The Greatest Teachers

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And did you find what you wanted in this life even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved.

To feel myself beloved on this earth.

–Raymond Carver


The Dalai Lama once told a group of professors at Columbia University that the greatest teachers in the world aren’t the lamas or professors or gurus. The greatest teachers are the mothers, for they’re the ones who give children their first experience of being loved and valued as human beings.

I would expand that view of teacher to fathers, grandparents and any other person who has a compassionate and loving relationship with a child.

And this teaching isn’t just for children. It is for ourselves and everyone we come in contact with. When we practice love and compassion we bring more peace and happiness into the world. As the Dalai Lama says, “The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. This helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the ultimate source of success in life.” It is our human nature to want love and connection with others.

One of the greatest sources of stress and depression in modern life is the over-emphasis on material things and not enough on the deep need for affection and connection with our fellow human beings.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “We must be the change we want in the world.” Every day we have opportunities to put more love and compassion into the world. Becoming a “great teacher” by taking advantage of those opportunities is the greatest thing we can do for ourselves and for everyone else.

For more on the Dalai Lama’s views, click here.

And to explore another view of the search for purpose, see Adam Kayce’s post

This entry was posted in Love and Compassion, Self-Worth. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Greatest Teachers

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  3. Joanna Young says:

    Jean, thanks for this. I totally love Raymond Carver and late fragment is one of my all time favourites :-)

    One of the things I enjoy most about his poetry is the way he explores life full on, and you can track his learning and self-discovery right through to the end where he tries to make sense of it all in the approach towards death.

    His poems – and some other bits of poetry – would be included in my list of great teachers too. Words, ideas, feelings that help to remind us of what is truly important in life.

    Thanks for this post, and the invitation to explore some of your other material on the cheerful monk site. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read, and understand very much what you mean about the desire to share, and contribute. I get a very strong sense of that and am sure your readers will feel a deep sense of release and satisfaction when they read what you write :-)


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