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Thread: False Teachings

  1. #1
    disastermouse
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    False Teachings

    What are they?

    What I mean is this - Christianity is totally different than Buddhism in a lot of ways - so is Islam, Hinduism, and heck - many of the different paths in Buddhism are pretty radically different. And yet, especially when you hear Jundo talk about them, there's very little animosity. He doesn't say Pure Land - let alone Christianity - is 'wrong'...just that it's not our Soto way. This is good...heck, this is great!!!

    I'm thinking about this because of a post on Brad's blog about Genpo Roshi....and I'm thinking about Hans and how much he probably agrees with it (if he's read it)...and how it is that many of us would agree with it. In fact, I feel this way, although not very energetically. And yet, in my head, I can't help thinking that the most deluded Buddhist teacher like Genpo is still more beneficial, more truth-serving, than any Christian teaching I've ever heard. So why am I so offended by Genpo and not as offended by Christianity? Is it because hitting a cul-de-sac so close to truth is more dangerous than those more obviously off-base? I mean, I think about Theism and how alien it seems to me as regards the actual state of things....but I can't get myself as worked up about it as I can about situations like Genpo's and I wonder why...

    Chet

  2. #2
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: False Teachings

    I just glanced at the post in question. I think the thing that bothers you - and me as well - is the blatant commercialization of something that has traditionally been offered for free (donation accepted). Trademarking the infinite is certainly commercial, and I know that there has been a dispute in the yoga world in recent years about someone who tried to trademark or copyright asanas (yoga positions).

  3. #3
    disastermouse
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    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    I just glanced at the post in question. I think the thing that bothers you - and me as well - is the blatant commercialization of something that has traditionally been offered for free (donation accepted). Trademarking the infinite is certainly commercial, and I know that there has been a dispute in the yoga world in recent years about someone who tried to trademark or copyright asanas (yoga positions).
    Commercialization (money surrounding it) doesn't bother me as much as commoditization (Zen as a thing you buy). Zen isn't something owned. I'm not offended because I think Zen is sacred, it really isn't (and yet is...blah) - it's because approaching it with any sort of attaining mentality just gives you a pretty new philosophy or 'cool shit I do that makes me interesting' sort of thing. Zen as a hobby. And the trappings of Zen ARE a hobby, the zafus, the accoutrements of the practice, the timers, hell - even the teachings and the collection of the teachings. But actual Shikantaza is a gift that releases you from that.

    People seem to come to Zen for something and are disappointed when they don't find it. The lucky stick around to see what they actually do find, I think. Either way, it can't be sold. It doesn't really offend me when people try, but it makes me feel funny.

    Chet

  4. #4

    Re: False Teachings

    I posted on Brad's blog as anonymous; I was too lazy to log in. Anyway this whole thing reminds me of that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry's girlfriend felt like she needed a mentor. Bottom line, you, I and most other rational huma beings know it's bs. But tgere is a sucker born every minute.

    I mean look, it's like the housing crisis. We all want to point the finger, but it takes two to tango. I'm not excusing anyone for any thing, but if you are going to pay for something like "spiritual" status ypu may habe mental issues; I mean that literally, and I find it deplorable that a snake oil salesman would take advantage of disadvantaged people or you are just completely oblivious to reality. Well sometimes people make bad decisions to; I know I do.

    Ps sorry for the typos; ipod typing. Lol

  5. #5

    Re: False Teachings

    I am with folks here on everything, except for the part about Christianity being "wrong". It may be the right medicine for folks who need that medicine, and what we do may be very wrong for them.

    And that is what I have to say, no charge. You get what you pay for.

    Gassho, J

  6. #6

    Re: False Teachings

    Today's Sit-a-Long is connected to this ...

    viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4478

    Gassho, J

  7. #7
    disastermouse
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    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I am with folks here on everything, except for the part about Christianity being "wrong". It may be the right medicine for folks who need that medicine, and what we do may be very wrong for them.

    And that is what I have to say, no charge. You get what you pay for.

