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Thread: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    My parents are in for a visit and I violated the no intoxication precept with them last night, lol, and part of that was remembering Pastor Hal, who was a great friend to the family that recently passed away. Pastor Hal was a Lutheran pastor that spent many an hour with me during some of my darkest hours growing up, a great guy, a great listener, totally willing to wrestle with the Big Questions of life and being ok with not having all the answers. He reminds me a lot of Jundo, actually. When I questioned religion Pastor Hal said "ok." When I left off being a Lutheran he would have said "that's to bad, but ok." No pressure, and I loved him for that, very much. It occurs to me this morning that he was my first great spiritual teacher. I honestly can't imagine being where I am now, a Buddhist, without him. Strange, huh. Thinking of him I realize that Jundo would be my only other great spiritual teacher. So I've been lucky enough to have two great spiritual teachers which is quite the life double treasure. So I thought a thread of where people could post who their great spiritual teachers are would be nice, so here I am, remembering Pastor Hal, and wondering what other pastor hal type folk others have had in their lives. Honor them here.

  2. #2

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    In my past, I've had many great teachers. One of them was my philosophy professor in college, who always taught us to mix our vocation with our advocation, and gave me different perspectives on Christianity. My most recent great, spiritual teacher is also Jundo. There is a way in which he teaches that really speaks to me, and things I've struggled with over the past few months I'm starting to get now.

    There are many others that I cannot think of right now, but I will post them when I remember them.

    Gassho,

    Cyril

  3. #3

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    My first Buddhist teacher, Khenpo Tsultrim, who gave me refuge vows and encouraged me to read read read on Buddhism to try to grasp the philosophy. Held my hand through ups and downs in the Tibetan tradition and was kind enough to let go when I needed to leave. Many bows to him. My personal Roshi of a girlfriend, who, really, rivals Dogen sometimes in her logic and reasoning and gets me out of the clouds.

    Ikkyu and Ryokan are my teachers long passed. Dogen shows me the way to sit, to hold myself, and the significance of this and that (granted, my reading is limited, but what isn't?). But Ikkyu and Ryokan show how beauty is found even in sorrow, peace among turmoil, humanity among the idealistic notions of teachers. I like to think that I'd speak with Dogen for questions on philosophy, but share a hut and some tea (or sake, really) with Ikkyu and Ryokan just to taste the taste.

    Gassho
    Taylor

  4. #4
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Life, the universe, and everything.

    Thanks ~ Dave.

  5. #5

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    My first Buddhist teacher, Khenpo Tsultrim, who gave me refuge vows and encouraged me to read read read on Buddhism to try to grasp the philosophy. Held my hand through ups and downs in the Tibetan tradition and was kind enough to let go when I needed to leave. Many bows to him. My personal Roshi of a girlfriend, who, really, rivals Dogen sometimes in her logic and reasoning and gets me out of the clouds.

    Ikkyu and Ryokan are my teachers long passed. Dogen shows me the way to sit, to hold myself, and the significance of this and that (granted, my reading is limited, but what isn't?). But Ikkyu and Ryokan show how beauty is found even in sorrow, peace among turmoil, humanity among the idealistic notions of teachers. I like to think that I'd speak with Dogen for questions on philosophy, but share a hut and some tea (or sake, really) with Ikkyu and Ryokan just to taste the taste.

    Gassho
    Taylor
    Good perspective... I was thinking much more directly, but this is true as well. In a sense, the entire lineage of realized Zen practitioners could be said to be our teachers in Zen.

  6. #6

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Quote Originally Posted by cyril
    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    ...
    Ikkyu and Ryokan are my teachers long passed. Dogen shows me the way to sit, to hold myself, and the significance of this and that (granted, my reading is limited, but what isn't?). But Ikkyu and Ryokan show how beauty is found even in sorrow, peace among turmoil, humanity among the idealistic notions of teachers. I like to think that I'd speak with Dogen for questions on philosophy, but share a hut and some tea (or sake, really) with Ikkyu and Ryokan just to taste the taste.

