Perhaps you’ve noticed I don’t write much about motherhood any more. Our children do an excellent job of being consistently, rather stubbornly, exactly who they are, and once we acknowledge that, our only job as mothers is to keep acknowledging it over and over. Or not. The not is what causes the difficulty.
Perhaps you’ve noticed I don’t write much about marriage any more. Our partners do an excellent job of being consistently, rather stubbornly, who we aren’t, and once we accept that, our job is to keep accepting it over and over. Or not. The not is what causes the difficulty.
At one time in my life, motherhood brought to me my most urgent and incomprehensible lessons. At other times, my marriage did. But by itself, over time, sure as day to night to day, in a continuous and miraculous transformation, a daughter becomes a mother and a woman becomes a wife. When that transition is complete, there’s not much to say about it, not much I can tell you, since you will have to make that passage on your own. Or not.
What is most interesting to me now is another transition, perhaps the last for me, and the greatest of all. It is the transition from the student to the teacher. In whatever form it takes, whatever time it travels, this is the longest lesson we undertake, because it is the lesson in how we live, how we give, how we grow, and how we know.
This matter is what occupies me now, what encourages, frustrates, challenges and intrigues me. This matter of teaching.
I’m telling you this so that I hear it myself, a roll call I feel ill-equipped to answer. I’m offering you a chance to consider the magnificent matter of students and teachers in this post, and enticing you with the chance to win a signed copy of my friend Donna Kaishu Quesada’s new book, The Buddha in the Classroom: Zen Wisdom to Inspire Teachers.
Donna, or should I say, Kaishu, the name I know her by, is a professor of philosophy at a nearby college and a Zen student at the Hazy Moon Zen Center, where I practice. In this book, her first, she examines the relationship that I now consider to be the most significant relationship in life: the one between the student and the teacher. Whether it occurs in a classroom, or in a kitchen, or in a Zen temple, the student-teacher relationship encapsulates the extraordinary power that comes in every face-to-face encounter: the chance to change one another with our sheer presence, acknowledging and accepting one another, or not. Sometimes the teacher is the student, and sometimes the student is the teacher. Isn’t it amazing? Far more amazing than any piece of instruction that can be summarized in a lecture, or a list, or a series of multiple-choice questions.
Because she is my dharma sister, I can recommend this book wholeheartedly. I have only read small portions and even those I can’t recall, as they have entered me clean through, like water to thirst. But I have sat face-to-face in a room together with Kaishu, the same as every true student, every true teacher, and so I know that what she offers is humble and heartfelt. Reading it, you may come to know what I have: every relationship is a student-teacher relationship. Every relationship has the power to change how we live forever. And every teacher needs not a student, but a teacher. A teacher is forever.
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment with the name – quickly, without thinking! – of a teacher who has changed your life forever. And be grateful, as I am for you. I will select a winner, as if approaching an altar, next Wednesday, May 25.
And the winner is: Imelda, commenter no. 75. Thank you to all who have thanked a teacher.