Picking Up The Pieces
by Dr. Derek Lamar
"Going beyond the Teacher” is not about competition. You are not trying to be a better person. A spiritual path is one where you discover yourself. If you discover yourself beyond the sphere of influence of your own Teacher and free yourself of that need to be guided by another and suddenly discover within yourself a reservoir of fire which burns to shine a Light for yourself and for others, you have achieved much. The more you are free of your “self”, the better able you can help others discover their own path. Thane used to say in class that “The Teacher”, referring to himself, desires that someday a student would go beyond the Teacher. But this was more Eastern mumbo jumbo and philosophical fantasy designed to create the image of the wise Teacher and had little to do with his personal desires in creating an opportunity for students to discover their roles as Fourth Way Masters. (Above right: Thane Walker, The Teacher.)
Sorting through the debris of broken dreams and shattered fantasies I could peak over the wall into the courtyard of my mind and begin to see life as it really was. I still must interject here that Thane, as a Fourth Way Teacher, a metaphysician, an ontologist, presented an array of classes which were the pinnacles of spiritual teaching that modern psychology and metaphysics had yet to envision. It was the most sophisticated “mystery school” that the world had seen since Emma Curtis Hopkins gave her life changing classes in 1888. That said, as the dust clears and the shadows disappear, there still is the “human” element and the veracity of events in terms which account for what went on that need to be examined much like the forensics of a crime. Only in this sense, the purpose is merely to sort through memories which have anchored many in the mire of their own stagnation for the purpose of letting go and moving on. (Above left: Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science. Above right: Emma Curtis Hopkins, Teacher of Teachers.)
Many students hold on to their hero worship because they feel their own personal identity depends on the magnificence of their own Teacher rather than on their own realization of their “I AM Self”. Thane was a student of the famed mystic G. I. Gurdjieff and that makes them something somehow. Thane said that he was a student of Emma Curtis Hopkins and was heralded “The Teacher of Teachers by Ernest Holmes” and that rubs off on them by way of their proximity. Thane’s proclamation of his own divinity somehow ignited the burning bush in the hearts of many and this somehow completed the children of the alcoholic where only emptiness resided before. In some ways it mimics the evangelic television programs where believers discuss how they will all sit around the table next to Jesus. So many apocryphal stories, so little time. (Above left: G. I. Gurdjieff, mystic and founder of The Fourth Way.)
Even Gurdjieff’s school, at Fontainebleau, made a tremendous impact on intellectuals and many of the then, avant-garde, but did not achieve what Thane’s school achieved in the esoteric arena of knowledge that Gurdjieff taught. Gurdjieff did not have students open to change in those areas like Thane did. This is not a matter of who was a better Teacher but more in the face of different times. There were astrological aspects that opened the minds of many when in a different time this never would have happened nor would it again for a long time. But the “Work” that Gurdjieff and his followers and others did, laid much groundwork for the breakthroughs yet to evolve. This isn’t a business you can be competitive in, only one where you must race against your own unwillingness to make change and do it anyway. (Above left: Gurdjieff's school in Fontainebleau, France.)
The truth is, Thane’s school, achieved incredible popularity suddenly and drew students from all over the country. The school was not set up for this immediate transformation however and Thane was taken back by the onslaught of individuals that piled into the lectures and the classes. Astrologically speaking this time period had a light shining on the world and everything spiritual took a front seat. But Thane came from an era of vaudeville and silent films and typical of these times were a handful of metaphysicians who had to catch the public’s attention. These teachers had to create the illusion of mysticism by building a story that was often too good to be true.
But Thane did not seem to find his own niche and appeared to gravitate to any and every happening of the day. This did, however, have the effect of forcing Thane to become familiar with so many different teachings, styles, approaches and disciplines that eventually it would be that very pastiche of eclecticism that would draw students to him. But in the process he would copy the styles that seemed to be drawing the largest crowd. He eventually put together a curriculum and chartered a school that offered esoteric classes that presented material in a straightforward but still mystical manner that could achieve more than simply fill a hall. He built a school and they came: students who would be engaged in serious study for years. (Right: Thane Walker, The Teacher. Below: Students in classroom.)
