a Barak & Sheba Article

Sharing Knowledge... Teachers, Guides, & Image-Makers
April 5, 2013

I have always been inspired by this Kahlil Gibran quote - “The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” For years, I had it taped up on my wall next to the computer. Although I don't consider myself a teacher per se, the quote was always a good reminder of how I prefer to share information.

This came up in a recent discussion with a close friend. We had remarked that there were many different styles of sharing and imparting information. We lost count as we recalled the teachers, image-makers, and guides in our history. Some we smiled about, others we swore at, and several we just shook our heads. It was an amazing and informative walk through our past.

Of the many types of teachers and styles of teaching, we learned the most from those who inspired the desire to discover in ourselves. When the guide did just that, pointed out possibilities, hidden doorways of information, or just simply pushed us off the cliff to freefall. Relying on our skill, our desire for knowledge, and the "gravity" of realization as we rushed headlong toward our metaphorical end.

I spoke about one of my favorite, and most revered teachers. She termed her way of instruction, "Coyote Medicine." It was a trickster's way. She would offer information and would query forcing me to consider my answers deeply. Her inquisition would lead me this way and that, until I had no idea which way was up. My mind would be spinning in circles, and she would abruptly ask a deceptively simple question. The haze of rumination and introspection would break; and before me would be clarity.

She used to say that a mind was like a dog. Running in circles, harkening to the IBSC (Itty Bitty Shitty Committee in our head - those negative voices/thoughts that say "you aren't good enough" and all that nonsense) that was barking and making all kinds of noise. The more attention we paid to the IBSC, the more powerful it became - the more it chattered away at our self-image. Until we either threw it a bone, and it went on a chase... or we gave in and indulged it and drown in its negativity. Coyote medicine gave the dog a bone, she said. Something to do, while our intuition sorted out reality.

But the fun was in sorting out reality. She never gave me answers. She only asked questions. She guided me to search through and use my knowledge, then add it to my experience to create and form wisdom. (yeah - there is a math equation in there somewhere: K+E=W or some such) In this way of learning, the lessons I integrated stayed with me.

When it was time to go beyond my current knowledge, that wasn't easy either. She didn't want to be the only source of information. She would share a teaching with me, and then tell me to find another teacher for the same information. I knew it was time, when she would say, "That is all I will say. I know you want more, but you will have to talk to XYZ. He will tell you another story. Once you have heard his story? Ask PDQ. She will tell you her way. When you feel you know? Come and tell me what you know, and we will sit together and learn."

Whenever it was time for any new lesson, She would say "As my teachers have taught me, and their teachers before them...," to give credit to those who gave the information to her. As in many oral traditions, we were tasked with passing down the information given. But as we expanded our understandings, it was imperative that we differentiated our personal discoveries and additions from what we imparted. This allowed the seeker to determine what was history, what was new; and what worked for them and discard what didn't.

In the martial arts, there was a saying, "Teaching is learning a second time." As we begin our learning, it is quite straight forward. Move this way. Punch this way. Kick this way... and so on. As we start to learn systems of linked movements, or kata, we are shown how to move our bodies from position to position seamlessly. When we have fully integrated a series or a couple, we demonstrate our level of understanding and mastery. If the teacher or sensei feels we are accomplished enough, we are awarded our next belt. At that point, we are tasked with sharing with those who are starting what we have just learned. And so on and so on.

As my friend and I continued our conversation, we talked of the Rope Community. Many rope presenters, riggers and people who tie have a similar tradition. Even those who verifiably have created something that no-one has seen before. Almost all of the people we have encountered have pointed to someone who came before them and shared their techniques... and credited those who taught them! It was exactly like the way my tribe did it.

You can see it in the way I do rope - and I will certainly tell you if you ask... Yup - Learned this knot from a class that Lee Harrington gave. Got this tie from Graydancer when he was here. Lochai helped me figure this one out. I saw Don Sir do this one in a picture, and tried it over and over til I learned it. You betcha, got this particular Drum tie from Thesser. I am grateful to all of them, and my rigging is a culmination of their sharing and my practice and experimentation.

But these days in the kink scene, there is so much information - on fetlife, on the net, everywhere! Plus, with the onset of 50 Shades... there are so many new people. Everyone is so hungry for more information. How can we help but be sponges? With everyone putting their two cents in - it's difficult to discern what is valuable, what is fluff, what is fantasy, and what is of benefit. The advice I will offer is this: Don't believe it. Don't believe any of it. Not from me, not from her, not from them, not from anyone.

Don't believe any of it... Until you have seen it work. Until you have tried it. Until you have put it into action for yourself, and felt it click for you. Not until you can ask questions and answer them yourself. Not until your intuition says, "yup. That really works for me - in my situation, with my partners." Don't try to wrap yourself around the information. Don't conform your situation to make it work for you.

See if it fits. Use the Cock and Pussy test. If it is something that makes you Hot, Wet, Hard or Horny? You might just want to keep it around, try it out, negotiate it in... If it doesn't make you Hot, Wet, Hard or Horny? Throw it the fuck out.

Just some midnight thoughts, and fond memories of people who have shared information, knowledge and skill with me.

Barak & Sheba

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