AboveGround

Fraudulent teacher?

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Hi all.

 

Firstly, thank you all for your amazing posts. Lots of amazing insights to be gained on here. 

 

I have a question that I would really appreciate help with.

Forgive me for avoiding some specific details as I’d prefer to remain anonymous, reasons why will become clear if you read on.

 

I’ve been training in Taijiquan and Neigong for over 10 years with the same teacher and have been discouraged from training with others or reading books etc. so most of what I’ve known until recently has come from one person.

 

I say “recently” because by chance I stumbled upon some material that made me realise how foolish I’d been in blindly following my teacher’s instructions. My teacher had a very elaborate and complicated lineage which was never publicly shared and those who trained with her never knew exactly where those forms etc we were learning specifically came from but we were given the impression that they were all top secret and not available anywhere else.

 

As you read this you’ll most likely be noticing red flags, and you can probably guess where this is going... to my huge disappointment I found out my teacher has been taking forms / exercises etc from various books and videos, teaching them almost word for word, including many philosophical lectures. There are big questions marks around the lineage and almost everything I believed to be true.

 

Upon realising this I made some effort to discuss these things but was pushed aside and ostracised very quickly and long story short I respectfully said thanks and left.

 

Now I feel totally lost. Not only had taijiquan and qigong been my passion for all these years, to the point that I chose dedication to my teacher over time spent with family and friends, but it had also become my profession after being gently pressured into quitting my job and becoming a teacher. Teaching was a huge source of inspiration and motivation and gave me a real sense of purpose in life, being convinced I was really making a positive change in this world but I was forced into handing over my business when I left (long story) and wasn’t even able to tell my students why, some of whom had been training with me for many years.

 

I’ve been trying to find new interests and jobs but keep coming to the same conclusion... I’d like to return to teaching, but all I know was taught to me by someone who I consider a fraud and all that I’ve learned has been taken from other teachers without their knowledge. If I go back to teaching then I’m no better than my previous teacher, and also I honestly have no idea what to say if someone asks me my lineage.

 

The thought of starting from scratch, gaining a new teacher’s respect after many years and hoping to become part of a respected lineage just seems like such a hurdle, especially after already having worked so hard for so many years.

 

I’m under no delusion that I’m a tai chi master and can start up my own school, but I have trained heavily to the point of being able to circulate Qi along the ren and du mai, and have reached deep states of meditation, and feel confident in being able to at the very least help others improve their health and re-spark their love of life through connecting deep within themselves (if not in experiencing these same things) but just have no idea how to navigate this territory.

 

Would I just be a fraud if I start teaching again? Or is it normal for teachers to take material from others and actually no one can “own” any forms anyway? Where would I even start in finding an authentic teacher in China or should I give up my hopes and perhaps teach generic exercise classes and just incorporate the key features of tai chi / Qi gong without publicising it and therefore not having to present my lineage?

 

Are there any forms or Qi Gong sets which are generally considered to be without “copyright” (for wont of a better term!) which is ok for me to teach? Again, I’m no master but I am quite sensitive and can feel ways which movements should be done to increase Qi flow and feel confident in safely teaching those ways to others. Or should I just accept I wasted a good many years and just move on?

 

I’ve left a lot of details out so feel free to ask if you have any questions, I just might avoid some specific details as it may not be entirely safe for me to share them, but if you can help clarify my situation I would be really grateful!

 

Thanks,

Ag

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4 hours ago, AboveGround said:

to my huge disappointment I found out my teacher has been taking forms / exercises etc from various books and videos, teaching them almost word for word, including many philosophical lectures. There are big questions marks around the lineage and almost everything I believed to be true.

same old, same old. they are all like that.

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5 hours ago, AboveGround said:

Hi all.

 

Firstly, thank you all for your amazing posts. Lots of amazing insights to be gained on here. 

 

There has been thousands of different qigong practices in China. So apparently it's not that unusual for a student to then start his or her own qigong but it's mainly based on his/her previous training material when they were a student. And then it's possible this "new" material might not be directly attributed to the original source. Now the "information" is one thing - but the actual energy healing is another thing. So you can learn information but not be ready to experience the energy at that level of the information.

