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My Students

About this poem:

Teal was inspired to write this poem to her students after a workshop she held in 2012, where she encountered an understandable but unfavorable response (which she often gets) to one of her suggestions. The response was, "You don't understand how hard it is". Teal wanted to explain to those who see her as an awakened teacher that people often get to the place of being awakened by suffering, like she did, and thereby explain that she does understand how hard it is. And not only does it NOT have to be hard, but also that hardship is often what creates in us the very transcendence that we seek... and that she has achieved.

My Students,

I meet with you again,
different names and faces but the same desperate spaces,
yearning to be filled.

Your pain has convinced you that you are alone here…
That there is no way out of the well of the wound that has swallowed you.

Again, I hear the words…
“You just don’t understand how hard it is”.

After all, I am a teacher.
I sit on a throne of certainty and ease, as if it were never tested.

Or so it now appears…
Now that I am showing others how to live a life of ease.

But this throne has not been mine forever.
And my place upon it is tested every single day.

There are many gates that one can pass through to reach awakening.

The gate of oneness,
The gate of nothingness,
The gate of the present
Or, the gate that I came through…
The gate of suffering.

I do understand you see.
The smile you see on my lips has been pieced together from the crumbs 
of a shattered life I once led.

I have left myself behind so many times.
Left myself to drown in the acrid blood I spilt –myself-
I have died again and again.

In fact, I often say when I am alone with myself, 
that I have made a hobby of dying in this life.
As if I were an onion, whose layers have been peeled off one by one…
By pain.

In the beginning, like you, I crawled on the ground with only my hands,
groping and gasping in the agony of attachment.

Attachment to everything…
Most especially to myself.

But then, I decided to let go.

It is a decision we get to make and re-make every day.
To stop resisting the way that life strips you clean… 
Of yourself.

Let it take Bone and blood and sinew.
Let it take all that you think you are.

The moment you can’t fight back anymore and you let go,
That very current you were turned against, stops stripping you clean.

And instead, it dresses you.

It dresses you in the image of transcendence.
It cradles you in the support that was there all along.
It carries you to the very thing you desire…


And it sits you on a throne in other’s eyes…
As a teacher.

I do understand how hard it is.
And I also understand how much harder it is than letting go.

I do understand how hard it is.
And I also understand how much harder it is to stay where you are,
doing what you’ve been doing all your life.

I understand because I have been there...
In the well of the wound that has swallowed any of us who are inspired to pursue freedom.

When you discover that there are worse things than dying, 
You let yourself die…

Only to find yourself born again in that instant.

I understand how hard it is because I was there.

And because I was there,
I understand that those desperate places inside you, 
will never be filled the way you’re trying to fill them now.

I understand that to love you is to show you a way of certainty and ease,
while wishing you the freedom that is inherent in being stripped clean of yourself like an onion…

Layer by layer.
One by one.

Even if like me, the gate you choose, 
Is the gate of suffering.


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