The next qualification to be considered is Desirelessness.
There are many difficulties in the way of the teacher when he tries to acquire desirelessness, and it also requires special consideration from the standpoint of the student.
As has been said in At the Feet of the Master: “In the light of His holy Presence all desire dies, but the desire to be like Him.” It is also said in the Bhagavad Gita that all desire dies “when once the Supreme is seen.” This is the ideal at which to aim, that the One Will shall take the place of changing desires. This Will is seen in our dharma, and in a true teacher, one whose dharma is teaching, his one desire will be to teach, and to teach well. In fact, unless this desire is felt, teaching is not his dharma, for the presence of this desire is inseparable from real capacity to teach.
We have already said that little honour, unfortunately, is attached to the post of a teacher, and that a man often takes the position because he can get nothing else, instead of because he really wants to teach, and knows that he can teach. The result is that he thinks more about salary than anything else, and is always looking about for the chance of a higher salary. This becomes his chief desire. While the teacher is no doubt partly to blame for this, it is the system which is mostly in fault, for the teacher needs enough to support himself and his family, and this is a right and natural wish on his part. It is the duty of the nation to see that he is not placed in a position in which he is obliged to be always desiring increase of salary, or must take private tuition in order to earn enough to live. Only when this has been done will the teacher feel contented and happy in the position he occupies, and feel the dignity of his office as a teacher, whatever may be his position among other teachers—which is, I fear, now marked chiefly by the amount of his salary. Only the man who is really contented and happy can have his mind free to teach well.
The teacher should not desire to gain credit for himself by forcing a boy along his own line, but should consider the special talent of each boy, and the way in which he can gain most success. Too often the teacher, thinking only of his own subject, forgets that the boy has to learn many subjects. The one on which most stress should be laid is the one most suited to the boy’s capacity. Unless the teachers co-operate with each other, the boy is too much pressed, for each teacher urges him on in his own subject, and gives him home-lessons in this. There are many teachers, but there is only one boy.
Again, the boy’s welfare must be put by the teacher before his own desire to obtain good results in an examination. Sometimes it is better for a boy to remain for another year in a class and master a subject thoroughly rather than to go up for an examination which is really too difficult for him. In such a case it is right to keep him back. But it is not right to keep him back merely for the sake of good results for the teacher. On the other hand, a teacher has sometimes to resist the parents who try to force the boy beyond his strength, and think more of his rising into a higher class than of his really knowing his subjects.