 

What I've been interested in is the general principles of qigong (and of course even the name qigong is contentious - some claim it's NOT neidan or neigong or daoyin or, etc.). So for example when Yan Xin did his mass healings in China often the audience he was healing could not even understand the words of his lectures!! So his energy  healing was very strong but his "information" as words was not easy to follow. And yet people considered his healings to be very efficacious.

 

Also a lot of teachers don't allow themselves to be named by their students and so the student becomes a teacher but says their own teacher or teachers are a secret.

 

So again my interest is in the general principles of how this (fill in the blank) works - and this is true for yoga also. There has been debate about yoga being appropriated. I would say we can say similarly about qigong - as the Westernization of the world is that, for example in today's China it is considered "qigong deviance" if you think you can receive healing from your qigong master long distance - without any direct contact.

 

So obviously issues of copyright are particular to marketing and a business situation - and that can not be really answered unless you probably hire a lawyer or something.

 

The US has different free speech laws compared to the UK for example. Different countries have different rules and sometimes the discrepancy is taken to the World Trade Organization - where the matter is ruled over in a closed secret meeting, giving preference to the corporate lawyers who represent the members of the WTO. For example Cargill wrote the international trade laws on patenting seeds or whatever - and so then the attempt has been made to make it illegal for a farmer to replant his own farm seed in AFrica, etc.

 

So personally I would lean on the side of individual freedom based on the general principles of training. If it "works" then it works probably based on general principles - not a "product" that is "commodified." Of course even humans have had their blood patented without their permission -- as I exposed this going on at University of Minnesota for an asthma study of certain genetic ethnic lines. I went in and just interviewed the scientists in the lab and they openly bragged to me how they had patented the cell lines to make a big profit by selling them to some Big Pharma business or whatever.

 

Some Daoist lineages refuse to charge money for teaching or information - like the lineage of the author of Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and Immortality - that book is free online. That is a good book to give the principles of the circulation of energy that you mention. If you can circulate the energy and are confident of your abilities - then it seems like you should be able to "teach." Of course I am just posting information for free online as my personal opinion.

 

 

Edited by voidisyinyang
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What can you do.  Maybe its not all bath water and there's some baby in what you've learned.

 

So, roll up your sleeves, and look around for another teacher.  Try them out, see the quality of their students, dig a little into there background.  Good chance you'll find yourself way way better then any new student, especially if you keep your cup empty. 

 

Keep the passion and aim it at a new teacher and art.  Everyone's path gets a little windy and loopy sometimes. 

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15 hours ago, Taoist Texts said:

same old, same old. they are all like that.

 

Wish I’d known that sooner!

Have you had a similar experience or  are there similar cases that you know of?

 

Hoping to understand the situation a bit better so I can plan next steps (and avoid similar mistakes!).

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15 hours ago, thelerner said:

What can you do.  Maybe its not all bath water and there's some baby in what you've learned.

 

 

You’re right. Am trying to focus on all the positives and learn from the rest.

 

So in your opinion it’s best to focus on finding a new teacher first before considering whether to teach again or not?

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I'm new to all this, but that would make me a perfect new client who needs a teacher, right? Earlier this week I attended my first Qigong group class. I should have done a head count, but I would estimate there were 30-40 people. The class was filled with mostly older people. I think that is his target market. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. In fact, it's good to be focused on your marketing. For instance, if you want to be something like a personal health coach you need to be focused on a particular market. I'm not sure if I'll be going back to the class though. The group thing just following the instructor (without any personal correction to form) didn't appeal to me. After the class I talked to the teacher and told him about my personal practice of Zhan Zhuang. I was hoping he could analyze my form. I was surprised when he got confused on the terminology between the wuji posture and Standing at the Stake. He has teaching certifications from a world famous teacher who has many DVD's on Amazon. He has pictures on his website of him standing with this teacher.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is I don't think you need a lineage to be a teacher. You just need to be knowledgeable about what you are teaching and do some good marketing.

