All human beings, from 'Great Bodhisattvas' right on down to the rest of us, are human beings ... and that means rough edges, cracks and ugly spots, flesh, fallings down and flaws. (At least, of course, until we eventually become Perfect Golden Buddhas ... assuming that even those ideals reside anywhere beyond our flawed human imaginations
) Human beings are human. That includes Zen and other Buddhist teachers, no less.
What matters most is what we do with those flaws in life, how we live as human beings ... with a bit of grace, ease, non-attachment, wholeness, peace, at-oneness and sincerity, great Compassion and Loving Kindness toward our fellow flawed beings. Practice does not remove all our human rough spots, but it allows a wild and imperfect stone to be imperfect (perfectly imperfect
) yet simultaneously material to be polished into a jewel ... so many rough edges made soft and round. The Precepts are a guide for constant moment-to-moment practice in "not falling down". One cannot polish a tile into a Buddha ... but the constant polishing is Buddha.
Yet, despite the roundness and polishing, some rough edges may remain. All human beings have the tendency to fall down from time to time, some more than others.
It is a fallacy to think that Zen or other Buddhist priests are ever completely free, during this life, from being human. In any large group of people ... whether Zen priests, other Buddhist, Christian or Jewish priests and clergy of all kinds ... there will always be examples of greed, anger and ignorance. Furthermore, in the lifetime of any one individual ... even among the best of us ... there are sure to be moments of greed, anger and ignorance.
But our Practice does, more often than not, free us from the worst. It makes us better people. (In fact, most clergy I have met ... not just Buddhist clergy, but of all religions ... are good, caring, ethical people, the bad apples aside
). Most of the Zen teachers I have met ... especially those with a few years and some maturity under their belt ... tend to be lovely, gentle, well rounded, self-actuated, moderate, compassionate, healthy people - balanced, living life with fullness and well.
What is more, a teacher can be 95% good, wise and decent, a caring and profound minister ... yet have a proclivity in the remaining 5% that is an inner devil. The fact is that being a Buddhist teacher has not allowed many to avoid getting led around by the "little Buddha" in their pants sometimes, getting involved in sex scandals. There have been several modern Buddhist masters with addiction issues. I do not know of any case of child abuse involving a modern Zen or other Buddhist teacher ... but I would not be shocked if there ever was such a scandal. I know of Zen teachers who have punched other Zen teachers, or momentarily "lost it" and taken to an instant of violence.
The question is whether the 95% that embodies Wisdom and Compassion is completely canceled and nullified by the 5% which is an ass and a human fool. Certainly, if the 5% is serious enough (child abuse as seen among some rabbis and priests is certainly an example, as are other acts of violence or truly malicious conduc
t), I say it does, certainly
. (In fact, while recognizing that even the victimizer is too a victim of beginingless greed, anger, ignorance ... toss the worst of them in a cell, and throw away the key!
). On the other hand, if what is seen is a relatively minor human weakness or failing ... I say it does not. What is more, it may make the teacher an even greater teacher because
of his/her humanity.
In other words, I would rather learn about some things from a fellow weak and fragile human being wrestling, right now, with Mara
than from a stone Buddha statue, a Dharma
machine, a Flawless Saint (although how many of those long dead saints and ancestors in religious hagiographic story books, their lives cleaned up and dipped in gold and set on a pedestal after their deaths, were truly so flawless during their flesh and blood lives?