    Gassho, J
    Right Jundo - that's what I'm saying. Personally, I feel theism is off-base, but I think it's a meaningful way for others to think/feel. It doesn't irk me as much as Genpo's deal - even though I think, as screwed up as Genpo's thing is - it's still a lot closer to what I perceive as accurate or helpful. And that puzzles me.

    Chet

  8. #8

    Re: False Teachings

    Hi all.

    In regards to teachings, i kind of look at behavior and experience as being more important then beliefs. I don't care if people believe in Pink Elephant UFO goddesses watching over us. As long as its helping them to behave more compassionately and kindly, improves their relationships with others or is helping to reduce stress in their lives - it's then got positive qualities.

    What tends to irk me more is not false teachings but wise teachings within the world's traditions that are ignored - like Jesus preaching about peace on earth, goodwill to all men/women, not killing others, practicing forgiveness and love - and then we have the endless parade of "Christian" leaders (and majority populations supporting them) who are willing to drop napalm and cluster bombs on people.

    That's probably one of the greatest human tragedies, imo, when the wisdom we've been taught is ignored.

  9. #9

    Re: False Teachings

    No tradition is free of folly. Sri Lankan Buddhism for instance is just as mired in a cluster bombing kind of nationalism as Christianity can be in the U.S. ... and needless to say Zen has a spotty history. As far as quality of practice goes, I would prefer an Eastern Orthodox contemplative retreat over a "Big Mind" Seminar, if that were the only choice.

    I settled early on Buddhist practice because it just computed and felt right in the bones. Cant speak for anyone else.

  10. #10

    False Teachings

    A university student while visiting Gisan asked him: "Have you even read the Christian Bible?"
    "No, read it to me," said Gisan.
    The student opened the Bible and read from St. Matthew: "And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these...Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself."
    Gisan said: "Whoever uttered those words I consider an enlightened man."

  11. #11
    disastermouse
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    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    A university student while visiting Gisan asked him: "Have you even read the Christian Bible?"
    "No, read it to me," said Gisan.
    The student opened the Bible and read from St. Matthew: "And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these...Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself."
    Gisan said: "Whoever uttered those words I consider an enlightened man."
    Hey, that's great....do you believe he resurrected or that merely by believing in him you'll be reborn in a paradise? Or in a literal god at all?

    I mean yeah - peace, pot, and microdot and all that, but have to go out of your way to find similarities between Christianity and Zen.

    Chet

  12. #12

    Re: False Teachings

    each religion is changing in time
    with each master/pope/shaman... there will be change (big or little)
    because of his own experience, his own view of things,
    everything is impermanent.

    It's you that make you're own way,
    the rest is just a guide,
    from incorrect teaching you can learn to see it correct,
    but what is right or wrong, correct or incorrect
    maybe wrong can be right to gain the right experience
    and virsa versa

    this counts for Buddhism, Catholic, Islam etc

  13. #13

    Re: False Teachings

    Chet,
    I personally don't believe in a literal god (but how do you define god?) and I personally doubt that the historical Jesus was resurrected, as described in the bible. But who am I to judge? I don't believe everything I read about Buddha either. But I do believe that wisdom is universal. I'm sure there are many passages in the holy texts of Buddhism and Christianity that are similar in their message, but I feel no need to "go out of my way" to find them. I'm sure someone already has. Zen flesh, zen bones was my first book on Zen and I still find this story and the passage from St Matthew fascinating, which is why I wanted to share it. For me, the bible is a book, compiled in a different time and culture, by a large number of persons over a long period, with parts probably left out or altered, because the message didn't suit a certain time or a certain ruler. I have never read the whole bible. When I do, I will do my best not to read it literally, just like I wouldn't read a Sutra literally, but more like a poem, to try to decipher what wisdom it may contain. As others have already said, different paths for different people.

    /Pontus

  14. #14
    disastermouse
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    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Chet,
    I personally don't believe in a literal god (but how do you define god?) and I personally doubt that the historical Jesus was resurrected, as described in the bible. But who am I to judge?
    A thoughtful, modern person. That's who you are to judge.

