Part 2 – This article
As I mentioned in the previous article, Wolfgang (my teacher) told me that he would teach me but I would have to show him that I’m sincere first. I would have to show my sincerity by ‘passing a test’.
I have met people who have the impression that it is unfair to test an aspiring student before teaching her, but this impression comes from the understanding that it is the teacher who ‘transforms’ the student. My experience however is that for any kind of learning we have to make efforts ourselves. A teacher can only inspire, demonstrate and give advice. A simple example: If we want to learn how to play the guitar, we will have to play the notes ourselves. If we don’t want to play a single note, we can at the very best only learn at a superficial level (conceptual) and not at a deeper, more profound level (experiential).
I want to relate a story about a young man I have met during my time in Taiwan. I had given a guest lecture at a university in Taipei City and a student approached me after the lecture. I don’t remember what the exact subject was, but it had something to do with the inner dimensions of live. This student told me that he really wanted to me to teach him more about what I had spoken about. I did not commit myself to doing anything yet, but we exchanged contact details and would keep in touch.
Over the course of the next couple of days I started receiving emails from this young man in which he stressed that it is very important to him to learn more from me and that he would also like me to teach at his student organization. Even though teaching and sharing is one of my great passions, I was not able to commit myself to spending time with him because I had a slightly disturbed feeling about it all. It was my impression that he was talking a lot about what he would like me to do for him, and not much about what he would like to do for him.
Even though Elly was against it, I decided to give him a test. I went against the advice of my wife because I have learned to trust my feelings: they always have something important to say.
I learned from Wolfgang that in order to test the willingness of a person properly, it is important to test that person on a subject that is (slightly) difficult for him. I had the impression with this person that money (greed) is a difficult subject for him, so I told him: “I will ask for a financial compensation for our work and time together. I realise that you are a student, so I will only ask you to give me what you feel comfortable with. Any amount you feel comfortable with, is fine.”
The answer I got from him was very surprising to me, but also very relieving: “It’s very kind of you to want to work with me, but I do not think it is on my priority list right now.” And I have never heard of this young man since!
So back to me and my test. When I don’t feel well (emotionally), I gain weight fast (for reference: at one point I was almost 80kg and I have a height of only 1m65). As mentioned in the previous article, when I met Wolfgang I wasn’t in a happy state of mind so I was overweight. The assignment he gave me was to lose 10 kilograms in 3 months time and to contact him after I have reached the goal.
My motivation to reach the goal was high because I was so excited about the possibility of working with Wolfgang. It became easy for me to lose the 10 kilograms, and I don’t see them coming back again.