My friend and colleague, Ócháni Lele, posted the following to his Facebook page. I was so moved--and felt it echoed the experience of many spiritual teachers--that I asked him if I could re-post it to my blog. Happily, he graciously agreed.
For those of you who don't know Ócháni Lele (penname of B. Stuart Myers), he's an author, teacher and lecturer on Afro-Cuban folklore and spirituality, specifically the Yoruba-derived Lucumí faith (known as Santería to outsiders). His work focuses on the diloggún, which is, traditionally, an orally transmitted book of wisdom used for both religious instruction and divination. At the end of this post, I'll provide links to his six books by Destiny Books, an imprint of Inner Traditions Publishing.
Why Do You Love Teaching?
One of my facebook friends just sent me an email, and in it they asked a simple question: Why do you love teaching so much? Is it the money involved?
I’ll admit that I love to teach, and when you can earn at least a meagre living doing what you love, it doesn’t feel like work. It’s pure enjoyment. But the money isn’t the primary factor. Honestly. I spent about 36 weeks teaching the basic diloggún course (that’s nine months) – and since each class is an hour and a half (sometimes they run over); I spend at least 54 hours actively instructing just my basic divination students.
Add to that the hours that go into lecture preparation, answering questions by email, and taking phone calls from students who need extra help, and the hours I spend teaching add up quickly. Our interactions continue outside the classroom. Now do the math for just the 54 hours of in-class instruction: my basic class costs $400.00, and the in-class time alone (the promised 54 hours . . . which often run over) means that each student is paying me $7.41 per hour for their instruction. Also, I keep my classes small. There are never more than 8 students in a class, sometimes fewer. So everyone gets plenty of individual attention.
Obviously, I’m neither price-gouging my students nor am I getting insanely rich by teaching divination. So why do I love it? Why do I do it when there are other things I could devote my time to, things that could, theoretically, have greater financial rewards for me?
I do it because I love watching people grow spiritually. I give more than a series of lectures on casting the diloggún and interpreting odu; I offer empowerment to olorishas who have spent their lives (secular and spiritual) feeling powerless. I love gathering a group of open minds, moulding them carefully with knowledge until that proverbial “light bulb” goes off over their heads, and they begin to understand that the universe is a living, vibrant place filled with infinite possibilities.
And I love watching them grow as they realize that, as olorishas, they are vessels of ashé with the potential to not only change their lives and the lives of their godchildren, but are vessels with the ashé to change . . . the world.
It’s about growth, and the satisfaction I get from helping others grow and achieve their potential in life is immense. I find empowerment . . . in empowering others.
And that, my friends, is the real reason that I teach. I believe that everyone deserves the chance to reach their full potential in life, and in this religion, knowledge is power. Knowledge is enlightenment. Knowledge is also the light that helps us destroy the darkness; and the bigger that light grows, the better this world, our world, becomes.
Oyá knew what she was doing when she put me on this path. And I am eternally grateful for her blessings.
Ócháni Lele has been a personal blessing to me and it's apparent that he's one to his devoted students, as well. I'm thankful for his presence in my life and on this Earth.