What empowers a person to be a teacher? When is someone truly qualified to do so? How do you qualify to authentically draw on one’s own strength and intuition – these teaching qualities for which there is no certificate?
Ganga, the manager of Durga’s Tiger School, is healthy again. For one year she was at home in the USA, during which time she taught and accompanied the students of our online trainings courses. After that, she was going to be back in Ecuador. Then a phone call: “I don’t feel entitled to teach. I’m going to graduate as a social scientist. I need this credential for my confidence to teach.” I was dumbfounded. Ganga is wonderful as a teacher. “I’ve never seen someone so vulnerable and so strong at the same time,” one yogi described her. Her asana practice is flowing, relaxed and powerful. She embodies a yogini on all levels. I couldn’t understand these doubts: “Do you really think a certificate from the university gives you more empowerment than your students, who keep telling you how important your role is in their process? You support them in coming into their power and taking charge of their lives.
“Did Buddha need a certificate?”
“But I’m just not Buddha.”
“No, you are Lady Buddha.”
We laughed. She asked me to tell her what empowered me to compose acoustic art, direct or make films, run a tantric school – were they masters? Institutions? Certificates?
Courage and Adventurousness
Dear Ganga, we are on a tantric path. There is only one rule: “Do what you want in awareness and love.”
Osho says, “Tantra is knowledge. It is not Hindu, just as the theory of relativity is not Jewish just because Einstein researched it. You don’t need a temple. You yourself are the temple. You are the laboratory. The whole experiment is just to get involved with yourself. Dogmas are not necessary. What is necessary is courage and a sense of adventure to experiment. That’s the beauty.”
You learn through experience. You expose yourself to life, dive in. Dive through fears, despair, the feeling of powerlessness, but also fly with the beloved in ecstasy, you laugh, you are high-spirited, you are defeated, you are victorious. You are caught in the trap of the dual world, where everything is good or evil, dark or light, love or hate. Until you understand the paradox: There is a plane beyond the mind where contradictions not only dissolve, but even fertilize each other.
Only now you begin to understand the theoretical texts of the masters – you have had your own experiences with these subjects. My beloved has been my most important teacher for thirty years. The path of the artist has taught me the dance between form and chaos. I have always been attracted by teachers who give us the support, the signs and guides to explore for ourselves. Who are role models. Who do not ask us to believe them, but who ask us to find the “path in the path”. The techniques show how we as human beings become the medium of the “Great Spirit”. We are so infinitely insignificant – yet we have the divine spark to be co-creators of our life circumstances.
Techniques that work are universal and simple. Fasting, pilgrimage, meditation, silence, retreat from everyday life, vision quest, communication rituals, conscious sexuality – to name a few. The three tantric keys to living a full life that includes our sexuality are breath, voice, movement. That’s it. So simple, in fact, that we often don’t check to see if we’re using them in our daily lives.
“We don’t show the apprentices anything, just the way to the mothers, so they can learn how the plants themselves speak to them,” says the Shipibo shaman.
“We open ourselves so that Allah can work through us. To do this, we sing and dance, keep silent and fast, retreat into meditation,” says the Sufi.
“We are part of everything, like a tiny knot in a huge web, and our rituals are tools to come into direct contact with the mystery that works in and around us,” says the Tantric.
“We bring body, mind and spirit together through meditation, breath, mantra chanting and through asana practice. We learn that we are not our body, but spirit:
Spirit that lives in the body to make experiences in matter,” says the yogi.
These techniques empowered me to come into my personal power and to do all that I can do to impact the world in my personal way: Sufi master Pir Vilayat Khan gave me a tantric name:
“You will be a tantric teacher one day.”
Native American healer and visionary Sun Bear gave me the knowledge of the Medizin Wheel of Stones:
“Please bring it into the world to create power places where people can connect with spirit.”
Thunder Strike gave me the mission:
“You are an ‘image-maker’ with your films – go and take that responsibility.”
