Your Perfect Teacher
Everyone in the journey of life owes much to the people who inspire, teach and support them and every one would probably think that there is one person above all others who has been their source of wisdom in their life. Some of the Tibetan Buddhists have a tradition of talking of their Perfect Teacher; perhaps we might not go that far, but who would we think of?
Some people might feel that it was one or both of their parents whose guidance early in life was a source of wisdom that they have been able to work with all their lives. Some might turn to a particular relative, a grandparent or perhaps and aunt, uncle or older sibling who gave them the inner strength they needed or is perhaps even still a person they can go to when life is hard or puzzling. I know, for myself, that my grandma, although I did not see a lot of her, remains visibly in my mind and I feel I know what she would have said or done in her wise way in many a situation.
Moving on I remember a teacher at school who treated us teenage boys as if we were adults and listened and talked about our many problems, dreams and desires at that age. He was an English teacher and he also made the texts that we studied relevant to our growing minds. It is to him that I owe a debt of gratitude for introducing me to the world of the arts that has in its turn been a great source both of pleasure and worldly wisdom. Perhaps you to can think of a teacher who was a great influence to you in your life and shaped some important aspect of your future development. I know some people went out into the world of work much younger than I did and might think of some person in the work place who took an interest in them, saw their potential and helped them in their life direction. Many years ago my son was languishing in a mechanical engineering apprenticeship when the IT consultant in the factory took an interest in him and realised that he had the sort of methodical mind that would appreciate computer programming. His encouragement changed my son's career path and he is now a top executive in a telecoms company.
Perhaps, however, like me, you have a spiritual aspect to your life which has led you to need to explore that aspect of life and, given the remit of these articles, that is the centre of thought for this consideration of teachers. In my case there is one special friend, called Ken some fifteen or so years older than I was, and now alas long dead, who came into my life when I was turning twenty. Ken was not of any particular spiritual school or belief but he was what is sometimes called an old soul and had extraordinary powers to help another person examine their own spiritual life if they were so inclined. I could write a book about what Ken did for me and I shall owe him a debt of gratitude all my life. But without his love and support, as well as the challenges that he set to my arrogance and self-opinionated-ness ,I would be even more immature than I am now But above all it was the spiritual vistas that he opened for me that set the directions that have been most important to me in later life Perhaps you, as my reader, can think of someone like that in your life or perhaps you wish that could have met someone like that. If you are in the latter position I would remind you of the saying that when the student is ready the teacher finds them. So you are already close to finding that person. It was certainly true in my case.
Finally I would mention the sort of spiritual teacher that many of us have met at some time in our life and whom you might, yourself, follow. I'm thinking of the sort of spiritual teacher who comes from some particular school or religion and has a following of a number of, or many, followers and often teaches by a mixture of talks and individual interviews. Over the years I have worked with several such people of different faiths and traditions and all of them, in one way or another have been helpful. Some people find that one particular teacher particularly resonates with them and they chose to work with the for a long period of time.
But; and now perhaps I am going to surprise you; non of any of these people is your Perfect Teacher. However well they know you, and in my case Ken seemed to know my every thought and desire, non of them know you better than yourself. Perhaps that idea may surprise, or maybe it does not. Maybe you say; 'But that is my whole problem. I do not know myself well enough.' But ultimately no-one is going to be able to know your better than you will if you persevere. Your external teachers and guides can only really do one thing for you, which is to wake up your own dharma, your own inner guru, and once awakened and listened to intently that will guide you through your spiritual journey. Remember you are already perfect Buddha nature (or whatever you like to call your soul) your only problem is you have forgotten it. But that inner nature will act as your conscience and will tell you if your actions and thoughts are true, loving and honest or not and even if the voice is not too clear or compelling right now, the more you listen the clearer that voice will be.
You are your own Perfect Teacher.