An Indelible Mark

Do you need a great teacher? 

In Buddhism, teachers are often addressed as Rinpoche which translates to “precious jewel” because it honors their important role in people’s lives. A good teacher can change your way of thinking and even the course of your life. Exceptional teachers are rare and precious. Encounters with them often leave an indelible mark on our lives.
This past week I lost a teacher. He really left a mark. 
Sam Christensen, spent most of his life teaching people how to see themselves clearly and kindly. His classes, at their heart, taught us to look in the mirror with deep respect and love. I have never known anyone like him and his teaching has been like a stone thrown into a pond, that continues to ripple gently through my life, tipping over and submerging old, useless thought patterns. On one hand, I feel angry that he left all of us, his many students, behind and on the other hand,  I’m grateful for the legacy of his wisdom. 
Sam, like many great teachers, managed to slip past my defended ego and awaken me to the realization that I had something to learn. He presented ideas that I had heard in the past in a way that made me see them in a new light. Above all, he opened my mind to new possibilities. No matter what you are doing in life, creating, working, or coexisting with others all the things a teacher can do for you are invaluable. 

His death prompted me to think about the many excellent teachers I have had in my life. The ones, like my 10thgrade history teacher and my kyudo master, who are gone, and the ones who continue to give their insights so generously. 

I’m reminded of a line in one of my favorite Buddhist chants, “The guru opens the gate to the treasury of oral instruction…” Great teachers swing open the gate and allow us to choose to walk through.

If you don’t have a great teacher it’s a worthwhile endeavor to find one. If you do have a great teacher perhaps take a moment to thank them and tell them how their teachings have impacted you.


Stephanie MillerComment