Quest for a Perfect Teacher
- TheDailyEnlightenment.comWeekly 09.04.06
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Realisation: The Quest for a Perfect Teacher
The quest for a perfect teacher is the quest to be a perfect student. - stonepeace
It felt quite disturbing for quite some time... the seeming inablity to find and stick to a single human guru (spiritual teacher or mentor). Was it the lack of merits and the presence of delusional pride that veiled me from discovering a "perfect" teacher? True to some extent - since others are often perceived to be as imperfect as we are - whenever we judge them imperfectly. As Stonepeace said, "The wise can learn even from fools, while fools do not learn from any at all." Hopefully, I'm somewhere between being a complete fool and being completely wise. Hopefully, I'm advancing in the right direction! In his time, the Buddha found the ideal spiritual teacher in want too - so much so that he renounced his teachers to seek the truth his own way. Nope, it was not done out of pride. It was a truly great endeavour for the truth. Out of his sincere efforts, a perfect teacher was born of himself. Thank the Buddha for becoming the Buddha! For the rest of us not ready to be Buddhas all by ourselves, thank goodness the Buddha pointed out the way to enlightenment!
It was great greed and pickiness in me that demanded utter perfection in teachers. I seek a master like the Buddha himself - one in whom I would have complete faith and find no fault with - in every little thing s/he does. Surely then, do I presently lack the merits to deserve such a great teacher! It's good though, to take healthy pride in being objective when seeking the truth. If the spiritual life is any otherwise prideful, it would cease being spiritual. To rid pride, humbly clarify points of contention with teachers, instead of labelling them imperfect. Realistically, as long as both are unenlightened, teachers and students can "enlighten" each other. Even if the teacher teaches most of the time, the student might "teach" him/her at the right time. Only the enlightened have the perfect right to see themselves as faultless teachers, while the unenlightened should always see themselves as faulty students. Through respectful open interaction, imperfect teachers and students can help further perfect each other. As the Buddha reminded his spiritual community, "If you do not take care of each other, who will?"
Your guru is not always one person. He or she can be here and there as him or her. It is perhaps greedy too, to want your guru embodied in a single person, in the only way you like. Maybe you're too "blind" to see the many "accidental" teachers around? Make hay while the sun shines, even as you seek a brighter light. And if you don't believe there is a perfect guru out there for you, then it might make sense that the next perfect guru for you is one who acknowledges s/he is not a perfect guru - instead of one who claims, or lets you assume s/he is perfect. Humility is, and makes a great teacher, which makes great students too. For now, so it seems, my perfect guru is not humanly possible - because he is transcendental - he is the Buddha. If the master appears when the student is ready, I realised he has been there many times in my spiritual life - in one way or another, "manifesting" as auspicious encounters with timely teachings. Suddenly, I feel overwhelming gratitude and blessedness. And the way to truly thank him is to become like him, to aspire to be a perfect teacher to help others too. It might not be possible in this lifetime, but it is surely possible in good time! - Shen Shi'an
(Please see also, "7 Reflections on Teachers & Students")
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