    I don't believe everything I read about Buddha either. But I do believe that wisdom is universal. I'm sure there are many passages in the holy texts of Buddhism and Christianity that are similar in their message, but I feel no need to "go out of my way" to find them. I'm sure someone already has. Zen flesh, zen bones was my first book on Zen and I still find this story and the passage from St Matthew fascinating, which is why I wanted to share it. For me, the bible is a book, compiled in a different time and culture, by a large number of persons over a long period, with parts probably left out or altered, because the message didn't suit a certain time or a certain ruler. I have never read the whole bible. When I do, I will do my best not to read it literally, just like I wouldn't read a Sutra literally, but more like a poem, to try to decipher what wisdom it may contain. As others have already said, different paths for different people.

    /Pontus
    Right, exactly...different paths for different people - but we're more offended by a path that's closer to ours, but different enough to feel like a distortion of our actual path. Or so it seems.

    Chet

  15. #15
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: False Teachings

    we're more offended by a path that's closer to ours, but different enough to feel like a distortion of our actual path. Or so it seems.
    I have no dog in this fight with Genpo, but Chet's quote above led to this mind flash: Don't we often get most upset by the people most like us? It's easy to ignore the people way different from us for the very reason that they are so different. But when someone acts like us that tends to set us off sometimes. For example, maybe you were really irritated by someone and then someone else had to point out that you and the other were so alike. The flip side of that is opposites attract. Anyway, maybe it would be helpful to consider how alike you are with Genpo rather than how you differ with him.

    Just a thought.
    Carry on...

  16. #16

    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Right, exactly...different paths for different people - but we're more offended by a path that's closer to ours, but different enough to feel like a distortion of our actual path. Or so it seems.
    Maybe. There are some rituals and practices even here on Treeleaf that I, personally, in this moment, don't practice. I can't put my finger on exactly why. They are not for me, right now. But I can see why others find them important and I don't rule out the possibility that I will embrace all of them all in the future. Or maybe those practices are my path, but for some reason I'm hesitant to walk it, to commit, to throw myself off the cliff. Maybe I'm afraid that down this path there is a real dragon? Or maybe it is not exactly my path, so I try to make my own, while still staying close to and watching the nearby main path, for safety and guidance.

    My introduction to Zazen was when I read a book about different forms of meditation. When I came to Zen and Shikantaza it was just right. I knew that would be my practice. The author of that book had probably practiced with a Rinzai teacher, because he spent a lot of pages discussing Koan introspection, with a red-hot iron ball is stuck in your throat and all that. I tried some Koans for a while, even during Zazen. Maybe if I had had a RInzai teacher I would have continued, but somehow I doubt it. I felt much more at home when I started exploring Shikantaza and was drawn to Soto more than Rinzai. But, again, different paths for different people. I don't think everybody's suited to Shikantaza. While I find some of the practices of Rinzai very peculiar, like hitting people with a stick, I don't see that or shouting MUUUU as very important in Rinzai. It's not the core, just something you notice as an outsider. The important parts are probably the same as in Soto, just different paths for different people. I can't really see Rinzai as a distortion of my own path. It's just another path.

    Are extremist right-wing Christians in America representative of the core of the Christian message? Are arab dictators and terrorists presenting a fair picture of Islam? Is Genpo a Zen Master, a Zenji? I would not judge these religions by the acts and words of these representatives. To me, they don't represent the core of the Christian, Islamic or Buddhist teachings. And I can't judge any other religion, because I haven't walked those other paths. I can feel anger over the words and acts by these self-proclaimed representatives, but if you look at the motives behind their actions, the teachings are just used to cover the three poisons, greed, hatred and delusion. I don't really feel they have anything to do with me, or my own path.

    /Pontus

  17. #17

    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    A thoughtful, modern person. That's who you are to judge.
    I make judgements all the time, it's a normal function, but if I hold my views to be the true measure of all things I'm not practising, I've lost it. It can be easy to get swept up in views, but in practice views are views as such. Views are touch and go. If I grasp a view as Truth I get taken for a ride, get born as a reactive thing . It's a drag.

  18. #18

    False Teachings

    I judge your words to be true Kojip!

