When the student is ready, the teacher appears. How many times have you heard this saying in one form or another? The saying, usually ascribed to Buddhism, speaks to someone being ready to learn a life lesson.
But what else is it saying?
I recently spoke with a young girl struggling to find her spiritual identity. As we talked, she detailed her hours of watching YouTube videos and going to hear different speakers around the area. Often, she didn’t understand a lot their ideas. We talked for quite a while, and I gave her my take on the topics we discussed.
Finally, when it was time for me to go, she gave me a hug and thanked me. She thanked me for listening, but also for teaching her a few things. She said she hadn’t thought of some of the concepts and ways to look at a situation that I suggested.
She told me I was a good teacher.
Me, who is searching just as hard as she is to find purpose in my life. My struggle sometimes gets overwhelming and makes me want to give up. And that gave me pause. As much as I search, as much as I am the seeker in my own life, I am also the pathfinder for others.
I am both student and teacher.
The insights I have may trigger a profound understanding in someone else even though I’ve thought about it for months without getting any clearer understanding. I wasn’t ready. Someone else may be. So, although I have wisdom because of my experience, I wasn’t ready for it to enlighten me. I didn’t recognize the deeper, more profound meaning.
For example, I’ve gotten several “signs” that I should meditate more. But life tends to get in my way. I’m too busy, too tired. I forget or just don’t feel like it. I’m lazy or don’t really believe that it could work for me.
All these excuses are just that…excuses. These are roadblocks I put in my own way because I don’t want to do the work to uncover the meaning in my life. The surface is just fine with me.
But it’s not really.
As I go through my days now, I wonder. Could I be the teacher someone is waiting for? When I think this way, inevitably, a sign will come. Like the Facebook post from someone who wrote “If you can be the pencil that writes someone’s happiness, be the eraser that removes their sadness.” I may not have everything thought out. I might still need time to think some more. But at least I can do no harm.
At least, I could pass along the spark, the trigger that ignites someone else.
I’ve thought a lot about how our lives affect others; how a casual remark can switch on a light in someone’s mind that catapults their progress forward. So we are not always the seeker. Sometimes we light the way for others. Sometimes, the things we aren’t ready to hear are exactly what someone else needs at that moment. We’re just a mode of transportation that the Universe uses to travel to the student’s mind.
So be aware of the duality of the student and teacher. We change places with each other continually, daily, sometimes minute by minute. Remember, we are always the student. Anyone who wants to grow is always a student.
But we are also the teacher. What an honored, humbling place in someone’s life.