In July 2015 I embarked on a study, research, and ultimately book-writing project concerning a topic very close to my heart, which I call “transformative relationships”: the relationships between a teacher (master, guru, shifu, lama, abbot, tzadik, roshi, mentor, coach, trainer, etc.) and her/his student (disciple, hasid, trainee, mentee, etc.). I am basing my study and research mainly on nearly a hundred interviews I conducted between July 2015 and May 2016 with teachers and students of different paths and traditions around the world, as well as on books and articles on the subject. The posts below are snippets from this ongoing inquiry.
In the 1990s Leonard Cohen spent a few years practicing Zen and serving as Zen teacher Joshu Sasaki’s personal assistant in Mount Baldy Zen Center. In an interview, Cohen said the following about his relationship with his teacher: “I still don’t have much interest in Buddhism, in any formal way. I bumped into a man Read More ->
The following is an excerpt from an interview with Mooji for my upcoming book Transformative Relationships: Paradoxes and Dilemmas, in which Mooji discusses how he sees the motivation of some of his students to teach. Mooji further explores the question of the motivation to teach (and other topics) in another interview I recently did with him, Read More ->
“Eroticism, covert or declared, fantasized or enacted, is in-woven in teaching, in the phenomenology of mastery and discipleship. This elemental fact has been trivialized by a fixation on sexual harassment. But it remains central. How could it be otherwise? Every “break-in” into the other, via persuasion or menace (fear is a great teacher) borders on, Read More ->
The following is a selection from an article by Sufi master Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, whose title is “What does it mean to be a teacher”: Most wayfarers are taken Home through the simple power of love working within them… but sometimes the ego is too strong to surrender and then the disciple needs to be broken. Read More ->
The difficulty for students to distinguish themselves from a charismatic teacher is evident in the words of Wittgenstein’s student, Alice Ambrose, about the effect he had on his students: “When a person who is intensely alive also has great originality of mind, the impact on those who work with him is a blend in which Read More ->