This is an amazing phrase which depicts a great scenario whereby a person learns from another and eventually becomes as good if not better than their teacher (master) which is actually an act to be proud of. Every teacher’s hope is for their student (creation) to become a reflection of themselves and so when this student (or creation) becomes even better than they are, then it’s just a subject of happiness and pride.
In the same way, a father will be proud to see his child excel in life and in all the things he went through a lot of pain to learn because somehow he feels like he is overcoming those things and reliving those moments through his child.
Unfortunately this phrase also hides a dark twist, there is another way to understand this phrase and it is that of “betrayal“, once a student becomes stronger than the master, the influence this master had because of his knowledge fades away, the subservient student who was very keen to listen to all the master’s words and follow his every instruction now is no longer bound by this reverence and the only thing that the master had to offer the student is now in his possession.
This leads to an unstable situation where the student is stronger than his master and can no longer content himself with a subservient status anymore. There are very rare instances in nature where something stronger is subservient to something weaker, and so this imbalance leads to an unescapable conflict and the student finds himself in the position where he has to betray his master in order to evolve. Its just the law of nature.
Its important to understand that the student came to this master with the goal of acquiring something, in this case knowledge, and once this is done, there is no point anymore for the student to be there. This was without taking into account the vision of the master who perhaps had plans for his student, maybe he wanted to shape the vision of the student or hoped his student would take more time to learn, but unfortunately this student finished learning faster than the master had planned and now that the student is stronger than his master, he has to overcome the master in order to break free and this implies him besting his master.
The sad part of this story is that neither the master nor the student plan for this betrayal but it so happened because of the laws of nature, the student came with a vision in mind and so did the master, when these visions don’t align, conflict was just looming behind.
The humble start
Let me use a more concrete example, imagine you have a relative who comes to you in hopes of learning from you. I would have used the example of your child but I prefer we use that of an extended relative, maybe the child of an acquaintance. This young kid who is in desperate need of guidance comes to you with the hopes of learning from you and gaining confidence. They probably don’t know much of what they even want but all they know for sure is that they want to be like you in one way or the other so with a humble heart they approach you to learn from you, maybe your business skills, social skills or anything else they see in you.
With a heart full of empathy you decide to pass on your knowledge to this youngster in the hopes that he might become like you someday and probably assist you in one way or the other, you wish to teach him all you know and make use of his skills once he is competent enough. Along the way, this once innocent child who lacked direction now comes to the knowledge of the world around him and gains confidence enough to the point where he feels like there is nothing else he can learn from you and along the way he gained a vision for himself which doesn’t align with yours. Helping you or obeying you is no longer something of interest to him, rather he wishes to do something you might not like or be interested in.
With great power comes great arrogance
This is the precise reason why some persons don’t feel the need to teach or help others gain wisdom since the same students will become their worst enemies. Imagine being the world’s best businessman and passing that knowledge on to someone else, who will eventually betray you and become your greatest competitor instead of ally. Rewinding the hands of time, you will definitely not feel like passing on everything you know to that person, or would you?
It takes a lot to make a strong person, so many things have to be learned individually without the assistance of anybody and so when you do sacrifice to pass on this knowledge to a person who will eventually betray you, it is heartbreaking to say the least.
People would be much more eager to pass on their knowledge to everyone if they knew that those persons would be their greatest allies in the future, but since everyone has their personal interest first,
the next best solution is to charge people for knowledge, at least you can earn something out of sharing your wisdom.
Ego mixed with confidence
When I was ignorant, there wasn’t much ego in me, I didn’t feel entitled or even proud of anything I knew, my sole desire was to acquire knowledge and for that I would have become as humble as I could possibly be, but eventually when I acquired all that knowledge it now became a subject of pride, having something others want and being able to do things that most people can’t. Needless to say that my ego skyrocketed and now I felt way my confident. This is the case of a lot of persons, when we don’t know something, or when we don’t have anything, its quite easy to be humble and do or say whatever it takes for us to get what we want, but we only come to understand the true nature of people when they do have a choice, when they have many options, thats when you realize that they would have done the wrong thing regardless.
In your life you are going to train a lot of persons, deliberately or not, and a good number of them are going to turn against you or simply just leave without saying thanks.
Ego breeds naturally, but gratitude is a skill which must be cultivated.
There is an inherent desire for ownership in each of us, we want to be in control of the things which belong to us that’s why we all seek to go on our own journeys and find ourselves in this vast world, this is even more apparent when the vision of the master and the student are not aligned, the rupture in that case becomes inevitable. Then you have other aspects like our innate desire for competition which pushes us to surpass our limits and those of our master, at a larger scale we even seek to become the best in whatever we do.
Its always a good idea to surround yourself with competent people and to have a very strong team on which you can rely, its just disappointing that in modern times and at this side of the globe most people don’t see the value of collaboration and would rather do things on their own. The individualistic mindset could be explained in many ways, I am no exception to that. Its consequences are just sad. Imagine all what you could do with a team of persons as competent as you are, how far you could go?
The best solution you can find is to at least get some value out of the people you train and seek to collaborate with the people you learn from. I am still trying to understand this myself, being a victim of it as well, I have a dual experience, that of being a student who had to leave his master and that of a master betrayed by his student.