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Thread: Buddhists and their teachers

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Buddhists and their teachers

    I am curious, do you think Buddhists relate to their teachers differently than in other religions? The answer seems an obvious yes, at least to me. So I wonder if it's because Buddhism is so much a reliance on the self that allows us to throw crap at teachers with relative no impunity. In other religions if you criticize the teacher you get called a blasphemer, but in Buddhism they say that's fine, go find another. All this is from my limited perspective and history, so enlighten me (and the rest of us) further.

  2. #2

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    I am curious, do you think Buddhists relate to their teachers differently than in other religions? The answer seems an obvious yes, at least to me. So I wonder if it's because Buddhism is so much a reliance on the self that allows us to throw crap at teachers with relative no impunity. In other religions if you criticize the teacher you get called a blasphemer, but in Buddhism they say that's fine, go find another. All this is from my limited perspective and history, so enlighten me (and the rest of us) further.
    Actually, Al, in most of Asia and especially in Japan, the "teacher" (whether in a Buddhist group, a college or public elementary school ... also the medical doctor) is typically in an almost unchallengeable position ... one's "guru" or "master" or, at least, not someone who gets challenged with many student (or patient, for the medical doctor) questions and opinions and open criticisms. Yes, folks are sometimes free to "vote with their feet" and seek a different teacher but, in fact, in traditional Japanese and Chinese Zen, it was almost impossible for a student to change his "master" once selected ... one was bound to one's master, and almost unquestioning loyalty was expected.

    In most of the Zen groups I have attended in Japan, the teacher usually is asked only a few, polite, unchallenging questions ... if any. (My Japanese dentist jokes that his American patients have two differences from his Japanese patients ... the Americans (1) moan and squirm more (2) ask a lot more questions). :shock:

    Frankly, one of the tensions between Nishijima Roshi and some of his foreign students, me included, has been his 91 year old, "Old Japan" Samurai attitude with regard to variations in expression and approach on the part of some of his students (most of whom have learned not to mention differences in opinion). Younger Japanese, exposed to the west, tend to be different (my wife, Mina, is having some neck surgery this week ... and the doctor, a more "modern thinking" doctor educated in the U.S., took an hour yesterday to really talk with her about it).

    Now, it is supposed to be a two-way street ... whereby the "master" has certain obligations to the "apprentice" who is bound to him. But, in reality, the apprentice usually had few options if the master was not a good one ... except to take it or try to find another teacher (not always so easy or even legally permitted).

    I cannot find the original source of this quote any more, but it discusses the position of the junior researcher to his senior in a Japanese university (at least until recent years, when things have started to loosen a bit in some quarters). However, if that is a university ... well, the Zen world in Japan and Buddhism in most of Asia tends to be relatively rigid, old school, ultra-traditional, still in the middle ages, emphasizing almost unquestioning loyalty to the teacher.

    In reality, there are many “Ways” to do most things in Japan, although each
    group will have a tendency to claim that its pattern is “the Way.” As a
    medical researcher who has participated in procedures and experiments at
    many dozens of Japanese hospitals, universities and the like, I know that no
    two groups ever will follow exactly the same patterns. Each, however, will
    have a tendency to explain that its way is “the Way,” usually because the
    most senior person in the group will have come to that conclusion after
    having learned it to be the thinking of some other person ... that the senior person respects. (Also, one must be
    very careful in suggesting that a competing group might have a better way
    which contradicts the opinion of a senior member of group). Every group in
    every culture does this, but what is unusual in Japan is the inflexible,
    almost mechanical way the system operates. The emphasis on proper “Kata”
    (Boye de Menthe has a wonderful, hard to find little book on this) in
    Japanese society is reminiscent of any conservative, tradition based
    culture, though unique in the way is has developed to permit a functioning,
    industrial society.

    Ah, sometimes around Treeleaf ... I wish folks were a bit more "old school" in their attitude to the teachers. :?

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Stuart Lachs does a lot of writing on subjects related to this, although sometimes Stuart (who is a Zen practitioner for decades) goes overboard "baby out with the bath water" in his critique (in fact, once in a long while he can be so extreme that he throws out the whole bathroom). However, he generally says some things that need to be said ..

    He hits on such important topics as how Westerners have had very idealized images of Zen Masters (especially the ones with an Asian face who look the part ... white guys like me get less respect, cause we are not "mysterious Asian old men" ... I sometimes have a joke that, if you take a waiter from a Chinese restaurant and wrap him in one of the red table clothes, some folks will assume he is a High Lama) ... and the tug or war between American independent spirit and Japanese tradition/rigidity.

    The contemporary and prominent Masataka Toga-roshi has stated, "In Japanese Zen, loyalty is most important. Loyalty to one's teacher and to the tradition is more important than the Buddha and the Dharma."[20] This attitude may be well suited to Japanese culture, a culture very different from our own. However, it may be time for American practitioners to begin to explore structures of practice not modeled exclusively on the Japanese form, but on ways that are more compatible with our own culture of democratic and egalitarian ideals. They might places less emphasis on absolute loyalty to a superior or to an institution and more emphasis on equality and minimizing hierarchical structures.

    In a sense, Zen has inverted its self-definition of "a separate transmission outside of words and letters." We should keep in mind that according to the Zen view truth cannot be expressed in words but rather only alluded to in spontaneous and natural activities of daily life.[21] However, Zen gives great prestige and authority to a ceremonially invested institutional role, whether Master, roshi, or Shi-fu, rather than basing authority on the actual lived, observable activity of the individual. At least in theory, this latter criterion is the only legitimate means in the East of discerning the mark of the sage. It is based on the concept of t'i-yung, usually translated as essence-function, which is prominent in all East Asian philosophical systems.[22] According to this view, it is the transformation of the personality reflected in a person's ability to act spontaneously (directly) and without hindrance in response to phenomenal situations, that marks the sage or enlightened one. The Master/roshi is said to be realized, that is to make the ideal of enlightened activity "real in his everyday experience."[23]

    Zen has put the cart before the horse. Zen institutions define any teacher having the title Master or roshi as a sage or enlightened being. This imputation of character is independent of the teacher manifesting any qualities that could be seen as marks of realization or enlightenment. Regardless of whether or not the individual can manifest any evidence of such an exalted level of spiritual attainment, this status is conferred upon the teacher with the institutional title. By virtue of the investiture of an institutional position the individual automatically acquires a whole array of impressive qualities. He is extraordinary, or else utterly ordinary. He also gains the ability to act and speak from the perspective of the Absolute, to perform miracles, to always maintain a pure mind, and ultimately becomes the repository, if not the living manifestation of the perfectly realized mind of Shakyamuni Buddha. The students are not empowered to have confidence in their own abilities of empirical observation and intuition to assess the actual moment-to-moment everyday conduct of a teacher.

