Teach Me

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My piano teacher was fond of saying, “Oh, look at him, he thinks he’s arrived.” He was referring to another pianist of course and you must forgive him for not including the hers, he was an old man, and a Goan, and could not bother himself with being correct. For whatever I am today as a musician, much is because of him. He was the most generous of souls I have ever met, and was like my adopted father for a while. He initiated me into teaching. At the time I was working at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences as a research fellow. I would constantly complain to him how little I enjoyed this designation. One day he tells me, “You must teach.” I was really quite shocked, I considered myself many miles below average and could not conceive of imparting an education to another. I remember my first student, he was a Korean boy, maybe 10 or 11 years old. He was preparing the Turkish March, one of Mozart’s sickeningly popular pieces (that and the Fur Elise are the length and breadth of Western classical music where I come from). I told the child I needed to go to the washroom and tumbled into my teacher’s room, out of breath and quite hysterical. “He wants me to teach him the Turkish March! I can’t do this.” I remember those raised eyebrows on his good natured face and the smile creeping in. “Oh you’ll do just fine, get out.”

But to bring back what I started with. Arriving. It’s much the same with meditation. I meet beings who are convinced they have arrived. I suppose that’s when it’s over. It’s fascinating how tricky we have made it to be simple, basic. It’s so much like playing a music instrument, unlearning, allowing your body and mind to be ‘natural’ (I find this word is another badly abused word, like ‘love’, callously thrown around, stripped of all dignity), and that of course means accepting that there is no arriving.

On a slight bend, today morning I felt the first sense of personal love towards Captain Kirk. You take care of an animal, of course there is compassion and love in the broad sense but you haven’t shared anything with that being yet, not your time or moods or energy or space. And then they become a part of that time and space and the love is different. I suppose it’s the same with people, only I think with people it takes much longer.

(PS. As I was meditating today, an image suddenly came to mind, of a sick person lying in bed, always tired, always sad, this image was very real, and immediately I felt caged, and the thought was created, “oh my, who is this person, how am I going to take care of this person, what a waste of time and energy.” I looked a little closer, I needed to know who this person was and to my surprise and relief I saw that it was me, lying there, pitifully, and I realised I didn’t have to be that mould at all. I could just make it disappear.)

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