Anyone who has worked as a trainer, nutritionist or naturopath will have experienced sitting down for a quiet coffee or beer and have someone say something along the lines of; "What are you doing?! I thought you were supposed to be 'health guy'?"
This line of thinking highlights the pervasive mentality of thinking that our teachers should be perfect.
We will not only be perpetually disappointed when we fall into this trap, but also run the risk of never learning valuable tools that will allow us to progress.
Surya Das, Ajahn Sumedho and others have spoken about this. Should we reject a wise spiritual teacher who drinks alcohol? Would we fail to take lessons from someone who smokes?
While we may see a failing, personality flaws or weakness within these, by rejecting what learning we could acquire we are limiting ourselves.
We also fail in our own humanity when we do this for are we not all flawed?
The human condition itself is one that is fundamentally flawed.
It may be ultimately perfect, but in a pragmatic sense, day-to-day and moment-to-moment, no-one can be perfect. We may strive for it, but each of us is engaged in our own wonderful process of development, growth and evolution if we were perfect there would be nothing to grow towards...
When we meet someone we must recognise that they are at a particular place on their own path, and they will be battling their own demons.
Be kind for everyone we meet is fighting a great battle.
In fact to even seek the 'perfect' teacher devalues the universal truth that we are all teachers, and all students. Any person, even the most dull, ignorant, or annoying has something to teach us...and often the leanings we take from our interactions with the most uncomfortable of people are the most valuable. Whilst we may see the person as far from perfect, the lesson we learn, and the knowledge we co-create as a result of our dynamic with them is...