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Thread: A very strict word of warning

  1. #1

    A very strict word of warning

    I had reently two of my students posting videos on the web without consulting me or Jundo about it. And this is not a good idea. Actually, I would like to remind people here that I came to open my mouth on internet after more than 25 years of practice and quite relunctantly. If you are my student you may follow this example. If you are a student in Treeleaf, you are expected to behave like one, to practice, practice and practice again. As soon as you post a vid, you are automatically involving Treeleaf, the community and teachers.
    You may of course organize sittings in your city or village, you may participate to forums if you wish, but posting a video can be seen as a form of teaching, and you are not teachers.
    Anybody wishing to do otherwise, is not welcome to study with me anymore.

    Gassho


    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ZenHarmony's Avatar
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    I'm sorry, Taigu, I don't understand. Someone posted a Treeleaf video elsewhere? Or posted a video to the forum here at Treeleaf that you felt is not appropriate?

    I appreciate the clarification,

    Gassho,

    Lisa

  3. #3
    They posted videos outside Treeleaf. And Although I can understand that it does not vome from a bad place, it is not acceptable to do so without permission from their teacher.

    Gassho


    T.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  4. #4
    If I may clarify ...

    I think Taigu means that they posted videos presenting the image of a Teacher, with Robes, Rakusu and such.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Understood.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  6. #6
    Understood too

    Gasho

    Myoshin
    Last edited by Myoshin; 03-08-2013 at 02:25 PM.
    Myoshin 妙 心
    "A person who receives the Buddhist Precepts enters the state of Buddha at once. They stand at the same level as Gautama Buddha. We can say they are a child of the Buddha." Jundo

  7. #7
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Noted.

    On the other hand, if anyone ever mistakes me for a zen teacher they probably have a serious lack of judgment that was going to cause them trouble anyways
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  8. #8
    Wow... I wonder what these people were thinking. So, to be very , cristal clear, this is about posing as a teacher elsewere without consulting with you as our teachers? I can see how that rubs you the wrong way.

    Is it very insensitive of me to ask where this vid is to be found? To be honest I'm a bit curious now.

  9. #9
    Hello Enkyo,

    I cannot speak for Taigu, nor do I know the videos he refers to. However, sicne I have known him for some time now, I can be reasonably sure that he posted his comments in this open forum not to chastise anyone, but to make a point about the general fact that those who enter into a teacher-student relationship have certain responsibilities. It also doesn't seem to have been about posing as a teacher but rather about making sure one is not mistaken for a teacher, a small yet crucial difference...because this is no game. Taigu's and Jundo's lives are dedicated to this path, they could just as well have fun in a Karaoke bar. They are not doing this Treeleaf thing because they lack hobbies or need more friends.

    And from my perspective it is actually a bit insensitive to ask for the videos, since this is not about the videos, but about a general point. Wanting to look at individual videos focusses on individuals again. It's very honest of you to express your curiosity this way however

    I am sure Taigu and Jundo will comment in due time (they are probably asleep now).

    Gassho,


    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Last edited by Hans; 03-08-2013 at 04:43 PM.
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  10. #10
    Not at all, if someone says he's speaking in his name, not involving a teacher, saying he's not a monk nor a teacher, and not claiming he is from Treeleaf, but wanted to share a personnal thoughts about his experience, and sharing dharma quotes, texts without commenting, this is I think very clear that it is not posing as a teacher

    The students may have misunderstood that it's a wrong idea to do, maybe thinking talking about dharma as a human sharing and not as a teacher sharing was not a fault.

    Now that things are clear for them, and the students trust the master recommandation and understand his opinion, and stop this kind of actions, no need to add more about it I think

    Without all the datas received by the students concerned, and the reasons, motivations they had to do this we can't judge.

    Gassho

    Myoshin
    Last edited by Myoshin; 03-08-2013 at 06:15 PM.
    Myoshin 妙 心
    "A person who receives the Buddhist Precepts enters the state of Buddha at once. They stand at the same level as Gautama Buddha. We can say they are a child of the Buddha." Jundo

  11. #11
    Hey guys,

    I go with Myoshin on this one I think? A clear misunderstanding and not so much a new leaf on Treeleaf. Maybe the vid(s) was out of enthusiasm or an honest urge to share? Inspiration can be hard to resist sometimes, right?

    True, it makes me wonder what triggered this response and why? The matter clearly is serious enough to post on the public forum instead of a PM and so, open for debate. Not the students themselves! Off course not!

    But the teaching outside Treeleaf and the boudries to it, are an interesting toppic I think. Saving others( although there are no others) as I understand, means telling about it, SHARING and take every chance we get to teach and maybe even putting someone on the path that is no path, if we get the chance. So what is acceptable and what not? Only a true sensei can say, hence the permission part I think. That is perhaps where something went a bit... sideways?
    I agree with you that taking on the role of a teacher is a very, very serious thing. The responsibility of guiding others on the Way is tremendous .

    I feel space to ask for a bit more information because it is a sincere request and trust the answer will be clear and straight forward as always. Forgive me if I come across a bit blunt sometimes Hans. The practice of being spontaneous tends to get me into trouble every now and again . Isn't it great?

