Let's face it. At some point in life we trust our emotions, our senses, our neighbors, our egos, the mythologies we have been fed, and the fear behind them. And accordingly we spin through life till things seem out of control. And as the saying goes, when the student is ready the teacher appears.
One of my teachers once said to consider that when the teacher is pointing toward the moon, his/her focus may not be the moon at all, but something beyond. The teacher, in the shadow of said moon, is simply passing on what is necessary for the student. Often, the student rejects it, doesn't digest it, or mistakes it for something else altogether. But once it is out there it takes on a life of its own. It can, and often will, come back around again.
And the teaching is more than words, more than practice. Traditionally, the word Dharma is interpreted as the way, or path, indicating more than just words or teaching, but action, commitment. And once we take that step, putting it into action, becoming the teaching, life can and will never be the same.
There is a saying in Buddhist circles that if one meets the Buddha he should kill him. This may be the most potent teaching. We should honor our teachers, as we should honor all life. We should of course be grateful. But to truly honor the teacher is to take on the Dharma to the point that the teacher embodied is no longer necessary, while at the same time acknowledging that everyone, everything is our teacher. In which case, Guru Purnima is celebrating the path and all who are on it. In other words: all of life.
There is another saying: when the student is truly ready, the teacher disappears. I am at this point wondering the wisdom of these words. My teacher originally appeared in my life when I needed the teaching the most, despite the fact that I was not mature enough or intelligent enough to handle it. Over the years it grew till I was ready for the enormity of it, and the simplicity. Just this year, my teacher left this plane. But the teaching is eternal and I have lots of work to do yet. Fortunately, I have plenty to work with.
Fifty years ago today, Apollo 11 launched for the moon. It is overcast here today on this Guru Purnima. I may not be able to see the moon tonight, much less beyond it. But I have the teaching. My teacher is and will always be with me in spirit. And I have my other teachers, those I know and those yet to appear. The keys to the kingdom are found in the Now, in what is in front of us in this moment.