    Though Zen institutions persist in defining themselves as a tradition, "not depending on words or letters," there is an unstated imperative to do precisely that. It is expected and repeatedly taught that the students should defer to and exalt the term "Master" or "roshi," a title and the ceremonial position it stands for, rather than relying on their own good sense and intuition in matters relating to the teacher's authority. There is a deception operating here. On the one hand Zen rhetoric tells its followers to be in the moment, to see what is in front of their eyes- "look look" Lin-chi exclaims.[24] Yet, on the other hand, Zen rhetoric implies to its followers that they are incapable of seeing what is going on in front of them, when seeing is directed towards the Master/roshi. The nature of enlightened activity must be taken by virtue of a title, on faith. What the Master does, is by definition, enlightened activity.

    Clearly, this is a situation that is disempowering to Zen students who accept or internalize this construction of reality. It places the Master in a position somehow over and above the human, since all the Masters activities are enlightened, coming from the Absolute. Hence, viewing the Master is tantamount to viewing Buddhahood in the flesh. Not surprisingly, the North American Zen group mentioned earlier, being well socialized into Zen's rhetoric, expressed astonishment that a Zen Master was capable of displaying human foibles. The Master transcending being human, becomes an icon, an idealized representation of a greater truth beyond comprehension and judgment. For example, one bright undergraduate philosophy major, after some reading about Zen and upon seeing a Chinese Master walk across a room for the first time, gave expression to this icon-like view by stating, "it was intense man, it was intense."
    http://www.terebess.hu/english/lachs.html#20

    In fact, the problem with Western Zen students these days may be the opposite ... little patience, short term loyalty, too much arguing and "I know better" attitude, too much in their own head, throwing away too many traditions, arguing and debating everything like those talking heads on Fox News. I see that a lot! Here.

    We need to find the Middle Way on these issues too.

    Gassho, Jundo (and just agree with everything I say on these questions) 8)

  4. #4

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    ... I sometimes have a joke that, if you take a waiter from a Chinese restaurant and wrap him in one of the red table clothes, some folks will assume he is a High Lama) ...
    Paris Hilton actually did that a couple of years ago ... wrapped some vaguely Asian looking (but not) friend of hers in some red drapes, and folks thought he was some great Buddhist Holy Man ...



    http://www.people.com/people/article/0, ... 11,00.html

  5. #5

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Americans who take on Hindu practices seem to idolize their teachers far more than the Indians do. But Americans who take on Zen seem to do so less. Maybe the Americans who end up in Zen are the ones who aren't satisfied following a particular teacher blindly, so they pick up a practice that seems to have a lot of self-reliance?

  6. #6
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Hmm, interesting and complicated, huh. I was thinking that the person-to person, mind to mind transmission part made the relationship between Buddhists and their teachers different somehow, more personal. But thinking about it more and reading the above I think I have oversimplified. Besides, Buddhism has no special claim on personal relationships with its teachers, but maybe we just carry it out differently.

    I saw this yesterday in Zen Master Raven by Aitken and it seemed to apply to this and other related threads:
    Porcupine then asked, "Is trust in the teacher important for the practice?"
    Raven said, "Indispensable."
    Porcupine asked, "Can't that create problems?"
    Raven said, "Interminable.

  7. #7

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    Ah, sometimes around Treeleaf ... I wish folks were a bit more "old school" in their attitude to the teachers. :?

    Gassho, Jundo
    Gorsh! This would turn into a bad Hong Kong flick.

    [Trealeaf Students walking to DSI building] "You hit our teacher! Prepare to defend yourself!!! Kiaaaaaaaa!!"
    :twisted:

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Just from hanging around the spiritual watercooler over the years I have come to understand that the more demanding a spiritual teacher is, whether a roshi, lama, rabbi or staretz, the more eagerly and "blindly" one will follow them. When there seems to be little or no room for questioning or that quintessential Western curiosity to form, Westerners seem all the more eager to surrender themselves to guidance.

    However, when the same people are given the opportunity to question, experiment and "find out on their own"; the more it is that they challenge their teacher, turn away from their guidance and hop-scotch around. It makes the observation the "kids really only want discipline" appear to be true. The freer they are made to feel, the more anarchist they become.

    Don't get me wrong a little anarchy is good in the face of petrified authority, but there are some folks who seem to feel that it is their duty to challenge everything and everyone, even when those things are really working. Some Westerners, I believe, feel that unless they are tearing something down their individuality is being suppressed. This indicates to me that there is no room for "faith" in their lives, only bare raw fact, and unfortunately I have found that that does not always answer the question gnawing at one's core. Some several hundred years after the Revolutions of Reason, there are still some who wish to continue the Reign of Terror, lopping off heads left and right. Madame LaFarge...move over!

    Gassho,

    Kyrill/Seishin

  9. #9

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    And her guru is Raza....he is one of my pips! LOL :mrgreen:

    http://www.myspace.com/maxactor5

    Once I was invited to do a presentation on Buddhism. Since I am bald and vaguely Asian-looking (was confused to be "oriental" by a Chinese woman), a friend of mine suggested I should wear sandals and a saffron colored robe. He thought I would get more people to really dig my talk. I entertained the suggestion. :twisted:

  10. #10
    Stephanie
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    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    In my personal experience, wisdom and guidance offered by individuals not in a position of publicly sanctioned or approved authority has been the source of more insight, inspiration, and transformation in my life than guidance and wisdom offered by "official" Zen teachers. Perhaps it is because I learn better in relationships that are not hierarchical (it has been said that this is a more typically female approach to learning and community-building); I am not sure.

    Either way, the ultimate guide has always had to be my own judgment and instinct. Which is a bit of a koan, the injunction to "trust oneself" when one knows that one's assessment of things is not innately trustworthy. What it really amounts to is learning from experience, which I don't think any of us can get around; we have to do things a certain way and see if they work or not. The one thing I have learned to trust in myself is that I can only lie to myself and follow along with something that isn't working for so long before I have to admit to myself that the emperor has no clothes.

