What is the Value of Life Teachers?
What is the value, dare I say purpose, of teachers in our lives? I ask this question in the wake of the recent death of Dr. Wayne Dyer and because in recent weeks, I have attended the book launch of several acquaintances who fall into this category and have attended ‘free’ talks by prominent professional speakers.
Great teachers have been with us throughout the existence of humanity, from the tribe or village elder, the ‘medicine man’, to the world teachers such as the Buddha, the Christ and the Prophet, peace be upon him. Today we have many teachers who fall into the categories of motivation and self improvement. Some of these teachers have been through personal struggles, maybe even gone into a personal retreat and through inner reflection, and maybe inspiration, realised great truths that have helped them overcome and grow. These teachers have seen the value of these great truths for other people and somehow been led to share them with ever greater audiences. Some teachers have started out as wanting to be professional speakers and through research discovered great truths and by reflecting on the impact these truths have on audiences or restricted working groups refined their teaching. Most of these teachers have written books to supplement their public engagements.
Many people in the world feel that life has a purpose. Maybe this is an existential question that most people dwell on at some point in their life. For some people it becomes a life quest to find their purpose. For these people the teachers become an attraction. I can say this because I think I fall into this category. I see many of my fellow seekers at talks by the many different teachers that ‘come to town’. The very fact that I go from teacher to teachers and so many others are also seen at the events of different teachers raises a very important question: how are these teachers changing lives?
I think it is fair to say that all teachers have changed their own lives. The very process they have gone through or embarked upon have resulted in a change in their lives for the better. The question is the transferability of this change to others. I think the very secret lies in the process that each of these teachers have personally undertaken. I think the value lies primarily in the process and less in the wisdom that comes to the surface as a result of the process. Each teacher has a different message, a different teaching, believes he or she has distilled the essence of purpose, success or any other existential question better than anyone else. I think this may indeed be true for themselves, but is it true for anyone else. I hazard a proposition that with so many people attending programmes by professional teachers we should be seeing great leaps in the number of people who are purpose driven and fulfilling their purpose. Yet, all I see are more teachers emerging suggesting instead that this is becoming a lucrative market rather than a real life changer.
As stated earlier, I think the real value lies in the process, not in the acquisition – often a complete download – of wisdom. The people who go through a process become changed by that process. I think this is the argument of most of the teachers: that their process will change our life. However, I content that this is not the case with an imposed process. The teacher did not have a process imposed on them that led them to the point where they chose to become teachers, the process came to them out of the circumstances of their life. As a result I feel that the very eloquent sales process that most, if not all, the teachers apply to persuade seekers to sign up for their particular programme is harmful. It continues the perception that an imposed process is as valuable as an inevitable process.
So what value can teachers play? Is it to share their personal story and thereby encouraging those seeking purpose in life to embark on a personal journey, a personal process, a process without fixed guidance? The question for the teachers would become one of monetising their value-add. I would almost wish to suggest that the place of teachers should be replaced by coaches and mentors. Instead of prescribing a process a coach would assist you in finding your own process, but hold you accountable to your own milestones and timetable. Or if you choose to follow in the steps of someone else they would mentor you through those steps but in your own personal way. Or maybe I just feel that all wisdom has been in this world for millennia and repackaging it and monetising this new form of the old is disingenuous. With so many people on a path of searching for answers to existential questions and then, also asking themselves when they find answers, whether this qualifies them to become teachers of the process they have followed makes the question of the value of teachers, in my opinion, one that is deserving of thought.