  19. #19

    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    I judge your words to be true Kojip!
    True enough to do the trick I think. Teachers in every Sangha IME have been clear about view and view attachment. I still have views but it's not the same. The compulsive need to get a conceptual handle on life, and all the little backhanded ways of grasping for The Truth, that stuff just breaks down after a while.

  20. #20

    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I mean yeah - peace, pot, and microdot and all that, but have to go out of your way to find similarities between Christianity and Zen.
    I think just as important as finding similarities between religions (and anything for that matter) is being comfortable with our differences. Nobody ever killed another person for believing in the golden rule. But be careful when questioning someone's theology or doctrine! You might end up dead, or worse :mrgreen: .

    Who cares if Jesus and Buddha have things in common. It's like saying frog legs taste like chicken. It may be so, but they ain't the same. Eat what you like. Eat what fills you up. Don't take someone else's food or criticise what's on their plate.

    Sometimes things make us uncomfortable because we're avoiding facing something. It's like when a girl likes a boy so she treats him like crap because she doesn't know how to show it. Christianity has a dirty past. Because of that a lot of people jump boat and go searching elsewhere. But all the boats have holes in them. Just choose the boat with the smallest hole.

    gassho
    Greg

  21. #21
    disastermouse
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    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    A thoughtful, modern person. That's who you are to judge.
    I make judgements all the time, it's a normal function, but if I hold my views to be the true measure of all things I'm not practising, I've lost it. It can be easy to get swept up in views, but in practice views are views as such. Views are touch and go. If I grasp a view as Truth I get taken for a ride, get born as a reactive thing . It's a drag.
    I think the truth is not to hold your views. In the end, it's not the views of others to which we must attend - you're very right about that!

    Still....when I consider, say 'Wealth Christianity' versus Genpo's stuff, the Wealth Christianity makes me laugh but Genpo makes me think, "Mayday! Mayday!!". Why is that?? It's not so similar to our practice that I think I'm similar to Genpo...but it makes me much more uneasy than charlatan Evangelicals - by a hundredfold factor.

    Here's another thing - and I don't think I share this with many, but I don't necessarily equate poor moral decisions with a bankrupt path. I don't see infidelity or other issues as a sign of poor practice mostly because I have some hidden handicaps myself that cause people to make judgments about me that aren't necessarily true. So although a person may fail many times, I don't personally know how much more difficult it may be for that person than it is for me. They may have a severe failing that I do not, but perhaps they fail 10% of the time now when they used to fail 90% of the time. Surely, their path has helped them - but they still have a severe flaw. Nonetheless, they might have much to teach despite evidence of that flaw from time to time.

    Chet

  22. #22

    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I think the truth is not to hold your views. In the end, it's not the views of others to which we must attend - you're very right about that!
    Truth of practice, until views are just no longer bought as advertised. Just seeing thoughts come and go over and over again changes the aspect of view.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Still....when I consider, say 'Wealth Christianity' versus Genpo's stuff, the Wealth Christianity makes me laugh but Genpo makes me think, "Mayday! Mayday!!". Why is that?? It's not so similar to our practice that I think I'm similar to Genpo...but it makes me much more uneasy than charlatan Evangelicals - by a hundredfold factor.
    Chistianity is not a monolith, and neither is Buddhism. There is Christian practice that evokes respect in me and practice that evoke disrespect. There is also some absurd Buddhist practice. ...a war over the Buddha's tooth anyone? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relic_o..._of_the_Buddha

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Here's another thing - and I don't think I share this with many, but I don't necessarily equate poor moral decisions with a bankrupt path. I don't see infidelity or other issues as a sign of poor practice mostly because I have some hidden handicaps myself that cause people to make judgments about me that aren't necessarily true. So although a person may fail many times, I don't personally know how much more difficult it may be for that person than it is for me. They may have a severe failing that I do not, but perhaps they fail 10% of the time now when they used to fail 90% of the time. Surely, their path has helped them - but they still have a severe flaw. Nonetheless, they might have much to teach despite evidence of that flaw from time to time.
    We all fall down all the time. I do, though marital infidelity (occasional fantasy notwithstanding) has not been a line crossed.. My view is that ethical conduct is a no-brainer for someone claiming an officially certified voice of the Dharma . As far as "Big Mind" goes... it just isn't my cup of tea.

