Originally Posted by COMMENTATOR
This comes, in my view, from a deep misunderstanding of what it means to have "True Dharma Eye", to have passed all the Koans, be profound Insight, Kensho, Satori, Enlightenment and all the rest. Zen students have been sold a bill of goods.
And I say that without, in any way
, diminishing or casting aspersions upon what is this "True Dharma Eye" and all the rest. There is a Treasure which need not be bought or sold, the Pearl Beyond Price.
Both at once, at one. How so?
The old stories sure leave readers with the impression that once one "becomes enlightened" the work is done, all obstructions are removed, the Eye is Clear, all psychological issues are erradicated, all moral failings purified, one can never fall down (not only because "there is not place to fall", but because one becomes in'fall'ible
). This comes from hagiographic tales of old dead guys in the worshipful stories being written and rewritten by fans, each Patriarch dipped in gold and polished up into a "Perfect Being". [Stuart Lachs (although way overstating his case, as usual) makes the same point in a recent paper on this process with two modern masters ...
http://www.hsuyun.org/chan/docs/ENGLISH ... rching.pdf
Well, in fact, such a "Dipped in Gold, Pearl Beyond Price" description of "enlightenment" is fully right
. It is also half right
. Both at once, not two
(a Koan, not a particularly tricky one either).
An instantaneous instant of enlightenment realized is all the world's work done, all obstructions are removed, the Eye is Clear. It is just as it is billed to be. As the little "self" is dropped away, all conflict flows released in intimacy, all psychological issues are resolved, all moral failings purified (for there is nothing to steal or do violence to, no separate one to take or do violence
), one can never fall down as there is no separate place to fall.
The Bodhisattva rises from the lotus or Zafu, completely a different being from before (what "before"?). 'Cept, of course, to the degree that he or she is the same schmuck as before. One is One Beyond One and Whole beyond Big and Small ... one is still just a small human. No conflict there in the least
(AND IF YA THINK THERE IS ANY CONFLICT THERE OR EVER WAS, YA NEVER HAD THE 'TRUE DHARMA EYE', NOT EVEN IN YOUR DREAMS).
For this reason, Soto folks speak of Practice-Enlightenment (most schools of Zen express this in some similar way too ... after the Ecstasy and Purity, the laundry of Wisdom and Compassion to be daily washed ... ), in which one is already Buddha ... as well as on the train heading to Buddha ... realizing (making real) Buddha or Mara
through each good/bad choice and each step/misstep in life ... getting better and better at it all through life (or lifetimes), yet ever arrived and complete nonetheless. (AND IF YA THINK THERE IS ANY CONFLICT THERE OR EVER WAS, YA NEVER HAD THE 'TRUE DHARMA EYE', NOT EVEN IN YOUR DREAMS).
Thus, "enlightenment" fully and completely
evaporates all psychological issues and all moral failings, no place to fall down not safely in Indra's Net. Thus hand-in-hand
, so long as we (Dharma Teachers too) retain this human form so precious, vowing to save all Sentient Beings, some psychological issues and moral failings may remain, we may sometimes stumble and fall down. Such is what is to be human. In fact, for a Bodhisattva to remain in the muddy Saha world is a damn good thing. Here is what I usually say when these stories come up ...
AND IF YA THINK THERE IS ANY CONFLICT THERE OR EVER WAS, YA NEVER HAD THE 'TRUE DHARMA EYE', NOT EVEN IN YOUR DREAMS!
All human beings have the tendency to fall down from time to time. A Zen Teacher, guided by the Precepts, Wisdom and Compassion, should be expected to have more skill and experience in avoiding life's temptations and pitfalls ... they should be expected not to fall down easily, not to yield to life's temptations too easily. But Buddhist "Masters" are yet flesh and blood, and only perfect in their human imperfection. (Beware of any "guru" who claims to be so far beyond humanity that they are now beyond all possible falling).
In my view, any human being can fall down, and it is just a matter of what the person does then ... picking themselves up, recovering balance, getting back on the trail, apologizing and learning from any damage caused. The real "Master" should much more --rarely-- fall down but, even more impressively, should show true "mastery" in getting back up if she does. Like any great athlete or dancer, the point is not that we never get knocked around, never trip or stumble ... but how we handle the fall (as in the martial arts ... there is no training offered on how to never fall, but endless training on how to fall well). Show me the man or woman who falls down sometimes ... but who demonstrates how to fall well and recover one's footing ... and I will show you a great Zen "Master".
On the other hand, beware of any purported "master" who falls down again and again ... or harms his students again and again ... or who tries to recover from falling down mostly concerned about covering his own ass . This, in my mind, is what makes the difference between, for example, a "master" who may have fallen at some time in life into an affair, or a drinking and gambling problem that he or she recovers from ... and those that repeat the behavior again and again over many years. (That, in my mind, appears to be the difference between such cases and Genpo "Roshi" and Eido "Roshi" who seem to have repeated their harmful behavior over decades).
If I may add my own "test" for finding a teacher, I would say find a man or woman who sometimes (though rarely) falls down, makes mistakes, makes a donkey's ass of him or herself... and observe closely what happens, watch how he or she does it. Oh, don't get me wrong... probably you do not want as a teacher someone who falls down each and every day, nor someone who falls down too BIG (robbing banks, lying profusely and intentionally starting fires, for example). No, I mean someone who... every so often, now and then, like everyone... makes a fool of him/herself, loses his Zen Master cool, over-indulges, does a real face-flop, says something she regrets, breaks some (hopefully not too big) Precepts in some very human way.
How does this person recover their balance? With what grace do they fall or, at least, get back up on their feet? Do they profoundly reflect on their mistakes, learn from them, apologize sincerely to anyone hurt (hopefully not too badly) ... and move on? As a matter of fact, since this crazy practice is greatly about living with some grace in this imperfect, often disappointing, trap and temptation filled world, a teacher with a couple of serious imperfections may be a good guide on how to avoid, lessen or escape the worst of it!
Oh, I am not trying to excuse any truly heinous abuses or scandals which have been seen among clergy of all traditions, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist no less (not these "Zen teachers" who keep on with their harmful behavior year in and year out). NOT AT ALL! I have little tolerance for members of the clergy who abuse their positions of trust and hurt others, sometimes children. But also we must be cautious of anyone who wants to be our teacher by telling us that they are beyond all failings, never ever break a Precept (not even the small ones), are "Perfectly Enlightened Beings" who never trip and fall down. I'll believe it when I see it!
Certainly, it is true that within Enlightenment, there is no place to fall, nothing which can be a mistake. Yet, in this world of Samsara where we live, I do not think there is anyone who gets away always without cuts and bruises and difficult days. (Anyone who thinks that Zen practice is going to ensure that they never have another "bad day" is in for a bad surprise. Whether we fully "drop good and bad" or not, we must live in a world sometimes real good and real bad.) Sure, this "self" is but an illusion... and so are all the other "selfs" in this world, but we are going to bump and bang into each other sometimes nonetheless. The hole you stumble in may be like a dream, and ultimately there is no place to fall. But fall into that hole and break your imaginary leg, you may!
(if anyone wants to hear a perfectly imperfect talk by me on the subject) ...