The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher Luke 6:40 (NIV)
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” This oft-quoted proverb may have origins in an ancient Zen tradition, or it may have popped up in the 19th century. Like other intriguing quotes, we may not be able to cleanly trace the origin of it.
Whatever the origin, I like the quote. There is a truth to it that is not particularly mystical. It simply means that there are times when we are receptive to learning. Until that time, we will not see the truth of the matter. When we are ready to learn, there will be a person or situation who will verify that truth to us that we may have unconsciously pursued.
Pursuing the teacher, I think, is the key to learning. Desiring to always be learning is critical for us, no matter what our age. That takes certain virtues, like humility, patience, curiosity, and perhaps a few other qualities. Willingness to learn, and the wisdom to recognize that we do not have the complete corner on truth are qualities that enable such life-long learning.
I had a conversation recently with my oldest brother, Joe, known in his Franciscan Order as Father Dennet. He has lived many decades of life and he has doctorate level education, but he has more than education- he has wisdom. He is a life-long learner, and he shares with me that he continues to learn daily.
As the disciples of Jesus were said to have “walked in the dust of the Rabbi” because they followed him so closely, so too should we follow those teachers who may appear to us at any moment that we are ready to learn.
Tomorrow, I will share my brother’s Christmas letter, with his permission. It is a good one.
Prayer: Father, thank you for sending us teachers to learn of your Wisdom, Amen