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  12. #12
    Hi. I do not know these videos, but this thread, and Taigu's general warning, raises something for me that has been, and is, very important. Where does the desire to teach, to be a teacher, come from? Where does it come from in here? I know what "having a calling" means, and I have one. Yet, I also have urges to preach that are, truth be told, in the service of self-image. Why teach? why preach? Where is it coming from?


    .. just a thought from the peanut gallery..


    Gassho, Daizan
    Last edited by Daizan; 03-08-2013 at 09:10 PM.
    大山

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    The important thing of Taigu's request is that one should not pretend to teach anything in the name of Treeleaf, unless he/she is an authorized teacher. That means receiving transmission, which takes many many years to come. More information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharma_transmission

    There is a clear hierarchy in Zen Buddhism that we must understand. Not only in Treeleaf, but in any Zen sangha.

    There's anything wrong in talking about the dharma or Zen Buddhism, participating in forums, public talks or even Hangouts; but one should not pretend to teach or getting into discussions when one doesn't know most of the basic dharma to engage in such activities.

    As for the mentioned videos, they are not relevant.

    We need to understand Taigu's petition, not to look for culprits.

    But that's only my two cents.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  14. #14
    Hi guys,

    Hans speaks my mind. The vids are actually quite good, but good or not is not the point. Even if someone feels enthusiastic to share the path and go global on the web, because of the nature of the teacher to student relationship, he or she has responsabilities. The first and foremost responsability of a student is to practice and study and this takes more than more than a decade or two. A lifetime and beyond. Even if you dont put yourself out there as a teacher, wearing robes and talking Dharma will make you one the the eyes of some people, and because you belong to Treeleaf, as soon as you speak, Treeleaf is somehow involved, and Treeleaf s responsability too.And the whole thing is about a first year student of a medical school prescribing remedies and advising people. Wouldn t you ask this student to wait et get enough training to be able to do so? And if you ask him to stop and you find out the student is still doing it, what will you do?
    My intention was to make clear to everybody that it is not because you receive the robe, jukai or even Tokudo, the priest ordination, that it empowers you to post vids and start a form of teaching on the web. We have a priest training here, and it is quite demanding a very precise. Our senior priests in training are gradually given more space and opportunity to speak and share the Dharma. Nothing should be rushed here.

    And don t worry about the student involved here. He understands perfectly now. All is well.It was just a strong warning for him not to do this again and clarification for everybody.


    Thank you for taking the time to read my clumsy prose.

    Gassho


    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  15. #15
    Senior Member ZenHarmony's Avatar
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    Thank you for the clarification, Taigu, understood. *deep bows*

    Gassho,

    Lisa

  16. #16
    Daizan,

    You are pointing at something which is really important. Somewhere in his Genjokoan commentary, Nishiari says that one has to give up everything, even the will to be enlightened, even the ambition to teach and help. One has to completly give it up in our tradition.

    One day as I was getting up in my little cottage of Sussex and had the thought:" I am fed up with this, I don t want to receive transmission and be a teacher, I don t want anything of the sort!" This was after two decades of thinking about it, being kind of eager to be able to do it one day. And that fine morning, it all vanished. What a relief, a huge weight had been shifted from my shoulders, I felt so light, so refreshed! An hour later, that very morning, I received a phone call form my teacher telling me to get ready for transmission. I told him that I did not care about transmission, I just wanted to be a simple priest and he could keep it! He then said in a very soft voice: "this is an excellent place to start from."


    Gassho


    Taigu
    Last edited by Taigu; 03-08-2013 at 09:50 PM.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    Hi. I do not know these videos, but this thread, and Taigu's general warning, raises something for me that has been, and is, very important. Where does the desire to teach, to be a teacher, come from? Where does it come from in here? I know what "having a calling" means, and I have one. Yet, I also have urges to preach that are, truth be told, in the service of self-image. Why teach? why preach? Where is it coming from?


    .. just a thought from the peanut gallery..


    Gassho, Daizan
    I think what you say is very interesting and also very honest.

    How does one sort out where the need to preach/teach comes from? Is there such a thing as a pure motive or calling?

    The process of becoming a teacher in Zen does seem to be a very distinct process - quite different to other callings or vocations. For example - 4 years to be a school teacher/ 5 years a doctor/ 5 years a therapist, 3-4 years a priest.

    The more I engage with Zen the more I feel I know no-thing - perhaps that's why it takes so long

    Gassho

    Willow

  18. #18

    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    Hi guys,

    And the whole thing is about a first year student of a medical school prescribing remedies and advising people. Wouldn t you ask this student to wait et get enough training to be able to do so? And if you ask him to stop and you find out the student is still doing it, what will you do?

