Spirit Murdered, or Spirit Obscured?
Last night I had a dream that I was walking through school with a baby. A student asked me about it and so I held the baby up and looked at him. Beautiful, curious, awake. Kicking legs and wide open eyes. And then he smiled. Even now as I remember the dream, my body warms and each of my cells smile in return. (I’m not usually all gaga for babies, but I certainly was with my own and it clicks on sometimes with others.)
There’s just no layer between a baby and it’s core awareness, its spiritual essence. It’s a pure being, a "wisp of un-differentiated nothingness."All of us still have that fundamental level of awareness. Actually, all of us are that fundamental level of awareness - we've just distracted it with thought. Babies haven't gotten around to being trained in that yet, and our love for them is actually us reawakening, even if just for a moment, to that part of ourselves.
In a professional development workshop that our faculty participated in last year at the beginning of school, the workshop presenter asserted that many of us teachers are responsible for "spirit murdering" our students. We were told that through our ignorance, intentional and unintentional discrimination, and our inherent biases, we are spirit murdering our students.
This was likely just metaphor to get us to see the intensity of our impact on students, but maybe not. Either way, I think this highlights a flaw in our approach to education, the "untruths" that we are fragile, we should reason with our emotions, and that life is a battle between good and evil.
Yes, our students’ bodies and our bodies are breakable. There are wounds, scars, and stored traumas, some diagnosed and mostly undiagnosed, that have become part of our physiological and mental lives. All of us, and some more than others. But these wounds, scars, and stored traumas can’t reach our spiritual core. They can cover it up with distracting stories and thinking, but injury can’t so much as tarnish our fundamental nature.
Our students, like us, are spiritually unbreakable. Yes, "life happens" and we add layers of obfuscation on top of our spirit. We do so because we want to survive and we think that these layers of guardedness, cynicism, resignation, and “being real” protect us from real hurt and maybe death. But these layers obscure our light, and we wonder why life gets so dark sometimes.
It’s totally fine that we do this - it’s natural and probably a good idea sometimes. The problem, though, is that we forget that we are the ones doing it. All we know is how we feel, and out of compassion, empathy, and fear we want to protect our kids and students from the same fate. So we misdiagnose their problems just like we’ve misdiagnosed our own problems.
The source of our internal challenges is not the world outside. The real source is being out of touch with our own wholeness and ability to respond no matter the circumstance - our innate response-ability to thrive creatively. And the layer of obfuscation that’s dimmed our light is only as solid as our thinking about ourselves and the outside world.
A teacher’s (and parent’s) job isn’t to avoid hurting a student’s spirit. The spirit can't be hurt. Instead, a teacher could encourage, guide, and support the thriving of students’ spirits. Imagine a world where students are guided to thrive in their fullest awareness and understanding, creativity and self-expression, and freedom to live from their own innate wisdom, clarity, and well-being.
How we do that is to model that our experience of life is much more from the inside-out than the outside-in, and to model what it is to thrive in life no matter the circumstances.
It begins with a willingness to be responsible for our experience of life.
Out of fear of hurting our students’ spirits, we’ve become afraid of nudging them toward insight for themselves, insight grounded in their whole, perfect, and unbreakable essence. It's as if out of fear of skin cancer, we’re keeping our kids from even seeing the sun.
Well, here comes the sun.
Thanks so much for reading. ❤️