Woven throughout any overt subjects that we may teach are hidden attitudes and approaches, embodiments of living, that flavor everything that we say and do. Though we may not intend to do so, inevitably we teach what we are. We demonstrate beingness – for those with the sensitivity to ‘see’. If our primary concern is for reputation, admiration, or approval, we template others into that shape.
If we are concerned about money, power, and possessions, we template that on others. If our concern/involvement is love, inclusivity, reverence, humility, and compassion then this is what we ‘teach’, no mater what the public form or subject of study, be it dharma, mathematics, carpentry or cooking. As we realize this, ‘teaching’ (in terms of conveying particular knowledges) slips into the background and ‘quality of being’ takes up centre stage. In fact, our quality of being is the stage, and the actors, and the audience, and the theatre, and the ecological and cultural world, in which and by which, it developed. Our moment by moment quality of being reveals the whole shebang!
So, what are my concerns, my assumptions, my questions and curiosities, my visceral understandings about life and living? And do I want to imprint them on others?
Through teaching we share an approach to living, revealed in the depth and scope of our inner question, our particular flavor of curiosity and way of touching the unknown. What is my approach? What am I actually doing? What ‘doing’ am I? What is my question, my passion, my wonderment? Answers and solutions are transient and ephemeral; dependant on time, place and context. But the flavor of my question suffuses my interactions with everything. It perfumes my perceptions, conceptions and understandings. Some flavors of questioning or questing can widen us in ways that enhance our dignity, grace, here and now practicality, and sense of expansive presence. Others can narrow us, shrinking and tightening while all the time comparing in order to see if we conform to expectations, whether we are right or wrong.
Something of the teacher rubs off on the student as simultaneously something of the student rubs off on the teacher. Buddha called this the transmission that is no transmission. For those of you aspiring to teach, and those of you who may never have considered yourselves in the role of teacher – like it or not, we are all involved – please contemplate this and take it to heart.
with good wishes to all
For 40 years Tarchin has studied and practiced in both Theravadin and Mahayana schools of Buddhism. For 12 years he was ordained as a monk. Since 1977 he has taught in many countries and has helped establish a number of centres for retreat and healing. Tarchin is an Elder of the Wangapeka. Tarchin has recently finished an essay called ‘Education and Buddhadharma’ which can be found at www.greendharmatreasury.org.