    Taigu
    "if you are caught practicing medicine without a license, a person may face potential prison time of up to five years and a fine of up to $5000.00 per count"

    A first year medical student would have to go to 3 more years of medical school to become a doctor. He then would pick a specialty and train under other doctors for another 3 to 7 years in general. Only then, after 24 to to 27 years of education in total would he/she be ready to be an outstanding (or mediocre) doctor ready to practice independent of senior physicians. He/she would then aim for board certification. Hopefully by that time he/she has honed in the ability to be a physician to the best of his ability, whatever that means...

    I would be upset at a first year medical student playing doctor.

    Gassho,

    John

    PS: Whenever I point a finger at someone or something, I have 3 pointing back at me!
    Last edited by Jishin; 03-09-2013 at 01:36 AM.

  19. #19
    Thank you Taigu, understood.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  20. #20
    Thank you Taigu,
    an important guidance,
    Gassho
    Myoku

  21. #21
    Senior Member Jakudo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    Hi. I do not know these videos, but this thread, and Taigu's general warning, raises something for me that has been, and is, very important. Where does the desire to teach, to be a teacher, come from? Where does it come from in here? I know what "having a calling" means, and I have one. Yet, I also have urges to preach that are, truth be told, in the service of self-image. Why teach? why preach? Where is it coming from?


    .. just a thought from the peanut gallery..


    Gassho, Daizan

    I completely understand Daizan, I have found myself thinking the same thoughts and am struggling with the why question as well.
    ...from a fellow peanut gallery member
    Gassho Jakudo
    Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
    It all begins when we say, “I”. Everything that follows is illusion.
    "Even to speak the word Buddha is dragging in the mud soaking wet; Even to say the word Zen is a total embarrassment."
    寂道

  22. #22
    At Japan they study at the Okusawa university to be priest, High studies (not always). In the West we don't. So Who will be the best teacher? Are we lacking 5 years of knowledge here cmoparing to Japan? We need time and knowing a lot why not, let's go to a buddhist university and practice 2 years at a strong sotoshu temple, we'll get then the 5 years studies. If we compare to other jobs like doctors and so one, the one who agrees would be trained like that before saying any word, unless he already got the Transmission ( shiho).
    The question here is that the training in the west and in Japan is not the same, we cannot so talk about a comparision between studies like mentionned before.

    Nonetheless, I agree we need to ask permission to do some acts, that's not a problem.

    Where and how the videos can be found, who is this guy, why did he this? Ask them to announce here who they are, it would be clear and will end to endless commentaries

    Gassho

    Myoshin
    Last edited by Myoshin; 03-09-2013 at 06:25 PM.
    Myoshin 妙 心
    "A person who receives the Buddhist Precepts enters the state of Buddha at once. They stand at the same level as Gautama Buddha. We can say they are a child of the Buddha." Jundo

  23. #23
    Life and practice make the teacher, Myoshin.
    I don't look at myself being a teacher, my students do.
    You could now spend the next 20 years studying, and throw 20 more on top.
    Actually, it never stops. A teacher is first and foremost a student. The problem comes from students thinking they can teach.

    gassho

    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Heishu's Avatar
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    Thank you Taigu, understood.

    Gassho
    Heishu

  25. #25
    So Taigu, the best is the practicing of the zazen sitting, to make no difference between our life and sitting, to study and this in an endless time.
    I agree that a teacher is a student, because nothing is achieved, life is not achieved, and we have to learn from life all our liftime in a sense.
    The best is to let the teacher telling us when our understanding becomes a little enough to teach.
    I think somehow you are a teacher because you are a life guide in the path, in life, quite the same. I see from below how you actualize zen in your life, far from what I can do for now, and the same as a close friend I admire, and would like to be.
    The difficult point is to know how far we can talk about something, just to share a personnal point of vieuw without teaching. If I recommand the fukanzazengi and someone asks me some questions for example.

    Take care of you

    Gassho

    Myoshin
    Last edited by Myoshin; 03-10-2013 at 12:10 AM.
    Myoshin 妙 心
    "A person who receives the Buddhist Precepts enters the state of Buddha at once. They stand at the same level as Gautama Buddha. We can say they are a child of the Buddha." Jundo

  26. #26
    Senior Member ZenHarmony's Avatar
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    Hmmm, Myoshin has a point, how do you know when you've crossed that line into teaching? For example, if I explain dukkha to my sister-in-law who is under the impression that Buddhism is depressing because of the basic premise of "life is suffering," am I preaching, teaching or simply explaining a concept?

    Gassho,

    Lisa

  27. #27
    Hi,

    I would like to toss in my own view of Training and being a Teacher. I am afraid that, now as in the past, a bit more is required than lots of Zazen.

    Our “Treeleaf Sangha Guidelines for Training Soto Zen Buddhist Clergy” are based on the guidelines of the SZBA, the association of most Soto Zen priests in North America. They state:

    The purpose of priest training is to prepare individuals for a life dedicated to exemplifying the Dharma with integrity via empowering them to extend Buddhist teachings and Soto Zen practice out in the world, all in keeping with the traditional teachings of Soto Zen Buddhism and the philosophy of our Lineage.

    ...

