HEALING THE TEACHER-STUDENT DICHOTOMY: VARIANTS IN NARCISSISTIC PROJECTION (a.k.a. Lessons from Po, The Kung Fu Panda)
There are many forms of self-pedestalization, each expressed through a different kind of mask. Some hide behind tall pedestals built with feet of clay and others through the performance of submission and false humility. Each refers to an archetype that a person chooses to locate themselves in, often to obscure their actual agenda and energy.
The classic form is that of the False Prophet / Narcissistic Teacher. The one who assumes Omniscient Knowledge (as if such a thing existed) and lords it over all else. So, in other words, when you people people who insist that it´s (their) MY WAY.
MY LIGHT WILL GUIDE YOU!!
It´s an archetype that I´ve been writing about quite a bit – and gods know I get people threathened by my work or presence projecting that on me – or anyone else they feel threathened by.
But in all honesty, that kind of a false ego is one that any teacher/mentor type person has to constantly monitor.
The moment your personal ego outweighs the message you have come to deliver…
The moment you feel as though you have all the answers …
That´s when you take a step back.
Go back to learning what you need to. Perhaps some un-learning too.
That being said, there are a lot of teachers out there who build their following on the basis of such assumptions. Some of them are highly successful (in a material sense) and yet the energy is utterly parasitic. So, keep your eyes open as you explore the spiritual-universe-through-human-teachers.
However, there´s a second type of performance in the domain of self-pedestalization: The mirror, or antipode to the False Teacher, if you will. It is by no means a happy mirror, or a neutralizer or balancer.
It is a more passive-aggressive variant of narcissistic behavior.
I call it The False Student / The Passive Agressively Humble or Submissive archetype. If you know a better name for it, let me know.
The False Student is a projection of self crafted as a means of taking energy, authority and power from those seen as teachers.
This is probably as common as the more visible teacher-on-a-pedestal, but less hard to call out – as it masks itself in its ´humility´, or in self-professed mediocrity. And, have we not been taught to honor the meek, the humble? And to fear the outwardly powerful?
Probably why it´s a very successful – and hard to pinpoint model of behavior.
To some extent, it seems counter-logical to call someone who insists on their humility, and non-inclusion in the class you might call as ´the teacher´ as being arrogant. But from the energy perspective, that´s exactly what it is.
These individuals take succour in the fact that there is something they know that the teacher does not – the ability to be ´regular folk´ and (allegedly) have no access to specialized knowledge. That makes their experiences (and inexpertise on some matters) somehow more ´holy´, more ´worthwhile´ than the former whose access is not disputed.
They project upon the teacher (irrespective of their vibration) as one who is somehow out of touch, or in an ivory tower that they (the lowly) are barred access to. They may even call the teacher a False one because of their own insecurities. (I´m sure the converse applies as well).
Is it any wonder that the two projections go hand in hand together?
Interestingly, both False Teacher and False Student dehumanize the person they´re projecting on. That seems to be a common feature in narcissistic dynamics, irrespective of which role is played out. Some of the scariest teachers I have met often wear the mask of false humility as well. And I´ve seen students who deeply resent the teacher´s authority and knowledge, but outwardly claim their respect and love.
Sucky energy dynamics in other words. And hooky too.
In a dynamic between two individuals, the False Student archetype can play out as the friend who pretends to know less than you do and/or deeply resents your knowledge on something. The moment you´re shown to not know something yourself, that´s when the hooks come out.
Ah, but you thought you were better than us?
Ah, but you thought you knew better didn´t you.
Welcome to our world, you priviledged so-and-so. (And at the same time ..) How did you dare you claim to be better than me/us?
You lack humility! And now you must have it! *evil laugh*
Haha, I am the real Teacher .. not YOU!!!!!!
More often than not, the passive aggression comes through platitudes and things which – on the surface – seem like they´re written for your benefit. Energetically, they´re really not. Hence, passive-aggression.
There will be people who welcome you to the group of ´common humanity´ because you bare your soul, reveal what you got right/wrong. And they feel more connected with you. That´s awesome. That´s growth. That´s celebration.
