In my experience, one of the greatest thrills in life is to grow and expand. Not so much in the world of things but in the inner world of being.
Learning to love more deeply, to give more generously, to trust more patiently, to believe more faithfully, to create more courageously and to express more soulfully. That’s the good stuff.
In this sense, we’re all students in the school of life. And if we’re open and ready to see it as such, life is offering us new lessons in every moment and in every encounter.
Traffic teaches us patience. Rejection teaches us independence. Crises teach us to have faith. Disappointment teaches us forgiveness. Loss teaches us non-attachment. Hurt teaches us healing. In the same way, abundance gives us the opportunity to learn generosity, creativity gives us a chance to express fully and the love in our hearts invites us to be compassionate, kind and warm.
Seen from this perspective, many of the great internal lessons we will learn on our spiritual path take place in our engagement with the external world and with each other.
I had the pleasure of reconnecting with one of my very first spiritual teachers recently and he shared a beautiful insight with me. He said, “Whenever we are together, there are two teachers and two students.”
This idea points to the importance of each of us being open to learning the lessons life is offering us, and at the same time, being ready to share what we learn as the teacher. I have experienced this truth firsthand in moments where I was able to share a lesson newly learned and offer it to another in need. And also in my realization that those I love to learn from most are those who are vulnerably sharing their insights as they unfold, with no pretense or pride.
I was thankful for the reminder and since that conversation, I have looked at many relationships with new eyes.
In the company of my greatest teachers, I have been reminded that I too have a part to play in teaching them. And in the presence of my most novice “students,” I have reminded myself to remain open to the lessons they might have to offer me.
In essence, we are all works in progress and we are all students and teachers, all the time. There’s a certain humility in this that transcends roles and ranks. And on a deeper level, this understanding brings us back to our inextricable connectedness to one another.
In this spirit, I want to take a moment to acknowledge all of my teachers. There’s my niece and nephew, first and foremost, as they are truly two of the wisest and most powerful teachers I know. My parents and my brothers, who have taught me the true meaning of love and who can remind me in an instant of my humanity and how easily I can fall to old ways. As Ram Dass said, “if you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” And of course, all of my encouraging and inspiring music teachers and spiritual teachers, who have nurtured and guided me along my artist life path.
Most of all, I want to acknowledge my most insensitive teachers, the ones who psychologically and verbally chastised me for they have taught me how to be a loving and compassionate teacher. I want to acknowledge all the people who never gave me the time of day and who didn’t show me the love or respect I deserve because they have taught me to raise my standards and to truly love and respect myself. And lastly, I want to acknowledge all those that have offered a word of criticism, whether kind or cruel, about my work because they have taught me to express myself fearlessly, to hone my crafts and to have the audacity to be unapologetically me, regardless of what anyone says or thinks.
There’s always a lesson for the learning if you’re open to it. And it might not just be for you, the lesson you learn today could save someone’s life tomorrow.
Is life offering you a lesson that you could be more open to learning? Is there something you’ve learned that you could share for the benefit of another?
Chris Assaad is a singer/songwriter and inspirational artist from Toronto who left a promising career in law several years ago to pursue his dream of a career in music. Since then, Chris has been actively using his voice to enCOURAGE others to follow their dreams, express their creativity and live life to the fullest.
Chris is also a member of the TDL Mentoring team. To learn more about the TDL Mentoring Program click here.