    Of course, there really is no limit to how much or how long we can lie to ourselves, but as Chet, a friend from whom I have learned so much, has said, pain is a good teacher, our most natural teacher, and falseness ultimately causes pain, however subtle. We have to listen to our own pain: am I still suffering? Do I still feel cut off from the source? Do I still feel haunted? Whatever it is that drove us to this practice in the first place.

    I think that approaches in which total respect and authority are given to a teacher as a manner of custom and principle, rather than earned over time, seek to bypass the necessity of learning from pain and experience. Not to say such approaches can't work; I actually respect the Tibetan guru system, for example, though I am not formed in such a way I could ever make that path work for myself. I can appreciate, though, that such an approach works with our natural psychology, our natural thirst for authority, instead of trying to overthrow it from the start.

    The relationship with the guru isn't about what is learned by taking the guru's words to heart, but the experiential learning of how we create what we perceive through projection. Ultimately, the guru we perceive is just a projection of our own "inner guru," etc. Faith initially placed in another brings us back to ourselves. Again, I can respect and appreciate the virtue of this approach, I'm just too lacking in trust and too quickly perceive others' neuroses to be able to uphold anyone else in a "guru" position for any sustained period of time.

    And the danger, of course, is that early on, students don't know that their "perfect teacher" is just their own projection. And so, the flawed people who become spiritual teachers (which is all people who become spiritual teachers, in case my meaning isn't clear) can have those flaws excused, justified, or upheld as holy truth by "green" students who have faith without wisdom. Which creates dangerous power imbalances that typically lead to dysfunctional communities and interpersonal harm.

    Ultimately, we can only learn through our own experience. Whether we take the path of total faith or of total skepticism, we can only truly learn from the pain and unsuccessful outcomes caused by that which we do that is not based in truth. The only faith that I have found indispensable on this path is that it is possible to wake up, that there is some part of us that can recognize truth, that its voice will rise above the clamor of foolish thoughts from time to time. Otherwise, we would have no hope of being anything other than self-deluded... a fear that arises for me, still, from time to time, and is only overcome through encounters with those who have earned my trust and respect by living with honesty, bravery, and humility, and who demonstrate, through the way they live, the accessibility and immanence of truth.

  11. #11

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    In my personal experience, I have hardly any comparison with teachers in other religions, but the ones in my "Catholic" period where priests that were so far from what they preached, it seemed the only way was to follow them due to their status. A few people that earned their trust did embody what they believe in and they stepped down from their podium. The reason why I came to buddhism is that ( in different traditions in the west), the "leading" people are easy to connect, human and one of the experiences I had in zen is koan study which is shaking you about, so it is part of the practice to challenge what the teacher is teaching you, in the sense you don't have to follow, you have to experience it yourself. If you see a buddha, kill him.

    Gassho

    Ensho Joris

  12. #12

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa

    I saw this yesterday in Zen Master Raven by Aitken and it seemed to apply to this and other related threads:
    Porcupine then asked, "Is trust in the teacher important for the practice?"
    Raven said, "Indispensable."
    Porcupine asked, "Can't that create problems?"
    Raven said, "Interminable.
    Well, that very same Aitken Roshi recently released his files of letters on an unusual and terrible situation with his Teachers and other priests in his Lineage, a true lesson on cultural differences East and West and how some scandals can get swept under the rug (that is not just the Catholic Church by any means) ...

    We should talk about these things in the open, not sweep them under the rug (the group or church that tries to hide these things is the one to run away from ... the group that tries to deal with them honestly, recognizing that there are always some "bad apples" is the "healthy orchard" in my opinion). A few bad apples do not spoil the whole bunch!! You know, Zen teaches us that there is no "you" to bump into all the other "not you" in the world ... Enlightenment! But, there sure is a "you" too ... and that you will sometimes bump into "not you's" a lot (and realizing that fact, to the marrow, is Enlightenment too! In fact, one has to realize that both perspectives are true at once! That's REALLY Enlightenment!!Moving back and forth and inside all of that ... Enlightenment!)

    And some of those "you" and "not you" happen to be Buddhist priests, and sometimes some can do very bad things!! :shock:

    In May of this year, we received a CD collection of letters held at the University of Hawai’i at M?noa Library Archives. Robert Aitken R?shi, the founder of the Diamond Sangha, an international Zen sangha, has donated his extensive files to the university library. The letters were, until recently, part of the sealed section of Aitken’s voluminous papers. The collection is accompanied by a signed letter dated August 14, 2008, from Lynn Ann Davis, Head of the Preservation Department of the library attesting to their authenticity, and every page of each letter is stamped with the library’s stamp. The letters cover the period of 1964 through to 1984 and are devoted to the interactions, directly and indirectly, between Aitken R?shi and Eido Shimano R?shi of the New York-based Zen Studies Society. Although there are some letters between Shimano and Aitken, and between Aitken and his Japanese teachers S?en R?shi, Yasutani R?shi, and Yamada R?shi, many are to others in the wider American Zen movement. The letters are concerned primarily with the “Shimano problem”, a problem about the alleged sexual misbehaviour of Eido Shimano R?shi that first arose in 1964 in Hawai’i, where Aitken R?shi is based.

    Following is a summation of the extraordinary story, as explicated in the Aitken letters, of a Zen master teaching in America for some 35 years, who has been accused of sexual misconduct numerous times and yet was never called to task nor properly investigated. A thorough, open and public inquiry into these accusations is long overdue. It is inappropriate that in today’s climate, when many religious figures have been accused and found guilty of inappropriate sexual activities, that Zen Buddhist teachers should be exempt from similar inquiries and not be held to the highest standards of propriety.
    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/Cri ... tters.html

  13. #13
    Senior Member Shujin's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    This wound up being an informative thread for me. On a tangent, some of the attitudes discussed remind me of myself during my university days. I had just started listening to jazz, and felt that only black folks could make 'real' jazz music. This was derived from a misguided sense that there was some kind of particular soul they possessed that white people didn't. Some time later, after I became more comfortable in my own skin, I realized that I was missing out on great jazz music from people of all races.

