The Tao mentoring process is that particular crossroads in life where what you have to offer meets the immediate and future needs of another. Therein lies the enormous exultation that is yours—that of giving your gift of wisdom and having it graciously appreciated and received by others who then carry the gift to all those within their sphere of influence. (Chungliang Al Huang and Jerry Lynch, 1)
Mentoring is a path of service, self-development and mastery for the benefit of others. Through the experience of the Dances of Universal Peace and the Walking Concentrations, through study and applied spiritual practice, through effacement of the ego, and through life’s experiences, we grow spiritually and as dance leaders. For some it becomes a natural expression to then turn and share this growth with another.
Dance mentoring is a different path from dance leading, not a higher recognition or distinction. Dance and Walks leaders need not feel that they should automatically become mentors even if they are excellent experienced dance leaders. Dance mentoring is a function that one performs because one feels drawn to teaching and guiding others from this level of development and responsibility.
One who feels called to mentor will naturally continue to develop in the Elements of Mastery, which provide the ground of our being as leaders of the Dances and Walks. One can only transmit and share what one has experienced and integrated.
Mentoring requires the cultivation of skills specific to teaching and guiding others. There is an art to sharing this wisdom and giving constructive feedback. Our mentoring relationships challenge us to refine our capacity to listen within, to still the grasping self, and to tune ourselves to that which is called for in each moment.
As mentors we hope to help our students develop attunement from which creativity and inspiration may arise. In a dynamic mentoring relationship mentors aim to co-create with their mentees a reciprocal relationship of giving and receiving in which mutual growth is experienced and the student develops their own inner connection to the Spirit of Guidance.
The wise teacher is always seeking knowledge and the wise pupil is always seeking wisdom and guidance. Besides, there are so many subjects of which a teacher is ignorant so he listens and learns. And thus his [students] only learn to acquire the habit of listening and learning. (Samuel L. Lewis, 2)
There may be times when it becomes necessary for the mentor to address undeveloped and/or resistant aspects in their mentees even though this may be difficult and present a challenge. The mentor may want to recommend deeper inner work and provide guidance in their student’s practices and concentrations. Such guidance can be an important part of the mentoring relationship and may need to be coordinated with the mentee’s spiritual guide, if they have one. Mentors are not permitted to mentor a partner, spouse or other family member.
Mentoring relationships change over time, in response to the needs, growth and development of the dance leader. At the beginning, there is likely to be more interaction and study. As dance leaders mature, their ongoing course of study becomes more independent, and the relationship may shift to that of a check-in support. Dance leaders are asked to continue in an ongoing connection with a mentor at all stages of development. In the walking-with, long-term mentoring relationship everyone benefits. As the student learns, so does the mentor. Hazrat Inayat Khan is quoted by Murshid SAM, “I learn more from my students than they learn from me.” (Samuel L. Lewis, 3)
Guidelines for Mentors-in-Training
If a certified leader is deepening in their commitment to the Dances, wishes to serve the lineage, is inspired to share what they have been given, is drawn to teaching and guiding others, and is being approached by others to do so, the mentor and the certified leader may agree that the leader may begin to work as a mentor-in-training.
The ongoing relationship between the mentor and the mentored leader enters a new phase, one where emphasis is placed on the mentor guiding the new mentor-in-training toward becoming a mentor. The mentor will notify the Community Coordinator of this change, and the mentor-in-training will forward to the Secretariat the names of their new mentees. Mentors-in-training, as with all mentored dance leaders, are asked not to formally mentor a partner, spouse or other family member.
The mentor and mentor-in-training will continue to assess whether mentoring is appropriate. If the mentor-in-training does not develop in this direction, the students who have been working with that mentor-in-training will be supported (by the mentor and/or the MTG Guidance Council) to seek other mentors.
Training to become a mentor is a rather long and gradual process. It is over an extended period of time that the mentor-in-training develops in the experience and process of mentoring others. At some future point, when/if there is noticeable growth in the mentor-in-training and in at least two of their students, the mentor will recommend that the mentor-in-training be appointed as Mentor I.
When a student of the mentor-in-training has developed to the level of certified leader before the mentor-in-training has become a mentor, the mentor will recognize the student as a certified leader on behalf of the mentor-in-training.
