Must we help others who would follow in our spiritual/religious footsteps? What, if any, are our duties and obligations when faced with questions/inquiries/demands from someone less experienced than ourselves? Are those of us who have circled the pagan block more than once under some requirement to provide answers and guidance to those that have not yet been there, done that, and bought the pentacle to prove it? Do our experiences automatically dictate that we become teachers and mentors? Do we ever have the right to say no when faced with questions from those who seek our assistance? What moral obligation do we have to be truthful or to provide full disclosure when we do answer questions?
Yes, there are a lot of questions in that first paragraph, but these questions seem to crop up over and over again. They’re important questions, IMO, and knowing the answers to them can go along way toward helping us handle questions from the inquiring minds of those less experienced. The only problem is that there is no single correct set of answers to those questions. Like so much of what we do spiritually, we have to decide for ourselves where our boundaries are… and deal with the potential disdain of those who don’t share our point of view.
Personally, I don’t mind occasionally helping out someone if I have the knowledge, experience, and ability to do so. After all, I’d not be in a position to answer those questions if someone else hadn’t been generous with their own time and knowledge when I asked those same questions. Teaching isn’t something I’ve ever set out to do, but I don’t mind giving the occasional lesson.
My helpfulness is tempered, however, by the idea that we are each the steward of our own experiences and knowledge. It is our individual responsibility to determine how and when these things should be shared and to what degree. I have never felt an obligation to answer a question simply because it was asked.
If anything, I feel an obligation to say “no” when someone demands information about something that is too advanced for their skill level. I realize that this pisses some seekers off and have heard the argument a thousand times that, by refusing to share, I am treating the questioner like a child who is unable to determine for themselves which risks are acceptable. My answer to this debate is simply this… someone whose experiences are limited is like a child in that they should be afforded protection and guidance when dealing with something that is potentially dangerous. I’d rather deal with someone’s outrage over having knowledge withheld than with the anger of someone who has been handed knowledge that they aren’t experienced/responsible/mature enough to handle it and are then forced deal with the consequences. Like so many other things, helping others is a balance between what the person wants, actually needs, and what is in the best interest of all involved.
(And I’m just going to apologize now if there are any glaring grammatical or nonsensical errors in this post. I’ve been losing the battle against insomnia this week, so I’m not at my most grammatically correct right now. The fact that wordpress has a built in spell-check has probably saved this post from being completely unintelligible. Hopefully I’ll get a nap in before my next post!).