The teacher is like earth. Do you ever think about the ground you are standing on? You wake up in the morning and there is no thought of whether there is anything supporting you. You assume it’s there and so you focus on other things, all being possible because the ground exists under you and under all those other things. But you are standing on it. Sitting, running, lying, jumping on it. You test it every day and you know, deep inside you, that it exists and will support you.
Thus the teacher is like earth. The teacher is there but not on your conscience mind. All you are focused on is the subject you are learning, and that learning is grounded on the foundation of your teacher’s mind. You test this knowledge, you try and bend it, ignore it, pull at it, push at it. But the teacher is always there, sure in what is true, what is right, and waits for you to stop jumping around and get back to your learning.
The teacher is like water. It shifts with your movement, letting you move through but always sticking right alongside with you. It’s there and you can feel it and you can feel resistance to your movement but it always gives. But if you push too hard against it you’ll eventually get tired and then you can just relax and just float there for a while and it’ll support you.
Thus a teacher knows what you know and is there alongside you. And when you want to move through the teachings fast, the teacher will teach you. And when you get burnt out by all the teaching, the teacher will be there supporting the knowledge you have so far, waiting for you to want to move to the next step
The teacher is like fire. Fire is useful but it’s dangerous. If you’re smart, and you have to be or else you might die, you’ll learn how to handle fire so that it can be useful without harming you. But you know that if you play around with it too much, then you’ll get burnt. Fire is something to be respected. And it’s not just a respect out of fear, it’s a respect also out of how useful it is, how powerful it is.
And likewise you respect your teacher with a mix of fear and awe. You recognize that the teacher is of course useful, but also dangerous if you push your teacher too far. So you listen to your teacher and understand how to handle your teacher so that you get all the benefits but without the risk of being hurt. You do the work your teacher tells you to do, you practice so that your teacher is satisfied. And you know that if you disregard the work and disrespect the teacher, that you will be burnt with the disappointment in your teacher’s face.