    Gassho
    Taylor
    Good perspective... I was thinking much more directly, but this is true as well. In a sense, the entire lineage of realized Zen practitioners could be said to be our teachers in Zen.
    I must say, I get a little weary when I hear people talk about their teachers being writers. Yes, I understand the concept of transmission and lineage and all that jazz. However, they are simply writers and all you really know of them is a book. They are the equivalent of characters in a Stephen King novel, only Dogen had something to say worth reading... I learn every day from the books I read and love them dearly but to use the term teacher in this context I feel is a little wonky to say the least.

    Example: I have read the Satanic Bible and honestly, I loved it. There are some parts of it that are seriously delusional and there are parts that are shear genius. I say again, I loved it and learned a lot from it. Anton LaVey is in no way a teacher of mine. But I am also not a Satanist so I guess maybe that is why...

    Maybe I have no room for comparison to what my idea of a teacher is. I have never had a "spiritual teacher" of any sort. Agreed, probably a large part of my "spiritual problems." I continually see Jundo as more and more my "teacher" every day. Especially when we speak. I have the utmost respect for him and am growing into that student roll all the time. I think there will be a time very soon where we would most definitely accept each other in that student/teacher relationship. That sort of relationship be it online or face to face, can never equate to words in a book, in my opinion. Just my two cents, not sure if Mr. Gotama would consider this right and useful speech, figure I'd throw it out there anyhow.

    Gassho,

    Rob.

  7. #7

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_Heathen
    Quote Originally Posted by cyril
    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    ...
    Ikkyu and Ryokan are my teachers long passed. Dogen shows me the way to sit, to hold myself, and the significance of this and that (granted, my reading is limited, but what isn't?). But Ikkyu and Ryokan show how beauty is found even in sorrow, peace among turmoil, humanity among the idealistic notions of teachers. I like to think that I'd speak with Dogen for questions on philosophy, but share a hut and some tea (or sake, really) with Ikkyu and Ryokan just to taste the taste.

    Gassho
    Taylor
    Good perspective... I was thinking much more directly, but this is true as well. In a sense, the entire lineage of realized Zen practitioners could be said to be our teachers in Zen.
    I must say, I get a little weary when I hear people talk about their teachers being writers. Yes, I understand the concept of transmission and lineage and all that jazz. However, they are simply writers and all you really know of them is a book. They are the equivalent of characters in a Stephen King novel, only Dogen had something to say worth reading... I learn every day from the books I read and love them dearly but to use the term teacher in this context I feel is a little wonky to say the least.

    Example: I have read the Satanic Bible and honestly, I loved it. There are some parts of it that are seriously delusional and there are parts that are shear genius. I say again, I loved it and learned a lot from it. Anton LaVey is in no way a teacher of mine. But I am also not a Satanist so I guess maybe that is why...

    Maybe I have no room for comparison to what my idea of a teacher is. I have never had a "spiritual teacher" of any sort. Agreed, probably a large part of my "spiritual problems." I continually see Jundo as more and more my "teacher" every day. Especially when we speak. I have the utmost respect for him and am growing into that student roll all the time. I think there will be a time very soon where we would most definitely accept each other in that student/teacher relationship. That sort of relationship be it online or face to face, can never equate to words in a book, in my opinion. Just my two cents, not sure if Mr. Gotama would consider this right and useful speech, figure I'd throw it out there anyhow.

    Gassho,

    Rob.
    I guess it comes down to what you consider a teacher. We are being taught by people and things all the time, or maybe we're teaching ourselves. I don't really know. I mean someone telling you something over a blog, in person, in written words, over Skype, via voice recording, telephone, etc... are pretty similar. I mean you still have to process those words, and based on your understanding you apply those things to your life (or not). And if you do, in a sense, those people are teaching you. That was my train of thought.