  23. #23
    disastermouse
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    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    We all fall down all the time. I do, though marital infidelity (occasional fantasy notwithstanding) has not been a line crossed.. My view is that ethical conduct is a no-brainer for someone claiming an officially certified voice of the Dharma .
    I think that's an overly idealistic view. If morals were easy enough that any of us could fully grasp them and get over our deep wounds and crazy by the time we were pronounced 'teachers' - well, I think there'd be a lot fewer problems in the world, wouldn't there? No, I think that even deeply wise, enlightened even, teachers can still be very morally flawed and have a lot of weaknesses.

    Chet

  24. #24

    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    We all fall down all the time. I do, though marital infidelity (occasional fantasy notwithstanding) has not been a line crossed.. My view is that ethical conduct is a no-brainer for someone claiming an officially certified voice of the Dharma .
    I think that's an overly idealistic view. If morals were easy enough that any of us could fully grasp them and get over our deep wounds and crazy by the time we were pronounced 'teachers' - well, I think there'd be a lot fewer problems in the world, wouldn't there? No, I think that even deeply wise, enlightened even, teachers can still be very morally flawed and have a lot of weaknesses.

    Chet
    We have different views on this. Different perspectives.

  25. #25
    disastermouse
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    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    We all fall down all the time. I do, though marital infidelity (occasional fantasy notwithstanding) has not been a line crossed.. My view is that ethical conduct is a no-brainer for someone claiming an officially certified voice of the Dharma .
    I think that's an overly idealistic view. If morals were easy enough that any of us could fully grasp them and get over our deep wounds and crazy by the time we were pronounced 'teachers' - well, I think there'd be a lot fewer problems in the world, wouldn't there? No, I think that even deeply wise, enlightened even, teachers can still be very morally flawed and have a lot of weaknesses.

    Chet
    We have different views on this. Different perspectives.
    I'd like some insight into yours - why do you think that, by definition, a deeply realized teacher cannot also have some problems with morality?

    Chet

  26. #26

    Re: False Teachings

    I'll reflect and post something after work. Right now I have to get my kid to school.... but in a nutshell, it is a matter of how we perceive vows and precepts .. as well as discerning the difference between practising "things as they are" and practising mere egocentric license. Till later. hands palm to palm.

  27. #27

    Re: False Teachings

    Hello,

    an interesting thread...one aspect of this particular scenario might also have to do with the nature of celebrity status. I guess what baffles me personally is the surreal nature of a western guy calling himself Zen Master ( I mean really, how many people in the western Zen World do you know who seem so eager to get an Oprah spin-off show that they introduce themselves with "Hi, my name is XYZ and I am a zen master")

    http://myown.oprah.com/audition/inde...850&promo_id=1

    ... sad as it may be, Mr. Merzel is one of the more well known teacher figures, which makes what he says more important to how Zen is being perceived in our culture in general than if you were to ask an unnown stoner who ate too many agaric mushrooms. That's why some of his actions are not just his problem, but our problem as well.

    As for the right or wrong of charging vast amounts of money, well...to use and analogy...there are Franciscans and then there are other orders. I'd side with St. Francis when it comes to viewing clergy and money, but I know other people might have different views. I won't go on a crusade, but I will voice my opinion, even if it's just to show the diversity of POVs.

    In an age where a term like Zen is becoming less and less specific as each year goes by, for someone like Mr. Merzel to have a lot of "branding power" is a bit sad indeed. Part of me just refuses (arguably in a childish way) to see the truly great Zen tradition being represented as yet another brick in the wall of shallow consumerism. Just my two rather emotional and unawakened cents.

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

  28. #28

    Re: False Teachings

    Hi Chet. ok.... I'm not saying that keeping the precepts is a no brainer, but that, in my view, keeping the precepts is a reasonable expectation for such a person. A lapse is a lapse, "to err is human", but if a teacher has persistent problems keeping the precepts, the gutsy thing to do is step aside.

    Hi Hans. Couldn't watch that whole video, just couldn't. Yikes..

