The ground upon which something sits is important. The context, the  principles, the atmosphere, the point of view, matters. You can plant the same seeds in two different kinds of soil. One might grow while the other might not.

Two experts could know exactly the same information. They could be familiar with the very same facts and statistics, knowledge and experience. If one of those experts, however, was mean, arrogant, condescending and verbally abusive and the other was patient, compassionate, kind and flexible, who do you think would have the most success? It would be wonderful if I could write that the kinder teachers always do better, but I have no statistics to quote to prove that. My guess is that some people would not necessarily like the condescending teacher but would still learn, perhaps shaking in fear, perhaps feeling that the teacher’s fierceness was a sign of strength. I have heard of instances in each case.

When you are a novice at something or when you are unexposed to a topic, you have no way of knowing whether or not the information you are being given by a teacher, a book or any other resource is good, bad, right or wrong. You have no way to evaluate which experts are really experts, which are frauds, and which are not quite either. In fact, you have to go through life via trial and error until you have been around the block enough times to know what’s what on any topic.

The world is full of information now. You can use the internet and find virtually anything, but it’s just as easy there to find mis-information as not and to find so many conflicting opinions that you still can’t tell what to trust. And, there is so much “spin”, so much that is deliberately skewed to make you think or feel a certain way, regardless of what other effects it may have, that you can never really trust anything until and unless you experience it for yourself or you know from a very trusted personal source that it is safe to place your trust in it.

If we all have a viewpoint about life — if, in fact, we all have many viewpoints about life (and we do), each idea, each memory, each experience colors how we take in the next situation. As adults we have so much life behind us that we arrive to each new situation with a carload of baggage and it is very difficult to approach something in an open, neutral and evaluative manner. It’s not impossible, however, and it is more likely to happen when you deliberately choose to do that.

Before you decide whether or not a teacher, a method, an approach is right for you, spend some time with it. Do some research, talk to people who are more familiar than you. Find out what you can but be open to having your own, unique experience. What is good for me, may not be good for you and that’s what matters.

No matter how good or experienced the teacher, no one is right for everyone. No matter how kind or nasty someone may be, what matters is the ground upon which you approach that experience. In the long run, each of us is responsible for searching until we find that which we are seeking. Then, you are standing on firm ground, with deep roots, and you become a resource yourself if you want to be one.

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