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Student or disciple? I moved to Boulder as a student, eager to learn TH's healing system, Harmonizing. But my status as a student was already tainted with discipleship. I didn't just want TH to teach me his tricks, I wanted him to save me, to make me enlightened. Once I finally did start making progress with love, long after I escaped TH's clutches, I discovered that's impossible. No one can save me; I can only save myself. Spiritual teachers are con artists; religions are bogus. All of them. Spiritual teachers don't want students, they want disciples. A good schoolteacher wants students to think for themselves and strives to give students tools to make their own way, leaving behind any reliance on the teacher. Spiritual teachers, not so much. They want disciples: subservient dupes they can manipulate to serve their often despicable whims. An unsavory lot.

Mom and Dad were my best teachers in childhood and among the best I ever encountered. My dad was a genius teacher, engaging and encouraging my natural curiosity about the world again and again. And again. Mom simply did what she did transparently: I was always welcome to jump in and participate if I wanted to. I learned to cook by helping mom out in the kitchen. Neither of them ever discouraged my explorations unless they had legitimate concerns about my safety. I didn't tell them about exploring that cave using a pop bottle of kerosene with a burning rag stuck in the top as a torch.

My problem with spiritual teachers. Consorting with spiritual teachers, via books or in person, was ultimately the wrong way for me to go. I had to find my own way. Books and teachers had their uses in the early stages of my spiritual quest. For the first fifty-five years of my life I was groping blindly; I hadn't found my way to my own spiritual path, to guidance I could count on. Until I found that, reading spiritual books and studying with teachers was helpful. It kept my attention on spiritual matters; it kept me seeking. But I never really fell under anyone's spell. I never took the bait and plighted my troth to anyone. Somewhere in me I knew the whole master and disciple shtick was just plain wrong. So I never became one of TH's disciples. He knew it and I knew it. I just played along, pretending to be one. Even though I got a lot of value out of moving to Boulder and being in Harmonizing it was wrong for me to ever even dabble in being TH's disciple. Making progress with love is a puzzle I had to solve and have to keep solving on my own. If I became a disciple I'd be asking someone else to be in charge of my spiritual quest. I'm the only one who can be in charge because the real answers to my questions are inside me. When I moved to Boulder TH seemed to be talking that talk: Harmonizing was a system where the way forward was uniquely tailored to each student's needs. But now I see that getting guidance from my body via muscle testing is bogus if someone else is interpreting the results. That turns it into advice from the interpreter. Spiritual advice from anyone but my own internal authority is worthless. Making progress with love is self discovery: extracting the wisdom from my own life so I become wiser. I can't get that from anyone else. Just directly from my own experience.

Bogus spiritual teacher. I was enthusiastic about writing my early websites. Writing them got me worked up and led me into some badly deluded thinking: that these websites were something others could benefit from reading. It was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn: not only do I have to rely on my deepest self, my own internal authority to make progress, but also I can't help anyone else make progress. Presumably they would have to rely on their own internal authority, but I only know about me, so that's just idle speculation. Leela arranged to cure me of my delusion. In one of those early websites I offered my services as a spiritual tutor for free. I said I would be at a certain place at a certain time on certain days. If anyone wanted to do a walking meditation with me they could meet me there to learn more. Thankfully no one ever came. I removed the particulars but left the offer up there in more general terms. Late in 2007 I met a woman while dancing in a country dive. There was chemistry between us and we kept dancing, closing the place down. She invited me to follow her home. I stayed with her that night and we started dating. I told her about my website and she was interested in what I had to say. She asked if she could do a meditation walk with me. I agreed. She gave me money. On that website I wrote about partner dancing as meditation. She asked if she could hire me as a spiritual dance coach to teach her that. I agreed and we had a couple of dance dates. It went well at first. But on our third date she got drunk and spiraled out of control. Instead of walking away I kept trying to get her attention to aim her back toward dancing and meditation. My ego had gotten tangled up in being a spiritual teacher. So I slapped her. Not enough to sting, just an attention getter. I was just being roshi, smacking my student to wake her up, eh? It sure got her attention. She was outraged. I was mortified. I gave her her money back. We went our separate ways. I felt wretched about that for a long time.

Learning and teaching dance. I started learning partner dance at Living Traditions in 1992. I'd recently turned forty, which is too late to start learning to dance if you want to get really good at it. Somewhere around four or five is probably the ideal age to start learning any kind of artistic skills. That way the skills can form me, becoming part of who I am. But at forty I still had good reserves of the physical and mental resources I needed for outer directed learning and study, so I did well. So well I ended up teaching dance to many receptive and enthusiastic students starting in 1999. I taught dance for eighteen years, then burnt out on it. It started with a feeling of dissatisfaction when I taught but soon progressed to deep misery before, during and after teaching. In the meantime I got sucked into tango. I began taking tango classes in 2010, age fifty-eight. Progress was slow because of my age. After eight years it started getting harder and harder to be in class, until attending even just a pre-dance drop-in class was sheer torture. I could no longer learn from an outside source like that, and trying to force that felt truly dreadful. I have reached the stage of life where I have to turn inward and learn from Leela, learn from my own body. I have to surrender to my own deep wisdom, my own internal authority. That works beautifully for musicality but it doesn't help me with vocabulary and fine points of technique. I'm so grateful to all the amazing tangueras who are happy to dance with me anyway. I promise I'll do better next time.