Yesterday was Guru Purnima, the full moon that honours teachers.
It got me thinking about all the teachers I’ve had. I tried to list them all, but I couldn’t. Here’s why.
We often think of teachers as the people who share knowledge. And I’ve been blessed to have lots of those.
But I’m thinking about something deeper.
Why is it that I can still remember the face and voice of my GCSE Art teacher, tsking at me for repeatedly giving up when I couldn’t master a new technique right away?
Or, why is it that, when I am unsettled and grumpy, the feeling of my bare feet in the grass has the power to shift my thoughts and open my heart?
It’s because, like the moon, teachers are mirrors.
They show you to yourself.
A teacher offers a reflection of your fullness: the moon is always whole, even when you can only see part of her as she waxes or wanes.
The moon also has a ‘dark side’. There are parts of yourself that you cannot see. A teacher reflects these parts. Like when you’ve had a hair cut and are offered a second mirror, to show you the parts you can’t see for yourself.
Who or what does this for you?
What soothes you?
What ruffles your feathers?
What is pleasing to look at?
What makes you look away?
Artists know that light and dark are not opposites, but part of each other. Together they create shadow and highlights: depth.
Consider the elements that show you your own internal landscapes. The people, places and experiences that help you shine a light on what shapes you.
These are our true teachers.
In this way, we can recognize the ways in which we can be our own and each other’s medicine. And this is not just knowledge, but wisdom.