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Creating a Teacher-Disciple Relationship
Early on I trained several generations of monks and nuns in Vietnam. I looked after them with all my heart, and I thought taking care of them was enough, that I didn’t need disciples of my own. When I came to the West, I still had that idea. Then, one day, I saw clearly that if I didn’t have a direct teacher-disciple relationship, the practice of the disciple would not deepen. When I taught students in meditation centers in North America and in Europe there was a link, a relationship between teacher and disciple. But after I left, the relationship weakened, and students never really matured in the practices I offered. Because of the lack of the teacher-disciple connection, the students did not practice continually and ceaselessly. I saw that the relationship between teacher and disciple is very important, not only for the disciple but for the teacher as well. After than, I decided I would have monastic and lay disciples. I have learned a lot having disciples living and practicing with me. I have grown up a lot in my way of teaching and caring for my disciples. In the beginning, I did not have as much courage or patience as I do now. Traveling and offering teachings have also helped me grow a lot.
The relationship with my students has helped me see ways of teaching that can most likely ensure success. It brought together the teachings, the practice of Mindfulness Trainings, and fine manners, so they are not separated from each other. We have been able to discover wonderful Dharma doors, or practice methods, which many people can use. For instance, the idea of the Sangha body, using the Sangha eyes, Shining Light, Touching the Earth, and the Second Body system are the fruits and flowers of our practice here in Plum Village. They are not only used by monks and nuns, but also by laypeople. The presence of monks and nuns in Plum Village has brought me much happiness, because of their commitment to the practice and their determination to follow our ideal together. In Plum Village, monks and nuns vow to live together as a family for the rest of their lives.
In the past I taught several generations of monastic disciples, but I was never as happy as I am now, with teacher and disciple living together and practicing together. Every day I find ways to transmit all that I have realized for myself to my disciples, like the first banana leaf transmitting to the second and the third. The happiness that monks and nuns give me is very great. Monks and nuns in Plum Village all have beauty, sweetness, bright smiles, and twinkling eyes. I don’t know if they were so beautiful before they became monks and nuns or whether they became beautiful afterwards. Or is it just because, like any other father and mother, I see my own children as more beautiful than other people’s children? I do see them as beautiful, whether they are from North America, Europe, or Asia. I think some of you must agree with me. Just a few hours after the ceremony transmitting the Novice Precepts, their faces are so much more radiant, their eyes more bright, and their smiles fresher. That has to do with their determination, their commitment, and with the precepts’ body. Sitting with the monks and nuns to drink tea or to have Dharma discussion, to talk about happiness in the present and the future, is one of the things I like doing best of all. I spend a lot of time with the monks and nuns and that brings me great happiness.
Last Updated (Friday, 23 November 2012 14:54)