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Path to Nibbana - part 13: Metta for teacher - student worthy relationship

Path to Nibbana - part 13:

Metta for teacher - student worthy relationship

Siri Sudassanarama
sadaham senasuna
Ven. Dr. Mirisse Dhammika thero

A point to emphasize is that it is important to concentrate fully on the person you are directing a positive feeling towards while you meditate. This concentration must be clear and the positive thoughts must be well focused. One must clearly understand that thinking or just repeating the word “metta” is one thing and practicing true metta, actively performing the metta, quite another. It is noted in Visuddhimagga (translated by Nanamoli).

For even if he developed loving-kindness for a hundred or a thousand years in his way, ‘I am happy’ and so on, absorption would never arise. But if he develops it in this way: ’I am happy. Just as I want to be happy and dread pain, as I want to live and not to die, so do other beings, too’, making himself example, then desire for other beings’ welfare and happiness arises in him.

These feelings of meta, which I mentioned above, are known as “the profound absorption”: it is a clear consciousness being united with the mind and the body in metta. Therefore, until one reaches that state or profound absorption, the meditator should not misunderstand that he follows true metta.

After the mediation on oneself and one’s parents and family members, next comes a metta meditation on one’s teachers. For some students in secondary school, stresses are related to their teachers’ actions. The teaching method, workload, the attitude of the teacher, and the interactions between the teacher and the student can have a dramatic effect on how well the student performs.Because of this, students need good relationships and understanding with their teachers. Loving-kindness meditation will help them to have patience and understanding towards, and positive relationships with, their instructors.

As the student develops positive relationships with her teachers, the student may increase her feelings of trust toward them. Without trust, the student may be reluctant to approach the teacher with questions or problems. The student should also feel comfortable in disagreeing with the teacher in order to learn properly. In a meaningful education, students should listen, read, write, discuss, ask questions and engage in debates and so on.

For this, there should be a classroom environment which is safe, friendly, and harmonious. To use one of my prior examples: we trust our doctors because they are educated in medicine and have experience in treating illness. But when they check our body, we should ask them questions in turn.

And we may disagree with our doctors’ recommendations. There is nothing wrong with a patient disagreeing with his doctor, as long as it is done in a respectful manner. Likewise with the students. Just as a doctor should not discriminate against patients on the basis of gender, race, social status or wealth, a teacher should make the effort to show metta towards all his students, regardless of their backgrounds and individual differences in intelligence and aptitudes.

Metta helps both the teacher and the student to maintain a healthy relationship. Here I suggest that when metta meditation is implemented in the classroom, it would be very beneficial for the teacher to participate as a meditator himself.