    Also, Jundo, for instance, or any other teacher learned from their teacher, and their teacher learned from their teacher... and so on up the line. So I was just saying that all of the teachers until each one of us is also our teacher, even if in an indirect way. Kind of like how Newton or Liebniz are indirectly responsible for my understanding Calculus (well I've forgotten most of it now but for argument's sake :mrgreen: ).

  8. #8

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Hi.

    one of my greatest teachers is my son, Filur.
    Teaches me something every moment.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fugen
    Hi.

    one of my greatest teachers is my son, Filur.
    Teaches me something every moment.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

    You beat me to it Fugen...to my sons...you are my greatest teachers and always will be.

    Gassho,
    Daddy

  10. #10

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    In my understanding, prior to this I have read words and heard teachings given but have had no teacher.
    At Treeleaf, I have commited to take Jukai (its study and ceremony) with Jundo. If I do my part diligently, I will receive the Precepts (my guidelines for life, formal commitment to the Buddhist Sangha and to the Practice of Zen Buddhism), the Rakusu (representing the robe of Buddha), the Kechimyaku (a lineage chart showing all my 'new' Spiritual Ancestors) and a Dharma Name. All received through Jundo.

    "My teacher, Nishijima Roshi, has written that one may receive Jukai at any time, including at the very start of one’s Buddhist Path …
    When a Buddhist seeks to commence upon the study of Buddhism, there is first a ceremony which should be undertaken: It is called ‘Jukai,’ the "Receipt of the Precepts”, the ceremony in which one receives and undertakes the Precepts as a disciple of the Buddha. … Master Dogen specifically left us a chapter entitled ‘Jukai,’ in which it is strongly emphasized that, when the Buddhist believer first sets out to commence Buddhist practice ….. be it monk, be it lay person, no matter ….. the initial needed steps include the holding of the ceremony of Jukai and the undertaking of the Precepts …" - Jundo

    From these marks and ceremony I will join the lineage of Jundo Cohen and his Spiritual Ancestors right back to Buddha. Informally, now I may say Jundo is my teacher. After the Jukai Ceremony, it becomes much more than that. In describing the Kechimyaku, my teacher Jundo Cohen has written this is more like a birth certificate. I believe him.

    A bit traditional for some, but this understanding works for me. Your's (if different) may work for you. Who's to say?

    Gassho,
    Don

  11. #11

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_Heathen
    Quote Originally Posted by cyril
    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    I must say, I get a little weary when I hear people talk about their teachers being writers. Yes, I understand the concept of transmission and lineage and all that jazz. However, they are simply writers and all you really know of them is a book. They are the equivalent of characters in a Stephen King novel, only Dogen had something to say worth reading... I learn every day from the books I read and love them dearly but to use the term teacher in this context I feel is a little wonky to say the least.

    Example: I have read the Satanic Bible and honestly, I loved it. There are some parts of it that are seriously delusional and there are parts that are shear genius. I say again, I loved it and learned a lot from it. Anton LaVey is in no way a teacher of mine. But I am also not a Satanist so I guess maybe that is why...

    Maybe I have no room for comparison to what my idea of a teacher is. I have never had a "spiritual teacher" of any sort. Agreed, probably a large part of my "spiritual problems." I continually see Jundo as more and more my "teacher" every day. Especially when we speak. I have the utmost respect for him and am growing into that student roll all the time. I think there will be a time very soon where we would most definitely accept each other in that student/teacher relationship. That sort of relationship be it online or face to face, can never equate to words in a book, in my opinion. Just my two cents, not sure if Mr. Gotama would consider this right and useful speech, figure I'd throw it out there anyhow.

    Gassho,

    Rob.
    Gasshos Rob. Let me clarify. I don't mean to say that either of these poets "Speak to my (non)soul". Rather their lives serve as a small example of what this whole "Zen" thing is. We enjoy the stainless pictures of lineage members, the ideal, the epitome of what a true "person of the Way" is. Well, sure. But really, we want someone we could hang out with, I think.

