Teaching and Learning

A woman walks in to a public library.

She complains to the head librarian.

‘Why aren’t my books more visible here? No wonder nobody reads them!’

Her complaint goes on for some time.

After she leaves, another librarian says to the head librarian, ‘do you know who that was?’

‘Yes’, says the head librarian. ‘The author of several books about the need for love. They are one of the most difficult of our frequent visitors here. Always complaining.’

Later, the other librarian is left wondering.

How can the author of books on the need for love in our society be one of the most difficult customers!

It’s a true story I heard today.

I can’t be sure.

But I wonder if it’s not so difficult to understand.

The author writes the books, because the books contain the lessons the author has not taken to heart themselves. Rather than processing the lessons so that they are written on the heart, the lessons stay in the head – as something other people need to learn.

Never as things that the author need learn themselves.

When the need to teach arises within me, I cannot see how – at the time – it could have anything to do with something I need to learn for myself.

Later on, to my dismay, I discover that the need arose because of my ego. I wanted to correct someone else on something that I myself have grasped and they have not. Or so I think.

My most effective teaching arises when I appear to be wise in the mind of another. Usually when I am not trying to teach or be wise at all. Usually *because* I am not trying.

I wonder if a similar thing goes on, for me, with titles. When I was ordained into the Soto Zen Buddhist school my title became ‘bodhisattva Trevor Moku Shin Barton’.

So excited I was to be ordained and have a title I fantasized about what to do with it. Include it in email signatures? Sign off letters with it? And so on.

I am bodhisattva Moku Shin when I am not trying to be bodhisattva Moku Shin.

The living Buddha within lives when I die to any machinations, desires, designs, schemes.

The broken healer heals staying broken.

The living Buddha lives alive in death.


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