“The Choice Is Yours”

“The Choice Is Yours”

“The choice is yours, of course. What can I say?
You ask too much, the time is short, delay
Here profits no one. And if you gain you may
Be sure that in that gain you lose your innocence but once, and stray
Not quite so happily as presently you do without a thought to where.
I am no teacher as I claim the equal station of the friend,
Because it is certain that truths imparted surely will offend and send
You from me should you hear my words. Beware; take care.
Gains supplying mastery imply a parting in the ways. “But why?”
Said I, and he continued, “Nothing gained from me
Can serve your heart while I am with you, since to be
As I am you must be prepared to see with eyes
That are not yours but mine; your actions, then, cannot guarantee
A timeless innocence every bent and compromised
and inevitable rebellion brought to light to bury me.”

…a wise teacher once told me that it is impossible to be a teacher and a friend at the same time;  teachers instruct while friends never criticise one another.  I heard this years ago and have found that the statement has stood the test of time…

3 responses to ““The Choice Is Yours”

  1. To me, the Manifestation shines through this one, too…

  2. I suspect that any aspect of living that directly relates to progress or what in general could be called the “welfare and well-being of humanity” in fact mirrors aspects of the relationship of any of us to the Manifestation and visa versa and so I see what you mean in saying that this sonnet refers to what can be said of whatever one’s reaction to the Manifestation.

    In this instance, through my own experience in education, I have come to know that in any relationship with just about anyone, one is either a teacher or a friend, but not both, aside, of course, from mere acquaintances and the sort of thing that happens between people in the run of any given day. This may sound rather hard in its pure form, but after all these years, I have found it to be true.

    After all, one’s relationship with God is a thing that is confined to one’s relationship with the Manifestation, and, as we know from the Bahá’í Revelation, each man is capable of arriving at the truth without an intermediary and having access to the Manifestation, Himself, without interference from any other soul. Collectively, however, there is a similar but different relationship between equals or between souls who occupy space within this world at the same time. For this, there must be certain relationships that are peculiar to the behavior of individuals with other individuals and having little or nothing to do with the sanctified relationship of any one of these souls with God but rather with the sanctioned relationship of one to another. One’s parents, for instance, the offices and prerogatives dispensed by judges, policemen, teachers, doctors, what-have-you, clearly for purposes of order and progress within the collectives of family, tribe, nations, et cetera, naturally fall into a pattern without which there is confusion.

    Briefly, my references within this sonnet refer to what I found to be true as a student for many years and later, as a teacher, and the principle has held its own at least in my thinking through all these years. At times, it is difficult to keep the two rôles separate, but nonetheless, it has always clarified issues effectively and produced the greater possibility of progress with souls I have known when I have honoured this peculiar separation, and any time I have abandoned this, I have witnessed a confusion and malfunction in direct proportion to my having broken this “rule”; I have never witnessed an exception to this. It may well that this is one of the “perks” of having been a teacher. At times, of course, the going has been rough and somewhat stiff when applied in a pointblank manner; however, insofar as the wisdom of anything can be applied, there is a wisdom in this kind of thought that has brought more order in my own life, in my interactions with both friends and students, and, of course, my own teachers, and the greater possibility of consistently positive interactions if I have kept the thought firmly in mind when it comes to friends in my own life and, of course, students in my own classes; in both instances there enormous pressures to “drop the act” or take a flying leap into the pool without a thought to order with both friends, on the one hand, and, on the other, both students and teachers, and, as I say, in every instance where this was the case, the results were not positive.

    With friends, it is as Emerson said: “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” He also said, “Solitude is impractical and yet society is fatal.” No one wins, ultimately, in this world at what amounts to the crap table of general living, and so there will be mistakes, and some of them fatal. On the whole, however, whether with regard to the Manifestation or His representatives within this world, there is a problem with the entire subject of appropriate behaviour between friends and/or those with collective functions which none of us can avoid.

  3. Portions which said “Manifestation” to me:

    “…it is certain that truths imparted surely will offend and send
    You from me should you hear my words.”

    “…to be
    As I am you must be prepared to see with eyes
    That are not yours but mine…”

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