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Thread: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

  1. #1

    SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Hi,

    I TRIED TO SPLIT THIS TOPIC INTO ITS OWN, AND APPEAR TO HAVE LOST A COUPLE OF SEIRYU'S POSTS BY ACCIDENT. WELL, GUESS THAT SHOWS THAT THE TEACHER DOESN'T ALWAYS KNOW EVERYTHING!
    ops:

    Seiryu wrote ...

    Guru vibes...ok, didn't really pay much attention to that.

    But it seems that some do not like "gurus" here. May I ask why?

    _/_

    Seiryu
    Then Taigu wrote ...

    Sure enough. I will give you my answer in the next vid. To cut a long story short, a bit like the monastery thing, the guru trip and its implications is very much a thing from the past.

    gassho


    Taigu
    Then Seiryu wrote ...

    Looking forward to your next vid for the answer. But just to say, I feel the implications of anything arises insomuch as we are unwilling to let them go.

    _/_

    Seiryu
    Then I wrote the below.

    Gassho, Jundo

  2. #2

    Re: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Sure enough. I will give you my answer in the next vid. To cut a long story short, a bit like the monastery thing, the guru trip and its implications is very much a thing from the past.

    gassho


    Taigu
    Yes. For "thing of the past", I might say that it is perhaps not really suitable for these times and our current culture, especially in Zen practice, and even a bit dangerous. I will just add this, awaiting your talk ...

    "Guru" practice is a key part of many "Eastern Religions", including in much Tantric/Tibetan Buddhism. To make a complex topic too simple: one comes to "pour one's own self" into the person of one's teacher/guru, becoming selflessly one with the guru while dropping one's own ego aside in total self-effacing dedication to the guru. Further, the guru comes to represent and embody in the flesh the god/buddha/teaching that is being practiced.

    That is actually a very very powerful practice, and I am not saying otherwise. However, it also has the ability to create very sick and unbalanced relationships in anything but the most skilled hands, plus can easily cause a dependent or "cult" mentality of total worship of the guru (which, in the worst case, leads to Aum, Jonestown, the Rajnish/Osho or the many lesser cases of student abuse).

    This was never really a part of Zen practice, although sometimes many traditional Indian-Chinese-Japanese views of the "master-disciple" relationship were about the same. These were traditional and feudal societies, so it was not just in Buddhism ... but all through the "top-down/lord & master vs. slave, servant and serf" society. In Japanese "samurai" society, the image was that if a "master" tells his disciple to fall on one's sword ... the disciple falls on one's sword unquestioningly (Ah, sometimes I wish we had some of those "good ol days" more around here at treeleaf! :twisted: ). On the other hand, if one reads the old Zen stories of students and teachers slapping each other, questioning and teasing each other ... well, maybe the relationship of Zen teacher and student even in the "old times" was often closer to a mutual wrestling match (pretty much describes my relationship with Fugen and Mongen :roll: ), a dancing school where two must tango, "tangled vines" twisting in and around each other ... in which the teacher is a guide/coach pointing out the way ... but the student must ultimately do all the climbing of the mountain for his/herself.

    Now that Zen has "Come West" to less "top-down" societies, to more so-called "democratic", "equalitarian" and questioning societies ... things may actually have gone too far the other way. I mean, almost nobody listens to the teachers any more or abides fully to the teacher's taught practices (as you can see around this place! :? ) Everyone just wants to "do their own thing", make their own practices and rituals and altars ... choose those practices from the dessert line of the "Buddhist cafeteria" which they find tasty, and leave the bitter spinach practices. The result is a great looseness and confusion, a kind of "spiritual materialism" teaching/teacher shopping for fashions and styles that are personally pleasing (not to be confused with finding the medicine among medicines which one truly needs ... a kind of positive "teacher/teaching shopping").