Elements of the Mentoring Path
The mentoring path could be said to have three elements. First, mentors commit to continue deepening in the Elements of Mastery in respect of their own leading of Dances and Walks. Second, from this foundation, mentors teach and guide their students, encouraging them to develop and lead from their spiritual depth and forming long-term – ideally life-long – mentoring relationships. Mentors thus become touchstones with the lineage of the Dances and Walks and living transmissions of the traditions and ways of working. Third, the mentoring path also calls forth service to the lineage of the Dances of Universal Peace, helping to uphold, nurture and sustain these practices for future generations. Depending on one’s inclinations and experience, service could include, for example, sharing knowledge and expertise in workshops and trainings, participating in international outreach, and providing leadership to the various entities that guide and sustain the Dances.
Mentor Levels - Requirements and Criteria
The Mentor I will continue to deepen in the path of mastery in their own leading through study and practice in the Elements of Mastery, mentor the dance leaders for whom they have accepted responsibility, and step into a recognizable path of service to the Dance and Walks transmission. Mentors at this level are invited especially to create learning opportunities for Dance leaders, including but not limited to their own mentees, and to partner with other mentors in this endeavor.
The Senior Mentor II will be recognized, to a great extent, on the basis of the quality of leadership of their own mentees. She or he will have certified a number of mentees, some of whom may have gone on to become mentors themselves.
For recognition at this level a mentor will have clearly developed the capacity for and proficiency in a number of the Elements of Mastery as well as the ability to train their mentees along these lines.
Even greater emphasis will be placed on the skills necessary to present Dances of Universal Peace and Walking Concentrations with appropriate presence, magnetism and balance, especially the ability to represent the Baraka of Murshid Samuel L. Lewis through his Dances and Walks. As a rule of thumb the mentor’s Dance repertoire is likely to include around 50 foundation Dances from a range of spiritual traditions, at least 10 of which would be original Dances of Samuel L. Lewis. Such numbers are not an end in themselves, they are merely indicative that the mentor has continued to deepen in their own mastery of this path. In the same way the mentor’s Walks repertoire would be expected to include the basic Embodiment Walks: Centering, Planetary, Elemental; and the Wazifa Walks.
Mentors at this level begin to hold a larger “piece” of the Dance transmission. Indicators of this could be involvement in creative work, outreach and service with the Dances and Walks, such as: research into a particular spiritual tradition; bringing through new foundational Dances; practical service to DUP International or a Dance region, or to the Sufi Ruhaniat International.
The Senior Mentor II may also be involved in directing and organizing training retreats and events in new geographical areas and/or with special interest populations. Mentors at this level are extensively involved in the training activity of the Mentors Guild and in upholding the lineage of the Dances.
The Senior Mentor II will be able to clearly demonstrate a significant level of commitment to their chosen spiritual path.
Senior Mentor III
Mentors at this level have made a life-long commitment to the development of the Dances of Universal Peace and Walking Concentrations. Their embrace includes all mentored dance leaders and the entire Mentors Guild.
They will have worked extensively and intensively with and for the Dances and Walks for many years. The quality of their mentoring and leadership usually shines for all to see beyond question. They have become channels for the Spirit of Guidance to meet the needs and possibilities of the human spirit. The Senior Mentor III has taken full responsibility for protecting and nurturing the lineage of the Dances and Walks. It is recognized by his or her peers that a Senior Mentor III will be holding an ever-widening piece of the dance transmission and all that this entails.
The Senior Mentor III has demonstrated their mastery of the Dances and the Walks in all respects beyond question. They are proficient in the key Elements of Mastery. Without doubt their Dance repertoire will be extensive, especially the ability to lead many of the advanced Dances of Murshid Samuel L. Lewis as well as the advanced Walking Concentrations including Tasawwuri Walks, advanced Planetary Walks and advanced Element Walks.
At this level the senior mentor will be supervising mentors and senior mentors. They will have led a number of longer Dance Training retreats for dance leaders and mentors at the national and international level.
Process for Recognizing Mentors
For all Mentor appointments the mentor making the nomination submits a proposal in writing to the Chair of the Guidance Council. The proposal will include the details of how the nominee meets the recommended criteria for that level. The mentor making the nomination must have the support of two Senior Mentors. If the mentor making the nomination is a Senior Mentor, then only one other Senior Mentor is needed to second the proposal.
The proposal for nomination will include the number of mentees working with the mentor-in-training, the length of time the mentor-in-training has been working with the mentees, and the progress that has been made. The Chair of the Guidance Council presents the proposal to the Spiritual Guide and the Guidance Council.
Senior Mentors II and III
Nomination for these levels must refer specifically to the respective Requirements and Criteria as set forth above. The Guidance Council Chair presents the nomination for Senior Mentors II and III to all Senior Mentors III for approval.
