Monday, July 03, 2006

respect vs. enabling

Let's say we have some kind of disparity between two people- one is far better with money, or housekeeping, or mathematics. And let's say they are in a situation where these skills are important. If these two people are friends, then the more advanced one will have to decide whether to help out the less advanced one. He may also have trouble respecting the other because of this disparity. Further, by helping with this skill, he may help the other to survive, but not necessarilly be able to teach him to improve dramatically, in which case he may be considered to be enabling the other.
Anyway, I notice this dynamic in my own relationships and its a tricky one to navigate- taking on the role of teacher, but wanting to hide it in order to maintain a feeling of equality. Teachers themselves must find a way to maintain respect for the student without letting their own position make them feel superior to the student.

The first line of "Autobiography of a guru" by Yogananda (which I've been reading for a variety of reasons) is

The characteristic features of Indian culture have long been a search for ultimate verities and the concomitant disciple-guru relationship.

I've never been comfortable with this concept of a guru. I've always felt that the amount of excess knowledge anyone has is small compared to the amount in common and that any two people should each have something to teach each other. This is an area where I think there is a sort of "right-wing" "left-wing" divide, and there may be something slightly undeveloped in my "left-wing" view. But I'd like to articulate my view better, so that the intuition and values can be defended.


adrienne said...

This is one of the coolest blog posts I've ever read. It's pretty developed and clear from my perspective. A discomfort with differential power is really healthy and affirming of one's own relationship to others. I think your approach to teaching sounds very good.

Boaz said...

Thanks Adrienne.
I appreciate it.
I haven't looked at this post for awhile, but its still a topic I think about a lot.