Sea Dancer gave me the name: “Spring Garden Woman” to remind me that I have the power to help people around me grow. To help them remember. The Shri Kapad Dini Amba, the Shri Vidya Tantric wise guru woman with the beautiful laugh initiated me in the south of India to bring me deeper in contact with Shakti. I am very grateful for all these teachers who gave me courage to walk my path.
But the real, life-changing empowerment always came as a sudden knowing. A timeless moment when a “reality bubble” rose from the depths. In those moments, I knew I was going to be a theater maker, who the father of my child would be, and that I was going to Ecuador.
The cristal cave
An example? During my sexual dearmoring there was a sweat lodge. Suddenly I find myself in a pink crystal cave. There sits a circle of old women from many cultures. I am greeted in their very dry and humorous way. “The real sin is not to believe in your intuition and visions. As a woman you cannot wait for someone to give you permission or authorization”. Yes. I have always been attracted to teachers who give us the support, the signs and guides to explore for ourselves. Who are role models. Who do not ask us to believe them, but who ask us to find the “path in the pathless”.
I must decide to trust myself and build my true personal power, which connects with my inner access to the lake of knowledge. They taught me that my power is stored in my womb.
So recently, years later, the community sweat lodge of Durga’s Tiger School was born. There were signs that the temazcal with only one “energy conductor” was not right for us. Now each member of the yoga teacher training leadership team takes responsibility for a specific power. Like that we can sound, pray and dance our own energy design. It is impressive how strongly and easily our force field grows, and how it supports our students in dropping personality masks and building a communal space of trust.
Miracles and Decisions
In our work we constantly experience how small miracles happen when we get out of the judgmental mind and joyfully follow our daily small inspirations. What do we need in our daily life to align our life not according to our fears and society’s expectations, but according to what inspires us? My experience is: If we feel even for a moment with every fiber where the next step is going, then it is important to make the decision to follow it, even if it seems “impossible”. Only human beings can do this — make decisions.
Our decisions are the only freedom we have towards our life. Since every lived experience is important, it is amazing to perceive that we become independent of “victory” or “defeat”.
We have done our part – Spirit decides the rest. This feels humble. And free. And gives us inner authority.
Time and again the question comes up: If it’s not about “certificates” how can I know if someone is a charlatan?
Yes, they do exist. I am not one with the people who empower themselves, engorging themselves without having followed these processes. If someone has been in Latin America for a few months, then performs Ayahuasca rituals themselves and gets rich from it. The ancients from the crystal cave said: “The effects of our actions show if I am on the right path. Also look at how a healer, a shaman, a teacher lives. What is his environment like? Are the people around him happy? How does he treat his co-workers? His wife? His children? How far along are his students?”
The shamans Vlady and Ruth, who lead the San Pedro ritual with us, demonstrate. They always come with at least ten of their students. There are young couples with their children, who sleep peacefully during the ritual. The whole night is chanted, the apprentices keep the energy body upright with them, so that our inexperienced students are held by a strong energetic field. It is impressive how centered these young people are during the nightly ritual – and how heart-opening the presence of the children is in the morning. It is clear that Vlady and Ruth are supporting their students to step into their power and responsibility as individuals, lovers and parents.
I also have respect for people who follow a single spiritual tradition and thus have a framework into which they can place their experiences and which gives them a sense of moving forward. These traditions have not been very conducive to women in recent patriarchally determined centuries. I admire the Buddhist women in the West who are fighting for recognition and change within the system. My life does not move in a straight line, it meanders more like a river in which there are spiral whirlpools and undercurrents. Today I see that all the paths of experience with heart coincide in one knowledge: every stone, every plant, every animal, every drop of water, every star has consciousness. Our planet is a living, conscious organism. When we tune in, the heart opens. When the heart opens, fear loses its power. Love begins to flow.
Dear Ganga, you are a certified advanced yoga teacher. With very personal, unique skills: You can accompany people in their transformational travails. You direct the released forces into new paths, so that they can work in everyday life. There is no university certificates for this ability. But they are absolutely needed to change the collective dream in which we are caught.
Love from my heart