    Still on the jazz note, the discussion of teachers was illuminating. I remember idolizing Miles Davis, only to find one day that there were sweeping aspects of his life that left something to be desired. I felt confused that someone who could create great music could be doing things that were just plain wrong (ie beating women). I have to admit that I still don't understand, but it was a lesson in the pitfalls of hero worship.

    gassho,
    Chris

  14. #14
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    The nature of their position makes teachers role models, and yet the role of a teacher is to help the student find him/herself. I can't BE like Jundo because I have to BE Alan. To try and BE like Jundo is like putting another head on top of my own. Instead, I can DO like Jundo, but only up to the point it makes sense for Alan. Ultimately, I think we learn FROM teachers about how to BE ourselves, how to find our own true nature. Just because a teacher makes mistakes does not make him/her/it a bad teacher, although it may make him/her/it a bad role model. And I think this is an important distinction. If (or when) our teachers make mistakes (because they are human), then it is up to us to learn from those mistakes. And mistakes are a very effective learning tool, so it's good to air out those mistakes, but at the same time not all the dirty laundry needs to be out in the open because then it just smells real bad. The whole thing is very complicated.

  15. #15
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    As a teacher, let me add to Chugai's comment. I tell my students all the time that I can give them knowledge, but it is up to them to make it their own, to make use of it. This does NOT include arguing with me about knowledge, but sometimes a challenge can be mistaken for arguing. We gotta work through both the challenges and the arguments, both teachers and students. Again, it gets complicated, and that's why it's called practice.

  16. #16
    disastermouse
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    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by chugai
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    In fact, the problem with Western Zen students these days may be the opposite ... little patience, short term loyalty, too much arguing and "I know better" attitude, too much in their own head, throwing away too many traditions, arguing and debating everything like those talking heads on Fox News. I see that a lot! Here.

    We need to find the Middle Way on these issues too.

    Gassho, Jundo (and just agree with everything I say on these questions) 8) 8)
    I believe this is a true problem. Too many damn parrots regurgitating self help books and Zen texts. Many times I read a thread where a student asks the teacher a question and then
    argues with the answer. Another phenomenon of this same ilk is when the question is asked of the teacher then several laypersons wade in on the subject offering personal opinion --- then in some other post I'll read how these same laysters are struggling with finding time and/or motivation to put their asses on a cushion or visit a Zen center. I always think if these "students" quit answering every post on the internet and go sit they might actually accomplish something.
    There's nothing wrong with flat-out arguing - and a teacher in that style can usually do quite well with it. Some may even encourage it. The point is that teachers and students may have to be correctly matched as that goes.

    The other thing, it's perfectly okay to argue as long as you're willing to go where the other person is as well - at least at some point. Sometimes I resist going there at first, but eventually I get there with the other person to at least some degree. It helps to remember that 'God is not on your side'. The thing is, by the time I do get there, it's real. Some illusion or barrier in me, some egoic clinging, has been eroded a little bit - and it rarely re-emerges, and if it does, it's not as solid or as immovable.

    Chet

  17. #17

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Hi folks,

    loads of very insightful posts here. Thanks for all the contributions. I personally do not have a problem with arguing with a teacher per se, however from my experience it's just amazing how much our consumerist culture has influenced me and others like me to always want to be able to buy, participate and argue on the same level as others as soon as one gets started (or literally buys into) a certain form of spiritual endeavour. A lot of Japanese people with Post-graduate degrees in Buddhist studies would possibly say that they don't know much about buddhism, whilst a lot of westerners feel that they have something meaningful to contribute after only a few years of sitting and having only a superficial understanding of the territory they are referring to (both intellectually and non-intellectually). And no, this is no cultural prejudice but rather my personal experience. I guess , as was stated before, trying to find a good balance between strict authoritarian approaches and "we're all the same and all we say has the same value" might be good practice.

    Gassho,

    Hans

  18. #18

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Thank you Hans.


    gassho

    Taigu

  19. #19
    disastermouse
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    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans
    Hi folks,

    loads of very insightful posts here. Thanks for all the contributions. I personally do not have a problem with arguing with a teacher per se, however from my experience it's just amazing how much our consumerist culture has influenced me and others like me to always want to be able to buy, participate and argue on the same level as others as soon as one gets started (or literally buys into) a certain form of spiritual endeavour. A lot of Japanese people with Post-graduate degrees in Buddhist studies would possibly say that they don't know much about buddhism, whilst a lot of westerners feel that they have something meaningful to contribute after only a few years of sitting and having only a superficial understanding of the territory they are referring to (both intellectually and non-intellectually). And no, this is no cultural prejudice but rather my personal experience. I guess , as was stated before, trying to find a good balance between strict authoritarian approaches and "we're all the same and all we say has the same value" might be good practice.

    Gassho,

    Hans
    I don't think it's that we're more consumptive that's causing this, we've always been consumptive...I think it's the idea that 'the perfect exposition' of the Dharma is possible (or that the Dharma is some sort of perfect theory)...and hence, when your teacher says something that disagrees with something you read/heard/absorbed elsewhere, the conflict causes dissonance and arguing is an outlet for that. This is natural to an incomplete introduction to Dharma - but in times previous, the access to seemingly conflicting points of view and styles was very limited. Not so much anymore. In essence, there's just too darned much to consume from too many sources before one's own understanding is mature.

    I think it's hard to have faith in your teacher because your teacher is no longer THE primary source of your input regarding the Dharma anymore - and so it's harder to privilege him or her long enough to just accept the teaching (which in the best of cases is immediate and relevant to your particular practice) long enough that you have your own deeper understanding of the Dharma. At that point, you can hear two seemingly contradictory statements about 'the Dharma' and see how both are true (and in an ultimate sense, necessarily incomplete).

    Chet

  20. #20

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Obviously, Chet, you may sit a bit longer and reflect. Your ideas are brilliant but...




    Take care


    gassho


    Taigu

  21. #21
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Obviously, Chet, you may sit a bit longer and reflect. Your ideas are brilliant but...




    Take care


    gassho


    Taigu
    And your lack is equally....well, not brilliant - but similarly silence inducing! All I posted was an invitation to a possible cause so that maybe we can guard against what is a natural tendency.

    So...maybe you should reflect a little bit and maybe earn your keep?

    Just sayin'... I don't quite have enough trust that you're not full of shit yet.


