Masters and Teachers

The best teachers inspire students to learn.

A Chinese proverb says


Shī fu lǐng jìn mén, xiū xíng zài gè rén.

Teachers open the door, you enter by yourself.

师师Shī fu actually means Master, whilst 老师lǎoshī  is “teacher.What’s the difference? A Master is an Elder, someone who has distilled knowledge through years of experience.

In China, the term 师师Shī fu, or Master, is heard a lot.

You’ve probably the term师师Shī fu in gongfu movies – the Shī fu (often phonetised as sifu) referring to a master of martial arts.

But in china, the handyman who comes to your house to fix things is addressed as Shī fu, and even taxi drivers are called Shī fu.

Is the taxi-driver or handyman a teacher? Maybe not directly, but then everyone, and everything can be a lesson in life.

A belief in some parts of China is that Daoist Immortal Lu Dongbin sometimes appears as a beggar as he walked through the streets.

Is the beggar a Master? Is the Master a beggar?

The point being that everyone has something to learn from the most humble of people. People probably don’t think of the taxi-drivers and handymen as being master-teachers when they address them as师师Shī fu, but the word is a term of utmost respect.

The language itself brings a tone of respectfulness to others.