Through some special combination of effort, grace and karma it may come to pass that a remarkable teacher comes into our lives. I am not referring to our parents or our teachers in school, although they are certainly important and worthy of our respect. Instead, I am writing here about another kind of teacher. Once in a great while, someone may come into our lives who shows us something else. This remarkable individual shows us what it looks like to live a life under the influence of a larger reality. 
 
We come to understand what is important is being in their presence, for it is their very presence, the way they engage with the world, that is their way of teaching. They may have been quite knowledgable, even wise. But their knowledge was not what made them  remarkable, what made them remarkable was that they were able to instruct us by a simple gesture, by a penetrating glance or by speaking just one or two sentences. By watching how they mindfully engaged in the everyday activities of life we came to understand something. This is the meaning of direct transmission. 
 
All things pass, and sooner or later our teacher departs. Very likely due to death. Or perhaps another reason. But the only constant is change, and it is an immutable law. If it has not yet come to you, it will. After the sadness and mourning comes the realization that we are alone, that there is no longer that pole star in our inner lives, the person we could go to with the most important questions. We might then think, “Well, I’m on my own now. Perhaps I don’t need a teacher. I am my own teacher.” That dead end will soon be seen as the impoverished solution that it is. 
 
Or we may try to accept as our teacher someone who is easily available and who is an amiable match. Another dead end. That this person is simply someone we are comfortable with will likely lead only to an easy imitation of an inner search. 
 
A better solution is a group of fellow searchers, all of whom, now without the teacher, are working together to deepen their search. While a group is always necessary it is also insufficient, as none in the group have the authority to provide the insight and intensity we need. Through some remarkable combination of effort, grace and karma another teacher might again come into our life. But there is no guarantee, and this fortuitous event might take many years. Who can say? Until then what is to be done? 
 
There is a solution to this, a solution to be found within. It is to again and again ask ourselves the question “If my teacher were here now, what would he or she expect of me? What demand would my teacher make of me now, in this moment?” Without fail, the question will elicit a response from us that is unerringly correct. And we see this is the proper way to honor that remarkable person, as the teacher now lives on within us, merging over the years with our conscience, still providing us with the guidance we seek.
 
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