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Thread: When Your Guru Goes Bad by Brad Warner

  1. #1

    When Your Guru Goes Bad by Brad Warner

    Apologies if this has already been posted. As usual with Brad, food for thought.

    ----------------------------------------
    An article in the On the Cushion series by the popular Zen teacher Brad Warner. This essay appears in the Summer 2013 edition of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Subscriptions to Tricycle for European customers are available exclusively through Wisdom Books.

    In the past year or so, the Buddhist world has been rocked by several high profile sex scandals. Joshu Sasaki Roshi, Eido Shimano Roshi, and Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi have all been accused of doing some pretty sleazy stuff with their students, and as a result a lot of deeply disappointed former students of these very popular teachers are now wondering if their entire practice has been a total waste of time. After all, if these so—called “masters” with all their years of training behind them and all their followers couldn’t behave in an a manner consistent with the very precepts they ceremonially gave to so many students, then how can we believe Buddhist practice is good for anything at all?

    There is a lot of speculation in the Buddhist community about how such things could happen. Many would like to try to preserve their belief in the power of practice by blaming these teachers for not living up to their own standards while still believing that there are others who do live up to them. But many others have simply given up. To a lot of those who have never done any meditation themselves, it appears obvious from all these scandals that Buddhist practice isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Cases like these allow them to easily dismiss the whole thing as a big hoax.

    And yet here you are, dear reader, still reading a Buddhist magazine. So I can assume you’re not one of those who have given up entirely. But you have to be wondering what gives. I know I sure am! And I’ve been at this practice for close to 30 years now and have made my living these last few years writing books about it.

    The cases of Shimano, Merzel, and Sasaki are big enough that they’ve gotten mainstream press, leading to many people who really don’t know much about Buddhism making a lot of random statements about what it is. When such assertions are backed by the authority of respected news agencies, they can take on a tremendous amount of importance for people just starting to get interested in Buddhism.

    I don’t want to explain why seemingly good teachers go bad; I don’t think that’s the really vital question. However, I think it’s important to say that these cases are all extraordinarily atypical. They have all taken place in very large institutions with multiple centers that generate substantial incomes. These are extremely unlike the typical Buddhist centers in the West that generally have a single temple, often in someone’s living room or garage, with a handful of members—and they struggle mightily just to keep even that running. Some in ~ the mainstream media are speculating that these scandals are somehow related to something fundamental about Buddhist practice. But I wonder if they’re not more related to something fundamental about large religious institutions in general, regardless of which religion they’re associated with.

    I think there’s a much more fundamental issue for those of us who know about these gossip-magazine type of scandals and yet choose to stick with Buddhism anyway. All of us will at some point in our practice have to deal with the problem of what to do when our revered teachers reveal themselves to be just as human as we are.

    Most of us probably won’t find this out by reading about our teacher’s decades of tawdry sexual peccadillos in The New York Times. It will more likely be far subtler than that. Often it doesn’t take much. Perhaps we’ve heard that Buddhism is about mindfulness, but then we start seeing our teacher constantly leave his lunch on the bus or not remember students’ names. Or we know there’s a precept against drinking alcohol, but we see our teacher at a party with a beer in her hand. Or we hear that Buddhism is supposed to make you free from anger, but our teacher got pretty mad at his computer the other day. Or we hear that Buddhism teaches nonattachment, but now our teacher has a girlfriend that he seems pretty attached to. And—oh my! She used to meditate with the group!

    Stories like this can add up and make us start doubting our practice. If our own teacher isn’t perfectly mindful, pure in all habits, and completely free from anger and attachments, how can we ever hope to achieve these things? And when some famous and highly respected master goes spectacularly bad, that really makes us start to think twice about the effectiveness of Buddhist practice.

    I had all of these thoughts and more when I was starting out in my practice. I have to admit that there was just a little sparkle of joy in the back of my brain whenever this kind of thing came up. Practice is hard, and hearing the tawdry stories from time to time gave me hope that there might be a good reason to just give it up and go back to being a normal person again instead of a weirdo who got up early every morning to meditate before work.

