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To learn from our teachers,

we need to be near them every day. 

We might well wonder how on earth we’re supposed to be near our teachers daily. Sure, up to the last century or so, people could have done this simply by spending all their lives in the same place. In the East, many temples and monasteries were within easy reach of residents. But today, primarily in the West, there are far fewer Buddhist centers and monastics.

Being near our teachers daily seems impossible.

The key here is understanding “near them.”

Not surprisingly, we assume it means physical proximity—living in the same place as our teacher. But “near them” refers not to teacher’s physical presence but to his or her teachings. It’s the teachings we need to be near. And being near the teachings is to learn and live them daily. We could stand right next to a teacher all day long, but if we’re not learning from, not following what he says, we’re not “near” him. We’re just taking up valuable space.

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