    In my view, the Middle Way is again called for here. If one is in a Buddhist school for practice (which is really what a Sangha is, no different from a Karate school for Karate, or a dancing school for dance), one should really try to master what the teacher points to in how to throw punches or do the waltz. However, one does not become a slave of the karate/dance teacher ... and ultimately (once the fundamentals are mastered for oneself) one must fight one's own fights, dance one's own dance.

    Something like that.

    Gassho, J

  3. #3

    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Very True Jundo. Some people tend to put everything onto the teacher and hope the teacher will not only have all the answers, but will bring them to enlightenment for them. The shut up and follow me mentality can really kick in at times for some.

    But this can also happen with anything...some might get caught up in the words and koan type talk of zen and not be able to see past it. Then for that person a 'if it is not from a zen point of view then I don't want to hear it' attitude can develop, and I don't think that is good either.

    I'll add one more thing (awaiting Taigu vid) That I wouldn't necessarily call Guru practice or even monasteries out dated. It all depends on the person engaging into them. Some people really do need a guru for them to finally drop all ego, some don't. Same thing for traditional monasteries. We have some practices here that might seem out dated to others, like the sewing of the Kesa, to some this practice just won't work, but for others it is a greatly profound and life changing practice.

    As long as we do not get attached to our practice we will be able to see beyond it, since practice is just a pointer...the problem comes when people hold on to their practice too tightly

    Enough of that ramble... :mrgreen:

    _/_

    Seiryu

  4. #4

    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    In my early studies of Tibetan Buddhism I saw and learned a lot about guru practice, and the danger I saw is that guru PRACTICE can eaasily devolve into guru WORSHIP. That happens two ways... either the student begins to think too highly or have greater expectations and ideas about the guru than are warranted (and which a good guru will immediately spot and take steps to correct,) or the guru will begin to subtly demand more than the due ammount of reverence and devotion. I'm thinking of one American woman in particular that I ran across, who claims to be a tulku and have been recognized by a Tibetan sect, but has mixed in elements of new age and Western astrology into her group, in which she is unquestionable and infallible... living wealthily while demanding obedience, obeisance and even financial tribute from her followers. There's the thing... it can easily become a personality cult, and in the West, where the Guru thing isn't really part of our culture and wherein certain subtleties could be more easily missed, it's really, really easy to abuse.

  5. #5

    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    ... she is unquestionable and infallible... living wealthily while demanding obedience, obeisance and even financial tribute from her followers.
    Hmmm. Sounds tempting. :twisted:

    Gassho, J

  6. #6

    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    I'll add one more thing (awaiting Taigu vid) That I wouldn't necessarily call Guru practice or even monasteries out dated. It all depends on the person engaging into them. Some people really do need a guru for them to finally drop all ego, some don't. Same thing for traditional monasteries. We have some practices here that might seem out dated to others, like the sewing of the Kesa, to some this practice just won't work, but for others it is a greatly profound and life changing practice.
    Well, it might be a good practice for some. I do not know. The idea of the "guru" in order to aid dropping the ego may be helpful if done skillfully (I do not know, as we do not practice in such way), but I have seen too many cases of abuse ... terrible abuse and very bad endings. Further, the idea of "surrendering" the ego rings of the wrong kind of surrender in search of freedom ... worlds away from the freedom from ego found in Zen practice.

    In any case, it is not our way in this Sangha.

    Gassho, J

    ps - I have seen many scandals in Zen groups too, but almost always where the teacher has turned himself (sometimes herself) into a kind of spiritual guru demanding subservience and dependence.

