Today, after the free movie sharing at the centre, someone new approached me and asked what I did for a living. I told her that I was retired. She looked shocked and asked me if that was why I was conducting courses at the centre full time. I was a little surprised at her questioning but smiled and replied ‘part time’, as I do not really consider myself as conducting a course or courses there by merely sharing, or facilitating sessions. Could it be my perception of the meaning of courses and sessions that I seemed to have the impression that she had misunderstood my role at the centre?
She later asked me what qualifications I possessed where again; I did not really understand her question. She then explained in a questioning manner, “Masters? Degree?” “Oh…” I went, for I did not really know how to answer her. So I told her honestly, that my experiences are my qualifications. She shook her head and said, “no, no… where did you learn all these things from?” I looked at her with amazement, for surely she was looking for a direction or rather a teacher to learn from. So I pointed to my teachers’ picture pasted on the sliding door and said, “them.” And she proceeded to ask me more details about them.
I began to ponder on my own answer to her – that my experiences were my qualifications. I could have very well boasted that I was some degree holder from some established university, or even my old position working in a bank; but that was all it was – labels, titles; and as much as I am grateful for the teachings shared with me by my teachers or whatever materials or resources made available for my learning; but truly, my qualification to share during a session, or any other sessions which were presented to me was from my own experiences and not from mimicking some teaching from some great gurus. Information available provided a basis for learning, but without application and experiencing them, I would be no different from a robot executing orders mindlessly. If I hadn’t understood them from my own experiences, I would not be able to lay out examples. I might as well just call myself a sound recorder repeating the words my teachers used without any originality or authenticity.
Of course, this is reflective of a spiritual journey. But consider the same for those working. Students study so hard to pass their exams, to get distinctions so that they can be the cream of the class and be selected by reputation corporations to secure a stable job; yet how much that they study were applied directly in their working environment or even daily life? Even a doctor, who is expected to have medical knowledge at the tip of his finger, may not be confident to facilitate a minor operation without much practice!
All of us are qualified to share from our experiences, which may facilitate some form of learning for others; but yet if I was sharing merely from the space of intellectual knowing or by memorizing, I’d just be an empty shell hiding behind a face painted full of make-up. What is the point of looking good on the outside when my tank within is empty? The other day, an old teacher was giving me advice on my spiritual journey, that I shouldn’t memorise all those knowledge shared by others or be influenced by them as I am married, have a kid and a whole list of responsibilities to fulfil in this world. It was quite strange to me as the spiritual journey is everything encompassing – being married, a mom and the list of responsibilities to the world! It was indeed an interesting experience for me – which again, becomes yet an additional qualification for me when I learnt what was meant for my learning then. This incident becomes an additional quality to me providing me an expanded platform to share what is true to me. Having said that, what is true to me, may not be true to anyone else; yet there is this truth, that no one can really argue with, when one is willing to be truthful and honest.
We need not seek any papers or validation for any qualification, and there is too, no need to judge or enquire what qualifications another has. Through an open conversation with a person, it would not be difficult to decipher what we are able to observe and learn from the experience we derive from each and every situation. And doesn’t that become our asset by itself, though an intangible one that enriches not only us, but also others who are willing to listen?