Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Do You Guru?

written by Mark Kaufman

Lately I've been getting my fair share of ink on these pages. Mark has shared me with all of you, most notably in his blog of August 26th entitled "Defending Your Honor". Iris even mentioned me in yesterday's blog, "Belief Filters". I have thoroughly enjoyed this unexpected notoriety and am thrilled and honored to have these extra-extraordinary people as my beloved friends. And what's more, all this attention has set me to thinking.

As I read Mark's loving and delightful descriptions of who I am, I find myself reflecting on the nature of our relationship and other relationships I have had in the past.
Throughout my life I have had a series of relationships with a variety of people who I have adopted as my personal mentors. These were not mentors in the non-judgemental, non-directive, way I have come to appreciate so much, but people to whom I could hand over the power to define me and my relationship to the world.

The list of people who have occupied this position for me has included my parents, my sisters, favorite teachers, girlfriends, psychiatrists, psychologists, fictional characters on TV shows, co-workers, both my wives, my teachers in the Berkshires and various friends of mine over the years.

The one thing all these people had in common was that I looked to them to be the authority outside myself that was capable of and qualified to tell me who I am and how I think. I depended (and often still do depend) on these people to explain why I did what I do and what was important to me. I would seek their opinion on what is the right thing to do in a given situation or how to meet a particular challenge that lay in front of me. I looked for them to have faith in me so that I would have faith in myself and to believe in me so that I could be confident in my ability to meet whatever those challenges were.

While I have lived my life as an non-believer in God, I really see very little difference between giving yourself over to Him/Her or choosing your college roommate, the Zodiac or your dog Ralph to be your guide. You're still outsourcing responsibility for who you are and how you live your life.

Rather than creating myself and my life I would describe my situation to these people and then listen to what they said about what one should do. Then I would put together an amalgam of those answers as if it were a recipe and proceed to follow those steps to make my way through the crisis du-jour. While this very effectively answered the question of how a group of people I know would live my life, it fails to address the question of how I want to live my life.

From there I  asked myself  "If I could decide who I am and what I want, what would that be?" I am astonished to find out how hard that is for me to do. So take a rest, Jesus, I find that the most important question in front of me today is  "What would Mark do?"

Don't get me wrong, I think that consulting with others and trolling around for perspectives and ideas outside your own is a very useful thing to do, but those are just inputs to a creative process. There is still an act of creation beyond that in which we can conceive and give birth to our own unique way of being in the world.

So how about you – how much of your life today do feel is derivative, how much have you  created, and are you in touch with your ownership of that creation? Do you believe that you can create yourself and your world?

I know I can, or at least that what my friends tell me.

1 comment:

  1. I totally loved this blog, Mark. You have made such huge changes since I met you first time.

    Some times I catch my self looking in my phonebook for people to call to comfort me and support me (which could be by asking me questions) - when I know who I want to call - I also know what I want them to say. - sometimes I call anyway, other times I just laugh knowing what to tell myself.

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