 

In terms of what you could teach: I would love to find a teacher that would teach me to perfect the Ba Duan Jin (that's open source),  how about 5 Element Qigong, 5 Animal Frolics, Yang 24 movement short form, Zhan Zhuang, and teach people proper breathing. I think even if you don't know these, but you have been doing Tai chi for as long as you have you could pick them up easily and teach them. If you think you need some official certifications look into Roger Jahnke's Tai Chi Easy certification programs. They look really legitimate and are reasonably priced.

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Many teachers that are recommend on TDB do exactly the same thing and if you listen carefully to what they say, they often drop hints, if anyone notices.   The fact that you care at all makes you a candidate for a good teacher.

Make straight what is crooked !

If you wish to teach then think carefully what and why, and what you have that is valuable to teach.  For things you are unsure of test them or discard them.

If you wish to learn then choose carefully, and perhaps you can find someone from whom you can repair the rotten wood with fresh wood.  Or alternatively start again.

Life is like this.

In all things be more conscious and make a man of yourself.   What good is clinging on to lineage anyway.

There are great men in the world, surely they stick out clearly.

There are certainly many qigong sets that are without copyright and which are effective and can be taught, but they do have to be learnt.

So ... how did you find out about what the teacher was doing ??

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17 hours ago, voidisyinyang said:

(and of course even the name qigong is contentious - some claim it's NOT neidan or neigong or daoyin or, etc.)

 

Thank you for your thoughtful reply, it’s given me a lot to consider.

 

Yes I have some Chinese friends who cringe any time I say “Qi Gong” as they feel it’s a modern invention and too closely associated with numerous “cults” in China, and not connected with more traditional practices. One of them told me they had been warned as a child to never do "Qi Gong" as it's too easy for anyone to claim to be a qigong master, but to instead to martial arts as you can more easily assess if that person has any skill or not.

 

Regardless of the name, if done with the correct principles (as you pointed out) then valuable benefits are at hand, so this debate about the validity of qi gong / nei gong / nei dan etc etc is fascinating but doesn't bother me too much as the results speak for themselves.

 

17 hours ago, voidisyinyang said:

There has been debate about yoga being appropriated. I would say we can say similarly about qigong

 

Oh without doubt, and whilst there are many valid criticisms of it, I’d say it can be argued that there are many benefits to be gained too. Someone who helped me move house once told me they used to learn tai chi from an amazing Chinese teacher, very physically capable and experienced, but his communication and teaching skills were so poor that  students really struggled with the classes and eventually he stopped teaching as a result. Could it be argued that a western teacher with one tenth the level of skill but who was more familiar with a western audience could have brought more benefit to those students? Even if what he/she was teaching wasn’t as “pure” or advanced? But that’s a whole other crate of apples...

 

 

17 hours ago, voidisyinyang said:

Some Daoist lineages refuse to charge money for teaching or information - like the lineage of the author of Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and Immortality

 

Thanks for mentioning this... I’ve read the book but didn’t look into the lineage, something I’ll research now. It really is a great book and answered a LOT of questions I had as most of my training was heavy on “figure it out yourself” which is very effective in a lot of instances but can also lead to a lot of stagnation if the teacher uses it as the standard response rather than a teaching tool.

 

17 hours ago, voidisyinyang said:

Of course I am just posting information for free online as my personal opinion.

 

I appreciate that! Was worried I’d be hit with a massive bill at the end of your reply ;) 

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1 hour ago, escott said:

I'm new to all this, but that would make me a perfect new client who needs a teacher, right?

 

Wow that comment really hit me... am I making the same mistake over again by seeking the advice of a "wise old sage" and not taking stock of my situation and listening to those who may potentially be interested in what I have to offer? If I'm to be honest that's what got me into this mess in the first place (looking for someone who has "all the answers" and not taking more responsibility myself).

 

I still would really love to hear the opinion of any teachers on this, but I made a mistake in not considering the opinions of potential students.

 

1 hour ago, escott said:

I was surprised when he got confused on the terminology between the wuji posture and Standing at the Stake.

 

Just to play devil's advocate here, is it possible you used terminology he wasn't familiar with? I'd often have new students ask questions that were completely baffling but as we spoke longer I'd realise they were just using different terminology to what I was used to and could then make an attempt at answering their question.

