It’s incredibly important to always have teachers. The spiritual path is not for the faint of heart and we all need guidance along the way. I count among my teachers many people who I know personally and many that I know through their work and contributions to the world. Here are 4 of my favorites. I hold each of these quotes in my heart and head every day and have some of them prominently displayed in my home where I can see them often. See how these quotes feel to you, or maybe consider quotes you love and why you love them. We all need teachers.
“When people tell you who they are, believe them the first time.” Maya Angelou
This is the quote I repeat in my head whenever forming a new connection or relationship. It’s completely changed my life, humbled me, and provided ease and clarity in the complexity of human connection. People tell us who they are all the time in action, behavior, energy, and often just come right out and say it. People literally tell us who they are. Maya Angelou added something to this quote in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, “Believe them, they know themselves much better than you do.” Truer words have rarely been spoken.
Trust that people know themselves and their behaviors and believe them when they tell you. We can’t fix anyone. Who people are is none of our business. Our business is who we are and who we want to be. One of the hardest things to do on the path is have faith that everyone we encounter is on their own journey and we know nothing about it. We find people who resonate with us and people who don’t. We don’t have to force anyone to be different in order to make them fit into our life and we can still love them even if they’re not meant to be in our lives. One of the greatest acts of perfect love is allowing someone to be exactly who they are. And one of the greatest acts of self-love is to believe that person’s self-knowledge and trust that information as we consider the connection.
“Yoga is seeing life the way that it is.” Kripalu Translation of Sutra 1:2
We all like to toss around what we think yoga means. And I truly believe that yoga means something different for all of us. But this translation of sutra 1:2 was like a massive light bulb going off for me. Yoga is seeing the true nature of reality. It is seeing everything for what it is. We see thoughts as thoughts, not truth. We see feelings as feelings, not meanings. We see the evolving moment, not past and future. We see the difference between what we think to be true and what actually is true.
Classical Yoga is quite clear that most of the time we are misunderstanding reality and that misunderstanding causes much suffering. So, whether or not we do, aiming to see things clearly helps to alleviate stress and confusion and allows us to have a deep and penetrating view into the nature of reality. And more practically, it helps us to relax and be much more effective in our lives.
“Luke do not underestimate the powers of the Emperor.” Yoda
Ok, yes, I am a Class A Nerd-Club-Approved Geek. Yes, one of the quotes I love is from Star Wars. Yes I used to have a doll of Yoda on my desk. . .
The Emperor in Star Wars represents the shadow aspect of our minds. He represents the part of our minds that tries to deceive us, confuse us, and make it so that we don’t trust ourselves. And we should never underestimate the power of our own minds to deceive us. When we do, we often wind up back in the unhealthy places from which we had tried to escape.
One of the most powerful and insidious thought memes in the human psyche is, “I can’t trust myself.” And the power of this voice can override our happiness and our power for a lifetime if we allow it. So when we’re working with our minds, it’s imperative that we not underestimate our own capacity to deceive ourselves. If we maintain respect for and vigilance over the power of our minds, then we have a chance at making some real progress towards healing. We also cause a lot less damage to our fellow human beings and ourselves.
“I pay no attention whatsoever to anyone’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.” Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
I’ve been in love with Mozart’s music since I was very young. The man was a genius of unparalleled talent and wrote music that just made sense not only to the ears but also to the heart and the spirit.
When the cacophony of other people’s thoughts and opinions carries us along, it’s important to remember that we have an internal GPS that will always guide us. If we live and work to acquire praise and avoid critique, we’ll always live a watery, ineffectual, and stressful life. We’ll never really give the world any of our heart and power because we’ll be too busy worrying about what everyone is thinking about what we’re doing.
Inside all of us is a little voice. It’s not assertive or persuasive. It is calm, present, and persistent. It is also unwavering and serenely powerful. When seeking approval and avoiding criticism carry us off we try to appease hundreds of demanding masters who can never be satisfied. When we listen to the little voice, we cut through the noise of those demands and find a sense of clarity. When we listen to the voice we take responsibility. When we listen to the voice we’re listening to our own GPS that is lovingly sending us towards our highest good. Of course it’s not foolproof for we are all human, but it’s far more effective. Our own little voice is always guiding us to the life of power, service, joy, and fulfillment that we are all seeking in our own unique way.