Four Types of Teaching

The Daodejing (Tao Te Ch'ing), the central text of Daoism was written at least 2300 years ago. It is understandable to us today because around 2000 commentaries have, over the years, been written to explain it. Many chapters refers to a type of person called a Shang. In many commentaries this is often understood to mean a ruler or a king, but it could also be a Shaman-king, or simply a wise person, a sage, or even an adept or a teacher.

So in Chapter 17 (of the Wangbi edition) I take the liberty of translating Shang as Teacher.

The best teacher is one you don't even know is a teacher,

the next best is intimate and kind,

after that is the type that inspires fear,

and lastly the one that cuts you off.

Now Tom Sawyer painting the fence comes to mind immediately when I think of the first kind of teacher. Yes, but we're also talking about someone who is just a presence. They teach by example but they aren't even obviously teaching a method, their just making youUsing Kindness to Teach a cup of tea and hanging out with you.

The second type of teacher is everybody's favorite, they praise us, we feel like they're really helping us. We believe in their goodness.

The third type of teacher uses fear to teach. They rile you up, they intimidate you, they inspire outrage, they make you push back and stand up for your ideas, your reasons for learning, and who you think you are.

The fourth type of teacher inspires revolt. If you won't leave on your own, they'll kick you out. Their gift to you is that they hack you off. They know that in certain situations the best relationship is complete disassociation.

All four types of teachers are actually four types of teaching and all good teachers use all four.