    They aren't teachers in the pure sense of the word, more so mirrors saying "HEY! YOU! LOOK AT WHO YOU ARE FOR A SECOND!" Striving for Dogen will only leave me Taylor with an identity complex. The same with Striving for Ryokan or Ikkyu. They serve as bells to bring me back to the idea that "Taylor is just Taylor enough". If that makes sense :P Maybe some clarification on my clarification?

    Gassho
    Taylor

  12. #12

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Don
    now I may say Jundo is my teacher.
    I often say that I try (without having to try hard) to be a very disappointing teacher ... because in this practice life is frequently "disappointing" ... the world is frequently "disappointing" ... we frequently "disappoint" ourselves ... and if we can see through "disappointing" to how sacred it all is, then we are really on to something! 8) (I really am not just joking there). So, as a greatly disappointing teacher of great Wisdom and Compassion in disappointment, I rarely fail!

    As a Klutz in everything from bowing to putting on my robes ... I also am a great teacher of the perfection of imperfection! ops:

    Truly, learn from babies, trees, stones, stars, enemies and friends, the hard and easy, ringing telephones ... they are all the "teacher".

  13. #13

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Whomever I find online that makes the most sense to me. regardless of their particular (brand) of Buddhism. Shinzen Young is amusing as well as insightful and Ajahn Bramavasamo is nevr boring to me. Alan Watts had an incredible mind as well as a sense of humour. In order for me to take a teacher seriously, he or she needs to have that ability to laugh at themselves.

  14. #14
    Stephanie
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    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Taylor, you are so goddam young, you make me feel old. You remind me of me at 19 :shock: Just give life a few more years to break you down :wink:

    As for teachers... I have learned from many, the people that stand out most are people I consider friends. But really, teachers are unremarkable, they're the equivalent of the person who watches you bash your head into a brick wall for the 400th time and say, "Hey, did you notice you're hitting your head on a wall?" The incredible thing is that you didn't and that you needed someone to point that out to you ops: :lol:

  15. #15
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Interesting posts so far. Thanks to all for that. My folks are still here and the wine still flows freely, which might be worthy of a whole other family dynamic thread :evil: But in my mind a great spiritual teacher is a live person, not a book. And I give great nods to the spiritual teaching of nature and the universe, etc.. But WHO helped you through all the great DOUBT that comes with growing up spiritually? That's what I'm curious about. It's about an person to person interaction. I loved Pastor Hal because he was willing to say he didn't know. In my darkest hours it was not knowing that made the most sense to me, and to this day I don't trust anyone that says they do know all the answers. I've been in the dark way too much to believe those folks that only talk about light. I firmly believe I benefit most from a guide that knows or is at least comfortable with both the dark and the light

  16. #16

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    But in my mind a great spiritual teacher is a live person, not a book. And I give great nods to the spiritual teaching of nature and the universe, etc.. But WHO helped you through all the great DOUBT that comes with growing up spiritually? That's what I'm curious about. It's about an person to person interaction.

    Exactly my point, I have had many a book lead me from one direction to another via my DOUBT however I have not yet really had that guy/gal tell me to stop hitting my head cuz there happens to be a wall there and I'm getting blood all over... A book will never do that. Sorry I am not really adding constructive points to your thread Al, more just criticizing. Gassho to you for a cool thread none-the-less. Thanks.

    Gassho,

    Still only Rob.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    But WHO helped you through all the great DOUBT that comes with growing up spiritually? That's what I'm curious about. It's about an person to person interaction.
    I have not yet grown up spiritually, I'll let you know how it turns out.
    I am really not trying to be facetious here, I can say that until recently I have not followed any kind of spirituall path, aside from a minor experiment perhaps now and then. Sure I have developed something based on all the interactions I have had over the years with family, friends...etc. but no one really stands out.

    Having just made the commitment to myself (and to all of you) to participate in this years Ango, and Jukai, I suppose that would make Jundo, and Taigu my first.....ummm "formal??" teachers. I have not developed too much doubt yet, but it will come I suppose, and I know you all will be here when I stumble.

    I have already learned much and found so much new to see here reading all the postings by everone here. Perhaps not face to face but person to person interaction in our own way, so today I consider you my spiritual teacher.