 

Also, when teaching large groups, it can be very difficult for a teacher to correct everyone's form, but he should have at least made some effort, especially with you as a newer student, but I wasn't there to see so I can't judge him as the situation might not have allowed.

 

My advice would be to go a few more times. If he doesn't take notice and makes no effort then he's possibly at his limit and can't manage individual advice, or he's only interested in students who are happy to copy along and don't really care about doing things precisely. There's some benefit just in doing that, but you sound quite keen to really take your practice somewhere, in which case that won't do you much good.

 

1 hour ago, escott said:

I would love to find a teacher that would teach me to perfect the Ba Duan Jin (that's open source),  how about 5 Element Qigong, 5 Animal Frolics, Yang 24 movement short form, Zhan Zhuang, and teach people proper breathing.

 

There must be many around. I'd been teaching most of those for years.

I actually haven't practiced the 24 in many years but you could do any of its movements and I can give you corrections until you're sick to death haha. 

 

1 hour ago, escott said:

If you think you need some official certifications look into Roger Jahnke's Tai Chi Easy certification programs. They look really legitimate and are reasonably priced.

 

Thanks I'll have a look, and thanks again for your reply - it's made me see things from a whole different angle.

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1 hour ago, rideforever said:

Many teachers that are recommend on TDB do exactly the same thing and if you listen carefully to what they say, they often drop hints, if anyone notices. 

 

Sorry I'm not sure what you're referring to here, what do they drop hints to? 

 

1 hour ago, rideforever said:

If you wish to teach then think carefully what and why, and what you have that is valuable to teach.  For things you are unsure of test them or discard them.

 

That is really good advice. Thanks.

I learned tonnes of stuff and in hindsight a lot of it either makes no sense, or I at least can see no benefit from having practiced it, so I'll leave it aside for sure.

I'm certainly not a great self promoter (bulls**t artist) and am comfortable telling people I don't know certain forms etc. or that I don't understand certain concepts. There's really little benefit in misleading people because they just end up making life difficult for you, and I believe in the end all fakers get caught out one way or another so there's just no point. No to mention the harm you can do to others in teaching something you have no grasp of.

 

1 hour ago, rideforever said:

What good is clinging on to lineage anyway.

 

Well... it's because I don't really understand what's "right" and "wrong" in this area, which is why I'm reaching out on here. I've asked Chinese friends with some understanding of these things and some seem to be of the opinion that no one owns any of these things and it's usually freely taught in parks and squares all around Chine and if you can do it well enough then you can teach others to that level and if they surpass you then they can move on and learn elsewhere, but then I've met others who say their family "owns" this or that and no one else has a right to teach it, or that people have died or lived extremely difficult lives in order to preserve these things (e.g. through the cultural revolution when a lot of it was banned) and only they really understand how it can be taught correctly, so if anyone who learns it at a low level goes around teaching it pretending to be high level then the whole practice gets diluted and distorted and a valuable art form is corrupted forever.

 

1 hour ago, rideforever said:

So ... how did you find out about what the teacher was doing ??

 

The short answers is: the internet.

 

The long answer is still something I try to get my head around. So many things happened in quick succession, random chance events let's say, that snapped me out of my delusion that what I was learning was unattainable elsewhere and so I should keep my head down and put up with all the mistreatment (and what I now consider to be abuse (mental, not physical)). 

 

Also, in a very perverted way, I have to thank Trump... before him I had no idea what "gaslighting" and "malignant narcissism" was. Live and learn I guess.

 

This is also something I struggle to make sense of, i.e. how can I be so critical of the person who taught me and yet value all that I learned? How can I tell my background in future and leave out the criticisms? If I include the criticisms, why would I expect anyone to want to continue learning from me?

 

 

It wouldn't be an issue if there wasn't the philosophical aspect of the practice and it's emphasis on virtue and moral conduct.

 

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19 minutes ago, AboveGround said:

It wouldn't be an issue if there wasn't the philosophical aspect of the practice and it's emphasis on virtue and moral conduct.

 

You need to feel the truth of what you are doing, both for yourself and if you teach.

And you have a considerable amount of experience good or bad, to work from.

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1 hour ago, Taoist Texts said:

 

 

That's a brilliant read, thanks for the taking the time to put it together.

