4 Life Lessons – Happy Teachers Day!
The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward
5th September, Teacher’s Day- A day dedicated to all the guides, the mentors, the gurus in our lives. But who are our teachers? What role do they perform in our lives? What makes for a good teacher?
No one goes throughout life without a teacher of some sort. But it is rare and a privilege to encounter a teacher who changes yours life for the better. It is a blessing to be guided by one who touches you so profoundly.
In my life, my first life-changing teacher has been my mother, who has taught me unconditional love. After her comes my father, who used the Bhagvad Gita and the Upanishads to ingrain in me spiritual wisdom. But aside from my parents, I have been lucky enough to meet many other wonderful individuals who have become my teachers in the most expected or surprising ways.
At school, my favourite teacher was Miss Manning, my maths teacher. I remember being demoted from the 2nd-highest performing maths class to the worst performing maths class after an examination. I felt humiliated at this drop in classification. As I came from a culture where grades were prized more highly than creative talents like music and art, I was dejected by my fall.
But Miss Manning was a very fair teacher – strict but just. Through kind but stern instruction and constant mentoring, she brought the maths genius out in me. As a result of her encouragement of my hardwork, I flourished in the subject, getting an A in my GCSEs and went onto complete A Level Maths too!
But years after Miss Manning mentored me, I met another teacher, Brandon Bays, who was instrumental in equipping me with the skills to re-steer the course of my life. I met her at the Journey seminar in London. Brandon, or fondly known as Janaki, awakened in me the understanding that my true teacher existed inside me. Through her seminars and process work in The Journey, I healed from 3 chronic illnesses and learnt about practical spirituality. Rather than from the theories in the ancient texts, she helped awaken my own inner wisdom, providing an experiential learning space where the sacred teachings became real, alive, and integrated as part of my daily life.
Collectively, these 4 favourite teachers of mine taught me 4 pearls of wisdom:
There is God in All
Many ancient philosophers have shared this theory – that part of every organism’s soul holds something holy. The concept of bowing to fellow humans is a prominent form of greeting in so many cultures for the very purpose that it symbolises accepting the God or the Holiness in the opposite person and respecting it.
This comes alive for me during the seminars I conduct. As I look onto the crowd I address, I notice each and every pair of eyes looking back at me – souls looking at souls, recognising and accepting each other. In these moments, I am overcome by the profound feeling of a Holy presence emanating from each individual before me.
There is a Teacher in Everyone
By understanding there is God in all, I have become open to learning from anyone. Old and young, woman and man, pauper and princess – everyone has something to teach, some wisdom to lend, a lesson to deliver.
I realised that everyone with whom I have interacted for a considerable amount of time has been my teacher in some capacity. Be my superiors, peers, or subordinates, my interactions with all have taught me some invaluable lesson or another about life. Even those who have triggered or hurt me – knowingly or unknowingly – have added some learning to my life.
I have become acutely aware of this insight after travelling. On those occasions where a conversation spontaneously emerges with the stranger sitting beside me on flight, I continuously find myself stunned at how similar all of us around the world are. Each of us has similar hopes, fears, wishes, and dreams, and each of us have some past story or challenge that they have faced. And everyone has something worthwhile to impart.
Wait Before You Judge
Some of my greatest teachers have been my students. I recall one instance, where a 6”2 foot delegate came to one of my workshops in London. He walked into the workshop room with a chainsaw in one hand and a carton of orange juice in the other, and planted himself at the corner of the hall. I felt the awkwardness towards him soar from the other participants already present. The others, who considered themselves “spiritual”, immediately judged this black sheep with his Mohawk and Goth attire. But the 1st time he spoke, he shared his reason for joining the workshop – he had been stuck with a condition called Trigeminal Neuralgia, which caused riveting pain down the left side of his face for 9 years. He had wanted to take matters into his own hands and took the brave step of attending the workshop to train himself to get over the pain. By the time he was done speaking, the judgement in the room had entirely melted.
No matter who the person is, how they dress, how they behave, they have their own story of suffering and life circumstances.
Love Unconditionally Without Expectation
The Bhagwad Gita talks about consistency in loving one’s fellow men. It preaches that irrespective of the situation, one’s temperament must be peaceful and loving.
Whether someone is good or cruel to you, love them. Love without an expectancy of reciprocation; love without attachment to the outcome – love for love’s sake.
This lesson, I have found, is easier to write than manifest in reality. And yet, when unconditional love becomes possible, an all pervading peace and stillness permeates every fibre of my being.
I am fortunate to have had some incredible people take me under their wings. During my life, they have taught me lessons great and small. But I cannot discount the teachings of those from whom I had never expected to learn – my students, my clients, and even strangers. This Teachers Day, I am reminded of all those who have positively impacted my life and taught me something for which I am grateful and indebted.
I thank all my teachers. Who are you thanking today?
Love Dr Rangana Rupavi Choudhuri (PhD) with Ashni Acharya
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