When the Teacher is Ready, the Pupil Appears

One of the things which is often missing from stories about loners, is how hard it is to actually remain a loner when you’re in a public space.


signs-you-might-be-an-outsider - poorly drawn linesPoorly Drawn Lines


Sit on a park bench, and, at some point, someone is going to approach you and start a conversation. Saunter through a museum, and soon enough, you’ll have a companion. Stand to one side on a street watching the world go by and a passerby will feel compelled to stop, stand next to you (or obstruct your view) and talk with you about the world. Browse in a bookstore and before you know it someone will want to discuss the merits of your literary browsing choices.

It seems that strangers like to talk to strangers, especially solitary ones who are trying to look as unapproachable as possible because they are enjoying their own company.

I have many tales of adventures experienced just because I was in a public place on my own and someone else decided that my solitude was an invitation for them to attend an interaction.

Some of these adventures were interesting, and I’m glad they happened. They allowed me to discover another world beyond my own. They gave me insights into others, and myself.

There was a time in my life when I longed to meet the proverbial teacher who would appear when the pupil was ready.


when the student is ready...


I was fairly narrow-minded about that dynamic, and therefore failed to see that everyone I met in life was a teacher to me, just as I was to them, in some manner. I had a fixed idea that this teacher should be a sensei or guru of some sort. That idea was the product of going through a New Age phase, and being very materialistic about spirituality – I wanted to have, rather than just be.

Towards the end of that phase (and what ended that phase), I realised that many of those who appeared spiritual were anything but. Particularly those who were senseis and gurus. The spiritual trip for them was one of power, of superiority to others. I also became aware that that was what I wanted too, and that snapped me out of my illusion-delusion (10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases).

My waking dream to become the pupil of a teacher, to finally be ready and be initiated into some form of life mastery, was simply the desire to become a teacher some day, in other words someone who wanted that position to lord it over others.

It was an ugly truth to face about myself, and caused shockwaves within, forcing me look at my own very human BS. It was necessary and ultimately liberating.

I guess my pupils were ready to see… what was really there.


As Is


It hurts to have your illusions and delusions shattered. The pain can be crushing. However if you allow yourself to feel that kind of agony of disappointment, you release yourself from the burden of your expectations.

It’s also an insightful experience, which lets you understand the world of being human.

I still explored the New Age after that. I wanted to see what I had once seen through my new perspective. To re-read what I had once read, and finally understand a lot of what was written.

One day, while browsing the books in one of my favourite Metaphysical shops (for those in the UK, that’s Watkins), the secondhand section hidden in the bowels of the store, a man approached me and started a conversation.

I felt that feeling which loners feel when a stranger interrupts their solitude, and thought what loners think – Did anyone not teach this person not to talk to strangers!?!

None of the tricks which loners use to get rid of the socially inclined worked on him. I could have walked away, left the shop, but I didn’t… so perhaps, I didn’t really want to be as alone as I pretended… loners can be quite contrary in their quest for solitude, and can be weirdly territorial. I was here first…


danger sign


The reason this man would not go away, was revealed in due course – He was a teacher looking for a ready pupil. And apparently that was me. I had finally been deemed worthy of being a pupil who attracted a teacher.

The urge to laugh at this moment was overwhelming, and that was perhaps why I stayed longer than I needed to. The irony was delicious.

Here was everything I had ever wanted… but I no longer wanted it, which was probably why opportunity knocked.

On and on he went, about his ashram located in some mountainous region of a remote place which his glowing eyes saw as a paradise he had created in a world to which he did not want to belong.

I’d wanted to create or be invited to one of those places myself. But now I liked living in the thick of things. I no longer wanted to escape, so this escape route looked like a slippery slope into one of those hells disguised as paradise.

Life has an humorous soul.

Wish for something and the fulfilment of it eludes you, more often than not you attract its opposite. Let go of the wish and sure enough it turns up and offers itself to you… now that you no longer want or need it.

But then again, what you no longer want and need may be exactly what you need and want, just in a different way…


he and I - Lang Leav



  1. You are so clear with yourself, Ursula. That’s amazing. And what an interesting experience being invited to an ashram!

    I’ve watched this “new age spirituality” spread through our culture as people adopt the “right” clothing, eat the “right foods”, say the “right” things and then isolate themselves in their perfection. I’m on a bit of a tangent but this idea of teachers and pupils finding each other has caused a great deal of harm in our society. People may not think about it (I may never have had I not been drug kicking-and-screaming into New Age Insanity).

    In communities like the ones I talk to everyday, narcissists have grabbed onto this meme to justify despicable and destructive behavior. They leap from the bed of one pupil to another, constantly looking for a group of admirers in the guise of spiritual development. A book that helped me understand the difference between spirituality and egoism was “Halfway Up the Mountain” by Marianna Caplan. She’s also the author of the link in your article.

    p.s. “You sometimes eat people” (hahahahaha!!!!! And I’m still laughing!)


    • Thank you very much 🙂

      Poorly Drawn Lines hits my funny bone! The eating people thing had me doing that – I shouldn’t be laughing so much at this – thing!

      I remember when the New Age movement began to pick up momentum, in the mid to late 80’s early 90’s. It coincided with the ‘Self-Help’ movement also gaining pace.

      Regular bookshops suddenly had these new sections which weren’t as stringent as Philosophy, Psychology, Magic Bollocks (my term based on the expressions of some of those who tried to browse Astrology and the Paranormal without getting ‘caught’ doing it), and the books which were published at that time under the New Age heading were very insightful, but could also be a bit questionable.

      Question everything, right? That was one of the ‘mottos’ of that movement… but it didn’t like being questioned. The ‘gurus’ of that movement definitely did not like it, and were ‘masters’ of passive-aggressive ‘spirituality’.

      My fav book of that era was The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. The bit about the ‘Poor Me’ type captured the ‘covert narc’s’ style. It was a self-published best seller which totally ripped off Jung and did it unashamedly to bring something which was sort of niche into the mainstream. Whatever works, right?

      New Age and Self-help kind of morphed into ‘Self Improvement’. Lots of people selling that and doing very well from it. Lots of people benefiting from their work. So, it’s all good, including the dark side of it (which Jung spoke about long before those public speaking gurus were even a twinkle in their parents’ eyes).

      We’re all teachers and we’re all pupils… our best ashram is ourselves, everything we need to know is inside if we’re willing to look at that kind of soup 🙂

      I’ve learned more from confronting my own BS than from anything and anyone else… or is that more BS? 😉


  2. Can you give me some insight as to if the book “Going Mad to Stay Sane” is a good book where a Narcissistic relationship is concerned or is it more helpful when raised by Narcissists?


    • I found the book very helpful for me personally – child raised by narcissists who finds that most literature on the subject of Narcissistic Personality Disorder doesn’t cover my experience of it.

      I’ve read many books, and articles, on the subject of Narcissism. This particular book is not about Narcissism or NPD. It is about what causes self-destructiveness more than anything else, which is something a child of narcissists tends to be – self-destructive, programmed to self-destruct. The author used mythology which is a subject I have studied and have always loved, and so this book hit a very sweet and painful spot which clarified things for me.

      I’m not sure if it would do that for anyone else.

      If you’re not a child of narcissists but have been in a relationship with a narcissist then I would probably not recommend this book. There are other books out there focused on the subject which might be better suited for what you are seeking.


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