Mentoring: A Path of Growth

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We develop through our relationships with others. Young children, by watching the behavior of parents and other people in their environment and by accepting instruction, learn how to stand on their own two feet and take their place in the world. At each stage of our existence, it is the overt or subtle influence of others that shapes the development of our life or character. The more serious we become about pursuing a passion or striving to develop our skills and abilities in a particular field--be it business, sport, music, science, the arts, teaching or any other profession--the more we begin to value the possibility of learning from the experience of others. There is nothing more valuable than finding a teacher or inspirational figure from whose accomplishments and expertise we can learn and whose encouragement and overall approach enables us to develop beyond our perceived limitations.

In Buddhism, a philosophy centered on the happiness of self and others, the relationship between mentor and disciple is of primary importance. As in any other field, this is not a relationship that can be imposed or contrived; it grows out of and depends upon one individual's desire to learn and develop and another individual's desire to freely share what they themselves have learned. These generous relationships, which exist essentially for the cultivation of our humanity, could be said to be the very basis of our ongoing development as a human society. From the perspective of Buddhism, they are the most rewarding relationships of all.