DYC Teacher and Path
I think there is, or continues to be a lot of confusion about the relationship of student and teacher and Path. In the traditions that inspire Da Yuan Circle the definition of this relationship is clear but perhaps not what many people expect. I dunno. Let me try to explain a little bit.
First, I guess it is important to say that if the student feels they have a strong need for a teacher they should look elsewhere. In our tradition the Path appetite of the student must be matured – based on some fundaments of self-reflection. The self-reflection process might beformally given or just personal history (previous causes for the Path).
What does that mean? It means that both the student and teacher have a basic and mutual confidence in their connection to Path. This confidence for the student may be born from meeting the teacher or hearing what he/she said but it would not lead to a slavish dependence on the teacher – or the vision of the teacher as some sort of god-expert-hero. The student may blush with reverence on hearing this truth of naturalness, but simultaneously feel/think: “I know that”.
To say the relationship is deeply personal and common at the same time is central to becoming familiar with (what I call) the wisdom paradox. On receiving this sort of “introduction” the student is simultaneously broken open (all defenses lost) and full of confidence at the same time (“gone home”). If there is drama at this sort of meeting it quickly subsides into the modestythat naturally occurs when the Path is recognized as simply natural.
Much of the confusion about the Path teacher/student relationship comes from the pattern of “learning” something – school, perhaps. We easily mistake the Path teacher for some sort of perfected expert like a master of something, a maestro of religion or insightful mechanic with a mystical knowledge of Life. This sense of expertise is not part of our Path tradition. A teacher may be well versed in academic or philosophical studies, an artist or plumber or an uncle or mistress but a particular manifestation is not at all required for or essential to the transmission or introduction that happens. If this introduction/transmission sounds transcendental – I have not explained it well. The naturalness of the relationship is just that – natural.
The Path is a matter of working with layers of doubt (with and/or without the teacher’s help). In our tradition the Path is not a desperate need for salvation or a means of escaping or even refining/perfecting our experience. As doubt resolves, through meditation/conduct plain naturalness that has been there all along invites us to simply continue. Continuing has the connotations of practice but not the strict notions of vows
The good news is that doubt will even enter the Path teacher/student relationship but if it is for real … this doubt resolves of its own.
The teacher that offers this introduction is not, in any conventional sense, an evangelist. The introduction to each student follows no fixed pattern and brings a sense of enormous equality to our experience. In fact, it could be there in a tradition of cobblers or mothers … the dao of shoes; the dao of loving are all equal opportunity Paths.