    But much as I wanted to give up, I couldn’t. I knew my practice really was useful to me. Maybe the ultimate Solution to all my problems wasn’t waiting at the end of the rainbow. But something was happening, and I could feel it. And I could see that my teachers, even with their flaws, were part of that positive transformation.

    It’s OK to hold our teachers to reasonable standards of ethical behavior. We definitely should. But sometimes we expect too much. The problem is when people start believing that “Buddhist masters” are quasi-divine beings and thus hold them to standards so high that nobody in the world could ever hope to live up to them. It doesn’t help when you’ve got guys running around pretend¬ing to be so divine that merely being in their presence will get you enlightened. My teacher Nishijima Roshi used to say that practice made him “a little better” than before. It may not seem like much, but “a little better” can add up to make a big difference.

    There is a deeper truth of the universe, and it can be known by ordinary people. It can help them tremendously. But it doesn’t transform the people who know it from overdeveloped apes into angels. That can’t happen.If you discover that your teacher has been behaving in a really heinous way, like breaking the law or utterly violating the trust people have placed in her,maybe it’s time to seek another teacher. If the teacher makes claims that no ordinary human being could possibly live up to, that’s also a good reason to look elsewhere. But when it’s a case of the teacher showing himself not to be quite as divine as you had hoped he’d be, maybe it’s time to look at why you wanted him to be that impossible thing. Remember that in Buddhist cosmology it’s considered better to be born in the human realm even than to be born as a celestial being.

    Whether you actually believe in celestial beings or not, this philosophical stance points out that Buddhist practice is not about becoming divine. It’s about becoming fully human. The fact that your teacher has flaws should be a source ofj oy rather than disappointment. It means that your teacher is a true person and perhaps he or she can point the way for you to become one too.

  2. #2
    A very wise post from Bro. Brad. I disagree with him that such things happen only in the big centers, but still they are pretty rare.

    I put it this way awhile back, a little Jundo "finger wagging" ...

    -----------------

    I wish to question those folks who would lump all these so called "sex scandals" together ... both the few (very few!) true predators, date rapists, serial seducers and other abusers who misuse their role, trust and influence as "teachers" and clergy ... and those other folks who may have fallen into a very ordinary intimate affair between grown, mature consenting adults. All are not cut from the same cloth, and the second group should not be treated the same as the first.

    ...

    I also wag my finger at those folks who profess to have lost their trust in all Zen or Buddhist Teachers because of the missteps of a few. Baloney! A few bad apples do not spoil the whole apple orchard, and the fact is that most ... the vast majority of ... Buddhist Teachers I know are sincere, honest, dedicated, committed folks who generally would not hurt a fly. ...

    ...

    I also tisk tisk those folks who think that, because a Zen Master shows any failing at all ... from losing his cool from time to time, showing some weakness in personality, having some vice ... that completely disqualifies the teacher from all right and entitlement to teach (let along teach well!). Such a view is typical of the ZEN IDEALISTS AND ROMANTICS out there, looking for perfect Zen teachers without a fault or failing, who think that "Enlightenment" means never making a mistake in the words out of one's mouth, and never having a "bad hair day" again. TIME TO COME DOWN FROM THE CLOUDS! I would say that, if you are looking for a good Zen guide, find a man or woman who sometimes 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 ... nor the few aforesaid predators or serial seducers). 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, yields to temptation, does a real face-flop, says something she regrets, breaks some (hopefully not too big) Precepts in some very human way. Observe how does this person recover their balance? With what grace do they fall and, more importantly, 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!

    ...

    That leads me, finally, to cluck cluck at two corollary misconceptions about Zen Teachers:

    The first misconception is that Zen Teachers ... Zen Masters ... are ever supposed to be as perfect as a Buddha, beyond all error and mistake, totally one with the universe, always doing what is to be done in every situation, always speaking with a Buddha's tongue, never possibly to trip or fall, at total peace and harmony and wholeness with all this self-life-world, each and all Golden Buddhas and Perfect Jewels. Hockey-pucks! That is the view of some overly idealistic folks who have read too many Lineage Legends and Sutra story books in which our religious heroes and icons ... after being dead and gone ... are dipped in gold and polished up into super-human characters. Sure, as in any religion, we have many TRULY saintly and inspired, enlightened and enlightening folks in our Tradition, living and dead. However, most of the image of "Zen Master" is a bit of religious hype and propaganda.