    Chet

  22. #22

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    There's nothing wrong with flat-out arguing - and a teacher in that style can usually do quite well with it. Some may even encourage it. The point is that teachers and students may have to be correctly matched as that goes.
    I agree, Chet, that there is nothing wrong with teacher and student wrestling, challenging and being challenged, pushing and pulling and knocking walls down ... but there is a qualitative difference there from the situation with folks who are too much up in themselves, in their own head, ears closed and mouth open, thinking that they are the second coming of the Sixth Patriarch as yet unrecognized, the only judge of what is authentic (all while usually still living in their mother's basement). These folks are all over the Zen blogosphere, and they pop in and out of our Sangha from time to time (usually getting out after judging that we are not "authentic" enough here to fit their pre-established image).

    Likewise, there are the folks who Hans alludes to, and the related group of "spiritual materialists" who shop around and shop around for a teacher who they find pleasing. (they complain about the teachings which they don't like ... as if choosing among dishes they prefer at a fashionable restaurant, or whether to have a massage or do tai chi at the spa).

    Then there are the folks who are searching for what they imagine to be "a spiritual experience" and "performance of miracles", and are disappointed at how "mundane and ordinary" this form of Zen is (because, frankly, they are missing the ultimate spiritual experience and miracle that is to be found in the 'ordinary' right before their eyes, and their eyes too).

    And don't even get me started on the "Dharma Combat" folks. I get an e-mail at least once a month from some kid who wants to prove he is the "fastest gun in town" so throws some Koan at me (Dharma Combat is used in some corners of Rinzai Zen, but is not so common in modern Soto Zen) ... so, he will toss "Why did Bodhidharma come from the East" or something at me. I will usually write back something like, "I don't know, you'd better ask Bodhidharma. Would you like his e-mail address?". :roll:

    There ... I'm done complaining and heading to bed. :twisted: Mina (Mrs. Jundo) is having a bit of neck surgery tomorrow, so I need to be at the hospital early. Maybe I will argue with the doctor and tell him how to perform the operation. :?

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - Just sayin'... I don't quite have enough trust that you're not full of shit yet.

    Chet, that is certainly not Taigu's problem. :wink:

  23. #23
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    There's nothing wrong with flat-out arguing - and a teacher in that style can usually do quite well with it. Some may even encourage it. The point is that teachers and students may have to be correctly matched as that goes.
    I agree, Chet, that there is nothing wrong with teacher and student wrestling, challenging and being challenged ... but there is a qualitative difference from the situation with folks who are too much up in themselves, in their own head, ears closed and mouth open, thinking that they are the second coming of the Sixth Patriarch as yet unrecognized, the only judge of what is authentic (all while usually still living in their mother's basement). There folks are all over the Zen blogosphere, and they pop in and out of our Sangha from time to time (usually getting out after judging that we are not "authentic" enough here to fit their pre-established image).

    Likewise, there are the folks who Hans alludes to, and the related group of "spiritual materialists" who shop around and shop around for a teacher who they find pleasing. (they complain about the teachings which they don't like ... as if complaining about a bad dish at a restaurant). Then there are the folks who are searching for what they imagine to be "a spiritual experience" and "performance of miracles", and are disappointed at how "mundane and ordinary" this form of Zen is (because, frankly, they are missing the ultimate spiritual experience and miracle that is to be found in the 'ordinary' right before their eyes).

    And don't even get me started on the "Dharma Combat" folks. I get an e-mail at least once a month from some kid who wants to prove he is the "fastest gun in town" so throws some Koan at me (Dharma Combat is used in some corners of Rinzai Zen, but is not so common in modern Soto Zen) ... so, he will toss "Why did Bodhidharma come from the East" or something at me. I will usually write back something like, "I don't know, you'd better ask Bodhidharma. Would you like his e-mail address?". :roll:

    There ... I'm done complaining and heading to bed. :twisted: Mina (Mrs. Jundo) is having a bit of neck surgery tomorrow, so I need to be at the hospital early. Maybe I will argue with the doctor and tell him how to perform the operation. :?

    Gassho, Jundo
    Yeah, I think I caught myself doing a little bit of what you're talking about in the thread right above yours. LOL!

    Still, too many teachers coast and don't really....well, teach.

    Chet

  24. #24

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Thank you Chet...

    Still, too many students talk and don't really...well, study.

    gassho


    Taigu

  25. #25
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Thank you Chet...

    Still, too many students talk and don't really...well, study.

    gassho


    Taigu
    Yeah, I do that - don't I? LOL! I was too ego-bound to hear the lesson the first time, Taigu. I'm sorry.

    Gassho

    Chet

  26. #26

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    Equally unhelpful. Are NEITHER of you two going to earn your keep? Should we throw you out of the temple, or can you say something worthwhile?
    Nah. I don't get paid for this job, admission is free. Quality wise, you only get what you pay for.

    (on the other hand ... the best things in life are free too)

  27. #27
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    Equally unhelpful. Are NEITHER of you two going to earn your keep? Should we throw you out of the temple, or can you say something worthwhile?
    Nah. I don't get paid for this job, admission is free. Quality wise, you only get what you pay for.

    (on the other hand ... the best things in life are free too)
    I caught myself mid-stride - didn't think to leave my stupidity up since I caught it in the middle of an edit.

    Taigu,

    Am I to assume this means you think I should no longer post here? It is likely to be more of the same.

    Chet

  28. #28

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Stay the same, Chet, the way you are is great. Post, as you wish.
    Allow me to post back. And sometimes not agree with your views.
    Both you and and me know all too well that... it doesn't really matter.

    Gassho again, brother


    taigu

  29. #29

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Thank you Hans.

    gassho

    Taigu
    I'm getting lost here. I could just take it all at an intuitive level but I assume you're trying to say something with verbal meaning, and I'm missing it -- too clever for me. Could you be a little more explicit please?

    Thank you ... Scott

  30. #30

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Hi Scott,

    I am just saying thank you because I agree with Hans. As simple as that. There is nothing clever, nothing special. To my taste the little game of posting is sometimes far too verbal, far too wordy or complicated. Most of the time I refrain from posting or boil it down to the very minimum. People generally post too quickly. This is something i would like to discuss with Jundo and invite people to wait.



