Don’t Go Back to School

 

You have a desire “ a calling. Something is telling you that there’s more, but the way is unclear. Uncertainty and self-doubt encourage you to stay on the well-worn path. Academics is a well-worn path. However, is it the right path?

I came across this Rumi poem, translated by Coleman Barks.

Moving Water

 

"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river
moving in you, a joy.When actions come from another section, the feeling
disappears. Don’t let others lead you. They may be blind or, worse, vultures.

Reach for the rope of God. And what is that? Putting aside self-will.
Because of willfulness people sit in jail, the trapped bird’s wings are tied,
fish sizzle in the skillet.

The anger of police is willfulness. You’ve seen a magistrate
inflict visible punishment. Now see the invisible. If you could leave your selfishness, you
would see how you’ve been torturing your soul.

We are born and live inside black water in a well. How could we know what an open field of sunlight is?

Don’t insist on going where you think you want to go. Ask the way to the spring. Your
living pieces will form a harmony. There is a moving palace that floats in the air
with balconies and clear water flowing through, infinity everywhere, yet contained
under a single tent."

My own experience is that the graduate education and experience I gained through three masters degrees and a Ph.D., well, I couldn’t be without them. Each contributed to who I am today in a way that is foundational.

As I say this, there’s a niggler tugging, saying that the MSW was not foundational and that I took it for reasons other than that I experienced a river moving through me “ a joy. I did the MSW because it was politically correct, when in the 1980’s a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy had no credibility “ especially on the East Coast of Canada, where psychologists and social workers where the only "therapists’ that could get hired by the provincial government. So returning to school I thought would give me credibility I needed. It didn’t!

In my position as an admission counselor at ITP (Now, Sofia University), many years ago, I’d ask the same question to anyone who called, wondering if this school was for them: "Do you feel a calling to do this work?" For some, it was a YES! For many others, what they brought to the conversations were rationalizations and justifications; that it would help them get a better career, they’d feel more confident, experienced, credentialed. I often encouraged these people to seriously consider what’s underlying this path of reasoning. If its fear-based, I encouraged them to work through their fears first, then “ listen for the calling!

More times than I can remember, clients of mine would decide that going back to school was what they needed to do. They’d think that getting that second masters degree was the thing to do. Its not that they weren’t keenly interested in the subject matter, however the drive was generated from something other than a calling. After completion of the degree, I’ve gotten calls, saying "Well, I’m done with the program and I’m not feeling any more competent or prepared to step into the unknown." They shared that going back to school was a way of skirting the real issue “ engaging fully in the intimate relationship with the unknown.

Education “ in the normal sense of the word, provides information “ and rarely the enough experience required to face our humanness, especially when it comes to carving out what’s ours to do from the unknown. Even the most prestige’s MBA programs rarely provide experiences that ready its students for what they will face in the real world.

In the more spiritual sense of the word, education is what happens when we choose to realize that we have been living inside black water in a well. If the school you are considering doesn’t begin your studies with "We are born and live inside black water in a well. How could we know what an open field of sunlight is?" Well, my personal point of view is, you aren’t in the right school!

Obviously, if you require specific skills and tools for engineering, technical careers, architectural or design degrees, well, I get it!

School of Hard Knocks
The academic world taught me very little, when it came to lectures, books, papers and quizzes. What I learned, I learned by engaging in this carving out process. Exercising muscles of clarity of intention, committed enough to figure out, so to speak, how to get out of the well “ only hearing of the open field and sunlight. I read the other day that those who have heard of enlightenment will never be satisfied with anything less.

Before you choose to go back to school, see if this is a fear-based choice or if it feels like a river running through your soul. Really and sincerely from the bottom of my heart “ I encourage you to work with a coach to explore your essential truth and what it is you are truly called to do.

I loved my time at ITP (Sofia U.). When I was complete with my studies, I didn’t know what I was going to do next and it didn’t really matter. As scary as it was to have be in debt for over a thousand dollars, I knew that the experience itself was what I was there for. The rest is just details.

I would be honored to support you in your consideration of what’s yours to do. Please, don’t hesitate to contact me. My job is to empower you to experience the joy as you find your place in the sunshine! 360-376-4323

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