We all have identities and beliefs about ourselves and others. These identities and beliefs permeate our lives on a level that most of us are unaware. We use the identities and beliefs in such way, though, to address two needs. We want to be a part of something beyond ourselves, as we long for a sense of community. At the same time, we want to be separate and unique. Our identities, for ourselves and others, are designed to address both of these aspects. To be human is to deal with these seemingly discordant needs.
This is the path of what it is to be human. At the most basic of levels, we are all crafted from the same materials and driven by the same signals, yet, expressed in a strikingly unique pattern singular to each of us. Our identities and beliefs have not created our uniqueness, as the human potential is much too broad to be so defined.
If you were to give up your identities and beliefs about you, how would this change how you understand yourself?
If you were to give up the identities and beliefs you hold about others, how would this change how you understand them?
Clarity about the beliefs and identities we carry within our lives is needed, as these identities, and the beliefs associated, permeate all aspects of our lives.
With a single identity (whatever that may be), we believe we know everything about a particular person or group of people. We think we know how they are physically, how they relate to others, how their sense of self is derived, how they love and so on. The same occurs within ourselves. The identities we have, or are given to us, can begin to define all aspects of our lives. The power of being a human being, a unique individual, is thrown out the window with these simplistic associations.
Think about one identity and belief you have about yourself. What part of your life is not affected by this identity and its associated beliefs?
Think about one identity and belief you have about a particular person or group of people. What part of your understanding of this particular person or group of people is untouched by this identity and its associated beliefs?
The speed by which identities and beliefs arise can be startling. Some people look at a person or group of people, and within moments and with a great deal of certainty, can have a complete set of beliefs about these individuals. The accuracy of these identities and beliefs is seldom called into question. They simply exist as if they are always real and correct. Likewise, an individual, without question, may also lead with his or her chosen identities, trusting in the expected beliefs associated with this identity.
Some of these identities are, of course, physical, while others are simply created by mental projections. Regardless of what underlies the identity, and its accompanying belief, it is important to understand where and how these beliefs and identities arise.
Think about the identities and beliefs you hold about yourself. From where did these beliefs and identities arise? From within you? From somewhere else?
Think about the identities and beliefs you hold about a person or a group of people. From where did these beliefs and identities arise?
Do our beliefs and identities about self and others simply exist or are they the result of our creations?
Gratitude is an act of Transcendence. Something new is created when we exchange our gifts with one another, both as giver and receiver.
When you are a teacher, you are a gift to others. In giving of yourself, you provide the possibility for the development and transformation of others that extends far beyond you. Within your teaching experience, you free to manifest the transformative steps of the Arc of Transcendence in sharing the following:
May your Choices, Presence, Awareness, Ascendance and Transcendence reflect the teacher you long to be.
Relative to your teaching experiences, for what are you most grateful?
The teaching experience is not built upon comfort, but rather upon the sense of possibilities inherent in Transcendence.
Although we may all like the comfort that comes from teaching a consistent set of courses and curricular content over the course of several semesters, we need to recognize that this predictability must be balanced with a sense of possibilities for transformation within ourselves and our students. When we become too comfortable, we can become resistant to evolution, within ourselves and our profession. By engaging with the steps along the Arc of Transcendence, we are asked to reconsider our intentions. Each step along the Arc of Transcendence propels us into learning something new about ourselves and our experiences within teaching. Comfort is left behind, as Transcendence emerges.
What motivates your teaching more – a sense of comfort or the desire for Transcendence?
Do your students suffer because you long for the comfort of predictable teaching?
One thing that often needs to be brought to an end in order for Transcendence to emerge is our limiting thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Each day, we only have so much energy to spend. To Transcend and transform in our teaching experience inside and outside the classroom, we must be willing to let go of those energy expenditures that no longer serve us or others. This is the only way in which to have energy available to do the work of transformation.
Which set of limitations do you need to release in order to engage with the energy of Transcendence in your teaching experience?
What set of limitations must your students eliminate in order that they may have a more transformative experience in your classes?
As an act of creating something anew in our experiences as teachers, we are helped when we reflect on a component that may be missed with Transcendence. Within any act of Transcendence, for something new to be developed, something else likely has to be brought to ending or closure. In teaching, this can be a problem, as administrators and others tend to believe that constantly adding new ideas and actions is a mark of success. However, if additional “newness” is to be incorporated into the classroom experience, a wise question to ask is, “What must come to an end?”.
If you are wanting to transcend your current teaching experience, what actions must come to an end for you to create something new?
How can help your students see what they may need to bring to closure to create something new for themselves?
To teach is to be involved in an act of Transcendence.
At this point, we have examined the role of Choice, Presence, Awareness and Ascendance within our experiences as teachers. Now, we come to final step on the Arc of Transcendence, which is Transcendence itself. In many ways, education is an act of Transcendence, as Transcendence does not only apply to the spiritual sense. Rather, Transcendence can be seen viewed in the sense of transforming in such a way to create one’s self anew. When we educate others, we are involved in the act of Transcendence, because learning in and of itself is an act of Transcendence. We expect learning to transform our students, as we are transformed by the experience of teaching.
How has teaching transformed you?
What transformations do you expect your students to experience in your classes?
As teachers, we are expected to show up in ways that benefit all around us. The expectations are numerous and multi-leveled for each student we teach, for the contributions we make to our institutions and our fields of study. Within all the expectations, Ascendance provides us with a larger view and understanding that who we are, what we do, and how we do it matters. With Ascendance, we see beyond the limitations to the possible actions that may benefit all. The classroom is designed to be a space to push beyond limitations. Ascendance provides a means by which to do this in a way that contributes to the “greatest good for all”, including us.
Within your teaching experience, where are you most likely to employ Ascendance? Where do you find it difficult to utilize Ascendance?
How can you help your students create an atmosphere in your classroom that is Ascendant in nature, in which they are more able to see beyond limitations?
Teaching is a giving profession. Thus, for many teachers the perspective of Ascendance in which one considers the “greatest good for all” is a common way of seeing the world. A sense of altruism and a desire to contribute to the betterment of others are primary motivators for many teachers. All of this is beautiful.
But, as teachers, it is important to remember that we, too, are part of the “greatest good for all”. When we make choices and decisions, and we want to consider the “greatest good for all”, we must remember to include ourselves within this context.
In your teaching experience, how often do you consider yourself when making decisions for the “greatest good for all”?
How may your students learn from you how to consider themselves within the “greatest good for all”?