The Mentors Guild is the collective body of all mentors. The Mentors Guild provides a forum for communication on such matters as transmitting, nurturing and protecting this body of work, the training of Dance and Walks leaders, and upholding the Agreements in the Leaders Guild Guidelines. In addition, the discussions of the Mentors Guild advise and assist the Guidance Council in all aspects of its work.
The Guidance Council holds in trust the transmission of the Dances of Universal Peace and Walking Concentrations in the lineage of Murshid Samuel L. Lewis. Four to six Senior Mentors are appointed on a rotating basis by the Pir of the Sufi Ruhaniat International, who is the Spiritual Guide of the Dances of Universal Peace. The Guidance Council has the responsibility of guiding leaders and mentors by encouraging their spiritual expansion and personal development, supporting learning opportunities, determining requirements for level acknowledgment, and upholding standards of conduct and human relationship that are in keeping with the transmission of the Dances of Universal Peace. The Guidance Council keeps in communication with the Spiritual Guide, who provides assistance as required.
Communicating with the Body of Mentors
The Guidance Council communicates actively by email with members of the Mentors Guild, and all mentors are required to have a functioning email address or, failing that, to make arrangements with another mentor to pass along Guidance Council updates. MTGMail is an e-group for communication between and among all mentors. On this e-group, mentors network with and provide support for each other around issues and concerns integral to the process of mentoring Dance leaders. All mentors and mentors-in-training are encouraged to subscribe to this group by sending an email message to MTGMailemail@example.com.
In order to commence a new mentoring relationship, the mentor or mentor-in-training needs to provide to the Community Coordinator the following data about the new mentee: name, mailing address, phone, e-address, beginning date of mentoring. The mentee will thus become a member of the Leaders Guild, subject to remaining current with the annual Leaders Guild fees. The Community Coordinator will confirm registration of the mentoring relationship to both mentor and mentee.
Mentors are responsible for keeping their own records of their mentees’ progress, but must notify the Community Coordinator and the mentee when a Mentored Leader has fulfilled the requirements for certification and is acknowledged as a Certified Leader. Mentors are also requested to provide notification when a mentoring relationship has ended. Where a mentee has been appointed to the level of Mentor or Senior Mentor, the Chair of the Guidance Council is responsible for notifying the mentee, the mentor, and the Community Coordinator (for updating the database), and for announcing the appointment to all members of the Mentors Guild.
Occasionally it may be appropriate to dissolve a mentoring relationship when, over a period of time, fruitful working conditions have been challenging to establish. Once a new mentor has been identified, the dance leader will ask their former mentor to contact the new mentor to describe the leader’s dance leading experience and progress in dance training, and to make recommendations. The new mentor will not accept a transferring mentored leader without making this contact with the leader’s former mentor. The new mentor is responsible for communicating the transfer to the Community Coordinator, who will confirm the change of registration to both mentors and the mentee.
Mentors are encouraged to evaluate themselves periodically in terms of the requirements and criteria for their level. Consultation with one’s own mentor is recommended during the self-assessment process. Through these means a mentor can identify and address areas for their continued development, nourishment and renewal. If a mentor has only one mentee or finds their mentoring skills are not active and flourishing, they might ask themselves if they are the mentor to best serve their mentee(s). A mentor who is more engaged might be more helpful to their student(s).
Inactive Status of Mentors (Sabbaticals and Life Changes)
As mentors we endeavor to support each other through various life changes with understanding and compassion for all involved. We recognize that mentors are people whose lives change like those of anyone else. From time to time, we may need to assume responsibility for another mentor’s mentees, either temporarily or as a permanent transfer.
A mentor who needs to become inactive is encouraged to be as clear as possible with their mentees, and must notify the Community Coordinator, as well as their own mentor, of this change of status. For sabbaticals or similar circumstances where the mentor intends to be inactive for a definite period, the mentor is responsible for assisting mentees in making interim arrangements with another mentor. If the mentor is discontinuing mentoring for any reason, the mentor has the responsibility of informing the mentees and offering them support in finding another mentor. Assistance with these transfers will be available from the Guidance Council and the Community Coordinator. Where a mentor has discontinued mentoring for any reason (including retirement, terminal illness or death) and has not prearranged a transfer of their mentees, that responsibility then falls to the mentor’s mentor. Once again, assistance is available from the Guidance Council and the Community Coordinator.
1 Chungliang Al Huang and Jerry Lynch. Mentoring – The Tao of Giving and Receiving Wisdom. xii. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995.
2 Samuel L. Lewis, Commentary on Path of Initiation and Discipleship. Gatheka, 2; 29.