Essay, Reflections

A Question of Competence… or is it Commitment?

I notice these days that there are a lot of people out there “selling” belief.  I get inundated every day with emails and ads, suggestions for how to improve every aspect of my life through holistic healing, energy work, prayer, divination, spirit guidance, contemplation practices and fitness regimes.  Everyone has an angle that they guarantee will work for me.

But I’m not sure I agree…  Why?

Why can’t I embrace any of these techniques?  Why can’t I even bring myself to try them out?  Clearly my life needs healing in so many ways, and I’ve always been open to both mainstream and alternative means.  Non-judgmental.  Yep, that’s me…

Or is it?  Because I find myself discounting these believers and teachers without even attempting to test their theories.  I find myself hitting “delete” without even listening to their spiel.  Is it just a question of competency?

To be sure, times have definitely changed.  I remember, not so long ago, when “experts” in any field were judged by the length of time they had invested in an area of study, as well as by the efficacy of their results.  Anyone new to a particular field had to “earn” their stripes, so to speak.

But in this digital era of instant gratification, and You Tube, everyone becomes an “expert” by saying they are, and by earning a “following.”  An interested party does an internet search on their topic, then chooses what site(s) to visit, or what videos to watch, not so much by researching qualifications, but by the number of “hits” or “followers” that “teacher” has.  “Mob rules” defined and practiced…

But I’ve never really been a follower type, preferring to take someone’s idea or theory and research it on my own.  Always looking for flaws in reasoning or data, critical in my assessments, judging what part(s) appear to work, or not, for me.  Self-defined reality…

And I can’t honestly state which path is “better” or makes more sense in the end, because both ways have their pros and cons.  Self-definition provides flexibility and adaptability to any path or belief system, but it also prevents any commitment or benefits of dedicated practice; you basically believe or do what you want, while discarding the rest, and that rarely leads to deep knowledge or wisdom.  But mob rule, while clearly directing your practice and belief, without requiring deep contemplation, also requires you to accept a whole lot of stuff you might not normally agree with; much harm has been perpetrated by those following a path too strictly, without regard for how it may affect the lives of others…


I know that in these tumultuous times people are desperate for something hopeful to believe in.  I know everyone wants to feel empowered, capable and competent.  We no longer believe in the “system” to provide for our needs consistently and competently, and we are correct in questioning it; the society we knew and trusted is collapsing around us.  So spirituality has become big business, and gurus are hawking every corner.  And many are providing (and feeling) some relief.  That’s good, right?

Too bad it doesn’t feel that way.  At least to me…

I have been asked twice in the last week or so, to offer my advice/guidance in a public setting; to “teach” on topics I used to be well versed in and confident to teach.  I have refused both opportunities, claiming “incompetence” as my excuse.  I no longer feel “qualified” to offer advice, even on those topics in which I was formerly an “expert,” recognized by both “time in” and “results of.”  And I find the whole situation rather amusing; but then, I’ve always had a twisted perception of reality, and a great appreciation for irony.

The bottom line for me today is that I no longer know what is “real” or not, or what is worthy of believing anymore.  My daily life is so overrun with time inconsistencies, and “bleed-through” from other realities, that I feel like it’s one continuous, unsubstantial, channel surfing adventure.  It’s like being on one of those rides at Disney World, where you sit in a little car that takes you through different scenes, changing rapidly, each trying to capture your imagination and “feel” real, while a part of you remains focused on the hard plastic seat you’re sitting on, and the wealth of darkness framing every scene.  You want to throw yourself into it, to wholly embrace the vision before you, but that seat is so uncomfortable, and the people behind you won’t stop talking, and your stomach is growling (oh, did I forget to eat again today?), and…  well, you get the drift.

I had a dream recently…

In the dream I was one of a half dozen people or so invited to attend a special retreat.  At that retreat we were to be trained on how to “pray” for others, and to teach them how to pray for themselves.  In this case, though, “prayer” referred to the actual practice of miracles; in other words, we would be taught how to manifest real change in the world, and how to pass that skill to others.