 

I don't quite understand why Chen Xiaowang would reveal the technique of rotating the dantian if it is "the secret behind the power and the health benefits of taijiquan", but earlier:

 "a Chinese teacher will never teach secrets of his art to a student, particularly to a western one. "

 

Or is it one thing to describe a technique but another thing entirely to teach it to the point of full transmission?

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Taoist Texts, point 6 was SPOT ON, just brilliant.

 

Wish I'd read that yeeeeaars ago!

 

Quote

 

"Masquerading as the irreplaceable conductors on the Way, the teachers are the foremost demonic obstacle on the Way. Don’t get on their train to nowhere. Cast the mighty spell of Jiǔ Sè Cái Qì at them, recognize them, and see them vanquished."


 

 

And earlier:

Quote

Like the predators who hound the weak and sick animals, the teachers are sent by the Heavens to ensnare and stop those who should not be dabbling in the things out of their league.

 

Painful to read, and hard to admit, but very true..

 

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2 hours ago, AboveGround said:

Just to play devil's advocate here, is it possible you used terminology he wasn't familiar with? I'd often have new students ask questions that were completely baffling but as we spoke longer I'd realise they were just using different terminology to what I was used to and could then make an attempt at answering their question.

 

You're right. When I got into the form he said, "Oh, oh, oh, people call it many different things." Then he proceeded to give me a helpful tip. So, I guess I should give him another chance. The Pittsburgh area seems to be a bit of a Qigong and Tai Chi desert.

 

You sound like a knowledgeable person and a good teacher as well as a person of high integrity.

 

Good Luck

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If you are teaching Qi Gong primarily as Western “Yoga” is taught which is actually generally Asanas as stretching exercises - then your teachings do not need to be couched in some notion that you are transmitting “a teaching” of any kind. 

 

You would be simply teaching some very good energy exercises.

If you are teaching it for personal power - this is another level and more along the lines of most martial arts - again those that are more the moves and combat and mundane fighting - and not deep teachings even if thy include tossing Qi Balls and numerous “super powers”.

—-

 

If you are teaching the actual basics of a “Way” such as the “Way of Yoga” then this is very different.

 

This is where lying your way will hurt you and others - and fraud will be easy to spot - both from without and within.

 

The “basics” in this case are the “secret stuff” (an open secret) and only a true teaching can teach them. A true teaching can be “new” or from a lineage.

 

A true teaching can combine any and all aspects that are helpful to its pointings and pure of heart. It will be open and encompassing - with open gates.

 

When the basics are understood the teaching is no longer needed - any further guidance needed will find you - unfold to you.

 

 

 

Edited by Spotless
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6 hours ago, AboveGround said:

 

You’re right. Am trying to focus on all the positives and learn from the rest.

 

So in your opinion it’s best to focus on finding a new teacher first before considering whether to teach again or not?

Tough question.  You might want to get input from your old students.  For all I know your friggin amazing and people get alot out of your classes.   Above all, follow the path of integrity.

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17 hours ago, Spotless said:

You would be simply teaching some very good energy exercises.

 

Very clearly stated, thank you for your advice.

 

I’ve been thinking along similar lines, which is that I’d be happy to be a starting point for anyone who wants to learn forms, receive basic corrections and start basic meditation etc. and then when they feel they have no more to gain with me then to move on to more experienced teachers and wade through the countless obstacles on the way to finding their way.

 

I’m not qualified to teach philosophy and don’t want that responsibility anyway.

 

The powers are fascinating and really fun to explore but they tend to attract a certain type of person and I’m more than happy not to attract them ;)

 

17 hours ago, Spotless said:

any further guidance needed will find you - unfold to you.

 

Not going to pretend I’ve mastered the basics but this certainly is happening, sometimes overwhelmingly so to the point that I can’t possibly make use of all the lessons coming my way (or haven’t found an effective output for them?) at which point it becomes very hard to make clear decisions about next steps, and seems really pointless to because everything is already whereby needs to be... why meddle with anything?

 

But then I need to move or else what’s the point, and it’s figuring out in which way to move that’s the major challenge at the moment.

 

It’s reassuring and humbling to hear that others are familiar with what I’m going through.

