Holy Encounters with Pupils: Summary of a Class Presentation

Robert’s teachers’ class yesterday–the topic of which was “Holy Encounters with Pupils”– was, as usual, full of important ideas and insights. Because so few of us can attend these classes, we’ve decided to post blogs after them so that those of you who weren’t there can join in the discussion, and those of you who were there can share more of your thoughts too. We hope that you will listen to the class recording and then join in the discussion. Here is a summary of what Robert covered.  (I may not always give you such a detailed summary, but I was so excited about this class, that I got carried away!)

The main point was that it is through holy encounters between teachers and pupils that real healing takes place. In the consistent “grind” of working together change does come about, and a positive pattern grows and develops, moving both teacher and pupil to a new place. However, it is in that joint holy instant that something breaks loose and real change occurs.

I really liked Robert’s explanation of the holy encounter as “an out-of-pattern time interval” for the teacher and pupil. In that instant comes a powerful interpersonal experience that is out of the usual pattern of their interacting and relating. They enter into that new pattern and things shift for both of them.

The room becomes a temple, and the street a stream of stars that brushes lightly past all sickly dreams. Healing is done, for what is perfect needs no healing, and what remains to be forgiven where there is no sin? (P-2.VII.8:4-5)

Since holy encounters are so important for healing, we must be alert to when they want to take place and make ourselves available to them. First of all, we remember that it is not up to us to arrange or plan for them, and second of all, we “practice the mechanics” of them. Robert then offered eleven guidelines for doing this. I have itemized them here, but for a full explanation do listen to the recording (the link to it is at the bottom right of the CCC homepage).

1.     Be totally present:  “actively refuse to let your mind slip away,” and see your pupil as “worth consistent effort” (T-4.IV.7:1-2)

2.     Listen: listen deeply enough and you’ll hear the Holy Spirit between your pupil’s words

3.     Watch your mind for the “double wish” [to help your pupil and attack him or her] (M-17.2:4)

4.     Watch for your judgements; see them as projections of your own sins and see this as an opportunity to let them go by forgiving.  “It is in the instant that the therapist forgets to judge the patient that healing occurs” (P-3.II.6:1).

5.     Have a practice line ready to bring your mind back

6.     See your pupil as your saviour; your pupil’s gratitude to you can wake you up

7.     Ask for guidance (before and after; alone and together)

8.     Try to let your words be guided; be open to promptings; (from Helen’s notes: “Miracles depend on timing.”)

9.     Assume that you have miracle impulses in you and look within for what they are

10.  Realize the importance of joint holy instants/holy encounters and welcome them

11.  When something is trying to happen, go with it

Then Robert explained (via a drawing that we imagined seeing!) the important role of the teacher’s attention. As a teacher, your attention has to be four-fold: it needs to be focused on the false and on the true in both you and your pupil, watching what’s going on in these two areas in each of you. As well, you need to realize and give your attention to “the incredible exchange going on between the true in you and in your pupil…the giving and receiving” that is happening.

There was time for a brief discussion afterwards, and we’re looking forward to more here.

  • What are your comments on the material Robert presented?
  • Do you relate to any of the guidelines in particular?
  • Are there other ways in which you make yourself available for holy encounters with your pupils?
  • If you aren’t a teacher of pupils, what is your experience of holy encounters with students?
  • Do you have any holy encounter stories (with your pupils and students) to share?
  • Other comments?

With loving thoughts;

Mary Anne