Monday, December 28, 2009

The Teacher

"Perfectionists are never satisfied with who they are, or others but are always reaching for a goal, and never enjoying the imperfect moment they're in." --Thomas Moore

Moore writes in his book, The Soul's Religion, that one of the goals of the 'educated' is to become perfected, more complete, more whole in themselves. He writes that we must not forget for all the importance of spirit, that bodies are needed; spirits inhabit bodies and an everyday life is lived from them, but what will we, the spirit-body learn, and how will we learn so as to realize the "perfected self"?
In the everyday, complex world of science and technology, the role of pain, of trial and ordeal are seen as experiences to be eliminated, controlled, suppressed; yet Moore argues that these experiences, these moments are vital to a human education. It is experience, simple experience, finally and not intellectual achievement that will bring around a perfected soul, the one which is completed, whole and peaceful.

Zen master, Suzuki in quoting another, Dogen, goes on to say "you will be even the teacher of Shakyamuni Buddha." As bodies are souls whole and complete, we learn in the Dharmakaya, as Suzuki also repeats, 'when you realize Buddha nature, you are the teacher.'
So then the best teacher is the one who does not teach, yet who leads, guides, experiences the lessons of his students, and his students experience the lessons of the teacher. In this way teaching is profound with benefit. It is a far and away from the experience, in which some have believed, that the teacher is the expert who pours knowledge into otherwise empty heads.

Thus as Thomas Moore notes from his own life experience, imperfection is a good and valued part of education, for both the student and the teacher. In the best moments of teaching, an alchemy, or a deep moment of newness of creation, a mystery transpires between two or more persons engaged in this process of experience and perfection. "When a teacher evokes the deep process of imparting and learning subtle aspects of life's mysteries, then teaching goes on." And like any creative activity, teaching "happens best when a muse is present, initiating something far deeper" in the exchange.

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