  7. #7
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    I'm thinking of one American woman in particular that I ran across, who claims to be a tulku and have been recognized by a Tibetan sect, but has mixed in elements of new age and Western astrology into her group, in which she is unquestionable and infallible... living wealthily while demanding obedience, obeisance and even financial tribute from her followers. There's the thing... it can easily become a personality cult, and in the West, where the Guru thing isn't really part of our culture and wherein certain subtleties could be more easily missed, it's really, really easy to abuse.
    I strongly dislike this kind of "spiritual soup" that people mix together, a bit of astrology, a bit of rose quartz, a bit of dakini, a bit of Native American creation story, a bit of blah blah blah...it looks impressive to some because it's all so esoteric that the beholder says, "wow, that's above my head, she must be a master at it to even think of combining them." It makes the soup-mixer look well-experienced and world-knowledgeable. But in the end, I see it as just a soup, things put together that weren't intended to be, you can't possibly eke any kind of useful outcome out of it. And it's just a real turnoff; I don't see a mystical adept, I see a cry for attention and validation.

    I know a lot of people disagree with me, and I can easily be accused of hard-line purism and such (bring it!), but I feel much better when I can choose one way, look at it and understand it, and commit to it for what it is, having a reasonable idea of what I can expect to learn and gain. So when I start seeing mishmoshes of eclectic artifacts, practices and notions, I take my leave. I have no time for the mystical minestrone.

    gassho
    Julia

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Jundo,

    My Dear Friend, Brother, Teacher, Chum and all-around Gumba.....what you said here is just about the clearest, cleanest and best description and declaration of what has been, can be and ought to be that I have read yet on this forum. For me this simple concise response of yours ought to be the Mission Statement or Manifesto of Treeleaf Sangha. I've known that this is what is in your heart, but here it has finally been said as simply as I have ever read (without all the Zenny squiggles that sometimes happens!!! :roll: ).

    Gassho, gassho, gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  9. #9

    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Like any relationship, the guru-disciple relationship can be either healthy or unhealthy. I can't imagine what Pema Chodron would be like today had she not met Chogyam Trungpa.

    That being said, I agree with Jundo that gurus are becoming a thing of the past. Teachings that were once "secret" are now available at the click of a button. We are evolving. The original teaching was always that "the guru is within you." Still, it took people a long time to believe this. They wanted someone else to show them the way. Unfortunately, many of the "gurus" had bad motives.

    If it works for you, fine. Go with it. I've tried it. It's not for me.

    gassho
    Greg

  10. #10

    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    I strongly dislike this kind of "spiritual soup" that people mix together, a bit of astrology, a bit of rose quartz, a bit of dakini, a bit of Native American creation story, a bit of blah blah blah...it looks impressive to some because it's all so esoteric that the beholder says, "wow, that's above my head, she must be a master at it to even think of combining them." It makes the soup-mixer look well-experienced and world-knowledgeable. But in the end, I see it as just a soup, things put together that weren't intended to be, you can't possibly eke any kind of useful outcome out of it. And it's just a real turnoff; I don't see a mystical adept, I see a cry for attention and validation.
    Couldn't agree more. I see it as "Lemme just jam in as much exotic stuff that Average Joe/Jane American will be drawn to since they're tired of the same ol' Hamburger Helper (to extend the soup analogy) that they've been eating for years." I'm judging here, but I see the creators of such soups as jaded, cynical merchandisers because there are always accessories and trinkets to buy, expensive seminars, endless books and videos, and so on. We like "stuff", we like "new ideas" and "new experiences", and even better if those experiences are "mystical and profound" because the every-day experience is one that seems to lack any meaning or purpose.

    Finding these sorts of so-called teachers (throw a stick and you'll hit one nowadays) is dangerous, not just because they can (I'm not saying they always do, some might genuinely be trying to be helpful, but are misguided themselves) abuse the student/guru relationship, but also because what they teach is such a mish-mash that the student has no WAY to question it.

    This is particularly true if the student comes from a background that has no experience whatsoever of these thrown together beliefs as they exist in their own contexts and doesn't know HOW to question it. How can there be critical analysis or questioning if there's nothing "solid" in the system in the first place? What if the student doesn't know how to examine a belief system if they come from a background where blind faith is expected, so they're already primed to follow whatever the person "in charge" is teaching?