    Thank you for for your question.

    gassho


    Taigu

  31. #31
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Hi Scott,

    I am just saying thank you because I agree with Hans. As simple as that. There is nothing clever, nothing special. To my taste the little game of posting is sometimes far too verbal, far too wordy or complicated. Most of the time I refrain from posting or boil it down to the very minimum. People generally post too quickly. This is something i would like to discuss with Jundo and invite people to wait.
    This is the only real communication the Sangha has. It's not so much correspondence as it conversation - and conversation flows.

    What's that? First thought, best thought? Exactly.

    And if it doesn't really matter, why not tear the place down? Of course it matters. It matters more to some than to others, I suppose. The main reason it matters is that, practically speaking, it's not helpful to stay in a Sangha if a teacher dislikes you too much.

    Chet

  32. #32

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    We can see what the misunderstanding and mishandling of first thought, best thought do here and there, what kind of traces it leaves on the web. As soon as we move our fingers on the keyboard and intend to write a post, we have left the realm of of first thought, best thought a long time ago...Most poeple here do very well, a few of you have this anger, agressivity, this tough edge with which Jundo is very patient.

    To all, please, be humble. Humble. That's all.


    Thank you


    gassho

    Taigu

  33. #33

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    I didn't say anything in this thread, and won't add anything...
    But I just want to deeply thank all of you guys!

    Some very profound yet very simple/direct things are being said...
    And that just helps me a lot these days!

    Deep Gassho,
    Luis/Jinyu

  34. #34

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Thank you Taigu...seems like you're really drilling down to the tightrope that Zen teachers must walk if they operate within the online forum context...a tough row to hoe.

    American culture is predicated on continual grasping after consumer products. It seems to carry over very well into the online style of discourse....grasp, challenge, grasp, challenge, grasp, challenge.

    Tom

  35. #35
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    We can see what the misunderstanding and mishandling of first thought, best thought do here and there, what kind of traces it leaves on the web. As soon as we move our fingers on the keyboard and intend to write a post, we have left the realm of of first thought, best thought a long time ago...Most poeple here do very well, a few of you have this anger, agressivity, this tough edge with which Jundo is very patient.

    To all, please, be humble. Humble. That's all.


    Thank you


    gassho

    Taigu
    Seeing as I'm not likely to change my basic personality or challenging nature and this bothers you so much - just ask me to leave?

    I'd thought that Jundo had not just tolerated it, but actually appreciated some of it. If this is not the case, then I truly don't have any place here...which is why I've tried not to get too comfy.

    I'm at peace with my flaws, finally - but I certainly don't expect others to be that way. If my input is not wanted, well - who wants to stay in a place where he's merely tolerated?

    You keep saying 'some of you'. Address us directly - it's clearer that way.

    Chet

  36. #36
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by Yellow Pine
    Thank you Taigu...seems like you're really drilling down to the tightrope that Zen teachers must walk if they operate within the online forum context...a tough row to hoe.

    American culture is predicated on continual grasping after consumer products. It seems to carry over very well into the online style of discourse....grasp, challenge, grasp, challenge, grasp, challenge.

    Tom
    As opposed to some other ideal culture? I've got an idea - instead of expecting the culture to change (which is unlikely), maybe we should think of a way to address the problem. Hell, maybe we should really examine if that IS the problem.

  37. #37

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Chet ,

    You certainly have a place here. We have learned so much thanks to you and your insights. You don't have to agree with me or be appreciative of my limited understanding. I wanted to point at a direction, you seem not to be willing to listen. That's fine.

    Take care


    gassho


    Taigu

  38. #38

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    Seeing as I'm not likely to change my basic personality or challenging nature and this bothers you so much - just ask me to leave?

    I'd thought that Jundo had not just tolerated it, but actually appreciated some of it. If this is not the case, then I truly don't have any place here...which is why I've tried not to get too comfy.

    I'm at peace with my flaws, finally - but I certainly don't expect others to be that way. If my input is not wanted, well - who wants to stay in a place where he's merely tolerated?

    You keep saying 'some of you'. Address us directly - it's clearer that way.

    Chet
    Okay, since you said *address it directly" ... 8)

    I'm happy you are here Chet.

    Here is some cheap armchair psych-analysis: It feels like maybe you are going through one of your self-doubting periods (or, better said, self-doubting-self periods). I notice you tend to get a little in others faces a bit at such times. Am I assuming too much? We all get like that sometimes, some more than others (the outward bite is actually a self-defense mechanism). Am I right, or is it cheap psycho-analyzing at a distance?

    It took me awhile, but I came to recognize in you that you are all marshmallow inside the sometimes gruff exterior. About that, I do not think I am wrong. You are a pussycat who shows his little pussycat claws sometimes. Meow (Tin Tin the cat in my lap as I write this).

    What's more, even your "rough, challenging personality and nature" are not as rough and challenging as you think. Over on Brad`s blog, some of those guys would eat you for lunch. :wink:

    Yes, where we can, we should speak our mind, say what we need to say ... but do so in a kind, gentle manner, I believe. This world is already so rough and ugly sometimes, why bring more roughness and harshness into it? Anything that needs to be said can be said kindly, I believe. There is no need to hold back one's ideas or comments, although the presentation can be sugar or acid. Where possible, less acid is best, I believe, for everyone. (I have a New York sarcastic personality that I barely keep in check ... and sometimes do not) :twisted:

    I have spoken to you if I thought you were getting into a member's face. Feel free to get into my face or Taigu's face all you want. Taigu and I really don't care. Please don't mind if we wrestle back to try to wrest some of your views and perspectives from you (as Taigu has been trying to do).

    So, glad you are here.

    Gassho, J

  39. #39
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Chet ,

    You certainly have a place here. We have learned so much thanks to you and your insights. You don't have to agree with me or be appreciative of my limited understanding. I wanted to point at a direction, you seem not to be willing to listen. That's fine.

    Take care


    gassho


    Taigu
    You are simply too subtle for me sometimes, Taigu - it gets buried in the general noise in my life.

    In essense, I THINK you were saying, 'Stop being such a know-it-all - you've still got a long way to go.'. But I don't know that this is what you were originally trying to say...I'm starting to grok it more as you've responded.

    I know I've got a long way to go - and in my response, it may seem like there was an implied, 'unlike me'. On the contrary, I was actually was speaking from personal experience. I see it because I did/do it.

    There's very little depth in my practice these days..