    In my view, a "master" is someone with some "mastery" in an art or tradition to practice, pass on and pass down ... from carpentry to medicine to martial arts to Zen Buddhary. It need not mean the "master" is perfect and never errs. One can be a "master carpenter", yet not every corner will always be smooth; a "master surgeon" and lifesaver of thousands, yet sometimes make a bad cut, bungled diagnosis or deadly error. However, one should be pretty darn skilled in applying the art in life, and much more skilled and competent than those without the skills required. As in mastery in the martial arts, there is no technique in Zen for never being hit or never losing one's footing ... let alone for winning every battle ... there is no training offered on how to never fall, but rather, endless training on how to fall well. Show me the man or woman who encounters life's obstacles, sunny and rainy days, loops and losses, ups and downs ... all the mess and mayhem of Samsara ... who may be sometimes knocked sideways or down ... but who demonstrates how to be hit well and recover one's footing ... and I will show you a great Zen teacher.

    ...

    No, there are no Zen masters who are as perfect as a Buddha, beyond all error and mistake, totally one with the universe, always doing what is to be done in every situation, always speaking with a Buddha's tongue, never possibly to trip or fall, at total peace and harmony and wholeness with all this self-life-world, each and all a Golden Buddha and Perfect Jewel.

    But that leads to the last misconception:

    For, in fact, ALL Zen masters (even the predators and abusers!) are as perfect as a Buddha, beyond all error and mistake, totally one with the universe, always doing what is to be done in every situation, always speaking with a Buddha's tongue, never possibly to trip or fall, at total peace and harmony and wholeness with all this self-life-world, each and all Golden Buddhas and Perfect Jewels. TRULY! I KID YOU NOT!

    Sound like a contradiction? (Zen had lots of those!)

    MORE HERE:
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...Finger-Wagging

    AND HERE:

    There is a saying in the news business that "IF IT BLEEDS IT LEADS". An air crash or other tragedy captures the headlines and is endlessly examined by 24 hour news coverage, while the thousands ... hundreds of thousands ... of safe landings and uneventful flights that same day never make the news (Can you even imagine the strange headline ... "BULLETIN: PLANES MAKE NORMAL LANDINGS, NOTHING HAPPENED!!"). That leads to the unfortunate misperception that flying is dangerous, when in fact there have been record low fatalities in recent years, especially given the mushrooming number of flights and millions of passengers filling the skies. Countless folks get where they are heading, safe and sound across the world, and the most perilous part of flying is probably the mad taxi ride to the airport.

    It is much the same situation in Western Zen these days, where a handful of crashed Teachers lead some to the falacious impression that there is some wide spread systemic problem in the Zen world. Critics, often foolishly shortsighted or even with an axe to grind, are quick to assert that the whole Zen adventure is dangerous or corrupt based on isolated and extreme situations. Nothing could be farther from the truth!
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-Safe-Landings
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Emptiness is form. Form is emptiness.

    Caught in emptiness explains a lot and explains nothing.


    Gassho,
    Edward
    Last edited by Myosha; 08-27-2013 at 11:26 AM. Reason: faulty spell checker
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajña from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  4. #4
    Thanks for posting this, Karasu.

    I have to admit that my reaction was to run away when all these stories came out. I have met some dodgy, cult-like Buddhist groups in my time & I thought Zen was somehow immune to this kind of behaviour, so when I saw that it wasn't, I wanted nothing to do with it.

    Having had time to think things over, though, it was silly of me to expect perfection from Zen. One of the things I have come to value most from this practice is to be able to sit with the parts of myself that I don't like, to learn to accept & embrace life with all of it's imperfections, whilst at the same time recognising it's perfection!

    I love the fact that Jundo, Taigu & everybody else here are so down to earth & perfectly imperfect!

    _/\_
    Ade

  5. #5
    Adrian, I think Brad's point in the article is well made about how we react when we come face-to-face with the fact that Buddhist priests are not perfect, much as children do when they discover the same about their parents. As Jundo says, some imperfection is understandable, the more serious misdemeanors may require a rethink about one's choice of teacher. I have been largely impressed with how the Zen community has dealt with these issues of teachers badly stepping out of line. The Tibetan traditions still have a way to catch up, especially since many teachers are considered tulkus (reincarnations of enlightened people) who only manifest bad behaviour as a teaching method.