    The period of formation that follows upon novice ordination (shukke tokudo) may continue for any number of years prior to possible (although never inevitable) Dharma Transmission, but truly continues as a lifelong endeavor that will sustain individuals dedicated to exemplifying the Dharma and the the Bodhisattva ideal. Completing formal priest training will mean that an individual has internalized the tradition, is capable of transmitting it, and vows to devote her or himself to a life of continuous practice and service.The individual’s dedication to the elements of priest training must enable him or her to maintain a regular, disciplined zazen practice, to instruct and guide others in their practice, to present and discuss the history and teachings of Buddhism and Soto Zen, to perform services and ceremonies in the Soto style as appropriate and required in the circumstance, and to actively nurture and serve both Sangha and the larger community and society.

    In addition, priest training must make the individual aware of the highest ethical standards which must always be maintained by a member of the clergy
    , thereby assisting him or her in maintaining such standards in his or her personal life at all times. Training will also enable the individual to demonstrate personal qualities that inspire trust and confidence and encourage others to practice. Finally, training will enable the individual to clearly understand – and communicate to others – the relationship of Zen teaching and practice to everyday life.
    To put it it simply, Zazen is always at the heart, but one has a lot to master and embody about our Teachings, History, Traditions, Ethics and Service in order to be authorized to teach others and carry the torch into the next generation. It takes years. Even though in the west, and especially here at Treeleaf, we are developing vehicles and methods of Training outside the setting of an Asian monastery, the goals remain much the same.

    Yes, in our Zen Way, our "teachers" are infinite ... whether a child or old man, the mountains and stars, all we encounter in our lives ... are all "teachers" with something to teach. However, when it come to having mastered and being able to reliably pass on the Zen Teachings and Traditions, years of training are generally required. It always has been (despite a handful of old legends about the odd fellow made Patriarch almost on his first day of practice!). Truly, because peoples' lives and psychological well being are often in our hands, it should not be that different from training as a physician.

    I once wrote this:

    Can one also inherit these timeless teachings without a teacher and without "formally" being part of a Zen Lineage, or just simply by (as someone proposed) sticking a couple of Sutras in your backpack and hiking the "holy trails of Yosemite"? YES! Of course.

    But you are also more likely than not going to end up with someone with their own, very personal and half-baked ideas of these teachings ... someone who is convinced they "figured it out" when (without the sounding board and mirror that having a teacher provides) they are skimming the surface or lost in circles and fooling themselves ... someone who thinks they are a diamond when (without the polishing and shaping of the jeweler-teacher's hand) they remain a diamond in the rough unable to bring out the true brilliance of imperfections.

    That does not mean, of course, that every product of a "recognized Lineage" will necessarily end up a shining diamond ... certainly not (there are a lot of questionable folks out there with a "robe and a piece of paper certifying their enlightenment"). However, one is more likely to end up with a well formed "teacher" when the "teacher's teacher" was a gifted teacher who knew how to pass on those teachings, and who had an eye for his students ... could sift out among them the special ones ... could be a good judge of character who could see which students manifested wisdom and compassion and which did not ... all to insure (just a little bit) that things would be left in good hands for the next generation.

    I believe there is great value in having some recognized and respected teacher or institution (in modern Dharma Transmission, it is usually a combination of multiple teachers and institutions) approve someone else as a teacher. It is the same reason that you don't want to turn over your heart surgery to anyone with a white coat, but would like to see that the doctor graduated from medical school. It does not mean that the Harvard Graduate doctor will not also screw up your heart transplant, but there is a little level of confidence there that the guy knows what he is doing more than turning your heart surgery over to the butcher in the super market.

    Many lineages may have cheapened Dharma Transmission, the more serious lineages tend to take its passing on seriously.

    Now, there are many licensed doctors with white coats and fancy degrees who are just butchers, and will do real harm. But there are far more butchers who are just butchers.
    BOTTOM LINE: ANYONE IS FREE TO PUBLISH ANYTHING, MAKE A VIDEO OR RIGHT A BLOG. OF COURSE! It is a free society!

    But if one has undertaken and is continuing a more formal degree of study and training as sometimes happens, one must be careful not even to be giving the appearance of functioning as a teacher giving talks (wearing robes or Rakusu and such), especially if requested not to as part of that formal study and training. That is especially true if that person could be associated in some viewers' eyes with this place. Based on Taigu's formal relationship with this person, apparently Taigu had already once requested the person not to do so in the past as part of their mutual training together.

    This situation will rarely happen, but it has happened more than once now and we need to be careful.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-11-2013 at 03:10 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  28. #28
    I can see that wearing robes/rakusu while making a video is a big problem - unless one is a recognised teacher - as Jundo and Taigu are.


    I have watched a couple of videos made by members (outside of treeleaf forum) and they just seemed to be a discussion of ideas - not teaching - but a disclaimer at the beginning of recording would perhaps save any ambiguity?


    On the question of training, I think Zen still needs to bend a little in the direction of modern day standards of what equates a training - in any field. It feels that to be a practitioner of excellence requires a lot of 'factual' knowledge and understanding of written material/history/tradition/concepts as well as a clear expression of practicing the dharma in one's life in the world. Should this require the writing of essays - active participation in the wider community that can be clearly monitored and observed by supervisors outside/or within the Zen community - as might be required by other training organisations? It's one thing to lay out a document listing what needs to be done but how is it then tested?

