As long as one is still not a Buddha,
one is still a Dharma student,
even if one sometimes a Dharma teacher.
To be a poor student of the Dharma in terms of being lacking in sincerity to accept the true Dharma is of course a big problem. However, there is a ‘reverse’ problem that can be just as significant. It is to be lacking in willingness to question or reject what might not be the true Dharma from the teacher. When a teacher, especially one who is renown, makes mistakes in terms of speech (e.g. teaching) and action (e.g. behaviour), it is common for many followers to instinctively rationalise for his or her mistakes, creating unvalidated disclaimers or unchecked excuses for why things turned out the way they did. This is how poor students ‘create’ and sustain poor teachers, when they fail to feedback.
As one had invested much devotion to one’s favourite teacher, it is understandable to imagine that teacher to be perfect, though a good and realistic teacher would not only not expect you to do so, but warn against idealising him or her. Good teachers would remind us that the Buddha is the best teacher and model example. Even in the practice of guru devotion, one trains to see the teacher’s Buddha-nature; not to embrace the teacher’s human faults. Even if a guru is a genuine manifestation of an enlightened being, that guru might still manifest mistakes for you to learn from; not to emulate. That said, a Buddha who openly proclaims being one would not make a single tiny mistake.
A relatively more ‘enlightened’ teacher understands that one is not the Buddha, that he or she is only a human, who is more well-informed in some aspects of the Dharma.Vice versa, a poor unenlightened teacher assumes one to already be perfect in understanding and realising the Dharma. Because of this, this teacher would have already stopped learning the Dharma – and becomes a poor student instead, who imparts imperfect or incomplete teachings to students, who in return spoil him or her by never questioning the questionable. A sure sign of a poor teacher is when he or she ignores or refuses to answer reasonable questions, by even the poorest of students.
How Students Can Become Teachers
When Teachers Are Not Yet One With The Dharma
Good teachers urge their students
not just to accept their teachings,
but to question them too.