Teachers, I believe, are among the most memorable people in our lives. I’m saying this to refer to teachers whom we both hated and admired. But those teachers we have always admired for what we learned from them are the ones who have stayed in our heart’s memory. In my high school days, my old, toothless history teacher was my hero, who spoke in thought-provoking lessons and puzzles, and sang inspiringly as if he just played a jukebox. In my college days, my economics instructor who often unsmilingly looked at us was a thoughtful analytic and an erudite storyteller. Of all the lessons they taught me, one thing is really memorable, too: they taught me how to become a teacher.
I easily discovered this path of teaching through interesting, synchronistic clues. What to teach was quite an exception. I’ve been teaching ESL (English as Second Language) to both Filipinos and Koreans, but I just felt that there is more teach, which remained a mystery to me until some 3 years ago. Of all the ideas and things to teach, Love was a very surprising one. Inspired by Leo Buscaglia, I started Pathfinders’ Commune. But as I continued to hold casual Commune sharing for the next 2 years, another question had risen: how to teach Love?
Love is a very abstract topic. A friend once said that Love must be “operationalized”, since there are many unclear and unspecific things about it. Love, amidst the society that venerates details and outcomes, might have no place to stand out. Love is about big pictures and flowing processes, which always make it ambiguous especially how words explain it. Some skeptics use the word “woowoo” to refer to this characteristic, which implies something irrational or unscientific. Without straightforward means to explain Love, it remains a topic difficult to teach and learn.
Neale Donald Walsch, author of the Conversations with God trilogy, said in one of his newsletters: “The fastest way to learn something is to teach it.” As a teacher, this is a true experience. I learn more as I teach more. But to teach and learn Love is a challenging one, surpassing all possible lessons anybody can learn from school. We often look for right answers, but Love fills us with more questions. We often want to correct the wrongs, but Love allows more mistakes. Love, in the most ironic ways, is hated because many of us can’t stand its truth. Yet we desire it more, because Love is our nature.
Despite these realities, I still feel the desire to teach Love. I am fully aware that Love cannot be taught, only the tools of learning it. But the interesting thing about it is that as I teach these tools, Love is being taught all along. And the end learner is not the people whom I thought I’m teaching; it is actually me. That being said, there is no teacher to teach and student to learn. The classroom of Love is what Sufis called the inner chambers of the heart. It is in our hearts that true education of Love begins.
It is in our hearts that true education of Love begins.
I am reminded again of what I wrote 2 years ago about teaching and the presence of heart. Love is not teaching information. Love is our basic experience we have long forgotten. What I can teach is the many ways to remember Love, as they all are a confirmation of what we have always known in our lives. Paulo Coelho affirms this noble essence of teaching in his novel The Witch of Portobello: “What is a teacher? It isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of his best in order to discover what she already knows.”
The challenge of teaching Love can be either threatening or inspiring to others, for Love brings courage to those who see it and fear to those who don’t. Love is some strange topic that people speak in cliché yet dare not to teach. Leo Buscaglia did it some 30 years before I was born. Now, I deeply feel the inspiration to continue the mission he once started. I am “teaching what my generation cannot teach”, in the words and inspiration of my partner’s brothers, Rap and Rei, both of whom I am very grateful in giving me such insight. Through Pathfinders’ Commune, it is time to live up to the philosophy of Gerald Jampolsky, who wrote a book with a title based on a line he quoted from A Course in Miracles: “Teach only Love, for that is what you are.” It is always best to learn Love by teaching Love. This, as a Commune teacher, is the most profound teaching I have ever learned.
If your profession is teaching and you want to incorporate Love in any topic or specialty you teach, let’s talk. Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org