Students and Masters
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain has many lessons and revelations packed densely within the art, the symbols and the spoken lines of the film. One of my favorites (paraphrased) is: “It is the Master that seeks the Student.” It occurs in a point in the plotline after the apprentice has completed many lessons from the Master. They have just finished the Student’s study of the Tarot. They stand on a rotating platform, surrounded by corrupt politicians and industrialists that represent the planetary influences in their most perverted forms. The music has faded out, and in the brief pause, the Master reveals the truth to the Student: that he has chosen the Student as an apprentice, not the other way around. Essentially, the interpretation can fall a number of ways:
1. the Student should guard against the temptation of hubris as if the Master is telling him: “Don’t flatter yourself in your ability in finding a teacher like me; I sought you out.”
2. the Student should be aware of others in the world that wish to capture him. “You were easy to bait; all it took was some knowledge on your psychology.”
3. the Student will one day be able to choose his Students at Will when he becomes a Master. “Once you are a Master, realize and exercise your Will. You know more than Students, and Students are plenty. Choose who suits you and your path; choose those whom which you sympathize or to which you are drawn.With your enlightenment, you can see who needs your help.”
The statement is simple, but yet we find numerous interpretations, messages and layers. A talented Master would speak in levels but would not shy from the truth. Speaking in levels is not the same as ambiguity. The statement that the Master makes is not ambiguous; he flat-out tells the Student that he has chosen him. What is the Student to feel about this? It is ultimately up to the Student. Furthermore, as the Student makes progress, he will be attuned to numerous potentials, equipped to recognize the layered structure of all communication, and, in fact, all of life. Part of the journey is learning to attune one’s mind and also to filter. It can be easy for a less advanced Student to become wrapped up in all the possible negative interpretations of the statement. “Did he mean that I am stupid? Is he saying that I once was that unaware to not recognize when I was called somewhere when I thought I went there of my own free will?” Likewise, it an be easy to become lost in all the positive interpretations: “He likes me best. He must have chosen me for my *insert positive attributes here*. After becoming Master, I will know more than my peers because I am the Chosen One.” Neither extreme is beneficial to spiritual progression as both are rooted in Ego and cyclical in thought patterns. We must realize that we are always in control of the interpretation when greeted with neutral statements. Additionally, we must realize that some statements disguised as neutral, may indeed, be passing judgment. This is where reading nuances and sniffing the air become important. Discretion is a trait born out of experience. It is my opinion that a benevolent Master heeds discretion. As Masters, we must bear in mind that power is not a toy, not unlimited and that we are always Students under another Master, whether it is human, inhuman, elemental, conditional, etc. Masters must always respect the free will of the Student. As Students, we are privy to remember that we always have a choice; we are not bound to the Master (even if we may be bound to the lesson, message or journey).
“Good” Students vs “Bad” Students and “Good” Masters vs “Bad” Masters
Lies. The terms “good” and “bad” are too broad and ambiguous for evaluating Students or Masters. A “good” student may be one that always obeys the Master without question or one who is diligent in his studies. Perhaps a “good” student actually questions authority or the lesson rather than acting as an unthinking doll. “Good” to one person may mean a nurturing and caring Master that looks after his Students, while to another person it means a competent and skilled Master, the best of his trade. For a Master to call his apprentice a “good Student” (or vice versa) is inherently meaningless without knowing the Master or Student personally or knowing the context of their relationship or material studied.
Perhaps one of the first indications of whether we have found the appropriate Student (or Master) is when one evaluates the other. Say you have just emerged from a ring of terror and are badly wounded. Your Master says “Well done. You are a good Student.” How does this make you feel? Do you agree with him? Do your wounds and efforts please you? Have you truly learned something from the ring of terror, or do you feel that you have been subjected to unnecessary, unjust treatment despite what lessons you may have learned in the pit? Is your Master “good” for throwing you into such a trying situation and trusting you to come out on top? Or is he a “bad” Master due to his negligence and obvious callousness towards your emotional well-being?
Every trial is an evaluation period for both the Student and the Master. Despite the common notion that the Master tests the Student, and the Student answers by performing. They both test each other, and they both respond. Essentially, once a Master accepts a Student, a Master is introducing another lesson to himself: how to instruct, how to guide. He is a Student of these processes, and the Student (his progression, success, attitude, etc) is ultimately the one to determine the Master’s success. In this way, the Master is the Student. Once a Student accepts a Master, he takes on the open role as a Student, but what is implied in this role is the ability to be Master of one’s Self. The Student dictates what and how he should learn, and from whom (if anyone) he will learn. In this way, the Student is the Master. A Student is necessary for a Lesson to occur; a Master can be found in forms other than human (and many times is). Yes, a human Master seeks the Student. Do abstract “Masters” seek Students out as well?