    I don't know the answers to the above - just questions and thoughts.

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 03-10-2013 at 06:11 PM.

  29. #29
    Noted. And gassho to the student who gave us the opportunity to learn.

    All good practice.

    Dokan
    We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
    ~Anaïs Nin

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post

    On the question of training, I think Zen still needs to bend a little in the direction of modern day standards of what equates a training - in any field. It feels that to be a practitioner of excellence requires a lot of 'factual' knowledge and understanding of written material/history/tradition/concepts as well as a clear expression of practicing the dharma in one's life in the world. Should this require the writing of essays - active participation in the wider community that can be clearly monitored and observed by supervisors outside/or within the Zen community - as might be required by other training organisations? It's one thing to lay out a document listing what needs to be done but how is it then tested?
    Hi Willow,

    It is worth mentioning, because it is not visible in the general forum, but we have an ongoing training program with our Ordained Priests Novices in which we are attempting to pass on the basic Traditions, History, Skills and Ethical Values that are required of a new Zen Priest. There is an outside observer from our Ethics Committee who can observe. It is something of an experiment, but so far so good. As best we can, we are attempting to implement our Training Guidelines for novice priests, spelled out here (33 pages, PDF):

    http://sites.google.com/site/jundotr...edirects=0&d=1

    Traditionally, it is simply up to each person's Teacher when (and if ever, no promises) someone is someday authorized as a Teacher after embodying the required knowledge, skills, values and piercing of Practice-Enlightenment.

    If you have any questions, maybe some of our Novice Priests might comment here or somewhere on how they feel the training is going. It is not perfect, but even old monasteries in 15th century Japan were far from perfect! It is coming along pretty well I feel.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Willow,

    It is worth mentioning, because it is not visible in the general forum, but we have an ongoing training program with our Ordained Priests Novices in which we are attempting to pass on the basic Traditions, History, Skills and Ethical Values that are required of a new Zen Priest. There is an outside observer from our Ethics Committee who can observe. It is something of an experiment, but so far so good. As best we can, we are attempting to implement our Training Guidelines for novice priests, spelled out here (33 pages, PDF):

    http://sites.google.com/site/jundotr...edirects=0&d=1

    Traditionally, it is simply up to each person's Teacher when (and if ever, no promises) someone is someday authorized as a Teacher after embodying the required knowledge, skills, values and piercing of Practice-Enlightenment.

    If you have any questions, maybe some of our Novice Priests might comment here or somewhere on how they feel the training is going. It is not perfect, but even old monasteries in 15th century Japan were far from perfect! It is coming along pretty well I feel.

    Gassho, J
    Thank you for this link Jundo, it has been helpful to understand the true role of Unsui.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  32. #32
    Thanks for the link Jundo - will run off and read through carefully.

    Hope it's Ok to make a couple of initial comments.

    I feel everyone would gain from hearing more from our Novice Priests. I really enjoy Han's input and Yugen has put me in the direction of some interesting reading from a couple of passing references.

    One of the 'methods' mentioned in the document is 'writing, blogging and interaction with others in our sangha' - in order to manifest certain qualities. I'm wondering if a dynamic operates within this in that the qualities of restraint, curbing the ego etc might develop a kind of buddhist alter ego that mitigates against saying very much at all.

    The reading list at the end of the document is extensive - there must be a lot of knowledge out there - a lot of discursive thinking taking place. Academic study is positively encouraged. Again a certain tension between thinking and over-thinking/intellectualization might present?

    For myself - I would really appeciate our novice priests sharing more of this process - because surely it is a process that many of us here are attempting to negotiate? Many pitfalls and many rich rewards?

    Gassho

    Willow
    Last edited by willow; 03-11-2013 at 10:30 AM.

  33. #33
    We are heading in that direction Willow, I am also strongly in favor of more participation from our novice priests. Jundo too. It is coming.

    Gassho

    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  34. #34
    As a middle school teacher and university professor, I learn from my students constantly. As Taigu suggested, good teachers are open to learning all the time. I tell my student teachers that even though they may one day be considered "master teachers" by others, if they ever consider themselves as such, they better start looking for job at Starbucks.

    That said, as a Zen student, I cannot and would not put myself in a position to teach the Dharma, except perhaps by my actions, which I would hope stem from compassion and loving-kindness. At least that's what I'm striving for (in a non-striving way, of course) !

    Gassho,
    Dainin

  35. #35
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Willow,

    "The reading list at the end of the document is extensive - there must be a lot of knowledge out there - a lot of discursive thinking taking place. Academic study is positively encouraged. Again a certain tension between thinking and over-thinking/intellectualization might present?

    For myself - I would really appeciate our novice priests sharing more of this process - because surely it is a process that many of us here are attempting to negotiate? Many pitfalls and many rich rewards?"

