I recently read a book called “Going Deep” by Gordon MacDonald.The story is about a pastor in a Christian church who comes to the realization that the key to a brighter future for his church and for the world at large is to “cultivate deep people.” This is a phrase used many times throughout the book and is actually the title of a program the pastor starts in order to develop the members into a “deep” state of mind.
Though it was fiction, it does not read as such, and certainly the ideas presented in the book are not fictional. In the course of his search for inspiration on how to go about the process of “deepening” his flock, the pastor speaks with a friend who is a rabbi. The rabbi tells the pastor about a practice in Judaism during Biblical times whereby a rabbi would gather a small group of people and develops them. This small group, the Talmidim, learns at the rabbi’s feet through a process of “instruction, imitation and examination.” After teaching the Talmidim all he can, the rabbi releases them out into the world to teach their own group of followers. In the book, the pastor’s rabbi friend informs the pastor that the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ were indeed a Talmidim.
I have consulted the local rabbi and she says that Judaism has nothing comparable to the Guru-disciple relationship, but I am not so sure.