21 December 2011

One More Ingredient

This past Sunday the sangha heard a teisho on the qualities that a teacher looks for in a student when considering making that student a teacher.  There were no surprises, really.  The student should have come to some degree of awakening.  The student should adhere to the precepts generally and be exemplary in the practice of the first five.  The student should possess some ability to communicate well and work with others.  The student should have the respect and support of the sangha.

All of those points are important, but if that's all there is in the mix, then I'm not yet seeing a teacher; all I'm seeing is a decent senior student. 

I guess I take seriously (perhaps much too seriously, I don't know) the idea that the teacher should pour him or herself out in service to the Dharma.  Seems to me that there should be a palpable zeal in the mix, an eagerness to "support the gate and sustain the house" with everything one can muster.  One who would be a teacher should act as if the future of the Dharma rests on his or her shoulders alone while having at the same time the humility to realize that he or she could not even begin to do it alone.

Without that zeal, there is the risk that the prospective teacher will treat his or her teaching as a hobby, something on the side, a feather in one's cap, perhaps.   We don't need that kind of nonsense.  The world is on fire, burning with greed, anger and confusion.  A cup of even the purest water won't start to douse the flames; we need it by the hose and pumper and hydrant full!

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