At first, I was excited, but then the doubt set in.  I knew that these prayers (this technique) came from a tradition I was familiar with, but not a follower of.  I began questioning whether I had a “right” to attend, coming as I was from curiosity rather than belief.  I found myself speaking about my concerns to a friend I know in real life.  We do not “believe” the same, but we share a mutual respect for each other that often allows us to discuss ethical or moral concerns, and actually learn from each others’ perspective.  When I finished explaining the situation to him (in the dream), he grew very stern, pointed his finger at me accusingly, and said, quite seriously, “you better make damn sure you can commit to this, Lisa, before you go; otherwise, don’t go!”  His whole demeanor spoke of dire warning, as though this were not some trifling matter, which is very unlike him in real life.  I woke, telling myself I’d better test my commitment to this path before attending the retreat…

When I shared this dream with him in real life, he pointed out my use of present tense in the waking world (as in “I’d better be sure before attending…”).  I started to say that it was just a grammar/language error, then stopped myself.  He laughed, quick to catch that, as we both know how careful I am with words in the real world.  I believe our language affects our reality, so I am meticulous about saying what I mean, and meaning what I say.  So there is no room for such a “slip of the tongue” in my world, especially when speaking to him; he will call me on any bullshit he hears…


It’s not really a question of competency plaguing me, I think, but one of commitment.  I know I could learn these “techniques,” whatever they are; I’m basically intelligent, well studied, and own a long tradition of learning and practicing competently.  I am a born teacher.  But I am hesitating, even knowing that such “techniques” may bring actual relief…  Why?

Because I am reluctant to commit to any particular path these days.  I am thoroughly enjoying the free flowing nature of my reality these days.  Because I do not want to be restricted by rules or expectations if something new and more appealing reveals itself to me.  Because I do not want to accept responsibility…

Ahh…  That’s it, then, isn’t it?

Commitment comes with responsibility, and I do not want that in my life.  I do not want to be responsible for others, to be held accountable for what they do with any knowledge (complete or not) they may gain from our interaction.  And that’s what’s missing in the wealth of big business based spirituality, too.  No one wants to be responsible.  No one wants to be held accountable for the “wrongs” committed by their beliefs and believers.  And while I have always believed that people should be held accountable for their own actions, rather than blaming their past or their preacher/teacher, I recognize that there is a line marking where such independence becomes hypocrisy. Because some people truly do influence others who want to be influenced, and we do become at least partially responsible for anything they do “in our name”…

Could I actually learn to change the world?  Could I make it a better place? Could I then competently teach others to do the same?

Can I wholeheartedly commit to finding out?

That is the question, isn’t it?



23 thoughts on “A Question of Competence… or is it Commitment?

  1. It is part of this modern democratic thinking to assume that the more upvotes one has the more valid he is. Yet, I have personally met top ‘experts’ who in fact harmed what they were supposedly experts on, and I have also met people who didn’t try to attract that much attention and they were honest. Popularity is no measure. Also a band of people granting credentials to each other or to those who thoroughly obey them is not either. What matters is results. I have met betrayers and I have been lucky to meet genuine people too. It’s because I asked the right question or made the right request or created the right thing instead of wandering here and there in what was readily available. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • It just happens that our truths coincide haha

        A little correction: What matters is results if what one seeks is that. Others might seek the attention, and you probably know what goes along with that. If I ever asked for something I’d ask it from someone who could and would be willing to deliver it. I don’t mind much about other details.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Could I actually learn to change the world? Could I make it a better place? Could I then competently teach others to do the same?”

    ~ Change, in general, is a ripple effect, which may or may not extend across our world. The more individuals generating those ripples, the greater and wider the impact.
    ~ Along life’s journey, several individuals have influenced and changed the direction of my life. Without each one of them, I would not be where I am at this moment in time.
    ~ We receive from others. We learn. We grow. We give back. What others do with what we give remains up to them.
    ~ It would be great to know the positive ways in which we have changed the lives of others. Such feedback is rare…and suspect.