    Hi, I'd like to respond to a few of your questions and share a few of my own impressions. I stress that these impressions are my own and I do not speak for the Unsui - I am a layperson who is preparing to ordain, so I am in a bit of a grey zone - a wonderful zone of ambiguity and groundlessness where I am able to reflect on the direction of my practice and commitment. So my thoughts are my own, misguided, and not reflective of the management.

    There is a tension between book learning and direct experience in a tradition that values realization through direct awareness. For all the stories about monks and practitioners stubbing toes, holding silently up lotus blossoms, walking into trees or phone poles and having "experiences," the Zen tradition is certainly full of monastic guides, rules for practice, and stories that transmit the history of repsective lineages. There is a certain amount of reading and writing that is expected in training, and I have had to complete assignments in the pre-ordination period. As an individual who tends to over-intellectualize, this is an easy tendency for me to fall into. I have to be careful not to turn my training and practice into Zen by "book learning..." But we are expected to be conversant with the history, traditions, and practices of Buddhism in general, Zen in particular, and our lineage.

    What has made the greatest impression on me is the notion of apprenticeship, one of the core traditions of study and practice. It is difficult to systematize this relationship into a series of certification standards for professional recognition. I am aware that there are efforts in the United States to generate systematic criteria for the training, certification, and recognition of Zen priests. Our priest training guidelines are a genuine and serious effort to incorporate the best of modern method, technology with time honored practice. On the other hand, Zen has always been characterized by lineages, offshoots, and varieties of schools and practices. There is a need in the world for various types of priests and practitioners - monastics in residence, priests out in the world, scholars who will advance the historical record, priests who work in hospice and shelters anonymously, etc. In my own opinion, to attempt to generate a cookie-cutter approach to priest training is to depart entirely from the spirit of Zen.... ironically, standards of training and conduct were used by rulers in China and Japan to "coopt," and politicize religious traditions, in other words, to render them less threatening, and more palatable instruments of power and control. So I find today's efforts to homogenize training standards really interesting. The notion of apprenticeship in a legitimate lineage with a solid teacher is the tradition itself. In certain cases the teacher becomes the student and the student the teacher.

    In terms of the shape and content of my own practice, working with the Treeleaf Priest Training Guidelines requires individual initiative and effort - we are all different individuals and a family - siblings with Jundo and Taigu as our "parents." They recognize our differences and hope only that when the day comes and they are no longer around that we can all support and learn from one another. I sit and practice with Treeleaf, my home Zendo with Jundo as my "root teacher.". I also sit at a local Lay Zendo whose resident priest was a student of Suzuki Roshi in San Francisco. Here I am learning how to behave in a more traditional, physical Zendo. Here I function as Doan and Kokyo. The third leg of my practice is increasingly with a local bookshop owner who lived and studied with Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, and Nanao Sakaki. This is the unfettered, "Practice of the Wild" open space Zen that eschews walls, lineages, and clothing.
    ;-)

    Most importantly, I am experiencing a sense of humility and awe - I have been posting very little in this period because I am learning far more by listening and realize that in preparing for a lifetime of study and service what I have to say is nonsense. Right now I feel the best way to practice (and maybe one day) to teach is to just do and to just be..... how to convey that in an online forum is a work in progress....!

    I wander. I should stop here. Thank you.

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 03-11-2013 at 06:54 PM.
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  36. #36
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    One of the 'methods' mentioned in the document is 'writing, blogging and interaction with others in our sangha' - in order to manifest certain qualities. I'm wondering if a dynamic operates within this in that the qualities of restraint, curbing the ego etc might develop a kind of buddhist alter ego that mitigates against saying very much at all.
    An integrated unsui blog at treeleaf. That would be interesting... I really like the unsui run sits on G+ even though it's been I while since I've made it to one.
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Yugen View Post

    What has made the greatest impression on me is the notion of apprenticeship, one of the core traditions of study and practice. It is difficult to systematize this relationship into a series of certification standards for professional recognition. I am aware that there are efforts in the United States to generate systematic criteria for the training, certification, and recognition of Zen priests. Our priest training guidelines are a genuine and serious effort to incorporate the best of modern method, technology with time honored practice. On the other hand, Zen has always been characterized by lineages, offshoots, and varieties of schools and practices. There is a need in the world for various types of priests and practitioners - monastics in residence, priests out in the world, scholars who will advance the historical record, priests who work in hospice and shelters anonymously, etc. In my own opinion, to attempt to generate a cookie-cutter approach to priest training is to depart entirely from the spirit of Zen.... ironically, standards of training and conduct were used by rulers in China and Japan to "coopt," and politicize religious traditions, in other words, to render them less threatening, and more palatable instruments of power and control. So I find today's efforts to homogenize training standards really interesting. The notion of apprenticeship in a legitimate lineage with a solid teacher is the tradition itself. In certain cases the teacher becomes the student and the student the teacher.

    Most importantly, I am experiencing a sense of humility and awe - I have been posting very little in this period because I am learning far more by listening and realize that in preparing for a lifetime of study and service what I have to say is nonsense. Right now I feel the best way to practice (and maybe one day) to teach is to just do and to just be..... how to convey that in an online forum is a work in progress....!