    Chet

  40. #40

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Again, Chet, so glad you are here. And sorry for the cryptic style. I will do my best to improve.

    Take care

    gassho


    Taigu

  41. #41

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Yellow Pine
    American culture is predicated on continual grasping after consumer products. It seems to carry over very well into the online style of discourse....grasp, challenge, grasp, challenge, grasp, challenge.

    Tom
    As opposed to some other ideal culture?
    Strong support. Quiz: in which culture do people spend more on clothes: urban Japan or urban USA?

  42. #42
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    East Texas
    Posts
    1,241

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    I don't think it's Western consumerism as much as it is individualism. We tend to teach here a version of self-importance, that your voice/opinion matters, and this is fine. But it's not an absolute. This individualistic self-importance then runs into zen where it is all about studying the self, and I think the result sometimes is a sort of This is the way it is for ME, so that's the way it is! kind of attitude. Actually, as I typed that I realized I get this in my university classes sometimes. Students come for knowledge and then when it doesn't fit with their experience they argue knowledge they supposedly came to discover. But with zen, as it is a spiritual matter, and thus much deeper than most other matters, that attitude can be a bit toxic. In the East it is more about collectivism, and I think that makes for less rubbing up against people in difficult ways, not that it doesn't happen, just that the way it is handled is different, quieter.

  43. #43
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    I think the readiness to trust one's own experience over pronouncements from authority figures, and to question what one is told, if that is indeed a "Western" tendency, is a strength, not a weakness. It seems to me that there are far more people in America and elsewhere who want to give up their freedom and just follow what someone else says is the truth or the right thing to do. It's easier that way. Look at all the gurus and spiritual figures in America, past and present, who have been able to govern every detail of their followers' lives. It's comforting, comfortable to have someone take over for you. Just relax and drink the Kool-Aid. I don't see how placing an inherent trust in authority figures--a trust given automatically, rather than earned the way it is in most relationships--could ever lead to wisdom.

    And AlanLa, what kind of teacher would want students to simply swallow quietly everything that a teacher said or that they read in a textbook? Education isn't about storing up information, it's about learning how to think and analyze for oneself, to entertain different perspectives. Which requires, demands, the ability to question and challenge. Most of the classes I took and professors I studied under strongly encouraged us to question what we read or heard. It's important to learn to be open to other points of view, but being open and questioning things are not necessarily opposed.

    Finally, personal style is aesthetic. One style is not inherently more truthful than another. Gentle or aggressive, rough or smooth, loud or quiet--it's all about what people relate to. I learn more from strong words than gentle ones. Others learn more from gentle words than strong ones. Our conditioning is what leads to our aesthetic preferences, one aesthetic preference is not more "right" than another. I might like weird angular modern art, you might like gentle flowing Expressionist colors, and we each might think that the other is "wrong" or "less cultured" or whathaveyou, but that's all just ego talking. Nothin' to do with truth, which can come packaged in any aesthetic.

    Thank goodness Chet is here--he was the only one who was able to help me get out of the spiritual bog I was in, and I looked in a lot of places for help, virtual, physical, and otherwise. Direct honesty, an ability to tolerate the dark places of the mind, and time for me. No one else could offer these things. Other people had opinions about how I could forcibly alter myself so that my mind and self-presentation conformed better to social prescriptions, but no one else offered me the truth I hungered for. The truth that was often hard to hear, and that I often didn't like to hear, but was willing to hear no matter what. No matter whether it was packaged nicely or served with sugar or not.

    I think if Chet became more of the person Taigu seems to think he should be, it would be a loss. The problem with authority is that Taigu's personal preference for a certain kind of style, and obvious personal discomfort with conflict, heated exchanges, and powerful words, could be taken as a prescription for what is fundamentally "right" or "more enlightened" by people who see him as an authority, rather than all it is, which is a personal preference.

    As John Daido Loori would say: "Feh!"

  44. #44
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Rochester, NY, USA
    Posts
    4,877

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Stephanie and Chet,

    I honestly wish I had even the most basic understanding of what makes you both tick as I think I'd be better off for it. But for the life of me I just don't get it. NOT a criticism AT ALL...just an observation. If you honestly believe it works for you, more power to you. I'm just clueless.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  45. #45
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Montgomery Illinois USA
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    513

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    DearHearts,

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    I honestly wish I had even the most basic understanding of what makes you both tick as I think I'd be better off for it. But for the life of me I just don't get it. NOT a criticism AT ALL...just an observation. If you honestly believe it works for you, more power to you. I'm just clueless.
    Ditto!

    I very sincerely believe that everyone can be and is my teacher at some time and some place in this life. Sometimes I am able to listen with an unfettered mind, and at other times I only "hear" bits and snatches; and then there are times when I cannot hear anything for all the noise and drum banging. This has been my experience here. I do not regret this experience only the loudness of it from time to time.

    Thank you to ALL my teachers,

    Kyrill/Seishin

  46. #46

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by scott
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Yellow Pine
    American culture is predicated on continual grasping after consumer products. It seems to carry over very well into the online style of discourse....grasp, challenge, grasp, challenge, grasp, challenge.

    Tom
    As opposed to some other ideal culture?
    Strong support. Quiz: in which culture do people spend more on clothes: urban Japan or urban USA?

    No other ideal cultures out there...unless there's one without authority issues.

    I would assume Japan would spend more. Italian women spend the most...

    Taigu, Jundo...thank you for your patience and compassion, which, after last week must be in short supply as the aftershocks seem to rumble thru this thread.

    Tom

  47. #47

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans
    Hi folks,

    loads of very insightful posts here. Thanks for all the contributions. I personally do not have a problem with arguing with a teacher per se, however from my experience it's just amazing how much our consumerist culture has influenced me and others like me to always want to be able to buy, participate and argue on the same level as others as soon as one gets started (or literally buys into) a certain form of spiritual endeavour. A lot of Japanese people with Post-graduate degrees in Buddhist studies would possibly say that they don't know much about buddhism, whilst a lot of westerners feel that they have something meaningful to contribute after only a few years of sitting and having only a superficial understanding of the territory they are referring to (both intellectually and non-intellectually). And no, this is no cultural prejudice but rather my personal experience. I guess , as was stated before, trying to find a good balance between strict authoritarian approaches and "we're all the same and all we say has the same value" might be good practice.