    Alanla, Cyril, Taylor, Rob, Stephanie, Fugen, Don, Shohei, Hans, Chet, Chugai, Luis, Will, Fuken, Kyrillos, Rick, Ghop, Kelly, Adam, JohnsonCM, Craig, zak....on and on.....names at random from my head and all great teachers in my days here at treeleaf and with everyone else that post.

    Thank you everone, and Jundo, and Taigu for it being.
    Gassho.
    Dave.

  18. #18
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Looking back on this today, I think i came down a little too hard on books as teachers. Books have taught me a lot, so I think they are legit teacher candidates, but my worthless opinion is that people are better. And this forum is a great teacher also, for it's somewhere between a book to read and a live person to interact with.

    Oh, the other thing is that for most of us our greatest teachers were our parents. Sometimes the lessons aren't what you want or expect, but it's hard to deny the strength of their influence. I am being reminded of that lately.

  19. #19

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    When I look back at the buddhist teachers :, I would say that my first encounter with buddhist practice was by reading a book of Lewis Richmond, "Work as a spiritual practice", I had some issues at work and had no idea this book was about buddhism so I have read it, thank you Lewis for bringing me on this path. The numerous people that have crossed my path are thanked here as well, being buddhist or not doesn't matter, I would say.
    My formal teachers are Jundo and Taigu, many bows as they keep me guiding on the track,


    Gassho

    Ensho

  20. #20
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    So many great spiritual teachers.

    My mother, who taught me that it's ok to have doubt. Donald, a Methodist lay preacher, who taught me that it's fine to ask questions. Stephen, a Cambridge University professor, who taught me that words are just that; words. Jane, my first wife, who taught as she left me that winning an argument is a pretty sterile achievement and that listening could be worth a whole lot more. My three boys, who taught, and teach, me that (a) the universe does not revolve around me; and (b) that this is a rather liberating, not to say entertaining, state of affairs. My four cats, who are attempting to teach me that the universe does actually revolve around the Cat Treats in the cupboard. Karen, my dear wife, who teaches me that wanting to be enlightened and spiritual is the surest way not to be. All the people whose disputes I earn a living mediating, who teach me the truth of the Buddha's words that the judgement of right and wrong are like the serpentine dance of a dragon. Norwich City Football Club, who teach me the First Noble Truth that life is suffering. Over and over again, every season. Jundo and Taigu, my Teachers, who teach me (amongst so many other things) the value of generosity with their time and wisdom. Everyone at Treeleaf, who teaches me the value of community. The next person I meet, who teaches me that nothing is ever quite as I expected, and that I have much to learn.

    I owe a deep debt of gratitude to my teachers, all.

    Gassho

    Martin

  21. #21
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    I have not yet grown up spiritually, I'll let you know how it turns out.
    Gassho to this Dave.
    I guess my greatest teachers are those people and events where my stupid ego-mind has been taught a proper lesson, particularly in the surf at Kujukuri beach where the rides caught did not teach me as much as the waves missed or the poundings recieved.
    A sincere gassho to you all at Treeleaf and the Pacific Ocean.

    I hope Jukai will be a kind of starting point.

    Nigel

  22. #22

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Jundo wrote:
    "I often say that I try (without having to try hard) to be a very disappointing teacher ... because in this practice life is frequently "disappointing" ... the world is frequently "disappointing" ... we frequently "disappoint" ourselves ... and if we can see through "disappointing" to how sacred it all is, then we are really on to something! (I really am not just joking there). So, as a greatly disappointing teacher of great Wisdom and Compassion in disappointment, I rarely fail!
    As a Klutz in everything from bowing to putting on my robes ... I also am a great teacher of the perfection of imperfection!
    Truly, learn from babies, trees, stones, stars, enemies and friends, the hard and easy, ringing telephones ... they are all the "teacher".
    Very true. Life is frequently disappointing. It is as it is. I admit to thoughts of being both disappointed and discouraged in this moment, at the same time knowing "this too shall pass". So, then, how am I to receive this present teaching? For if everything and everyone is to be my teacher, a teaching it surely must be.