    Observe how does this person recover their balance? With what grace do they fall and, more importantly, 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?
    I tell my children that it is okay to make mistakes, that everyone does, and it is what they do afterwards that is important.

    a handful of crashed Teachers lead some to the falacious impression that there is some wide spread systemic problem in the Zen world
    As we see from the daily newspapers, scandal sells copy far better than reports of the many Zen teachers, Christian priests, bankers and politicians who go about their business quietly and effectively. With the current tide of scepticism about religious belief in the west, it doesn't take much for many to tar Zen with the same cynical brush.

    Gassho
    Andy

  6. #6
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone for your thoughts on this. As a beginner it was good for me to have this all to read. I especially appreciate the part in the article which talks about what about US expects our teachers to be perfect. So what is the answer to THAT question? Perhaps different for each person. I suspect it has something to do with human nature, we like to have role-models to inspire to or show us the way. Maybe it also has something to do with us not seeing OURSELVES capable of that kind of achievement, and that could be the real danger.

    Gassho
    C

  7. #7
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    Hi Andy,

    Thanks for sharing this - good article.

    BTW, Brad is coming to the UK

    http://hebdenbridgezen.org.uk/brad-w...ber-18th-20th/

    Gassho
    Matt

  8. #8
    Thanks for the heads-up, Matt. You thinking of going? Hebden Bridge is a nice spot!

    Gassho
    Any

  9. #9
    Brad has promised that he will come and lead a Zazenkai for us soon here at Treeleaf.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    No, there are no Zen masters who are as perfect as a Buddha, beyond all error and mistake, totally one with the universe, always doing what is to be done in every situation, always speaking with a Buddha's tongue, never possibly to trip or fall, at total peace and harmony and wholeness with all this self-life-world, each and all a Golden Buddha and Perfect Jewel.

    But that leads to the last misconception:

    For, in fact, ALL Zen masters (even the predators and abusers!) are as perfect as a Buddha, beyond all error and mistake, totally one with the universe, always doing what is to be done in every situation, always speaking with a Buddha's tongue, never possibly to trip or fall, at total peace and harmony and wholeness with all this self-life-world, each and all Golden Buddhas and Perfect Jewels. TRULY! I KID YOU NOT!
    Someone wrote to ask what I meant by the above, that "in fact, ALL Zen masters (even the predators and abusers!) are as perfect as a Buddha, beyond all error and mistake."

    Oh, it is just the 'ol "everything is already Buddha" thing ... the whole world and you too ... even though hard to realize, and even though well hidden and buried by our greed, anger and ignorance much of the time.

    If we act with Wisdom and Compassion, see the world with eyes of wholeness, peace and equanimity ... act Buddha-like ... we realize (see) and realize (make real) Buddha in this world.

    If we act with greed, anger and ignorance, division, lack, jealousy, violence and all the ugly ... we bury Buddha under a ton of dirt (even if, in one sense, the dirt is "Buddha" too ).

    'Tis how we see things and how we act. Another talk in the Beginner's Series on this question ...

    Saying that there is “no place to go, no destination” does not mean that there are not good and bad paths to get there! Saying “there is nothing that need be done” does—not—mean there is nothing to do. ...

    Saying “we are already Buddha” is not enough if we don’t realize that, act like so! ...

    Saying “there is nothing in need of change, we are always whole and completely who we are” … does not mean that there is not much about us in need of change to allow us to live well and realize so! (Zen teachers talk out of both sides of a no sided mouth! )

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...%28Part-XIV%29
    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-28-2013 at 02:22 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    Possibly, if I can get the Friday off.

    Jundo - Thanks for the reminder. Look forward to it.

    Gassho
    Matt

    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    Thanks for the heads-up, Matt. You thinking of going? Hebden Bridge is a nice spot!

