Chatted with a friend a couple of days ago about styles of metaphysical writing. I mentioned in About This Blog that I got tired of reading spiritual books in which the author writes down to the rest of us, and implies that they have reached some point of completion. I’ve wound up developing a style in which I use lots of personal anecdotes and openly admit the many places in which I know I fail to live up to the principles I aim to live by. At the same time I’ve found that a lot of the writing I most enjoy these days on spirituality shares that personal-story, I’m-just-another-traveler tone.
My friend noted that a lot of people want a teacher who presents a front of perfection. I’ve seen that a lot too although I find it ironic that the flip of that, given that most teachers are far from perfection, is that as soon as those students see one of the flaws in the teacher they often throw out the whole package instead of accepting that wisdom can come from one who is flawed. Personally, I’ve never trusted teachers who present themselves as complete in their journey and the more I’ve learned the less I believe that much of anybody completes a journey of infinite possibilities in one life — or maybe ever. At the same time, I do think flawed people can learn lessons well enough to teach others.
In writing I think those teachers tend to stand back and give lessons or advice but give no indication that they may still be struggling with some aspects. In my own writing I’ve realized that it takes a certain amount of courage to tell those personal stories and to admit to being just another traveler with my imperfections hanging out. I used to write about the journey in the “you” form, offering advice to “you others’ who need my wisdom :>) … As I realized that I preferred reading more personal writing about the journey* I needed to be honest enough to write that way myself but boy it took a while to quit staying back behind the “you” and step forward into being “I”.
The conversation made me curious about how others feel about teachers– do you need yours to seem perfect or can you accept wisdom from someone who may not practice it perfectly? Do you like metaphysical books written from the royal we vantage (“We as humans tend to…”) or those who talk to “you” (“You have to look within…”) as if they’re somehow separate or those who make it more personal and let their flaws hang out, tell personal anecdotes?
* I read plenty of bloggers who write in this other style and I don’t mean to say that I don’t find posts that I quite like; I just find I enjoy the other sort more.