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JOURNEY TO WHOLENESS - January 2018 - Kansas City
The Mentor in the Mirror
By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D.
In Greek mythology Mentor is the trusted counselor of Odysseus. Athena disguised as Mentor guides the young Telemachus in his search for his father. She is the goddess of prudent intelligence, child of Zeus, able to bestow skill, courage and victory in war for those who revere justice and listen to her persuasive tongue. Mentor was a man of integrity, an excellent friend of his friends and did not deal in lies. The figure of the wise and trusted counselor or teacher has the nature of both male and female.
Shakyamuni Buddha in his teaching, the Lotus Sutra, introduces his disciples to the Dragon King’s Daughter, a mythical figure who is part dragon and part girl child. Her presence challenges the belief that only learned men can attain enlightenment and that it takes a long time to attain enlightenment. She appears before the assembly praising Shakyamuni Buddha, offering a jewel to the Buddha, transforms herself into a male and instantly attained enlightenment. This mythical character speaks to us of the wisdom of both male and female and the capability within each living being to become that enlightened whole person.
These two stories remind us of the multi-faceted nature of the mentor. There is the mentor outside of oneself that guides, leads and protects us. There is the mentor within that has the potential for wholeness.
Think for a moment about the people in your life that have been there for you to be the wise guide. What qualities did they have as they guided you along the path of self-discovery? How did their actions and words influence you in some positive way? What part of this learning do you carry forward in your life?
I imagine the mentor being the mirror that reflects the limitless possibilities to he person. Jean Houston says, “We all have the extraordinary coded with us, waiting to be released.” The mentor relationship can be the catalyst to help the person unlock this inner potential.
Take another moment and think about how many lives you touch each day. Are you a good mentor for others, even in the casual contact? Do you receive mentoring from others so that you may guide others? A good mentor will be the ‘guide on the side’ rather than the ‘sage on the stage.’ The poet, Kahlil Gibran says, “If he is indeed wise, he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to he threshold of your own mind.”
We often forget the great power we have to influence others. Claire Nuer asks the question, “Will you be the rock that redirects the course of the river?” Each day we have an opportunity to make or break a communication with how we look, speak and act towards someone. It can change a moment, a day or a lifetime.
Sometimes you need a teacher, a model, an encouraging voice and there appears to be no one available. From this tangle of emotions and thoughts, you may emerge with a new way to do something, a new thought, a clearer vision of yourself or a particular situation. Alice Walker in her book In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose, describes how a mentor of hers found the model within. “When Tony Morris said she writes the kind of books she wants to read, she was acknowledging the fact that in a society in which ‘accepted literature’ is so often sexist and racist and otherwise irrelevant or offensive to our lives, she must do the work of two. She must be her own model as well as the artist attending, creating, learning from, realizing the mode, which is to say, herself.”
As you grow and learn, you are being mentored by others, often mentor yourself and become a mentor for others. When you look in the mirror next time, see what faces of the mentor you can identify. Today, more than ever we need to remember “A mentor is someone who allows you to see hope in yourself” (Oprah Winfrey.)
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Jude LaClaire, Ph.D., LCPC, is a counselor, educator and author. For counseling appointments, seminars, training, speaking engagements or information on Neurobehavioral Programs or Imago Couple therapy call 913-322-5622. For more information about Jude LaClaire or the Kansas City Holistic Centre go to