“Do you ever feel lonely as a teacher?”
Jack Kornfield asked me over lunch at the Spirit Rock Meditation Centre in Marin County (or is it More In County?) whether I ever felt lonely as a teacher. I suspected there was a sub-text to this question, as he asked me the same question three or four years ago. I replied: “I wish had the opportunity to experience aloneness while teaching.”
Afterwards, I did a quick count of the number of teachers, from the seasoned teachers to the relatively new ones. that teach the dharma with me. I counted about 40 teachers that taught with me in the four continents that I travelled to in the previous 12 months. There were about 10 teachers in Australia, another 10 teachers between Bodh Gaya and Sarnath, about eight teachers on the 14 day French Yatra, five or six teachers in Israel for the retreat, DFP and Dharma Gathering there, plus the Dharma Gathering in Germany, Buddha Fields festival in England and two teachers in the USA.
There are probably another 30 or 40 teachers or more who have taught with me in the past 30 years or so and we have around 25 mentors in our Living Dharma Programme. Many of these teachers started teaching the Dharma with myself and have gone onto to become well-established teachers in their own right. We taught together at Gaia House, IMS, Israel, Spirit Rock, continental Europe and in India.
I feel like a football scout who keeps an eye open for those who have the potential to become teachers or mentors. There will be new teachers emerging in our network in all four continents in the next few years. Men and women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The Dharma is safe for the present and for the future.
My co-teachers, whether long standing or rather new to the role, have kept me on my toes. What dharma practitioners might avoid saying directly to myself, they would report to the other teacher (s) on the retreat or Dharma Gathering. It has always meant that I have had much exposure to feedback – from my co-workers, as well as through e-mails, phone calls and over a latte in beloved Totnes.
Teachers belong to the Sangha and not the other way around. We are servants of the Sangha.