 

If anyone else has been through something similar, or can relate, please share!

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16 hours ago, escott said:

I sometimes suffer from 'Impostor Syndrome'.

 

Thanks for sharing this, a fascinating read. Have you found a method that’s effective for you when you feel stuck in self doubt?

 

I think as a human, this syndrome must be inevitable though and all of us must experience it to some degree since ultimately we are spirit beings trapped momentarily in these flesh machines, trying to figure out how to operate them and interact with other ones. Whatever we do will be of an imposter nature, same as if an alien arrived on earth disguised as a human - they might figure out how to blend in but they would always be an imposter.

 

I think this is why some people struggle to readjust to a regular material life after they’ve had deep spiritual experience and for me, tai chi is learning to master the control and ultimate abilities of these bodies and to thereby move the material whilst connected to the spiritual, to feel more true to your original form and less of an imposter (ie drowning in emotion, unbridled desire, chaotic thoughts and all the other material trappings).

 

So I think it’s beneficial to feel like an impostor as it’s getting you closer to figuring out a way around it.

 

Previous comments about seeking truth make more sense now... perhaps there’s no harm in anyone teaching anything so long as they can be honest about their abilities, not promote a false lineage and not teach beyond their limits?

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17 hours ago, thelerner said:

You might want to get input from your old students. 

 

Some have contacted me and urged me to get back to teaching. That’s part of what sparked the idea of doing so.

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Maybe all great teachers step into the realm of fraud.. a little bit.  As you explore and teach your art, you get to a boundary and.. teach in new territory, get unorthodox.  It's not bad, maybe its necessary, but you're getting away from the party line and into your own ideas.  Get too far, and abandon the core then you're in a troubled area, unless you make clear to the students what you're doing.  

 

 

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On 2/16/2019 at 9:00 AM, AboveGround said:

 

Thanks for sharing this, a fascinating read. Have you found a method that’s effective for you when you feel stuck in self doubt?

 

I think as a human, this syndrome must be inevitable though and all of us must experience it to some degree since ultimately we are spirit beings trapped momentarily in these flesh machines, trying to figure out how to operate them and interact with other ones. Whatever we do will be of an imposter nature, same as if an alien arrived on earth disguised as a human - they might figure out how to blend in but they would always be an imposter.

 

I think this is why some people struggle to readjust to a regular material life after they’ve had deep spiritual experience and for me, tai chi is learning to master the control and ultimate abilities of these bodies and to thereby move the material whilst connected to the spiritual, to feel more true to your original form and less of an imposter (ie drowning in emotion, unbridled desire, chaotic thoughts and all the other material trappings).

 

So I think it’s beneficial to feel like an impostor as it’s getting you closer to figuring out a way around it.

 

Previous comments about seeking truth make more sense now... perhaps there’s no harm in anyone teaching anything so long as they can be honest about their abilities, not promote a false lineage and not teach beyond their limits?

 

I have found a method for pulling myself out of self doubt, it's really very simple - I just remind myself of all my past successes and tell myself I can do it again.

 

You're also right about just being honest about your abilities. If you're good at teaching people and you have sufficient knowledge then you have something that people can benefit from that is if value. It sounds like you have that.

 

On the business side of things can I just say as a student seeking a teacher a good website is really helpful. You can have one for $3/month with services like Bluehost or HostGator. WordPress is a solid, flexible framework. If you need help it should be easy to find a consultant that can customize it for you. There are probably free or cheap templates you can use and you won't need to code anything. All you will need to do is upload your pictures and type in your content. Post some articles to put your knowledge on display (you don't need to blog) and it sounds like you could get some testimonials from former students.

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On 16/02/2019 at 4:22 PM, thelerner said:

Maybe all great teachers step into the realm of fraud.. a little bit.

 

I think you’re right, every teacher at some point will be skirting around the boundary between known and unknown but on average some are teaching very “pure” methods which have been passed down for generations, or have worked hard to embody deep wisdom, and at the opposite end of the spectrum there are complete frauds making it up as they go along / stealing from wherever they can either in the delusion that they’re unrecognised masters or because they’re power and money hungry.

 

The latter are the ones I’m concerned about!!

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