    Add to this that criticism or questioning of the organization or leader can lead to ostracism (no one wants to be rejected, losing old friends who still practice and believe in the guru) and you get a nasty little psychological stew that can reinforce itself with threats of abandonment, telling the student that they're not advanced enough to understand or have become close-minded which is tantamount to calling someone an ignorant bigot. I can think of at least two organizations (not naming names) that practice exactly this sort of thing.

    I've got your back when it comes to seeming hard-lined about this subject. I see a trap as a trap, quick-sand as quick-sand, and I call it as I see it.

  11. #11
    disastermouse
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    Re: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    Now that Zen has "Come West" to less "top-down" societies, to more so-called "democratic", "equalitarian" and questioning societies ... things may actually have gone too far the other way. I mean, almost nobody listens to the teachers any more or abides fully to the teacher's taught practices (as you can see around this place! :? ) Everyone just wants to "do their own thing", make their own practices and rituals and altars ... choose those practices from the dessert line of the "Buddhist cafeteria" which they find tasty, and leave the bitter spinach practices. The result is a great looseness and confusion, a kind of "spiritual materialism" teaching/teacher shopping for fashions and styles that are personally pleasing (not to be confused with finding the medicine among medicines which one truly needs ... a kind of positive "teacher/teaching shopping").
    May I offer a few thoughts? My first one is this: The genie is out of the bottle. The myriad dharma paths and schools that arose in vastly different cultures and contexts have all arrived at the single-most consumeristic society in history. This is simply where we are, so yeah, there's going to be a little mix-and-match going on. Also, for many of the people coming here for the first time, this is going to be one of their first exposures to a genuine Buddhist Sangha. They don't yet know that they shouldn't mix-and-match, or at least that such mixing-and-matching will be greeted with some amount of skepticism here. Further, some people who come here won't stay because the way set forth by Dogen doesn't match what they expect from Zen practice. Where's all the slapping? Where are the ferocious koan battles? And for the love of Sidd, where is the kung fu??? :lol:

    We live in a society where not only is 'a la carte' accepted, but to do otherwise is downright backwards. We have grown up in a market society where not getting what you demand is simply unacceptable. Add this to the culturally skewed expectations of what Zen, what spirituality (Man, that's a terrible label for what Zen is, but it's the one we're stuck with) is...and it's going to be a bit of a madhouse.

    I say this as a primary offender - as someone who went into pitched battle in these very forums against the simple lesson that you and Taigu were trying to teach - our egos are strong and carefully cultivated in this consumer society. All you can do is offer the teaching and hope that the will to truth is stronger than that. Dogen went to China, was driven from one temple, and burned out of another. Even in ancient Japan, there was resistance.

    Gassho,

    Chet

  12. #12

    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    ... she is unquestionable and infallible... living wealthily while demanding obedience, obeisance and even financial tribute from her followers.
    Hmmm. Sounds tempting. :twisted:

    Gassho, J

    For you, I'll put on the bedsheets and beat a tambourine for donations at the airport. Anyone ELSE, and it's just wrong, man.

  13. #13

    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    I strongly dislike this kind of "spiritual soup" that people mix together, a bit of astrology, a bit of rose quartz, a bit of dakini, a bit of Native American creation story, a bit of blah blah blah...

    Ahhh... Murasaki, you know who I'm referring to. LOL
    Aw well. Hope things work out for her and her followers as beneficially as possible. It may not be what I think of as a healthy path, but you know what? If they're happy and she's meeting some need for them, so be it. They certainly don't need my blessing. And they definitely don't need my money.

  14. #14
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    The Guru practice is much more common than I'd like it to be.

    Sadly, people don't like to think. If they find some new age woo-woo talking charismatic man or woman, they'll follow as long as wisdom comes out of his/her mouth.

    And yes it can be very dangerous because as soon as people find a "guru" they stop thinking and that everything he/she says at face value, without researching or even questioning. And that's the sad part because they'll give everything for the Guru.

