Monday, November 14, 2011

Compassionate Teacher

"The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires."
(William Arthur Ward)

As a school administrator, every now and then, I would come across those teachers who are much more concerned with quantity of students in their class than the spirit of teaching itself. The number of students is important to them because it signifies their popularity and boost up their ego. Sometimes, this type of instructor is also driven by greed for profit in addition to fame if the instructor is paid on a percentage of the course income. Not to say that there is something wrong with a moderate dose of greed for profit or fame, but when student becomes a dollar sign instead of a fellow being that needs education and guidance, then the intrinsic value of teaching is truly lost. It is then that the following Zen story surfaces in my mind and I wish those instructors will learn something from it.

Compassionate Teacher


When Bankei held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case.

Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.

When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him. "You are wise brothers," he told them. "You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave."

A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.

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