When we were in Thailand, we spent a lot of time in Buddhist Temples as a part of our travels. The day we visited the Grand Palace in Bangkok, we were wandering through the Temple of the Reclining Buddha or Wat Pho. Someone had left a postcard as an offering that was a familiar Buddhist Proverb, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.”
For the next hour, we talked about this quote. We reminisced about teachers that have literally appeared throughout this journey when the kids focused their attention on learning something new.
From Lino and his pizzeria in the Italian Alps, to Fernando the song writer in New Zealand, to Sophella Dance Studio in Australia, and Dino the marble sculptor in Tuscany, the teachers appeared. Not just any teachers – inspired, passionate, gifted, and remarkable teachers who love their craft and wanted to pass on understanding to anyone willing to learn.
We asked the kids what kinds of things they were interested in learning during that conversation in Bangkok, and martial arts, specifically Aikido, was high on their list. Our youngest son brought our conversation to a close that day by asking, “I wonder what teacher will appear next?”
One month after that visit to the Buddha Complex in Bangkok, the kids met a sweet dog on the beach in Portugal. My husband and I were having coffee nearby and watched the kids engage with the dog’s owner. They came skipping up to us after about 20 minutes and said, “Guess what? We just met our next teacher!”
Two weeks later, we walked to the next village, found the Recreational Center, and asked for Chris. What we didn’t know that day was what a remarkable teacher our kids had found in Salir do Porto, Portugal, population 797, almost 7,000 miles as the crow flies from setting the intention to learn Aikido.
Our old parenting patterns kicked in after the first class. Our kids had no experience and we didn’t want to slow the class down because of our presence. We didn’t know how much the classes would cost, or how much we could commit to because of our travel schedule. We didn’t have proper uniforms or any idea how to find them in a foreign country. We decided that we would talk to Chris and his wife Cal, before the next class, and that conversation changed our view of the world, as any powerful teacher is capable of doing.
We rattled off our questions and concerns. Chris and Cal listened patiently and then shared:
- There is no commitment necessary.
- Come when you are inspired to learn. We will be here two days a week for 2 hour training sessions.
- You are welcome anytime, all of you, no matter what your strengths, abilities or experience may be.
- Our youngest student is 5 and our oldest is 73. We have a diverse group of fitness levels, languages spoken and countries represented.
- There is no uniform necessary, but if you want to practice with us, we can lend you everything you need.
- We don’t charge anything for these classes. It is 100% free for anyone who walks through the door.
We walked back to our seaside village in silence, as their words washed over us with each crashing wave.
This coming Saturday, my husband and kids will participate in an Aikido Demonstration to share what they have learned with the larger community. They are a part of something ancient and timeless because of the generosity of one man.
One translation of Aikido is “The way of unifying with life energy. The way of the harmonious spirit.”
Although my husband and I have to learn it over and over again, our kids trust the world to provide the teachers they need when they are ready. It really is that profoundly simple and it doesn’t require traveling anywhere. What it does require is leap of faith. So we leave you with this question: What teacher will appear next for you?