  15. #15

    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    The only guru I'll listen to is my heart... Too bad he is not wise enough...


    Gassho

    Seiryu

  16. #16

    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Folks who need/require/demand guru practice will not find it here. Inevitably, however, there are students who are so needy that they will treat a teacher/student relationship as if it were a guru/disciple relationship. It happens a lot in other teaching circles as well. Little remedy other than good teachers who can carefully push the student back a bit while simultaneously building them up enough to stand on their own two feet. We've got a great balance here, IMO, with teachers who are helpful but do not let us turn over our personal responsibility in the universe over to them.
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    The myriad dharma paths and schools that arose in vastly different cultures and contexts have all arrived at the single-most consumeristic society in history. This is simply where we are, so yeah, there's going to be a little mix-and-match going on.
    Amen, Chet!
    Quote Originally Posted by Mari
    What if the student doesn't know how to examine a belief system if they come from a background where blind faith is expected, so they're already primed to follow whatever the person "in charge" is teaching?
    I've certainly known this to be true with a lot of incoming college students. Maybe it is the age . . .
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    In any case, it is not our way in this Sangha.
    Hear, hear! If the Vajrayana folks can make the guru stuff work for them, more power to them, but like a light saber (wink to Fugen) it is a VERY powerful tool that can easily be mishandled with dire consequences to all parties.

    Gassho,
    Eika

  17. #17

    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    I don't care much for mix and match bullshit either. to be honest i don't like spirituality!
    i don't think zen is spiritual. people used to say i was spiritual but i always told them that i wasn't and it had nothing to do with zen. so i guess you are all right that zen is view in a certain way and what is expected of it to be.

    as for a guru i think it is stupid to follow someone and not thinking. a lot of harm has been done to the world by following unquestioningly, just look at the second world war and the holocaust! it is very tempting to give up control, even though most people will always claim they prefer to be the masters of their own fate. it is much easier to give someone else the role of thinking, choosing and deciding for us. that was our minds need not think of the hard choices or ugliness of the world. we can just live free. to do so of your won free will sounds magical like you are smart and it is beyond the ability of a lesser man. but it is only an illusion, in truth we become slaves not only to the guru but to our own notion of what freedom is. we lose our humanity, and in doing so become the lesser man who can not live in this world because it is too harsh for us.
    it must not only be guru. it can be anything. not too long ago i read the book American Gods by Neil Gaiman. it had an idea that anything we sacrifice to can become a god, even television to which we sacrifice time. so worshiping blindly is always a bad idea even if the teaching is right.
    but that is just my opinion.

    i will end this with my favorite quote of the Buddha which really struck me when i read it first and still embodies to me what he taught.

    “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Buddha

    Gassho, Dojin.

  18. #18

    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Buddha
    My favorite quote as well. Too me, to be able to listen to one's own self and judgment without it being filter through what everyone else thinks about it or what not, is spirituality.

    Gurus, Religions, even what we watch and listen to do become things of worship because when we follow what the masses tell us we give up our thinking. We let the other think for us. It makes some feel safe. Not having to think, or that the other will have all the answers. A lot of people feel safe as sheep. Just following the heard. We shouldn't blindly follow anything. Trust your own judgment. If you feel like something is right because you truly feel it from the heart,not the mind, but from the heart-then follow that. If you feel that something is wrong-drop it.

    _/_

    Seiryu

  19. #19

    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Quote Originally Posted by Dojin

    “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Buddha
    This is the quote that first got me interested in learning about Buddhism. I also think that this one belief is what separates Buddha's teachings from being a religion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    [Just following the heard. We shouldn't blindly follow anything. Trust your own judgment. If you feel like something is right because you truly feel it from the heart,not the mind, but from the heart-then follow that. If you feel that something is wrong-drop it.
    I would join the two--heart and mind--and would not go anywhere if one or the other was giving a warning until the dichotomy was resolved. Gassho, Grace.