    Thank you for these words, Yugen . They are illuminating and inspiring.

    Gassho
    Daizan
    大山

  38. #38
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    I like what Brad Warner says: "Zen has to be a little bit dangerous...". I'm not running around in the kitchen with scissors, but I am a Zen toddler whose parents are watching - just enough room to explore but the rat poison and the alcohol are out of reach....!

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Yugen View Post
    I like what Brad Warner says: "Zen has to be a little bit dangerous...". I'm not running around in the kitchen with scissors, but I am a Zen toddler whose parents are watching - just enough room to explore but the rat poison and the alcohol are out of reach....!

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Thank you Yugen ... that so reminded me of when I was little and I always put my glass right at the edge of the table during dinner to see what kind of reaction I would get from my Mom. I just got the look ... enough said.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by catfish View Post
    An integrated unsui blog at treeleaf. That would be interesting... I really like the unsui run sits on G+ even though it's been I while since I've made it to one.
    There is a portion of the Forum that is all theirs (after the first year of training anyway), and I hope they make more use of it.

    Unsui's Corner
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...Unsui-s-Corner

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  41. #41
    Thank you for the replies - it helps a great deal to clarify the questions I had.

    Yugen - I found your thoughts illuminating. I feel it can only be a positive move for Unsui to share their process and I do hope, as Jundo says, the Unsui's corner becomes more focal. I am already looking forward to Han's discussion on the Lotus Sutra.

    I'm sure the input from those members who are training at a deep level (not to discount the motivation, commitment of those members not formally training) will encourage us all in our journey/process.

    Thanks again for the opportunity to be part of this Sangha,

    Gassho

    Willow

  42. #42
    Greetings,

    I have to say this has been an interesting thread to read and it brings to mind a question. First let me state ive been a solo practitioner for years now with my family being my sangha. Ive never preached or pushed the dharma but if im asked about my faith or my practice im willing to share my personal experiences. For instance i sit zazen at the local YMCA twice a week while my youngest has her swim lessons. On a few occassions ive been asked about it and i generally just explain the posture, breathing and letting go of thoughts when they come. This to me is discussion not instruction. But now I'm currious, where is the line between discussion of faith/practice and teaching of faith/practice drawn?

    Gassho,
    John

  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by jgolds72 View Post
    Greetings,

    I have to say this has been an interesting thread to read and it brings to mind a question. First let me state ive been a solo practitioner for years now with my family being my sangha. Ive never preached or pushed the dharma but if im asked about my faith or my practice im willing to share my personal experiences. For instance i sit zazen at the local YMCA twice a week while my youngest has her swim lessons. On a few occassions ive been asked about it and i generally just explain the posture, breathing and letting go of thoughts when they come. This to me is discussion not instruction. But now I'm currious, where is the line between discussion of faith/practice and teaching of faith/practice drawn?

    Gassho,
    John
    I have no idea.

    Look, on the one hand, no problem with anyone with some experience showing others a bit about posture, the basics of Shikantaza and Zen Practice, and getting them started. We also encourage anyone to organize a sitting group, and it is perfectly fine to show others "the ropes" of sitting and share with others. I guess it is a matter of speaking with common sense within one's comfort zone. That is especially fine if the person makes it clear to listeners that that is all they are doing.

    On the other hand, there would be putting on robes while sitting in front of a Buddha statue, giving the impression of being a teacher, and lecturing on old texts, the universe, Dogen and what not. It is just the misleading impression that might be conveyed to some unsuspecting listener that is a concern.

    In between, a lot of gray area.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    In between, a lot of gray area.
    That gray area spooks me. On the one hand it is my birthright to speak about this life, this universe... I am after all that very life. On the other hand I demonstrably lack mastery in practice, and have no training in responsible teaching. It seems like a recipe for malpractice, and there is plenty of that going on. I hear it all the time down the hall from where I work . Someone has set herself up as a Buddhist teacher, sending leaflets around the neighborhood. When I asked if she has received any training or has even taken refuge, she said no, and that she teaches from "life experience". I don't begrudge her right to teach.. she doesn't claim to be ordained sangha, but the teachings are a whopper of confused mysticism, and people are coming and listening.

    Gassho, Daizan
    Last edited by Daizan; 03-15-2013 at 12:48 PM.
    大山

  45. #45
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Hi,
    In the Christian world the two poles are: the centralised model of the Vatican, with its college of cardinals, and the lone preacher that sets up at the street corner ... more of the broadly Protestant tradition. Don't we work at both poles, and neither?
    Gassho
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  46. #46
    Dear Daizan,

    In danger of preaching here this is what I think:

    Here In Holland much the same 'easy listening' spirituality seems to get popular fast. It seems in uncertain times maybe the end of the golden age in Western Europe, many people are looking in that old garbage can, hoping to retrieve some of the “jewels” they carelessly threw away once. Religion and spiritual guidance, seem on the up and up again. I for one, sometimes wish I could help some of those people who hopelessly wander from teacher to teacher in search of a safe haven. I often feel very compassionate and powerless ( frustrated even). It is however just not our place to fill in that gap I think?

