Friday, October 28, 2011

Good and Bad

The teacher was holding a week long meditation at his school, and pupils from many parts of the country were in attendance. During one of  the gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to the teacher, with the request that the culprit be expelled. The request was ignored.

Later, the same pupil was caught in a similar act, and again the matter was disregarded. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition, asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would all leave the meditation.

When the teacher had read the petition, he called everyone before him. "My brothers, you are very wise," he told them. "You know what is right, and what is not. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor young man does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if we do not? I am going to keep him here, even if all the rest of you leave."

"If we stay, are we now to be teachers for this thief?", asked one of the astonished students.  

"Yes, but you are only half-right", said the Master. "We are also his students. We must first learn how to help this young man, and only he can teach us that."


When we see all beings, and all situations, as our teacher, we can continue to learn and to grow.

Labeling something as good, or bad, allows us to pass judgement quickly, and move on with our lives.  Then we enjoy the satisfaction of thinking we are right, but without ever having learned anything.  

The students had a thief among them.  Their first instinct was to label him, and then quickly be rid of him.  They wanted to make the thief a problem for someone else to deal with.  Instead, the teacher saw an opportunity to teach, and to learn.

Verse 27 of the Tao Te Ching says:

What is a good person, but a bad person's teacher?
What is a bad person, but a good person's job?
If you do not understand this, you will get lost, however intelligent you are.
It is the great secret.