    I will sit with all buddhas and take life as my lineage. I will watch closely the lessons its nature provides. The sun, moon and stars will illuminate my journey. Rivers will show me the path. All creation will elucidate the meaning revealed on the way. I will receive my precepts in this manner. Living all this will be my Jukai. I will ask the wind, water and the waves of Northumberland's shore to explain the Dharma, when I am in doubt about other shores and whether they exist. The mountains will teach me how to just sit. When the elements are severe, I will take refuge in the trees; the rocks; and all who pass my way; both enemy and friend. In ceremony following my precepts and vows, I will touch the earth in solemn gesture and claim it as witness to my intent, as one called Gautama did before me. My temple shall be the sky. The seasons will provide my altar. I will sew my rakusu and kesa of white cloth, for it is written this is not a colour but the presence of all colours; as black is their absence.The back panel of my raksu will read, "This was given to this one by the cosmos". I will ask the thunder to speak it and the rain to sign it. My kechimyaka will be of my own design; as my ancestors I will list all the things in the order of the universe which taught me.
    ...and when the passing wolf's eyes ask me, "Who are you? What brings you to my domain?". I will say, "I claim the Dharma Name "Eka" and the Zen Priest named "Jundo" sent me here; a teacher of the sacred ways; "disappointment' and "perfection of imperfection".

    I have no way of knowing for sure, but I think the wolf will smile.

    Gassho,

  23. #23

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Beautiful words Don, so true, just no need to write "I will". Please, just do it ( and I am sure you do).

    The teacher?

    This. Always this.


    gassho


    Taigu

  24. #24

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Thank you, Taigu.
    Gassho,
    Don

  25. #25
    Stephanie
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    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Thanks to Alan for starting this thread and to everyone who has participated, it's led me to think of the people who have shaped my life and my spiritual development... and the interesting thing I've realized is that even though I have worked personally with official "Buddhist teachers," my spiritual teachers have more often been someone who is not in any official capacity an ordained teacher. I would define a spiritual teacher as a person whose feedback really shapes and changes the direction of your life as relates to your deepest and most persistent questions about life... and when I reflect on that, the people that pop up are surprising.

    A couple of folks that I only corresponded with via the Internet had a profound influence on my spiritual development. The most significant is Dave, with whom I've been corresponding for almost the entire time I've been on a spiritual path. He offers his own spiritual teaching and practice that is basically, IMO, "Zen without the Zen," or, "a practice of awareness and looking firmly rooted in the modern era with no reference to Buddhas and patriarchs and the like."

    The biggest foundational influence in my Zen development has been without a doubt John Daido Loori, with whom I only did one dokusan, but his way of teaching and expressing the Dharma, everything I experienced at Zen Mountain Monastery... When I was first trying to figure out this Buddhism thing, I was working at Omega Institute in upstate New York and started going to the Sunday morning services at ZMM, so this was my first taste of Zen outside of books. And I'm grateful it was because over the years I've only become more appreciative of that man's fiery insight and practical wisdom about how to make Zen practice function in my life in modern America.

    Another surprisingly influential spiritual mentor was Robin Artisson, a notorious "troll" on Internet Pagan communities who set up camp at the Livejournal Buddhist community and who, despite insistingly describing himself as a Pagan and "Heathen" and emphatically not a Buddhist, seemed to understand the Buddhadharma better than the Buddhists on that community. He and I had a fruitful correspondence for the good part of a year that organized and clarified a lot of my religious thinking even though I was ultimately unable to share many of his beliefs. I still regard him as one of the wisest people I've ever encountered.

    The next would be Chet... I don't refer to or think of him as "teacher" because I don't regard him as in a place of hierarchy above me, but nonetheless his guidance has had an immense clarifying effect on my life. I really don't know where I'd be today spiritually if it weren't for him. He was the first person who has really shown me the falseness of my own thinking in a way that has led to its falling apart. He is singlehandedly responsible for reigniting my faith in the Dharma and this Zen way and being able to let go of a lot of the stupid bullshit I was holding on to.

