This week we focused on teachers: who they are, how to choose one, and how to benefit from a student/teacher relationship.
Teachers come in two varieties - the Guru and the Spiritual Friend. Gurus pass an entire lineage to their students, while Spiritual Friends facilitate the student’s awakening. Gurus, Roshis, and Zen Masters embody powerful mythological forces to transmit an idealized lineage, offering fantastical stories, larger than life ancestors, and impossible precepts that shock us out of our small selves and into a practice worthy of our imaginations. Unfortunately, these mythologies are often taking in literal or fundamental ways that end up burdening both teacher and student.
Spiritual Friend teachers, on the other hand, facilitate their students’ growth by meeting them where they are. They embody the practice and teach with their freedom. These teachers can be found anywhere and don’t rely on transmissions, robes, or institutions. They are real-world partners rather than mythical examples.
When choosing a teacher, trust your own wisdom. Observe the teacher. Are they trustworthy? Are they kind? Are they happy? Be willing to hold both the teacher and yourself accountable. Is the teacher accountable to others for their ethical behavior and integrity? Is the student accountable for observing and transforming their own stuck places?
To benefit from a teacher/student relationship, both need to show up. Teachers and students awaken together, supporting each other and being supported by each other. Teachers hold the space for students, who typically cycle between engagement and withdrawl, especially during the early years of practice. Students hold the space for teachers with their generosity, giving dana that makes it possible for teachers to support students.
The teacher/student relationship is a partnership of mutual transformation.
Listen to the full Dharma Talk HERE. You may also subscribe to Anacortes Mindfulness Community Podcasts on iTunes!