    If people find some comfort and security from this lady, we can only hope those who listen one day will realize popular and trendy spirituality it's not the answer. The easy way never is, it's hard work and that’s where many lose interest quick. Someone who seems to have all the answers ‘a la carte’ and sliced and diced too is like the old moth to the flame I fear.

    I agree it's also very dangerous in a way. Our sensei did warn not too long ago for the teacher pupil relationship and what happens if a teacher cannot deliver. Leading someone astray is easy, don’t you agree?


    Still , I for one find it difficult to see that subtle balance in the grey area and refrain from any teaching ( in Zen or Buddhism) as long as that is the case.
    But that’s just me

    Folowing this thread with extra interest,

    Gassho

    Enkyo/ Peter/ Potato peal

  47. #47
    I like to avoid the responsibility of being responsible whenever I can and have a tendency to say "this is what I do and it seems to work for me" vs. "do this and that and it will work for you". Being responsible for my own actions is hard enough!

    Gassho,

    John
    Last edited by Jishin; 03-16-2013 at 04:16 AM. Reason: Sp

  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Enkyo View Post
    I agree it's also very dangerous in a way. Our sensei did warn not too long ago for the teacher pupil relationship and what happens if a teacher cannot deliver. Leading someone astray is easy, don’t you agree?

    I agree with your whole post , Enkyo.

    Sometimes it seems like Zen folks can take the "nowhere to fall" realization for granted. It is easy for me say it is true now, but there was a time when that wasn't lived experience. The rabbit holes people go down may be mind-made, but they are very real for someone lost in one and scared. I remember being lost and scared. So the stakes are high in that sense IMHO. A teacher who isn't confirmed and truly grounded in the Dharma can be a real problem. I'm not afraid I'll spout nonsense, or go off the rails, but I do share your view....

    I for one find it difficult to see that subtle balance in the grey area and refrain from any teaching ( in Zen or Buddhism) as long as that is the case
    Gassho, Daizan
    大山

  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo View Post
    Hi,
    In the Christian world the two poles are: the centralised model of the Vatican, with its college of cardinals, and the lone preacher that sets up at the street corner ... more of the broadly Protestant tradition. Don't we work at both poles, and neither?
    Gassho
    Myozan
    I would say that our Way is not one of rigid "Orthodoxy", yet neither are we a "teach whatever feels good and rings your bell" school either. There are some clear and time-tested-timeless Buddhist, Mahayana and Zen Teachings, Traditions, Practices, Perspectives and such, and while one need not be a slave to Tradition, one would be foolish to toss it all away and just take what pleases. One can find freedom and flexibility in what first seems "the Orthodox".

    The Buddha famously said that in the Kalama Sutta not to accept old Teachings on reputation alone, but to put them to the test in life. At the same time, the Buddha taught certain things as definitely right and others as definitely wrong.

    It is a bit like driving a car. One cannot just drive however "feels good and rings your bell", ignoring all the traffic lights and stop signs, everyone making up their own rules of the road! That is foolish, if not deadly. Yet, one must stay loose and flexible behind the wheel, always open to changing road conditions, ready to try a new direction! That will get one where one is going (which in Zen, is down the road and always right here too).

    Until one has mastered the basic skills and knowledge, one should not be allowed alone on the roads. That is why I am still in favor of having road tests and licensed automobile drivers ... and some system of "licensed Zen Teachers" (even those some folks in both categories should really not be behind the wheel).

    I do feel bad for the folks who just go shopping from belief to belief in the spiritual shopping mall, loading their basket with this or that before throwing most of it away. I feel bad for people who get suckered in by all kinds of gurus and healers of this or that. Sometimes, one can get into a caravan following some leader that ends up driving right off a cliff (as has happened in a couple of Zen groups too over the years)! That is not good either. I think I mentioned it earlier, but the movie "Kumare" is out on video now (and free this month online to Tricycle subscribers) ...

    http://www.tricycle.com/filmclub

    I feel bad for the people who started to follow the film Director-Guru. I think the director does too early on, but goes ahead with his project anyway. Here is a review ...

    Brooklyn-based filmmaker Vikram Gandhi likens his new genre-bending documentary Kumaré to a Zen koan. Followed by a film crew, Gandhi grows out his hair and beard, dons an accent, and becomes a “fake guru” he calls Kumaré. Vikram then has his character visit suburban Arizona. The aim isn’t just to trick people, but to teach people who think they need a guru that all spiritual leaders are actually illusions — and the only real guru is within.

    “The reason for making the film was in a way propaganda — exposing something that seems real to me and true,” Gandhi says now, as the film continues to open in theaters around the U.S.
    But it’s not propaganda without humor. “I didn’t want to say it isn’t a joke,” Gandhi says. “It is a joke. It’s just a serious joke. It’s not a movie that’s just a spiritual quest, it’s also a skeptic’s quest.”
    http://shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=27723
    Keep on drivin' ... the Middle Way!

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-16-2013 at 02:28 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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