Tuesday, March 16, 2010


 “Will was his guide … “
         -- Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene

         Like Spenser’s Red Cross Knight, who gets into trouble when he lets his will guide him, it’s obvious to me that using my headstrong, badly informed will as a teaching guide has usually led me down dead-end, and sometimes ruinous, streets.  I’ve often been on my high horse as a teacher, galloping wherever my stubborn resolve sends me, usually ignoring any greater wisdom than my own undersized knowledge of how things should be. More often than not, I let the reins on my will go slack and it careers wherever it wishes through lessons and curriculums. You might ask what else there is for a teacher to follow than his own personal will- power and determination, his own good thinking, and I would answer by quoting a sign often seen at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings: My best thinking got me here.  To be honest, I’ve learned from experience that my best personal thinking is about as impressive as a small pile of soil beside the mountains of the West.  All the scrapes and troubles of my life have been caused by following the leadership of my finest thoughts. They’ve led me with bold words and bright signals, and usually I’ve ended up in a morass that seemed strangely similar to where I started. So no, I don’t trust my own thinking or my own supposedly sensible free will, and yes, there is a better way. There’s an extensive and good-natured spirit of wisdom always around us, and I’ve been trying to stay open to it, instead of to my closed-off and insufficient personal thoughts. Clouds follow the weather patterns wherever they lead, and I guess I’m trying to follow the movements of a larger wisdom instead of my fairly meager little mind.

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