher.

We all have lots of teachers waiting patiently to teach us their lessons. In fact, there’s a whole educational faculty standing in line to share their lessons with us.

These teachers are all dressed in the rags of problems, but their lessons involve wisdom about:

  • Money,
  • Love
  • Honesty & honor
  • Confidence
  • Persistence
  • Self worth
  • Health
  • Habits
  • Appetites, and
  • Trust.

Although this list is not complete, these ten areas cover most of the problems we all wrestle with on a daily basis.

For years you may have been trying to avoid, combat or eliminate problems like these. For years you may have been treating those problems as unwelcome, unfriendly inconveniences. Something to be gotten away from as quickly and painlessly as possible.

But have you ever looked at your money problems as a teacher? Probably not. Nor ever seen your marriage agonies as a kindly instructor in spiritual growth.

Well, life’s teachers may not always be gentle, but they ARE endlessly resourceful. And the only reason they ever seem harsh is because they are simply bringing to us what we unwittingly ask them for.

That upset stomach, or that hangover — admit it now, you know before you start that this sometimes happens, don’t you? But you go forward anyway, gambling that this time you may not have to pay the price. Or thinking that there’s always a “cure” that will cancel the results of your own irresponsible actions.

We do this everywhere, whether it’s in matters of money, love, or personal relations. We deliberately ignore the results of our own actions, refusing to take responsibility for what we bring on ourselves.

So if you want a real, live human teacher to appear and teach you to master life’s mysteries, you’re going to have to meet them halfway.

Because they’re the advanced teachers. You’ve got to graduate from the simple stuff before you get one of them. They’re standing back waiting for you to become ready.

And what does it take to be ready?

First, are you still ignoring the teachers you already have? If so, start paying more attention to your problems, listen to the lessons they’re offering to teach you. Just listen. Stop the constant, desperate struggle, and just be still. It’s amazing what you can learn when you’re not fighting, not resisting, not denying.

Every problem you have is a product of your own thinking, your own feelings, your own actions and habits. And that problem is there to do you a service. It’s intent on one thing only. No, not to torture you, but to teach you.

The teaching, however, will seem like torture for just as long as you continue to fight against the lesson embedded in the situation.

Fortunately, there are a couple of shortcuts to recognizing the face of these teachers. There truly are simple ways to find the lessons, learn them and leave the struggle behind.


I’ve already mentioned the first way. That’s simply to stop fighting and listen.

You have studied any number of spiritual or mental practices. You’ve read about meditation. You may be doing it on a daily basis. But how are you using it?

For the longest time, I was trying to use meditation as a tool for solving my problems. That approach did not work consistently.

Then one day I discovered that meditation is not for solving problems. In fact, as long as you’re focused on solving, you’re not learning.

Try this approach instead and see how much more effective it can be.

Go into your meditative state in your favorite way. That may be chanting, centering, self hypnosis, breathing or repeating a mantra. However you like to do it, spend a few minutes becoming still.

Now, instead of imagining the solution to your problem, imagine yourself PAST the problem. The difficulty no longer even exists in your life. Feel the peace and the simplicity of your life without the struggle. Let this feeling of being past the problem wash over you and fill you. Feel how you would be living your life when the problem doesn’t even exist.

Then give thanks for this feeling. Let waves of gratitude roll through you, then open your eyes and go about your business. Every time that problem confronts you, just remind yourself that you already know how it feels to live with that problem far behind you.

What happens to the problem? Sometimes, believe it or not, it’ll just dissolve and disappear from your life — never even requiring you to solve it.

This most often happens when you find you’ve lost interest in the behavior that causes the problem. Somehow, you no longer are attracted to overeating or drinking too much. Whatever behavior is connected with your particular problem, it may simply fade from your life.

Other times, the solution will come to you during the daily routine of your life, and it will always be far simpler and easier than you ever imagined.

In any case, the best approach to learning from problems is to recognize that you are the one who makes them, the one who supplies their energy. And at any time you can choose to withdraw the life from them. You are the source of their power. When you begin starving them, they go away.

Although this approach is simple and elegant, it’s vastly disappointing to anyone who is addicted to talking about all the drama and difficulties in their life.


One of the basic truths of psychology is that each person is nearly blind to her or his own quirks and weaknesses, even though others can see them clearly.

You can see others’ peculiarities, and they can see yours. Most people, therefore, try to avoid being unmasked where others can see.

However, there’s a better way to use this principle.

Why not form a group dedicated to helping each other see themselves through the eyes of the rest of the group?

This type of group is, in fact, extremely common among highly successful people.

It’s called a MasterMind Group, and virtually every successful man and woman who ever lived has formed or joined such a group.

Let’s say you’re struggling with the marketing aspects of your business. You know your product or service extremely well, but you don’t know the best way to reach the public.

As a member of a MasterMind Group, you find that everyone freely shares their skills and insights with each other. So when you belong to one of these groups, it’s a simple matter to ask the other members for advice on marketing. In effect, you’ve just told the group, ‘I have a weak area and I need your help with it.’

The strong marketers in the group, on the other hand, may have a blind spot in the area of product development, so you freely help them.

Everybody gains because everybody is there to help the entire group to grow.

Thus, you have access to a whole group of teachers. And your only obligation is to serve as one of THEIR teachers.

Hah! I’ll bet you never expected to discover that you could be somebody’s long-awaited teacher, did you?

Life’s funny that way. Everything you think you know sooner or later turns out to be backwards: your problems are your teachers … you’re someone else’s teacher … so what else is waiting to be turned upside down?

Why, next somebody may start claiming that life could be beautiful.