Teachings can be seen as medicine.
We have a fixed position, which creates wounds, immature behavior and a sense of an I-Other. And the teaching is designed to nudge us out of that fixed position, either directly or through offering us a tool which invites the shift when applied.
That is one reason why there are so many – apparently contradictory – teachings. They each are designed to invite us out of a particular fixed position and belief. (There are of course other reasons for teachings, but this is an important one.)
From this, it is easy to see a “good teacher” as someone who is fluid among a wide range of views and positions, and can take any one of them according to what seems most helpful in the situation. And that is certainly true from a conventional viewpoint.
But I also find that teachers who take a somewhat fixed and rigid position can be very helpful. Maybe more helpful, in some ways, because they bring my attention straight to my own hangups.
I may have an expectation of the teacher being fluid, so get to notice and inquire into that belief. I may agree completely with the teacher, which then feels a little stale after a while, so I get to inquire into the stories I agree with. And I may disagree with the teacher, which is stressful, so here too I get to notice and inquire into my fixed positions.
In the first case, the teacher is fluid and models it for me. I get to see my own fixed views in contrast to the fluidity of the teacher, and am inspired and invited to move in the direction of a similar fluidity.
In the second case, the teacher is rigid, which in different ways also brings my attention right to my own fixed positions. And here, I have to do the work myself, which in many ways is more powerful.
Trigger: The teacher (from the Gurdijeff tradition) I have written about frequently recently, who certainly seems to come from a more fixed position. It is difficult for me, but also invites me to uproot some deeply held beliefs – including about what is “good teaching”. I want to make him wrong, which brings attention right to my own beliefs.
Teachings are often seen as medicine.
There is a belief, which is the illness. And the anti-dote, which is a particular teaching. And this teaching can in itself help to shift us out of a fixed view on something, or – maybe more valuable – it offers us a tool which helps us shift out of a fixed position.
This is one reason there are so many, sometimes apparently contradictory, teachings on the same subject. They each take a particular view on it, and each is designed to invite in a shift out of a fixed position.
And they each have a grain of truth in them, yet – being stories – are not really true at all. They are mental field creations, which can be immensely valuable as pointers, but also no more than that.