On Teaching

by Fernando Perfas

For My Teacher | Photo by Todd Petri via Flickr/Creative Commons

Even at this age, I still see myself as a student who seeks knowledge and understanding. I have had all sorts of teachers, both formal and informal ways, and only a few I could honestly say had imparted knowledge of great consequence. I had teachers who were brilliant in their particular field but lacked the skills to teach and impart knowledge. Some hid mediocrity behind intimidation and terror.

They seemed to relish their power over their students. I feel they wasted my time, for I could hardly recall anything of value I learned from them. Far between in my lifelong quest for knowledge came those who taught me knowledge that influenced shifts in my worldview. I learned from some of them through written words and never face to face, for some have long been dead and yet left a lasting legacy of wisdom.

I realize that those teachers who made a difference in my life and outlook never held knowledge as dogma rather as truth that the student must absorb. Truth becomes dogma when one fails to grasp its essence and becomes part of one’s self. Mistaken for the truth itself, the unrealized knowledge, which is dogma, is glorified. This reification of intellectual concept as if it’s the “thing” itself leads to dogmatism.

“I realize that those teachers who made a difference in my life and outlook never held knowledge as dogma rather as truth that the student must absorb. Truth becomes dogma when one fails to grasp its essence and becomes part of one’s self.”

In the annals of human civilization, great teachers have come and gone. They left sufficient knowledge to liberate us from ignorance, and yet we remain mired in endless conflict, pitting one God with another. When the truth is held as dogma, we are deluded into thinking that we have caught the ray of sunshine in our palm. We treat those who do not share our beliefs as fools, and we put ourselves above others as true believers. The knowledge that resides in a language is nothing but the shadow of truth and will remain beyond the reach of understanding without self-realization.

The true teacher holds all knowledge as relative and guides his student in achieving understanding through personal realization by absorbing knowledge and becoming the embodiment of the truth. He teaches no dogma and inspires his student to unfold his mind and bathe in the sunshine of self-realized knowledge, never grasping nor possessing but to dwell only in being and becoming. In his realm, he avoids polarity and the tyranny of duality that breeds conflict and struggle between camps, deluded in believing they both have the monopoly of the truth, the only way.

“When the teacher takes over his student’s mind and stifles its natural unfolding, he reduces himself to nothing but a slave master.”

We are witnesses to the destructive consequences of dogma which assumes various forms in ideologies, both religious and secular, each marking its territory with cruel weaponry and hurtling degrading names unto others, all in the name of dogma. When one begins to believe he is the only way, he espouses ignorance, for, in the world of duality, the truth that we hold is but a mirage in the desert of an ever-shifting reality.

When a teacher mistakes dogma for the absolute truth, he becomes dangerous, for what he preaches becomes the truth of the marketplace. When the teacher takes over his student’s mind and stifles its natural unfolding, he reduces himself to nothing but a slave master.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at fbperfas@gmail.com.

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