    Hold on to the spontaneity of giving and sharing from the heart. Some appreciate our gift; others scorn it. Such is life ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wise words, Rosaliene! I definitely believe in the ripple effect, and desire to make positive waves in the world. And I, too, have been deeply influenced by others (this blog is dedicated to the Otherhood, after all – lol!). I agree, actually, with everything you say here… 🙂

      But, like you also, there is that tiny kernel of something, some question, some… For you it is the word “suspect” in an altogether positive list. For me, it is the word “doubt” that often creeps in. They mean roughly the same thing. No coincidence there, I think… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Deep thoughts, deep responses, not much to add, this is so personal a thing which has much to do with handling the responsibility that results from accepting the fact one has developed a certain level of personal power. How that power is used will greatly depend on how much self-empowerment a person lives in. Spiritual or Power paths offered by others, most particularly when sold in the market place, should be heavily questioned, beheld with much circumspection, IMO. As you infer, the question should always be asked of any such offer: does it work, and if the answer is “yes” then show me. Particularly so of those who promise “miracles.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes. Agreed. And we should also ask the same questions of ourselves as we perform such miracles…

      It is such an odd feeling, Sha’Tara… To feel so empowered, to see reality itself morphing to fit my vision of things, to have others present when such morphing occurs… And yet, to feel so uncertain about sharing the “how” or even acknowledging the occurrence. At another time in my life I would be shouting this “truth” from the rooftops, instead of trying to minimize its impact around me…

      Simple fear? Or nagging doubt? A time when I do not even trust my self or my own senses, much less those of others. Is it all just an attempt to avoid responsibility? That self-denial, I mean. Or is it also an intuitive understanding that what “works” for me may not work for you; there is nothing more “personal” these days than the reality we each create?…

      I’m actually having the “time of my life,” though, exploring the options, and seeming obstacles. Every day is a new adventure! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Lisa.
    I agree with you wholeheartedly on the ‘expert’ thing and the ‘books’ they publish. They never seemed genuine to me, some just wander off on tangents others try and ‘ram’ it down your throat, and some are just plain impractical for a person going about their day to day life.
    It would seem to me that a person has to capacity to pick up on the way which is the one they feel most at ease with. But to do so means shutting out all the able going on around them. Not an easy task!
    I have my own faith, which makes sense to me, I know how I should be a better person (and so try and make sure I am-not easy!). So away I go.
    Safe and rewarding journey to you Lisa along your path.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And many blessings to you, my friend! I believe you do excellent work being the best you can, and in following your own path of belief. You have always inspired me with your openness, creativity, and commitment. And I believe that only someone deeply “in love” with their traditions can maintain such open-hearted acceptance of other viewpoints, not feeling a need to overwhelm or overpower anyone. You are a prime example of such tolerance… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We can not change the world in any lifetime. But if commitment spurs responsibility, we are to put any consistent life changing habits and attitudes. For old geezers and swinging old socket hipsters, we dont need those, coz we knew the price we paid getting to the process. And yes, we need to believe for, and about ourself first and faith to know, we must know the difference of “you and me”.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There is much to be considered in either giving or receiving advice. Of course, the advice should make sense, but that is a caution which should be considered “necessary but not sufficient.” Skilled hucksters always find ways to tailor their spiels to seemingly make sense, but is there an ulterior motive behind what they offer? That in itself may not be disqualifying, because there are legitimate ulterior motives, but when the ulterior motive is #1 and the advice is merely a device to serve the motive….that is when we get ‘taken.’

    Much more could be said on this subject, but I hope this is a useful starting point (at least, that’s my advice!). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, mistermuse!! That phrase “necessary but not sufficient,” takes me back to happy days, when things actually made sense. Lol! I remember how amazed I was when I first discovered it, for it captured so perfectly what I felt but had never been able to adequately express! The idea that something had to be present for something else to occur, but that said prerequisitie was not enough, in and of itself, to cause certain effects… It opened whole new mental vistas for me to explore! I cannot begin to remember now how many conundrums, paradoxes, and personal crises that one phrase helped me redefine. It simply changes everything…

      And so often the most “difficult” obstacles become workable and manageable, if we can simply redefine the “problem.”

      I’m sorry… what were we talking about? Lol! I digress badly….

      “…but when the ulterior motive is #1 and the advice is merely a device to serve the motive….that is when we get ‘taken.’” Yes!! This!! You have nailed the “problem” perfectly!

      It is a real pleasure to have you here! Thanks so much for participating. I find myself happily grinning when your name pops up on my notification screen, as I anticipate something enlightening, amusing or both! (No pressure, though… ;D)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sorry, but I have nothing enlightening and/or amusing to add — I just thought maybe I’d take a shot at getting you happily grinning again (after all, there’s no law against doing a good deed twice in the same day). See how bold I can get when there’s no pressure! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s