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- Wise Teacher Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches to a Healthy Relationship by Alexander Berzin.
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Literary Hub The best of the literary web. Eco-Fiction Author, blogger, nonprofit leader, educator, Buddhist meditator, feminist. Whispering Gums Books, reading and anything else that comes to mind For Westerners working with Eastern teachers, the difficulties can be compounded by cultural differences, language barriers, and divergent Wise Teacher, Wise Student: The relationship between a teacher and student can be a most rewarding and life-enhancing experience, yet it can also be fraught with problems and misunderstandings.
This, in turn, depends on having a realistic attitude about our own and our teacher's qualifications, about the aim of the bonding, and about the dynamics and boundaries of the relationship. I wrote Relating to a Spiritual Teacher: Building a Healthy Relationship Ithaca: Snow Lion, ; reprint: Wise Teacher, Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches to a Healthy Relationship. Snow Lion, primarily because I had benefited so significantly from my relationships with my main teachers — Tsenzhab Serkong Rinpoche, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey — and because I was saddened that so many sincere spiritual seekers I had met on my world teaching tours had had less optimal experiences.
Relation with a Spiritual Teacher in Two Lifetimes
Many, having encountered sexual, financial, or power abuse, identified themselves as innocent victims. Having placed the blame solely on the abusive teachers, they distanced themselves from all spiritual mentors and, occasionally, even from the spiritual path. Others lived in denial of their unhealthy relationships and felt that proper "Guru-devotion" not only justified, but even sanctified all behavior from a teacher, no matter how damaging it might seem by conventional standards. Both extremes prevented the students from receiving the full benefit to be gained from a healthy relationship.
In cases where the students are Western and the teachers Tibetan, one source of the problem is cultural misunderstanding, compounded by unrealistic expectations that the other party will act according to one's own cultural norms. Further sources of confusion are taking the standard textual presentations of the student-teacher relationship out of their original contexts, interpreting them literally, and mistaking the meaning of the technical terms, often due to misleading translations.