    Gassho
    Any

  12. #12
    I wonder if even the word choice of "zen master" can be misleading for individuals beginning with formal Buddhist practice for the first time. One of the things that drew me to Soto Zen as opposed to some other type of Buddhism was that the man who runs the temple I attended briefly referred to himself on the Temple website by name and nothing else. I also like the humbleness of the title of the "American Zen Teachers Association."

    No disrespect to accomplished meditators and scohlars of the Dharma, but I think that "Teacher" is a more accurate term perhaps, and one that is laden with just as much respect. A teacher is someone who teaches you. A master is someone you follow without question. Is "master-disciple" the best way to frame the relationship between a teacher and a pupil?
    I took an art class once in high school. I just could NOT draw that damn bicycle. Teacher told me, "Stop looking at the page. Look at the damn bicycle."

  13. #13
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I am very comfortable with the fact that nobody is or was perfect. It makes the precepts make sense and really exemplifies that everything is going as it should be. The moment everything is "perfect", there may be cause for worry because that would mean that the universe is no longer operating as it usually does.

    Looking forward to seeing or meeting Brad when, barring unforeseen delays, he pays us a visit.
    迎 Geika

  14. #14
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lordbd View Post
    I wonder if even the word choice of "zen master" can be misleading for individuals beginning with formal Buddhist practice for the first time. One of the things that drew me to Soto Zen as opposed to some other type of Buddhism was that the man who runs the temple I attended briefly referred to himself on the Temple website by name and nothing else. I also like the humbleness of the title of the "American Zen Teachers Association."

    No disrespect to accomplished meditators and scohlars of the Dharma, but I think that "Teacher" is a more accurate term perhaps, and one that is laden with just as much respect. A teacher is someone who teaches you. A master is someone you follow without question. Is "master-disciple" the best way to frame the relationship between a teacher and a pupil?
    I agree with you lordbd, a teacher should exhibit a certain degree of humbleness, though not false. I think the term Master can also apply to one of accomplishment. In my martial art we have a Grandmaster of our style, but it does not mean we obey him without question. It merely mean he is in charge because he has the most experience and skill. Taigu cautioned me against calling him Sensei, even though I meant it in the spirit of teacher. Overall to the point of this post I think anytime we put someone on a pedestal, we are setting up an expectation that that person may or may not be able to live up to. Even Buddha never claimed to be a diety

  15. #15
    Jundo,

    Beautiful. Perfect. You made my day. You said everything I have rolling around in my head but am too foggy (accident recovery) to be able to express yet.

    Thank you.

    Gassho,
    Fugu

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia View Post
    The moment everything is "perfect", there may be cause for worry because that would mean that the universe is no longer operating as it usually does.
    Oh, Amelia! I truly believe that you have hit on one of the "fundamental principles of the universe", why the world is the way it is, a point that (modern science and Buddhist teachings would fully agree) explains why the universe can be the universe. Yes, if everything were frozen solid like ice or stone (which even move and flow, by the way, although too slowly for human eyes to see) ... if there were not the change and movement and "things constantly bumping into things" of life ... there would be no life, no universe, no happenings, no growth, no evolution of species, no you and me. "All is impermanent, all composite things change", and that is necessary to life, to our being alive.

    Perhaps our Zen way is to embody the fact that, though things are "far from perfect" to our human eyes perhaps (not always the way we like it, and sometimes so ugly to our eyes), they are perfectly-imperfectly just what they are. Though the universe is in constant motion, there is also a Stillness in motion and stillness. Though one of those boulders, from time to time, might roll right over us or the ice melt and sweep us away in its flow (and we will not be too happy about it, and try to stay out of the way, feeling about ice like the captain of the Titanic ) ... we can simultaneously learn to roll with it, go with the flow ... be the flowing, experience that we are the very rolling-flowing-stillness of life-death-no life-no death.

    But, yes, sometimes even master swimmers might lose their balance and sink in the flow.

    =============================

    Anyway, this movement toward "teachers" and "everybody on a first name basis" is a very Western, Yankee, modern thing. Don't misunderstand, because I think it a very good development. But back in old Asia, which were very "top-down" societies in places like China, Japan, Tibet and Korea, "master" meant just that in everything from Zen to the martial arts to being an apprentice blacksmith. One did not question one's master (not directly to his face, anyway ... something still very true in modern Japan) and if one's master told you to "jump" then you jump (even off a cliff). So, though a modern and Western development, I think it good to loosen that up into the role of teacher with something to teach.