    Gassho,

    Hans
    I think intellectual knowledge of Buddhism is only useful when motivating you to practice Buddhism. It always amazes me when a beginner 'having only a superficial understanding of the territory ' says something that inspires me, teaches me. Whether my opinions are based on experience or inexperience, I'm always trying to drop them so I don't become too arrogant.
    /Rich

  48. #48
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    East Texas
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    1,241

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    And AlanLa, what kind of teacher would want students to simply swallow quietly everything that a teacher said or that they read in a textbook?
    Stephanie, sometimes this is exactly what students should do, and sometimes it is exactly what they should not do, but generally it is somewhere in between. Interacting with the material is one thing, arguing the ultimate reality of one person's experience over thousands of years of collective wisdom or knowledge is something else entirely. I want my doctor to swallow the whole medical textbook, despite all the old wives tales about medicine he grew up with, and then I want him to interact with medicine to make it, and me, better. As a student of zen, I believe it is entirely appropriate for me to both swallow what Jundo and Taigu have to say AND interact with it despite all the Christianity I grew up with. If one of them tells me that I have more to learn and my first thought is Screw you or That's wrong, then that is probably not my best thought. The act of making wisdom and knowledge personal shouldn't be disrespectful or negate others' perspectives. I believe interacting with them in a respectful manner works better for all.

    It also occurs to me that sometimes people argue different points because we find it really hard to be able to hold two things true at once. For example acceptance without acceptance is really tricky when you are sure that the world is a duality, which of course it is and isn't :twisted: It's a lot easier to say I'm right and you're wrong than it is to work through the difference, but it is exactly that working through the difference where all the value lies. And that working through the difference is best done respectfully.

    The above is what works best for me and most people I know, but there are individual differences on this and that's fine too. Thanks for sharing yours.

  49. #49

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    In the East it is more about collectivism, and I think that makes for less rubbing up against people in difficult ways, not that it doesn't happen, just that the way it is handled is different, quieter.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I think the readiness to trust one's own experience over pronouncements from authority figures, and to question what one is told, if that is indeed a "Western" tendency, is a strength, not a weakness. ... what kind of teacher would want students to simply swallow quietly everything that a teacher said or that they read in a textbook? Education isn't about storing up information, it's about learning how to think and analyze for oneself, to entertain different perspectives. Which requires, demands, the ability to question and challenge.
    Ah, there is a Middle Way here ... which need not be a "namby-pampy, tepid, fence sitting" way, but more a skillful time to do this, a skillful time not to do that. There is a time to add salt to the broth, and a time not to do so. Both are necessary.

    I think Alan said it nicely for me ...

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    And AlanLa, what kind of teacher would want students to simply swallow quietly everything that a teacher said or that they read in a textbook?
    Stephanie, sometimes this is exactly what students should do, and sometimes it is exactly what they should not do, but generally it is somewhere in between. Interacting with the material is one thing, arguing the ultimate reality of one person's experience over thousands of years of collective wisdom or knowledge is something else entirely. I want my doctor to swallow the whole medical textbook, despite all the old wives tales about medicine he grew up with, and then I want him to interact with medicine to make it, and me, better.
    Also, this cannot be said ... and not said ... enough ...

    It also occurs to me that sometimes people argue different points because we find it really hard to be able to hold two things true at once. For example acceptance without acceptance is really tricky when you are sure that the world is a duality, which of course it is and isn't :twisted:
    Gassho, J

  50. #50
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Buddhists and their teachers

    Wow. First off - lots of 'teacher-pleasing' going on in this thread. Everybody wants to please teacher, to get an 'A+' - it's natural, normal, and probably not conscious - but boy is it going on here.

    Secondly, there's very little that I argue about with Jundo or Taigu - hell, that's why I'm here and not somewhere else. For the vast majority of things, I've got no beef with either of them - in fact, I'm immensely grateful to have such teachers - truly - and not only that, but to have a place to practice at all that I feel part of - that's not typical for me. I really connect here...and I don't really connect anywhere - don't let myself connect or know how to connect in most places.

    Third - it was touching to see Steph running to my defense - we should all have such loyal friends. But in this case, I have actually turned around and accepted that Taigu is right! Not about my personality in general, because even if I wanted to change that, there's really no point in trying. It's hopeless, and more than a little self-loathing. I've been to 'self-loathing-ville' and I think I stayed long enough to see everything I want to see. I'm probably always going to be loud, off-the-cuff, brash, and at times a little offensive. Certainly, I have no skill at tact - but that's not even what Taigu was trying to bring to my attention, I don't think. I come off as a know-it-all here, and there are aspects to the way I communicate that imply that I'm talking down to others - as though I am not like them. I see that. It's not really my intention, but maybe that's unconscious on my part too. Certainly, there's an aspect of 'I see things you don't' or just basic critical angles in my dealings with others - along with a general dismissal of things that I don't really find all that important.

    If Taigu's criticism is that I give way too much weight to my own opinions and not enough to others - well, that's true! I usually come around after a little while and a lengthy debate, but it's GOT to be annoying to just about everybody that my instinctive response to something to which I disagree is a flat-out dismissal of the opinion or point. Like I said, if we debate it for a little while, I usually start to come around to at least giving the viewpoint the respect it deserves - and sometimes I am convinced and come around full circle...but I'll fight you all the way there with the implicit stance of dismissal.

    I also think that maybe Taigu was telling me 'Hey dumbass, stop talking like you're something special, because you're not.' In this case, it's not something I do on purpose or am even really aware that I do - but I have to admit - I do it. Inherent to seeing what looks like a lot of blind idiots stumbling in the dark is to become desensitized to the fact that, in many ways, you yourself are also a blind idiot in a lot more ways than you aren't. And becoming a less-blind idiot is unlikely to happen the more you focus on what potentially blinder, more idiotic people are doing that you don't think you do anymore. Actually, you're probably not less-blind - you may be just differently blind. I don't see what I don't see - and I think Taigu was trying to point out that there is, in fact, a whole lot that I don't see. And I sure as hell am not going to see it as long as I'm overly focused on all the things that others don't see - and at the same time, rather dismissive of the very idea that there's something they may see that I don't.

    Or...well, maybe I've fucked up what Taigu was trying to tell me. He is rather cryptic. And French. That probably doesn't help either.

    Chet

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  3. Poems For Melancholy Buddhists
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