  29. #29

    Re: False Teachings

    I've had quite a few discussion on twitter with people who don't like entities which "keep the dharma behind a paywall" e.g. pay-for view websites, etc. I'm speaking more about sites like Elephant Journal which allow so many views a month without subscribing. I never had much issue with that since websites need money to run just as publishers need money to print books and pay authors. Obviously, teachers/authors such as TNH, Pema, Brad Warner, Suzuki, etc have done ok with their books and perhaps made some money for themselves. But I think where Genpo goes obviously wrong is what Warner describes as the "pay for teachings" that he sets up.

  30. #30

    False Teachings

    It's easy to judge things as good or bad, to judge and condemn the immoral actions of Genpo Merzel, to call him a bad teacher and buddhist. But it may also cause a lot of difficulty in our own lives. We wish things were different, we wish for a better world or a better buddhism, and we get unhappy, unbalanced. It also pleases our egos to be able to say that we are so much better and on the Right path, and that Genpo is an unenlightened crook. It feeds our own delusion. We get angry when Genpo calls himself a Zen Master, daring to place himself among the likes of Dogen Zenji, who is someone many of us in the Soto tradition put upon the highest pedestal. Or when he sells our "sacred" practice for money, like a lowly prostitute. If our practice is ordinary, nothing special, nothing sacred, why do we get so upset? Did we expect Genpo and all Zen teachers to be Buddhas (yes, I know they are) or some sort of super humans? Shouldn't we expect that once in a while, even a teacher makes a mess out of his own life and practice, and the lives and practices of his students. Accept that this is how humans are (and maybe go find another teacher). Accept that we don't live in a perfect world, but in a perfectly imperfect world that in this moment is as perfect as it can be. It's OK. It is what it is. Genpo is what he is and we can't change him. Hating him doesn't help. Being compassionate might. Accepting that Genpo is Genpo (and trying to understand him) doesn't mean we shouldn't do what we can to protect students from being taken advantage of, or express our views. But most importantly, as Gandhi said, we should "be the change you want to see in the world".

    Sorry for rambling,
    Pontus

  31. #31

    Re: False Teachings

    I don't have grudge against Genpo. He is probably a good enough guy doing his best. I also don't want to get on a moral high horse about this kind of thing. But I do have sensibilities, sensibilities around the Dharma, and these can be offended. That video made me squirm. Typing this now, it is on my mind, but when I log off and go back to work, there will just be cleaning the studio, and drawing up a canvas.

    I'm grateful for the integrity (as I understand the term) of the teachers I know, and here on this online Sangha. hands palm to palm.

  32. #32
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: False Teachings

    Couldn't agree more Kojip.
    Sometimes simple ideas are just carried away and transformed into something else by the sheer numbers of people making creative inputs, which is part of the process with anything that is 'produced'.
    The balance at Treeleaf is wonderful...gassho to that!

  33. #33

    Re: False Teachings

    That's a good point Pontus. We should definitely not place "masters" on pedestals. I'm pretty reticent to deem someone a "master", and I often remind myself that we are all indeed human. Usually when we imagine someone as this perfect Buddha, it's just our imagination.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  34. #34
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: False Teachings

    I sat through the audition video. :? Actually, the comments were interesting. Assuming they are genuine, a lot of people seem to really be getting something out of this Big Mind (TM) stuff. I don't know, I just hope people do a basic Google search before opening their wallets. All sides of this Genpo thing are available--I think Brad expressed his side really well--and people can make their own decisions. It doesn't really affect my practice, as a wise person in this sangha once said about some other controversy.

    Gassho

    Jen

  35. #35
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: False Teachings

    It's actually very simple: all teachings are false.

  36. #36
    disastermouse
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    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    It's actually very simple: all teachings are false.
    :/ Smartassery runs amok.

    Chet

  37. #37
    disastermouse
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    Re: False Teachings

    I don't think that teachers - even though they may have massive flaws, should stand aside just because tey don't uphold the precepts to the same perfection as another teacher. We start from different places and it's often those that start from much more humble and confused beginnings that have more to teach.

