Here we are starting another great forum for Joyful, Jubilant Learning and I am humbled by the opportunity to write and share my experience of life-long learning. I have to admit that at times I do not feel very qualified for this task, for as much as I am passionate about learning, I am at best a “challenging” student of life. You see, I learn best from great teachers and so I have an obsession for finding those great teachers that have graced our current and past times. This obsession has led me to a variety of tactics to find the opportunity to meet and learn from great teachers. My contribution to this forum will be sharing what I have learned so far.
A student of “The Old School”
When the student is ready, the master appears. ~Buddhist Proverb
The first step in finding great teachers is being a good enough student that is allowed into their classrooms, because frankly not all great teachers are willing to teach all students. This lesson I have learned the hard way and by the best teachers, my “Old School” teachers. The Old School (a.k.a. The O.S.) approach to teaching expects that all students are willing to learn. You show this by embracing the humility and respect required to honor the teacher and the lesson. In the exasperated words of one of my great teachers, “just shut up and listen, Toni. If you just listen and learn, you will know the answers to all of your questions.” This was a powerful lesson for me in Ha‘aha‘a (humility) because it taught me that the humility to truly listen for learning and not to show how much you know is the greatest gift we can give a teacher. This lesson was reinforced when my teacher would believe in me enough to ask me a question. If I answered correctly, then I could enjoy the pride on my teachers face. If I answered incorrectly, then I also learned the hard lesson of Ho‘omau (perseverance) to keep on listening and learning in the face of my teacher’s disappointments.
The quest for finding great teachers
Once you are able to understand and employ the qualities of a good student, it is time to find your great teachers. This part of my adventures has been the most fun because I can imagine hundreds of human “Yoda’s” waiting to be discovered so that they can share their knowledge with me. In my quest for these great teachers, I apply the same humility that I learned at The O.S. and I couple it with my passion to learn. The end result is I am willing to listen and talk with just about anyone. I mean it. You give me a span of unstructured time and a stranger or two and I will seek out what they know often times to the embarrassment of my friends and family.