When Our Teachers Fail Us …

A community I am a part of appears to be suffering presently from the realization that their main leader and much loved teacher is abusive. They are facing that dilemma that many of us have had to face of realizing that the person(s), organization, or institute, they look to for guidance and as a role model for them to follow, is deeply flawed and not at all the “all-good,” “all-wise,” “got it all-together” master they thought. I speak as one who has had that experience.

It was back in the seventies when I met my Native American guru. He called himself Natamenaha, and that is how I knew him. He professed to be a Blackfoot Medicine Man … and I chose to believe him … for, whatever his origins … he was a formidable teacher, and task-master.

We walked together 6 months before he disappeared forever from my life, as he told me from the beginning he would do. And I have never laid eyes on him again. He left no trace … no trail to follow … only a lot of lessons which have taken a lifetime for me to digest. He was my inspiration … and my nemesis, all rolled into one … and perhaps my greatest teacher.

Natamenaha was hard-nosed, punitive, and could care less for diplomacy or any sort of “soft approach.” He taught me about energy and a world I did not know existed by throwing me into difficult situations and trusting me to learn and survive or suffer … and, much to my own surprise, at times, I survived, and  even thrived!

I grew tough and wise … Natamenaha was unshakable, unrelenting in his lessons, and showed not an ounce of pity, although when I met him face to face, toe to toe, not in defiance, but in confidence, he would gently smile and back off as if to concede my point, and I knew he was pleased. He remains, even today, among my greatest teachers.

I remember the crazy duality I wrestled with internally around Natamenaha. I'd never seen anything like him. A man who traveled in complete anonymity simply because he wanted to remain story-free. (Would that even be possible today?) The way he figured it the less others know about you the less able they were to put you in a box as if they owned you by your designated labels … as if they could define you by their limited story about you … as if it's even possible to contain your identity in such a small box at all!

Natamenaha said, “The whole world is happening just for you, Lynne (although he used an adopted name for me instead)” and what he meant, I finally realized, was that there are no coincidences, no mistakes … that what we each meet on our path is a complete match for where we are internally with ourselves and Source. And therefore I knew his being on my path, and all his acrimonious ways, were meant for me … and so was left to ask myself the question, “why do I need such an acerbic teacher on my path at this time?” (Boy, has that question brought me great enlightenment!)

I was both terrified of his scorn, (I was so young at the time … barely in my twenties during the seventies, and SO eat up with promoting a “me” I thought would impress the world that I hardly knew others existed!) AND yet I was totally drawn to Natamenaha's lessons.

I WANTED what he had … his ability to stand fearless (I could tell you some stories! ;)), for instance … and his ability to read energy. He was my first teacher about energy, and perhaps the greatest transformational encounter with another human being that I've ever had.

But I was torn. He could be so scary during his self-righteous rants … I remember once feeling so berated that I literally withdrew into fetal collapse. I had been a mental health care provider before we met, and I knew this sort of dynamic was called “abuse” – and yet … I stayed. I refused to see myself as a victim. I knew I chose to tolerate the hardship of being in the relationship for the initiation involved.

Perhaps you will say I was in denial to put up with Natamenaha's abuse. Perhaps you are right. But, even if that's true, I do not regret it, and would not choose differently even if given the chance to do so. For I have come to know that life is full of paradox and seeming incongruities. That every bigger-than-life personality will also have an equally large shadow as it's opposite. Duality is present in all manifested life – as it must be.

Certainly my time with Natamenaha was on a pendulum swing from moment to moment … the most amazing highs, amidst some of my deepest downs, filled with doubts about who I was, and where I was going … I spent years sorting out my real priorities from the list of should's and worldly demands I thought I was supposed to want. This is an example of the questions he raised in me – this and many others…

Natamenaha, it appears to me now, came into my life to help me clear away the old me, to excavate the ego's plan and so to clear space for the new me he came to inspire me to build. And that is why he knew he would not stay long … he came mostly for the clearing, in the way a sub-contractor is hired to clear-cut a lot to prepare for the arrival of the building crew. In this same way, Natamenaha served me. He helped me to bring down the old ego, so that the slow process of building a new person could begin.

This is why, even though he was more work than I'd ever been asked to do in relationship with another human, I did not want him to go when he did. He motivated me in a way no one else had. I think of him with great respect to this day.

I've concluded that teachers come in the form they do because their way of teaching is the kind we need most at the time they appear to complete the task we came to do.

Some teachers, we call First Ray Teachers, who operate on a red energy that is known as “Destroyer” energy … they are here to clear the old forms, and ways of being, thinking, and reacting, out of the way … and they are not about kindness or diplomacy.

They are about getting the job done … They do not pander to our ego's  … they do not worry about hurting our feelings … they are often impatient because they see what is possible, and know where they want to go, and they see what stands in the way of that. Their thinking is centered around removing obstacles, and moving forward. They are single-pointed in their focus, and they do not broker distraction of any kind. When an issue appears to take their project off track they will oppose it mightily, regardless of whether we agree, or understand, or whether we like it or not. This is their nature. They are like cold steel, rigid, inflexible at times, and cool in their aloofness – so cold can they be at times, that we feel burned by their penetrating gaze …

Natamenaha was such a teacher. I am eternally grateful that I did not decide to throw his teachings aside simply because he did not match my idea of what a “good teacher” should be. I am also greatly relieved that I did not feel the need to spiral into the need to see myself as a victim who was being abused, but chose instead, to rise to the challenges being set before me by my demanding teacher. I am glad because I still grow from his teachings often .. even today, some forty years later, I recall lessons and garner understanding from things he did and said back then.

When I came into my qi community under the tutelage of another powerful teacher … I recognized the “Natamenaha” qualities in my new teacher. And after some years of being a student, it was me that chose to leave this time when it was time to do so.

There was a precipitating event that acted as the “final straw” so to speak … but truly when I left it was not in anger, or disappointment in our teacher, but because I understood that the precipitating event was not so much to show me my teachers “true colors” but so that I would notice that my time with him was up for now – I needed to move on for my own purposes  …

And, you know… I still carry there two teachers with me everywhere I go. I meet them on the inner plains most days during my qigong practice, where, instead of hating them for how abusive they turned out to be, or telling myself I'd been misled or betrayed, I meet them with pure love for the many gifts they share with me even still … for they are generous indeed in their desire to seed a new consciousness on our planet … and I welcome the seeds they have planted in me.

May these words bring some comfort to my qi brothers and sisters who are perhaps struggling with similar “teacher” issues today. My love,


Find more on my response to comments below here.

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