So I have not discussed this subject very much. I have been teaching a variety of subjects for many years But I am not employed or retained as a teacher. It has not been my vocation. But I enjoyed it.
I studied Buddhism the past few years. As a result of my Buddhist practice, I was taught to lead mindful meditation by the monk, Ajahn Sarayut in Tucson AZ. I then became the go-to Anglo for school groups who came to the Dallas Buddhist temple.
I have pursued studies in my practice with persons I respect. I have really been gifted in this regard. Starting many years ago, I was privileged to be taught my various trades by the best. Gerry Spence amongst other greats taught me trial lawyering skills. Clint Smith amongst others taught me handgun skills. Buddhist monks taught me Buddhism. (That may seem obvious to the uninitiated but actually very few Americans learn Buddhism directly from monks.)
Last March during a meeting with Ajahn Sarayut, despite my objections, he told me I was a teacher. I argued with him but monks do not engage in arguing for more than a moment. I agreed to try to comport myself like a Buddhist meditation teacher. I agreed to be more mindful of posting inflammatory remarks on my Facebook page.
But I rarely self-identify as a teacher. But I recently applied to re-enter the monastic life for another few months. This led to a conversation with a friend and life-long Buddhist on the merits of such an action. He attended my ordination back a few years ago. He staked out the position that I was misguided in my efforts. He went on to say that I am already the teacher I have sought to embrace. He argued with me when I told him I lacked the credentials to be a teacher.
Similar skills are needed to do street work with street gangs, argue to a courtroom jury, teach a police academy, and communicate and counsel solutions to individuals in pain, suffering and anxiety.
The skills were honed in the very need and use of the skills. But they arose out of my own insecurities, fears and anxieties. They emerged first from my own experiences in a most personal way. Then I grasped how to communicate and transmit the necessary sentiment and information to others. That is what has made me excel in my endeavors.
I decided today upon much reflection that I am a teacher of those subjects I have a command of. Meditation is one of those subjects. Buddhism for Westerners may be another. At the least, I can teach the application of Buddhist principles to the western lifestyle. There is more to that proclamation than meets the eye, but I do not know how to express it. Perhaps that is the subject for another day.
5 thoughts on ““You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.” ― Galileo Galilei”
*Former* Buddhist Monk? I thought once you were certified/acknowledged it was for life. Sorta like being a black belt, no one is ever a former black belt…
No. In the Thai tradition, temporary monasticism is quite common. And in Buddhism monastic vows are not for life but for the period of time where one will obey the vows. If one chooses to live outside the vows then he is expected to disrobe.
Wow. That sounds so principled. And in contrast to religious folk who don’t practice what they believe in, but continually claim they are forgiven.
I’m so happy you’re leaving arguments for the courtrooms – and have finally stopped trying to push the river. You already are a great teacher,. Share the wisdom of your life’s journey…
ken, looking good! love, Susan