Teach with Your Presence, Not Your Words

Creator: xijian Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I recently spoke with Chuck Ceraso, a friend and mentor, who gave me an important reminder: you don’t have to teach spirituality in order to be a spiritual teacher.

Ceraso, or “Uncle Chuck” as I call him, teaches painting. He never talks about spirituality directly, but his students sense that he’s not just teaching how to draw and paint, he’s teaching them how to live through the metaphor of painting.

We don’t have to show up with the label of “spiritual teacher” to spread the light—it might even be counterproductive to take on that label.

We don’t have to quit our jobs and take on the life of a monk or an adept. Instead, we can strive to show up in our families and teach with our presence and our love. We can show up at the golf course or on a construction site and work in love and camaraderie and teach like that. We can show up in the way we sing or how we dance. Or we can show up to coffee with a friend and not say a single word about spirituality, and if our heart is open, it will be felt.

When we open our hearts and allow the universe to move through us, we become channels for love and deep wisdom to enter into the lives of those around us.

When we are open, what arises from within us is what needs to arise. The truth flows through us like water through a pipe. Spiritual “work” is about cleaning the pipe. Or, as another good friend said to me: removing the soot from the glass of the oil lamp so the light can better illuminate the darkness.

The water is already running. The light is already luminous within us. All we have to do is let it move through us.

When we step back and allow life to move through us, cleanly, clearly, easily, we become channels of deeper wisdom. True words, true actions, and true presence move through us.

What prevents this “cleaning of the pipe” is all the beliefs and defenses our minds have built up to preserve us. They served a purpose in the past and need to be acknowledged, thanked, and loved for their past service. When these parts of our mind feel safe enough to relax and step back, they will, and the flow of life will move freely through us.

It’s not that we should never speak about spirituality directly. What’s important is that “we” aren’t the ones speaking. What’s important is that it comes through us, not from us.

In the end, what we say isn’t important. What’s important is our state of being when we say it.

It’s not what we say, but where the words come from. Let them come from the core of our being, and everything we say will be said in love and truth.

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The Spiritual Naturalist Society works to spread awareness of spiritual naturalism as a way of life, develop its thought and practice, and help bring together like-minded practitioners in fellowship.

SNS strives to include diverse voices within the spectrum of naturalistic spirituality. Authors will vary in their opinions, terms, and outlook. The views of no single author therefore necessarily reflect those of all Spiritual Naturalists or of SNS.

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