There are variations of this quote. But whether we use the term students, disciples or pupils, or we refer to the "teacher" as master, the meaning behind the quote is what's important. The questions is, can the meaning be different for different people?
I believe it can be different. At least it is for me.
When we think of a teacher, we tend to think of a person doing the teaching. Same thing for a master. But I don't believe all teachers or masters are people. I also don't believe that all masters are teachers, per se.
It was Eckhardt Tolle who said, "I've had several Zen masters in my life., all of them cats." I can most definitely relate to his sentiment. Cats or any animal can be a spiritual master for us. If we choose to see them in that way.
Same goes for nature. Be it trees, flowers, grass or any other flora and fauna on the planet. There's no argument from them. They don't complain when the wind is blowing or the rain continues to fall. They just are. Yes, they have needs. Needs that when unmet will lead to their demise. But they simply go with the flow.
And what of circumstances or situations? Can they be our "masters?" This is where the meaning behind the quote changes for me.
I don't subscribe to the idea that we are here to learn anything. I believe we are here to experience whatever we are are here to experience. Semantics, some might say. But I beg to dffer.
I can't imagine what my spirit would be here to learn. But I CAN imagine my spirit here to experience various aspects of situations. And experience them fully.
Hubby and I live in a complex where forty other owners live. Within our complex are two women who are determined to run our little community as they see fit.
One has money and is taking our strata to court. Or should I say, the Affidavits have been processed. She just wants to keep us hostage to what she wants. It's been 3 1/2 years since the first Affidavit from her. We're no further ahead than we were then. No court date. No resolution. Only additional demands.
Then there's the other woman who manages to get 6 or 7 proxies at each meeting, and then ends up getting the controlling votes. And of course, these two women's agendas are at odds, which causes more problems with the pending court case.
Both are situations that I have to live in because I'm an owner in this complex. We've been trying to sell our place for 2 years, but we've discovered that potential buyers don't want to buy in a complex where there's a pending lawsuit. And real estate agents are keeping potential buyers from our complex as a result of the case.
I can't do anything about the court case, or either of these woman for that matter. They live here just like I do. And they have their rights. Far be it for me to step all over those rights.
But they ARE my Zen masters. I can choose to live in anger and hostility over the way these woman conduct themselves and affect the rest of us. Or I can choose to live in forgiveness and recognition that both these women are providing opportunities for spiritual growth for all of us.
Some days, the latter is much more challenging than the former.
Are there situations or circumstances going on in your life that are providing you with opportunities for spiritual growth?