What is a Teacher?

George Leonard, black belt aikidoist, prolific author and co-founder of Integral Transformative Practice, dropped his body permanently yesterday. I learned a number of things from George, one of which changed my life, or at least my experience of it, completely and permanently (I’ll get to that later). George was a Teacher for many people, and it got me to thinking about what a Teacher is.

Lots of people are teachers, which I define as having knowledge or skills that others don’t have, which they pass on. But a Teacher is more:

  • A Teacher has wisdom you don’t have, and passes that on, along with the knowledge and/or skills.
  • A Teacher sees you, in the African, or Na’vi, sense — seeing into your soul, seeing who you really are.
  • A Teacher, by passing on what (s)he knows, and by seeing you, allows you to have more access to yourself, and to universal wisdom.

One person’s Teacher may be someone else’s teacher. It has to do not only with the teacher, but also with the student. Perhaps the student doesn’t want to be seen, or isn’t ready for the wisdom the teacher has.

Or maybe there’s just a connection between the two that allows the teacher to be a Teacher for that particular student. I had a chemistry teacher in high school like that. I don’t think she was a Teacher for much of anyone but me (and she was only a teacher for a couple of years, before going back to school to get her PhD and into industry). However, I learned not only chemistry, but also that being an adult didn’t mean being serious all the time, that it was okay to explore the offbeat (she taught me how to do grave rubbings), and lots of other things.

A parent, while always a teacher, is not necessarily a Teacher. Maybe the parent is very screwed up. Or maybe the parent is so invested in what (s)he would like the child to be that (s)he is incapable of seeing the child.

Teachers don’t have to be human — nature is a wonderful Teacher. For me, it’s the ocean. For others, it’s the woods, or the mountains. Animals can be Teachers, too. I’ve sure learned a lot from my cats.

Teachers don’t even have to be physical. Throughout history, people like Jesus and St. Teresa of Avila have talked about their discarnate Teachers.

George invented this exercise, which he called ‘Take the Hit as a Gift’, which came from his aikido training. It involved someone scaring you half to death, and you using the energy and moving with the energy till you actually felt that you had more than before you were frightened. It totally worked for me! and my neurology has never been the same. It used to be that when something lousy happened, I’d crawl into bed for a while, usually a few hours, but occasionally more. Now, I just go for a walk — and the worse the hit, the more I walk. And staying in action makes me feel less like a victim, and more like there’s something I can do, even if I’m not in control. So thank you, George, for this and many other lessons. Have a great trip — and take the hit as a gift! 🙂

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.