, , ,

Our association with teachers runs wide and deep. The width represents the diversity of teachers that have influenced our (spiritual) lives during various stages of our passage through life. The depth represents the intensity of (recurring) impact our teachers may have had on us in the course of time. Width is created as a result of our willingness to be open. and remain open, to the influence of (new) teachers. Depth is created by our association with our teachers in the dimensions of time and (heart) space.

A large part of the (spiritual) student teacher relationship is an act of volition. Many of us feel that our parents, in particular our mothers, were our first spiritual teachers and influencers. Our proximity to our parents (or caregivers), our dependence on them in our formative years, created this primary studentship in our hearts and minds. This studentship planted some lifelong seeds in our heart. In our pre-primary and primary years, we were for the first time, exposed to the influence of caregivers and teachers outside the home. The width of our engagement with teachers was broadened with these interactions, and seeds of the “desire to learn” were hopefully planted within us. As we advanced in our years, through middle and high school, many teachers continued to widen our horizons in our “formal” education.

The inspiration and influence of teachers outside of our “formal” education was perhaps equally, if not more important in the development of our character and personality. The “teacher” who taught us how to play chess, the “teacher” who taught us how to drive a stick shift, the “teacher” who tried to bully us on the playground and taught us to “dig deep” and stand up for ourselves, the “teachers” and best friends who would spend hours on the phone before final exams working through thermodynamics problems with us… I am sure you get the idea. I am sure you can think of many similar “informal” teachers who imparted many life-lessons to you.

And then there were the teachers who influenced us from beyond our physical association with them. Their impact was felt in our lives through their words and stories embedded in books – some of which we were required to read as part of our “formal” education, and some of which we were fortunate enough to stumble upon in a library, or through the grace of a gift from a good friend or relative. Some “teachers” may have influenced us through short videos, or even through online interactions. Some of us may have even experienced the “distance teaching” influence which speaks directly to our heart.

Regardless of their medium of influence, the width and depth of the impact of our teachers can vary widely. So, what makes a great teacher? And why? I asked this question of my daughter, who happens to be one of my greatest teachers. Her response was ~ “…my favorite teacher is the one who lets us play, lets us be a little crazy when we want to, and participates in our play. she is herself a child at heart…”

For those of you who have read this far, I hope I have helped you reflect a bit on the role of teachers in your life. The other side of the coin is: who do you consider yourself to be a teacher to? What value do the values of trust and truth hold in the (spiritual) student-teacher relationship? What lesson can we learn when a teacher seems to “walk away” from us, their student? I invite you to join me and the #SpiritChat community on twitter in a live chat on Sunday, May 17th at 9amET/1pmGMT to discuss some of these questions. Who knows, you may find the teacher (or student) that you may have been searching for!