When you hear the word “discipleship” what do you think of? What do you see?

I cannot help but see Jesus walking with his 12 followers teaching them his ways, his word and his life. If a disciple is a person who is a pupil of the doctrines of another/teacher then discipleship is this process as it is happening. After reading the below post on “meeting your Guru” I realized that my interpretation of discipleship is a very “christian” interpretation of the term. It can mean so much more.

Read the story below…

View story at Medium.com


The stand-out phrase is the quote mid-way through the post:

“The Buddha is the doctor, the dharma is the medicine, and the monks are the nurses.”


A few obvious realizations that’s never been so obvious yo me:

  • A teacher teaches. This may or may not be all the teachers does.
  • A teacher may or may not give out/use medicine when teaching but he/she is not the creator of the medicine nor the one who always administers it
  • A teacher is not a nurse. Although a teacher may fulfill the role of a nurse sometimes chances are there are better nurses out there.

Looking at this from a Buddhist perspective it makes complete sense. The Buddha teaches, his medicine is dharma, and the monks are the nurses.

Dharma / Medicine

Dharma is a new concept to me. It’s one of those terms that when googling it you can’t get a clear answer/definition on what it means. This from the author of the above article: “Dharma is the teachings of the Buddha. However, in another context it 

could mean something else. Ultimately it is all one in its essence. The Dharma is the Tao, the primordial oneness that weaves itself through all life. The Teachings arise from this and lead us to its realization, thus it is a form of medicine in the sense of restoring wholeness.



Monks / Nurses

During discipleship you are trained/healed with the support of a teacher who, as a Buddha, is the doctor dispensing the medicine of spiritual wisdom. As disciples we  recognize that we too will become nurses who soothe the pain of other beings as our commitment to living a spiritual life deepens with practice and understanding.

How does this change my current view on discipleship? I had a very singular view in a sense that there’s one person with the medicine, one person generates the medicine (dharma, one person )that applies it (to one or many at a time), one person that does the patient recovery/ healing. I know consider this to be a process involving more than one person each with his/her own role that are equally important.

In order for discipleship to “happen” as effectively as possible you need a teacher, you need nurse(s) and you need dharma. These 3 can exist as separate entities.

The next question I’m asking myself is who is my teacher? What is my dharma? And what is my dharma?