  20. #20
    disastermouse
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    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Buddha
    My favorite quote as well. Too me, to be able to listen to one's own self and judgment without it being filter through what everyone else thinks about it or what not, is spirituality.

    Gurus, Religions, even what we watch and listen to do become things of worship because when we follow what the masses tell us we give up our thinking. We let the other think for us. It makes some feel safe. Not having to think, or that the other will have all the answers. A lot of people feel safe as sheep. Just following the heard. We shouldn't blindly follow anything. Trust your own judgment. If you feel like something is right because you truly feel it from the heart,not the mind, but from the heart-then follow that. If you feel that something is wrong-drop it.

    _/_

    Seiryu
    You do realize that this fierce individuality is a relatively new development in Buddhism of all kinds, right?

  21. #21
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    I strongly dislike this kind of "spiritual soup" that people mix together, a bit of astrology, a bit of rose quartz, a bit of dakini, a bit of Native American creation story, a bit of blah blah blah...

    Ahhh... Murasaki, you know who I'm referring to. LOL
    Aw well. Hope things work out for her and her followers as beneficially as possible. It may not be what I think of as a healthy path, but you know what? If they're happy and she's meeting some need for them, so be it. They certainly don't need my blessing. And they definitely don't need my money.
    Heh heh...the sad thing is, I'm not even sure who you're referring to, I myself was describing two different people that I know! That kind of proves my point...you can start rattling off artifacts and notions that people bounce around, and there it is, you've described at least a small handful of people that pretend to be adepts at their synthesis.

    You know what really burns me up... people who play at making these new-agey soups find out about my interest in buddhism, and automatically assume that I play the same games that they do. Next thing they're nodding and agreeing with me about some of the buddhist ideas I talk about, and THEN they just HAVE TO ADD, "We ought to get together sometime and do some work with [insert esoteric pseudo-ancient goddess-healing practice here]!" It bothers me so much that they don't even take a moment to understand where I situate myself "spiritually" or "religiously" (I don't like these terms anymore either, probably because of the people I"m talking about) before they go prescribing me things they think will do me good. That's just arrogance -- it's like saying, "Oh, you must play with cool spiritual toys just like me...but still, your practice just isn't good enough, your soup isn't edible, until you've got in it what I've got in mine!"

    As if their lives were all pan flutes and circles of healing light all the d*mn time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dojin
    “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Buddha
    This is sheer brilliance, thank you for reminding us of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mari
    Couldn't agree more. I see it as "Lemme just jam in as much exotic stuff that Average Joe/Jane American will be drawn to since they're tired of the same ol' Hamburger Helper (to extend the soup analogy) that they've been eating for years." I'm judging here, but I see the creators of such soups as jaded, cynical merchandisers because there are always accessories and trinkets to buy, expensive seminars, endless books and videos, and so on. We like "stuff", we like "new ideas" and "new experiences", and even better if those experiences are "mystical and profound" because the every-day experience is one that seems to lack any meaning or purpose.

    Finding these sorts of so-called teachers (throw a stick and you'll hit one nowadays) is dangerous, not just because they can (I'm not saying they always do, some might genuinely be trying to be helpful, but are misguided themselves) abuse the student/guru relationship, but also because what they teach is such a mish-mash that the student has no WAY to question it.

    This is particularly true if the student comes from a background that has no experience whatsoever of these thrown together beliefs as they exist in their own contexts and doesn't know HOW to question it. How can there be critical analysis or questioning if there's nothing "solid" in the system in the first place? What if the student doesn't know how to examine a belief system if they come from a background where blind faith is expected, so they're already primed to follow whatever the person "in charge" is teaching?
    Exactly. I was trying to find a way to say this but stopped short -- mixing notions here and there gives the student no frame of reference whatsoever and they are sitting ducks from that point onward.