    In no way am I trying to offend here - but Taigu comes from a very screwed up background, and the after effects of that show up in his sometimes snarkiness, blunt put downs, and expressions of frustration. However, I suspect that his practice has vastly improved his struggle with such things. So I don't care if sometimes he's not exactly kind. This is a bad example since he's hardly an example of a Zen teacher 'behaving badly'. But his rough edges are there and will likely remain. Yet, especially for me, his teaching is often helpful because I share some of those rough edges.

    If I found a paragon of the precepts who couldn't reach me, what use would that be? It would be funny if I was to cry for his removal due to his lack of ability - but then exactly what that ability IS that the teacher is lacking isharder to define than that of the teacher who struggles with the precepts more and perhaps loses a fair amount of the time.

    Chet

  38. #38
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    It's actually very simple: all teachings are false.
    :/ Smartassery runs amok.
    Yea, I couldn't resist. This said, in the broader scheme of things, I would guess that I'm not totally off the mark... :-)

  39. #39
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I don't think that teachers - even though they may have massive flaws, should stand aside just because tey don't uphold the precepts to the same perfection as another teacher. We start from different places and it's often those that start from much more humble and confused beginnings that have more to teach.



    If I found a paragon of the precepts who couldn't reach me, what use would that be? It would be funny if I was to cry for his removal due to his lack of ability - but then exactly what that ability IS that the teacher is lacking isharder to define than that of the teacher who struggles with the precepts more and perhaps loses a fair amount of the time.
    But where do you draw the line? Certain well-known teachers - take Chogyam Trungpa, for example - are now known to have acted in ways that are very opposite not just the precepts, but basic moral mores. There have been many examples of "spiritual" teachers taking advantage of students, either financially or sexually. Yet Trungpa's teachings - at least what's in print - are quite profound, and this is the case of others as well.

    I strongly disagree with the "since they're zen (or any other tradition) masters, their behavior must be excused" idea. But how do you judge? I think any teacher must respect a) the precepts of his or her tradition, and b) the mores of the society in which he or she lives. I don't think you can exclude the latter just because one is from a specific tradition.

  40. #40
    disastermouse
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    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I don't think that teachers - even though they may have massive flaws, should stand aside just because tey don't uphold the precepts to the same perfection as another teacher. We start from different places and it's often those that start from much more humble and confused beginnings that have more to teach.



    If I found a paragon of the precepts who couldn't reach me, what use would that be? It would be funny if I was to cry for his removal due to his lack of ability - but then exactly what that ability IS that the teacher is lacking isharder to define than that of the teacher who struggles with the precepts more and perhaps loses a fair amount of the time.
    But where do you draw the line? Certain well-known teachers - take Chogyam Trungpa, for example - are now known to have acted in ways that are very opposite not just the precepts, but basic moral mores. There have been many examples of "spiritual" teachers taking advantage of students, either financially or sexually. Yet Trungpa's teachings - at least what's in print - are quite profound, and this is the case of others as well.

    I strongly disagree with the "since they're zen (or any other tradition) masters, their behavior must be excused" idea. But how do you judge? I think any teacher must respect a) the precepts of his or her tradition, and b) the mores of the society in which he or she lives. I don't think you can exclude the latter just because one is from a specific tradition.
    The line is for each of us to draw, but if we're looking for perfect teachers, we'll be looking a long time.

    Chet

  41. #41

    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Taigu comes from a very screwed up background, and the after effects of that show up in his sometimes snarkiness, blunt put downs, and expressions of frustration. However, I suspect that his practice has vastly improved his struggle with such things. So I don't care if sometimes he's not exactly kind. This is a bad example since he's hardly an example of a Zen teacher 'behaving badly'. But his rough edges are there and will likely remain. Yet, especially for me, his teaching is often helpful because I share some of those rough edges.
    Hmm... I don't feel it's appropriate to discuss someone's personality in negative terms on an open internetforum, unless they have asked for it. I know there have been discussions about your own personality in the past Chet, but in most cases I believe you were the one who intiated those discussions?

