Evaluating teachers and teachings

 

Teachings can be seen as medicine. As any medicine, it is applied to a particular condition. And as any medicine, it doesn’t have much meaning or value outside of that context. 

As any story, it is a temporary guide for how we live our lives. It has practical value in some situations, less value in other situations, and no inherent or absolute value. 

As any story, it is a lie that can have practical value in some situations. 

So when we evaluate teachings – and teachers – we can do it according to some fixed and abstract criteria. Is there a Ground awakening there? Does he/she address who + what we are? Is there soul level awakening there? And so on. This can be helpful at times.

But it is often more interesting to look at when any particular teaching appears to be the right medicine and to what extent a teacher is able to meet his/her students where they are. Of course, we cannot really know in advance when a medicine is appropriate, and we cannot always know afterwards either.

Still, some teachers appear more skilled than others here. Some have a narrow repertoire and are very clear about it. (Skilled in its own way.) Others may have a relatively narrow repertoire, but they are skilled at adapting it to the conditions of their students. And others have an obviously wide repertoire. (Tibetan teachers especially.) 

This came up for me around an interview with Adyashanti for globaloneness.org. His teachings there are more general and inspirational, very much appropriate to the audience. In other situations, for instance when speaking directly to an experienced student, his pointers are quite different. Much more specific and aimed at helping the student notice where they are still stuck, still identified with a story. 

We all do this, of course. We all adapt what we say and how we are saying it to the audience. Teachers are no different. 

Initial outline…

  • teachings
    • a medicine applied to a particular hangup
    • only has meaning in context, how helpful it may be in a specific situation (for particular audience/situation)
    • only value as temporary guide, as any story
  • evaluate on one particular criteria/scale/measuring stick, sometimes helpful
  • evaluate what can do, often more interesting
    • see for whom/in what situations it may be helpful
  • also, what can do for me + how I can relate to it to make it helpful to me
    • notice projections, beliefs etc. 

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