    Yes, I believe that applied even to images of the Buddha who, while denying that he was "merely" a god (gods actually come below Buddhas in most Buddhist rankings) was assigned (in about all the Sutta and Sutra writings about him, even the earliest although increasing as time passed) all the superpowers, omniscience and perfections of character that human beings could imagine up. I am very glad too that modern eyes may start to consider that the historical Buddha may have been just a man too, although a very gifted and insightful one ... but that also there is another perspective on "Buddha" that is as I described above ...

    ... beyond all error and mistake, totally one with the universe, always doing what is to be done in every situation, always speaking with a Buddha's tongue, never possibly to trip or fall, at total peace and harmony and wholeness with all this self-life-world, each and all Golden Buddhas and Perfect Jewels.
    You see, human beings (even human Buddhas and Master Walkers) can be the most graceful walkers, yet sometimes fall down. Of course, a true Master Walker should not fall down too much and know how to roll with the fall. But simultaneously, in a Buddha's Eye, there is no place to fall, no up or down, nobody to do the falling, never was or will be ... right in the heart of the falling.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-30-2013 at 01:33 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    But much as I wanted to give up, I couldn’t. I knew my practice really was useful to me. Maybe the ultimate Solution to all my problems wasn’t waiting at the end of the rainbow. But something was happening, and I could feel it. And I could see that my teachers, even with their flaws, were part of that positive transformation

    Well said! Yes, I agree that something like a sex scandal should not be taken lightly as it is extreme. It is also good to know that our teachers see themselves as human, it makes it easier to relate to them.

    Gassho,
    Treena

  18. #18
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Who talks about when your guru comes up good?
    Heisoku
    平 息

  19. #19
    Senior Member pinoybuddhist's Avatar
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    Good point. Just imagine a world where this is news:

    TV news anchor: "In other news: recently the Buddhist world was shocked and elated when a local Zen teacher was witnessed by his students sitting while facing a wall!"


    Rafael

  20. #20
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Just imagine a world where this is news:


    Good one Raf, gassho
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  21. #21
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    But, we have teachers here, not gurus...
    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."

  22. #22
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo View Post
    But, we have teachers here, not gurus...
    Gassho
    Myozan
    When the student is ready the teacher will appear ( though not always in human form). For me now that has been Jundo and Taigu who I feel do an excellent job with this new "experiment" in a virtual Zendo. For me this works, and it has been the first time I felt comfortable engaging in this kind of work daily and diligently. But not just our "teachers", all of you here are teaching me so much.

    Thank you
    Gassho
    C

  23. #23
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    With all due respect, I sit every morning in a zendo (a physical space in our home.) I have committed my service to a Sangha; a sangha as real as any sangha I have known. I continually make an effort to learn the things I am supposed to learn from my teachers (Jundo and Taigu included.) All of this experience is no more Virtual than the rest of the happenings in my life. Like I keep telling my wife Lillian, "There is no ownership in this life. We are all in it together; nobody gets out alive. "
    Last edited by Shokai; 08-29-2013 at 01:23 PM.
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    When the student is ready the teacher will appear ( though not always in human form). For me now that has been Jundo and Taigu who I feel do an excellent job with this new "experiment" in a virtual Zendo. For me this works, and it has been the first time I felt comfortable engaging in this kind of work daily and diligently. But not just our "teachers", all of you here are teaching me so much.

    Thank you
    Gassho
    C
    If you still say that in a year or two, or ten ... then I will listen to you.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  25. #25
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    *** ***
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai View Post
    With all due respect, I sit every morning in a zendo (a physical space in our home.) I have committed my service to a Sangha; a sangha as real as any sangha I have known. I continually make an effort to learn the things I am supposed to learn from my teachers (Jundo and Taigu included.) All of this experience is no more Virtual than the rest of the happenings in my life. Like I keep telling my wife Lillian, "There is no ownership in this life. We are all in it together; nobody gets out alive. "
    Love it!

