The Teacher and the Student
The Tao of Teaching
by Wen-Ching Wu
Being a teacher is like being a student, for when teachers teach they also learn. To teach is to exchange energy, which is mutually enlightening.
Knowledge is for everyone to share, for it is a privilege and an obligation to have it. Open-mindedness gives us greater growth, for teachers can also learn from students.
Be grateful for each other, for it is through others that we are provided with an opportunity to grow. Give thanks everyday, for being more realized than yesterday.
There is no boundary to learning, for today's learning is a stepping stone for tomorrow's advancement.
It is usually easier for a student to locate a good teacher, than for a teacher to find good students. When they find each other, it is a beneficial and rewarding experience, like finding a mutual treasure. When they meet, it is like when long lost friends find each other. It is a very happy encounter. They appreciate the times they have together. While the teacher guides the student, the teacher also benefits from the new feedback and insights of the student. When a teacher teaches and interacts with students, he or she also continues to learn from their rich and diverse backgrounds
Teachers are in a position of great influence, tremendous power and responsibility. What they say or do has a significant impact on the students' open mind. In martial arts, teachers are more than just someone who provides knowledge and technical information; they are also our mentors, and wise, loyal advisers. They are our trusted friend, our confidant, and the source of our aspiration.
Being a teacher and being a student is like Yin and Yang; without one, the other can't exist. Just as within Yin there is inherent Yang, and within Yang there is inherent Yin, being a teacher is simultaneously being a student which is reflected in the dynamic and mutual balance between the two. Unfortunately, just as there is not a set of instructions for life, there is not a manual on the proper conduct of being a teacher or a student. There are, of course, many moral virtues and stepping stones that are used as a guide for teachers and students to achieve high standards, both physically and spiritually.
Today, many of the once understood and followed martial virtues and ethics have been written down. It is a wonderful reminder of the righteous practice of martial arts. The down side, as Laozi stated in the Tao Te Ching, is when the rules of conduct have to be written down and imposed; tagged with punishments for the offenders, society has already degenerated. These virtues are meant to be inherent within each one of us. It is a disgrace that we need to be reminded. Worse yet, many of these rules are abused and used contrary to the original intent of the virtues. Many have become a means to restrict the development of individuality by the enforcer and used as a way of control.
It is said that the greatest achievement in Chinese martial arts training is to, "develop the will to exert and strive hard without stopping when encountering powerful opposition." This statement also implies that we stand firm in our convictions and act in accordance with our conscience. For the fortunate ones, we have teachers that help us with our goals and determinism.
When we are born, we are like sponges ready to absorb the world. When we have absorbed the world that we once knew, we are faced with a new world to absorb.
We absorb all that we can without discriminating between good or bad, for we know not the difference. Fortunately, there are good mentors that can be our guides.
Thank you to the great teachers for being our mentors and inspiration, for their humility while they teach, and for guiding us while not attempting to change who we are.
Thank you to the teachers whose philosophical differences provide us with a deeper insight into our convictions. As there can't be Yin without the existence of Yang, we would not recognize and appreciate a great teacher without also knowing a not so great teacher.
About Wen-Ching Wu:
Wen-Ching Wu is a prominent practitioner, instructor and author of Chinese martial arts and Qigong. He has authored and co-authored several books and videos about Qigong, Kung Fu, and Tai Chi Chuan. He currently writes and teaches at The Way of the Dragon, in Rhode Island, USA.