This next is tedious but is included for context and completeness. Zen emerged and the compassion took me into teaching. Compassion and what goes for teaching in state schools are fundamentally conflicted. My compassion took me out of teaching after my first school – 8 years, I resigned to work on a youth centre magazine which is worth discussing separately. At this point I made a mistake in my life yet it was not a mistake, it was life it cannot be a mistake. I fell in love, moved out of London and went back into teaching to look after her and her kids. Whilst still in love we split, whilst I loved her I was also being used. The period in which I was in love and the time I took to re-emerge lasted just over 6 years, and I decided to teach abroad.
Working in Botswana for 6 years my compassion for teaching came back, and I only knew this because they had a tradition of the teachers giving a speech when they left the school. When I gave my speech I found myself saying that working there had brought my joy for teaching back; that speech will be remembered more for when I finished one of the students whispered a haunting “we’ll miss you”.
I left Botswana because I needed work that would provide a pension, and began teaching in private schools. These places were appalling. They are private because they are making money out of getting exam passes – not a compassionate education aim. Over a period of 7 years I moved from Oman to Bahrain to China, back to the UK for a year for personal reasons, and then to Nigeria. There are stories there, maybe they will be of interest – or rather included, but at 54 I retired early because compassion and zen were not compatible with working in schools.
I moved to Thailand to study Buddhism on my own.