Zen (parables) and the art of teaching (and blogging)

A popular Buddhist metaphor tells of a finger pointing to the moon, and compares that to our spiritual condition here: the finger represents the practices and beliefs that help us achieve enlightenment (or, in a more Western vernacular, salvation), symbolized by the moon. 

The parable is meant to serve as a cautionary tale, warning us not to get too wrapped up in the matreial trappings of religion, and remember that they’re only valuable as they help us get nearer to enlightenment (or the moon).  (Thus also the old Eastern saw that says, if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.)

(Incidentally, this parable tends to be over-used in the West’s cult of anti-oragnized religion.  I’d refer any sympathetic parties to my post on the crucial value of religious communities in spiritual life in a previous post.)

Actually, I like that zen story as a metaphor for teaching.  I’m the finger, and education is the moon.  All my lecturing, examples, workshops, and everything else I do in a classroom are just me pointing at something I think is cool and important.  Ultimately, teaching is just that: introducing people to worthy new things. 

I hope that’s what I’m doing here, too.  I’ve benefited from the Internet as a tool that expands horizons.  That’s my vision for blogging: a forum for fraternal finger-pointing, an earnest virtual community where we all just shine a light on interesting new things for each other. 

Each entry on this blog could start out by saying, “Dude, check this out…”

One comment on “Zen (parables) and the art of teaching (and blogging)

  1. So, dude, check this out…

    Am I going to be the first person to post a response to every one of your entries? I love teaching, I love opening eyes, I love those “Ah ha!” moments, I love seeing students get as passionate about what I love, even though, sometimes, these moments seem too few and far between. We just keep on going, and keep on pointing, and hope that someone says “Hey, Mr. H, that was pretty cool.”

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