    I've got your back when it comes to seeming hard-lined about this subject. I see a trap as a trap, quick-sand as quick-sand, and I call it as I see it.
    High five!

    gassho
    Julia

  22. #22

    Re: SPLIT: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    I like what has been said so far. It is good to have guides, and some help here and there from a teacher, but it is when those teachers become infallible that then you have a real problem. Jundo and Taigu are teachers, they are of a tremendous help, but they remind us all the time that they are just human like any of us. No better, no worse. When they make mistakes, they admit it and move on.

    I'm sure some gurus if they made a mistake, they will say that it was part of the practice. Some spiritual leaders seem to have more ego, and more hang-ups then the students they are trying to help.

    _/_

    Seiryu

  23. #23
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Jundo wrote:
    This was never really a part of Zen practice, although sometimes many traditional Indian-Chinese-Japanese views of the "master-disciple" relationship were about the same. These were traditional and feudal societies, so it was not just in Buddhism ... but all through the "top-down/lord & master vs. slave, servant and serf" society. In Japanese "samurai" society, the image was that if a "master" tells his disciple to fall on one's sword ... the disciple falls on one's sword unquestioningly (Ah, sometimes I wish we had some of those "good ol days" more around here at treeleaf! :twisted: ). On the other hand, if one reads the old Zen stories of students and teachers slapping each other, questioning and teasing each other ... well, maybe the relationship of Zen teacher and student even in the "old times" was often closer to a mutual wrestling match (pretty much describes my relationship with Fugen and Mongen :roll: ), a dancing school where two must tango, "tangled vines" twisting in and around each other ... in which the teacher is a guide/coach pointing out the way ... but the student must ultimately do all the climbing of the mountain for his/herself.

    Now that Zen has "Come West" to less "top-down" societies, to more so-called "democratic", "equalitarian" and questioning societies ... things may actually have gone too far the other way. I mean, almost nobody listens to the teachers any more or abides fully to the teacher's taught practices (as you can see around this place! :? ) Everyone just wants to "do their own thing", make their own practices and rituals and altars ... choose those practices from the dessert line of the "Buddhist cafeteria" which they find tasty, and leave the bitter spinach practices. The result is a great looseness and confusion, a kind of "spiritual materialism" teaching/teacher shopping for fashions and styles that are personally pleasing (not to be confused with finding the medicine among medicines which one truly needs ... a kind of positive "teacher/teaching shopping").

    Gassho, J
    [/quote]

    Hi All,
    I would like to weigh in on the student teacher relationship as I have learned from Japanese Tea culture. First and foremost the teacher student relationship is a very serious commitment by each. Much like marriage the two are entering into a lasting relationship. Therefore a student should select a teacher with much discrimination before committing to becoming their student(I thoroughly checked up on Jundo and Taigu before committing here). It's not so easy to get out of such a serious relationship once chosen. My mother in law(who is curently visiting us from Japan) has these words of wisdom which summerize things up quite well.
    Before marriage keep both eyes open
    After marriage close one eye
    After becoming a student you do as you are told and don't question their word (Not meaning, by the way, that you follow blindly and aren't allowed to have questions!). This year's questions become next year's answers! Do not prematurely question the teachings until you have traveled long enough to truly see for yourself. You now have one eye closed and go on faith in the teacher and the teachings!

    Gassho,
    John

  24. #24

    Re: GURUS AND TEACHERS

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    After becoming a student you do as you are told and don't question their word (Not meaning, by the way, that you follow blindly and aren't allowed to have questions!). This year's questions become next year's answers! Do not prematurely question the teachings until you have traveled long enough to truly see for yourself. You now have one eye closed and go on faith in the teacher and the teachings!
    what a great way to look at it! Even the Buddha said, don't listen, but see for yourself. How can you see for yourself, if you don't know how to listen? The problem with gurus come from not knowing when to say no to them. When it doesn't work, it doesn't work...

    _/_

    Seiryu

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