    And now, finally, Treeleaf. I relate more and feel more connected with the people who are part of this community than any other Zen group I've been part of. I have learned from so many people here. And Jundo and Taigu have also connected with my life in a very personal way. The very human interactions I've had with Jundo have led to a trust and respect and openness without idealism... In the sense that I've realized that my personal opinions about Jundo and what his flaws may or may not be are irrelevant, as what he says is true and what I need to hear in many cases. Taigu's teaching has deepened my appreciation for the "Soto way" and its immediacy... he has a passion and a way of putting things that shows that the non-doing of this Way is not at all the same thing as passivity.

    And of course my parents have been great teachers. My mom has taught me more about compassion, inner strength, and selflessness than any saint or spiritual teacher I've met, and my dad has taught me how to wonder at this beautiful universe and this human life we have. My stepdad has also taught me a great deal about kindness and selflessness and my stepmom about the joy of life. My sister has mirrored back my own wisdom as well as my great foolishness, as has my best friend, who might as well be my blood sister.

    I've learned from my peers and teachers at my grad school and current job the unique brightness social workers have to offer the world, and the value and wisdom of respecting every unique individual experience as a source of strength and wisdom and not just in terms of dysfunction.

  26. #26

    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    every teacher I have ever had was a big ZERO

    meaning everything I credited them with or blamed them for cancelled each other out:

    they were just people with their own areas of foibles and odditites. Talented, gifted, and blindspots too!

    working with a teacher, I have come to see, is like working with fractions--nothing is made more or less of than what it is, but there is converting into sames so that there can be communication.
    But there are no parts: wholes and Wholes and WHOLE.
    Zero is not nothing, it stands in the place of +/-
    for every teacher I thought was such a +, believe me, a - appeared.
    And the one who was a royal capital -, there were + moments too.

    So....in deep gratitude and appreciation of all teachers past, present, and future!

    all of them BIG ZEROS, all of them!


    hellos to all posting here--I wrote the above comment for a different blog site.
    It is late and I am lazy--I edited it a little--but there it is.
    In looking over it, it might appear that I am not courteous to my teachers, and that would not be an accurate
    description. I do not seek a teacher's approval or disapproval, I did not say that I am not affected by their approval or disapproval--but that I don't seek it.

    by the way, I aspire to be a zero also--yes, I want my 'goods' to outweigh my 'bads,' I want my positives to outnumber my negatives, and if I live that way, then my intended positives and unintended negatives just might cancel each other out as a neutral, as a zero.

    So I try to leave things better than I found them. This results in things looking as if I'd never been there: my impact is a -/+ zero (like the bathroom at work, for example--I straighten things up, pick up the scraps of papers on the floor, etc--so that it looks as if no one had been there.

    Just imagine--efforts to leave things better than you found them makes things look as if no one had been there!
    But, aware of the presence of it, I can feel the effect of zero.

    Zeros are my he and sheroes
    hope I add up to one someday

  27. #27
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Stephanie wrote: I would define a spiritual teacher as a person whose feedback really shapes and changes the direction of your life as relates to your deepest and most persistent questions about life...
    Great definition! Fits Pastor Hal perfectly, yet I didn't recognize him as a great personal spiritual teacher at the time at all, which is interesting, huh. Sometimes, maybe often or even most of the time, we don't recognize our spiritual teachers when they are right in front of us right now.

  28. #28
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    Keishin,
    Thank you for being a teacher today. I enjoy your post.
    I started to write all the profound things your post made me think of, then I thought it all just amounted to zero :roll:
    Gassho
    Dave.

  29. #29
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Who are your Spiritual Teachers?

    PS to my post above: I think Stephanie's definition also fits Jundo and Taigu, and I am grateful for being able to recognize that now, although I may realize it even more in the years to come.

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