Thoughts On Teaching

I have been pondering the matter of teaching. That’s with respect to teaching about practice as well as about general life circumstance teaching. What I have come up with is that the best of teaching in the widest possible meaning, from formal talks to so called obsticles on the path, is the drawing out of that which is already there. But what makes that drawing out happen?

I was at a ceremony yesterday where each resident monk is asked, formally, if they will fulfill a certain monastic responsibility for this training term. Since I’m not a resident I don’t have a job so when my name came around I was Rev. Master Mugo; honored and esteemed guest. Honored and esteemed! Esteemed? To hold in high regard. I was touched. And it seems to me that holding oneself and all things in high esteem/regard, to elevate rather than pull down, is to draw out the very best teaching in all circumstances, including within oneself and others.

For some crazy reason grooming cats, dogs and horses comes to mind. One simple cannot groom an animal successfully if they are not esteemed. Held with proper regard. I’m not talking about being sickly sentimental and cooing to them. Far from it. More about…drawing out the best in them through ones own simple actions. Taking care, honoring them, and oneself, for being. Just that.

As is so often the case I don’t know where a post is going or what it is really going to be about. What point or teaching I am going to get to. It would seem however that the process of writing (as an example of an activity) draws out that which is within and it is so often a surprise as to what ones expression ends up being.

I guess that’s the beauty of it. One is teaching self and other, at the same time, while not trying to!

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11 thoughts on “Thoughts On Teaching”

  1. Here commenting on my own post. By _hold_ in high esteem I do not mean that one actually ‘does’ something, for example not walk around having high esteem thoughts! That would be just silly. And there are more and more subtle levels of doing which we do in, and with, ourselves. Typically there is the common one of ‘having a positive attitude’! This can all too easily turn into ‘everything is alright if I just have the right attitude’. Silly.

    I think there is more to say on this however the day is starting and I need to go and eat breakfast…..

  2. One of the most startling teachings that I ever received was from the monk who I regard as my teacher. He said, and has since said (more than several times), “Give yourself the Dharma.” , regarding the situation that I was asking him about. What startled me (initially), was the the respect and confidence that he was showing, not just to me, but to the Dharma itself. He has also added that it is good to look at a situation as if someone else were coming to me with the same question, what would my answer be? We can often see through other peoples confusion but not always through our own, unless we can step to the side for even a moment.

    This also ties into the times of when I think that I’m trying to help someone else with clarifying a question, I often attain a clearer picture of the “matter” for myself just by listening to what I’m saying to the other person. We do in fact contain all the answers to all our questions, but others (not just people), are often that which guides our eye to help, resolution, or just a tiny opening.

    Thank you esteemed monk,
    In gassho
    Helmut

  3. The point hasn’t been missed, but speaking for myself, you are certainly held in high esteem and so are your posts.

    In gassho, Kevin

  4. How kind of you to say this Kevin. And what of holding oneself in high esteem, in the sense of treating ones own body and mind with the regard one would aspire to treat others? Just a thought as I am writing….

  5. Interesting. I have nothing against positive attitudes generally. It has turned into a bit of an obsession lately in some circles to “have a positive attitude” & “think positive thoughts”. It’s as if someone who is unhappy or sad simply needs to change their thoughts – it’s almost a version of “pull yourself together”. To me it smacks of the ‘love and light heresy’ which Rev Master Jiyu talked about so eloquently. Almost another way of avoiding facing reality square on.

  6. Yes absolutely. And as I read this what came to mind was an incident earlier in August. We were putting up a shelf and it needed two people to hold it up and another to drill holes. We had been talking about singing. So when we were hold up the shelf (heavy shelf) for the third time in blazing heat one of the team said by way of encouragement, ‘Once again, _with feeling_!’ we all had a good larf.

    Well, there seems to be a link in there about ‘attitude’. Of course doing something ‘with feeling’ will make a difference as does ones attitude towards what ever it is. It is the positive/negative duality and the thinking that goes with it (as you point out) that’s the problem really. Seems to me anyway.

    Thanks for remaining reading Angie. Valued as ever.

  7. Socrates taught by asking his pupils questions and then drawing out of
    them what they already knew. He likened himself to a midwife. His mother
    was a midwife. You can find all this on Google. But I did already know
    from my previous studies.!!

  8. Good point good friend (I know the author of this comment). I quite often find that asking questions will mean that the person who has come to me for council will end up answering their own question. And come up with a course of action too. There is wisdom in all of us.

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