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

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

  27. #27
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai View Post
    With all due respect, I sit every morning in a zendo (a physical space in our home.) I have committed my service to a Sangha; a sangha as real as any sangha I have known. I continually make an effort to learn the things I am supposed to learn from my teachers (Jundo and Taigu included.) All of this experience is no more Virtual than the rest of the happenings in my life. Like I keep telling my wife Lillian, "There is no ownership in this life. We are all in it together; nobody gets out alive. "
    Also love it, and I am in complete agreement!! This is also the first time I've really felt comfortable (and motivated) to continue a daily practice of Zen.

    Gassho,
    Treena

  28. #28
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Gee, thanks guys and good to hear it Treena

    gassho,
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  29. #29
    Senior Member Seizan's Avatar
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    During my first dokusan with Taigu, he requested not to be put on a pedestal like some Tibetan denominations do. He very adamantly stated that he was human and very much prone to mistakes. None of us are Buddha's, we all have Buddha inside. Teachers are here to teach and guide and assist us on our journey. But I think it is a fall off the Middle Path to blindly believe in a teacher, or to project perfections onto a human walking this earth with us. It's just not fair- they are all on the journey as well. Also, I might point out that you can love the teachings but not the teacher. There were scandals in the past with Buddhist teachers having addictions problems- but those were their demons to struggle with. Osho was a very sketchy character, and yet a lot of his words can really strike home with people. It's a case of doing what the Buddha requested- listening to teachings, then proving them true to yourself, and then holding the teachings to your heart. Not the teacher. (Though we should love all openly and equally.)

    Just my opinion,
    Gassho,
    Seizan

  30. #30
    I think we usually idealize the teacher as the figure seated in meditative pose on the top of a hill. Well, in most cases they are not. I believe that we must exercise compassion for all people, including our teachers. Sincerity is what matters. Weaknesses, we all have them.

    Cut the expectations and cultivate compassion. ... I think it's the best thing to do.

    Gassho.

  31. #31
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seizan View Post
    During my first dokusan with Taigu, he requested not to be put on a pedestal like some Tibetan denominations do. He very adamantly stated that he was human and very much prone to mistakes. None of us are Buddha's, we all have Buddha inside. Teachers are here to teach and guide and assist us on our journey. But I think it is a fall off the Middle Path to blindly believe in a teacher, or to project perfections onto a human walking this earth with us. It's just not fair- they are all on the journey as well. Also, I might point out that you can love the teachings but not the teacher. There were scandals in the past with Buddhist teachers having addictions problems- but those were their demons to struggle with. Osho was a very sketchy character, and yet a lot of his words can really strike home with people. It's a case of doing what the Buddha requested- listening to teachings, then proving them true to yourself, and then holding the teachings to your heart. Not the teacher. (Though we should love all openly and equally.)

    Just my opinion,
    Gassho,
    Seizan
    My opinion is that your opinion is a valid opinion.

    C

  32. #32
    Teachers are present in many different ways. Maybe it is a close master/disciple relationship, or maybe it doesn't look like a relationship at all. The student maybe isn't a “student” but living life and having these remarkable/challenging people who have connected in some way with his ignorance and wisdom. I remember meeting a teacher I hadn't seen in years and having nothing to say. Just a moment with an open heart and walking away with tears. Nothing more needed to be said. Maybe we'll connect again maybe not, but that teacher is my teacher. The same with the awkward teacher relationships, the fuzzy ones.
    As far as putting a teacher on a pedestal goes. I don't think you can personally elevate someone after a real meeting of minds. Bowing to the wisdom in a teacher is one thing, but fawning requires some distance. It requires the teacher who doesn't put a stop to it, which is easy enough to do. It also seems to require a feel good group vibe that is addictive and inspires a strong loyalty ethic... WE this group of ..rebels.. heroes.. Bodhisattvas.. and our amazing teacher... or whatever.

    I am grateful for all the teachers who have given this stubborn ass a kick, and the grandmotherly ones who have recognized wounds. The ones who have seen wisdom in here, and the ones who have seen a dunce. I hope if I encounter someone who engages in sleazy conduct, he/she can be my teacher too.

    Gassho Daizan
    Last edited by Daizan; 08-30-2013 at 01:47 PM.
    大山

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