The problem was that Thane’s unresolved issues would become the collective unconscious for the entire school. Rather than simply helping students resolve psychological and spiritual issues, they soon found themselves entangled in the trappings of a man who desperately needed to control others in order to accomplish his own survival amidst the ongoing nightmare of freeing himself from his own demons. But his own work took a back seat and what unfolded after that was the haphazard attempt at recreating Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way School in a more metaphysical setting. The Fourth Way approach to “the three lines of work” made this seem like a plausible dream. You must “Work” on yourself, “Work” for the school, and “Work” for children yet unborn. Everyone did do “Work” related to their own constructs but so many of us got caught in the daily trappings of “working” for the school and rather than this meaning that “The Teaching” would be made available to others, it turned into a merry go round of activity that kept the organization functioning for the sake of the organization.
Here the “Children of an Alcoholic Teacher” theme kicks in. After years of reflection and analysis one could see that something was wrong with the school. We all believed through repetitive public relations that “Thane” was the man. He was the Master Teacher. Bios on Thane were put out introducing him this way and of course we all believed it because we were studying “Truth” therefore everything had to be true, right? They would say that Thane was the embodiment of Love and that he was a man who really cared about his students. But I never found that to be the case. First off he was too busy to spend any time with anyone and then it was a quick hello and you’d give him a kiss on the cheek and be on your way.
And there were the stories about Thane that seemed to go a bit beyond the believable. Everyone he had met and knew, all of the history he was involved in, and all of the things he had done. And when you began to question any of this with anyone they would get real uptight which reinforced the “secret” thing and the “rule of silence”. After all, your own therapy was at stake so why rock the boat. And even though we were all supposed to understand that each of us was special and had infinite potential, still... there was something a little more special about Thane. And even though we were all supposed to realize that enlightenment came from where you were and you didn’t have to travel the world to discover secret knowledge, it turns out that Thane had been all over the world and studied with many people and so... there was something a little more special about him. And we learned that academic credentials were to be laughed at, but... Thane supposedly had been a psychiatrist, a medical doctor and a dentist.
And so many books were attributed to Thane even though while he was the Teacher in this Fourth Way School he didn’t really write any books to speak of. But he had supposedly written some of the Kenneth Walker books about Gurdjieff and a few of the Baird T. Spalding books: “Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East”. And the book: “The Impersonal Life”, even though later on it became known that it was written by Joseph S. Benner. He moved to Hawaii in February of 1974 to write his “Testament” but passed away in July of 1989 never having written anything. Apparently the illusion created for the “persona of the Teacher” was important in order that people would believe that the man was bigger than life and lived a in a world of mystery and glamour.
So many stories faded from people’s minds but they left their impression on the student body and created the mystery that surrounded the man. But with so much rigidity and the need for everyone to keep silent about the Teacher the simplicity of Truth was sometimes left on the bookshelf while the emotional turmoil that lived on in the students from their past continued to haunt them with no where to turn. The student was told to believe in the techniques and the tools that they were being taught yet so many found themselves continuing to try to figure out what was going on around them in the school. Those involved in the inner workings of the school, which were many, were constantly discovering that the organization was a trapeze of one step forward and two steps back which turned into Fourth Way exercises that would exhaust even the most seasoned followers.
Outwardly the school attained little success. And inwardly many were left in shambles not knowing what to do about their own lives because the school became their life. Sadly the school did not present any guidelines for students to move on but only to continue to work to keep the organization functioning and to make sure that Thane was taken care of. Everyone in the school felt somewhat isolated because they knew that their problems were their own and yet the important thing was Thane. There was more energy expended to get people to volunteer and keep the machine running than to reach a hungry world by presenting living testaments of inner success by allowing individuals the freedom to express their own divinity. Students turned inward, not for introspection, but for isolation. By denying what was happening the organization did not have to change. To be angry would be to reject Thane. To reject Thane would be to find yourself all alone. Only time will tell if out of that loneliness a Teaching will emerge out of the ashes of a burnt offering.
Saga continues: Derek Lamar Meets Johnny Forever
© Copyright Derek Lamar 2006
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