Since late summer and autumn of last year, I’ve been getting back into the happy activity of Dhamma teaching. Most of that has been locally — La Crosse and Eau Claire, Milwaukee and Chicago — now another step looms. I’ll be getting on a plane for the first time since returning from Thailand with a tumor in my belly over 13 months ago. Cloud Mountain kindly fit me into their retreats schedule for a week-long starting this Friday, so I’ll be flying to the Northwest.
I’ve never been fully comfortable with the terms “teaching” and “teacher,” tho I use them all the time, as Dhamma and meditation cannot truly be taught. We can teach theory, pass along info, and share experiences, but the journey itself, and Dhamma/Nature itself, do the teaching. Of course, most important elements are qualities of awareness and heart that are open to learning.
While I accept the label “teacher,” and the high standards it carries in the Dhamma realm, I as much see myself as someone who delights in exploring and taking about Dhamma, both as recorded in the suttas and discovered within living; someone who facilitates group inquiry and sharing; and someone who needs to keep opening, inquiring, and learning himself. At least, this is what I aspire to and practice. One can teach only by remaining a dedicated student. I try, struggle, fudge, upraise, enjoy, and keep going. I keep relearning how to relax around the conventions of “teacher” and “student” — something Ajahn Buddhadasa modeled so well — to find freedom in this particular aspect of the great dance.
To tune into and be of service to the process at work in individual practitioners and groups is good fun. When there is palpable deepening of awareness and insight, there is Dhamma-piti. This inspires and nurtures my own learning and practice. I’m grateful for the opportunities to live my life this way.
When I was growing up, getting drunk, being foolish … who woulda thunk?!
Ajahn Buddhadasa remarked to me that the best way to learn something is to sincerely learn how to teach it. Others may benefit and one had better benefit oneself, and learn to enjoy it. Tho I grumbled at times, his words have had plenty of truth in my life.
audio from recent “teachings
p.s. Made it through the flights to Minneapolis & Seattle safely and comfortably; the immune system was strong enough or wasn’t exposed to over much nastiness. After a couple days visiting with brother & his partner, it’s off to Cloud Mountain with a couple old friends, where I’ll reconnection with some other old friends, and meet some new.
May you have profound satisfaction within the Dhamma journey, whatever you call it.