And there will be people who are smug about it.
As my brother pointed out (in a draft of this piece), people may use the same words – but really, energetically mean something else.
Takes a little work telling the two apart. If you´re operating from one archetype, your personal mirror-on-the-world may be crafted to see everyone else through the opposite.
I´m still observing this dynamic and mapping it out. But hopefully it strikes a chord with you, dear reader.
Like the whole teacher/student dichotomy, both performances of pedestalization are based on a false binary. We are all students, and we are all teachers. We all play those roles in different parts of our lives, and there is really no beginning or end to them.
Teachers will always come across students who want to be them, but resent them and want them to ´come down to their level´ – and Students will always find teachers who are intimidated by them, and want them to ´stay down and obey´.
On rare occasions, during my sessions I come across individuals who want to teach me what they know about astrology and do not let me get a word in edgewise.
In cases like that, I present two options: to let me do my job, or to cancel the session and offer them a refund.
There´s not much else I can do about it. I do enjoy the opportunity to learn and do seek it out from people I feel I can learn from. That´s how you keep growing.
But being patronized, hell to the no!
I´ve seen my dad do the same thing, back when used to speak to thousands of people as a public speaker. He´d always get one guy in the audience who would incessantly interrupt the flow of the speech, wanting to impress his level of knowledge upon the crowd – and really disrupting the flow of the event for his own purposes.
My father would offer him the microphone and tell him to get up on the stage and run the seminar instead whilst dad sat down in the audience. Haven´t seen a single person who took up that offer.
It´s part of the circus that is humanity …. Once you realize an individual is trying to hook you in, walk away fast – or call them up on it and them a chance to come back to themselves.
I´ve come across both – probably played those roles in a previous life cycle – which is why I get to see them in this life, and to learn-teach from them. Gotta love my Chiron in Gemini opposed Saturn in Sagittarius 😀 Ha!
The only way to get around it that I know of so far is to recognize and celebrate our shared humanity – but also our differences. We´ve all got different skill sets, different strengths and vulnerabilities – and that is OK. That´s how we roll!
Generally speaking …
A good teacher will not put you down for not knowing and a good student will empty the cup of their preconceptions so there is space for the teacher to teach, and for the student to learn.
It is good for a teacher to acknowledge their own vulnerabilites and for a student to celebrate their strengths (and vice versa, in good measure).
(I know I´m using the word good – a lot. It´s a judgement call yes, but I´m being practical about this)
You do not need to be invincible to be a teacher, nor do you need to be ignorant to be a student.
So, if you meet a teacher that says – My Word cannot be questioned – run, run fast. If you meet a student that says – My Word is better than yours – you´ve got to ask yourself if the exchange will get anywhere.
Otherwise the energy exchange becomes a battle of wills and egos. And that serves no one.
In a happier sense, it´s good to celebrate what you do know – and and what you don´t know. That way, these games and the emotional hooks they latch onto, cannot even begin.
It helps to also not create your identity around either of these poles.
When I´m teaching / in session that part of me – the Sky Priestess – comes out, and the rest of the time I am a happy nerd who likes superhero movies, cookies, cuddles and most things from the 80s. On rare occasions, both.
(I remember one client called Zool, like the villain from the first Ghostbusters movie … that was epic 😀 )
This is also why my best friend in the whole world calls me Baloo-Bhagira. Baloo when I´m at home/play, Bhagira when I´m working.
So, in other words – Just remember to slide out of the role once you´re done with it / that particular job at that particular time.
You´re a Soul that transcends all definitions … teacher/student is just a label at the end of the day!
And if needing a visual example, watch Po from Kung Fu Panda 3. It´s an epic movie that explains this perfectly! (Watched it twice now and brought mum and dad along too – they loved it. )
Remember, we´re all in this together! 😀
Post © Bairavee Balasubramaniam, 2016
Image: Woman teaching geometry.jpg. Illustration from the Middle Ages. British Library Digital Collection. Public Domain.