    Rev Taigu's teacher, Mike Chudo Cross, believes strongly in the mirror principle. Do you?
    According to the mirror principle, your life is a perfect mirror image of what's in your consciousness. Or so I have understood it. When you see something you don't like in someone else, it is reflecting something in yourself that you don't like, sometimes without you being aware of it. When you can see those negative aspects in yourself and accept them for what they are, maybe you can free yourself from them and no longer see them as strongly in others. Maybe you need a teacher like Taigu to see and and polish away those rough edges in yourself?

    /Pontus

  42. #42
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I don't think that teachers - even though they may have massive flaws, should stand aside just because tey don't uphold the precepts to the same perfection as another teacher. We start from different places and it's often those that start from much more humble and confused beginnings that have more to teach.



    If I found a paragon of the precepts who couldn't reach me, what use would that be? It would be funny if I was to cry for his removal due to his lack of ability - but then exactly what that ability IS that the teacher is lacking isharder to define than that of the teacher who struggles with the precepts more and perhaps loses a fair amount of the time.
    But where do you draw the line? Certain well-known teachers - take Chogyam Trungpa, for example - are now known to have acted in ways that are very opposite not just the precepts, but basic moral mores. There have been many examples of "spiritual" teachers taking advantage of students, either financially or sexually. Yet Trungpa's teachings - at least what's in print - are quite profound, and this is the case of others as well.

    I strongly disagree with the "since they're zen (or any other tradition) masters, their behavior must be excused" idea. But how do you judge? I think any teacher must respect a) the precepts of his or her tradition, and b) the mores of the society in which he or she lives. I don't think you can exclude the latter just because one is from a specific tradition.
    The line is for each of us to draw, but if we're looking for perfect teachers, we'll be looking a long time.
    You're assuming, then, that each person is able to judge where to draw that line, and that no one is psychologically unable to do so? Because that's not how things work in the real world.

    I don't think anyone expects perfection, but my point is, there are faults that are way too serious to accept. (IMHO)

  43. #43
    disastermouse
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    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Taigu comes from a very screwed up background, and the after effects of that show up in his sometimes snarkiness, blunt put downs, and expressions of frustration. However, I suspect that his practice has vastly improved his struggle with such things. So I don't care if sometimes he's not exactly kind. This is a bad example since he's hardly an example of a Zen teacher 'behaving badly'. But his rough edges are there and will likely remain. Yet, especially for me, his teaching is often helpful because I share some of those rough edges.
    Hmm... I don't feel it's appropriate to discuss someone's personality in negative terms on an open internetforum, unless they have asked for it. I know there have been discussions about your own personality in the past Chet, but in most cases I believe you were the one who intiated those discussions?

    Rev Taigu's teacher, Mike Chudo Cross, believes strongly in the mirror principle. Do you?
    According to the mirror principle, your life is a perfect mirror image of what's in your consciousness. Or so I have understood it. When you see something you don't like in someone else, it is reflecting something in yourself that you don't like, sometimes without you being aware of it. When you can see those negative aspects in yourself and accept them for what they are, maybe you can free yourself from them and no longer see them as strongly in others. Maybe you need a teacher like Taigu to see and and polish away those rough edges in yourself?

    /Pontus
    I actually DO like what I see in Taigu - I was hoping that would be reflected in my post. I LIKE his rough edges, I LIKE the fact that he's had to deal with some pretty awful things and has pretty much overcome them. That was my whole point! Some people might point to them and poo-poo his ability as a teacher, and that was my whole point. He's not always nice, but he is who he is and some of the things he says really connect with me. Some of it is skillful means, but some of it might not be - it might be a manifestation of stuff he's got to work with - and I like BOTH of those things.

    I hope Taigu realizes that I wasn't intentionally dissing him. I respect his teaching style very much, actually.

    Gassho

    Chet

  44. #44
    disastermouse
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    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc

    You're assuming, then, that each person is able to judge where to draw that line, and that no one is psychologically unable to do so? Because that's not how things work in the real world.

    I don't think anyone expects perfection, but my point is, there are faults that are way too serious to accept. (IMHO)
    I think that even if we lack the tools, ultimately it's only our own tools that we can use to draw those lines. There are certainly things that I wouldn't tolerate - and I think that Jundo sets up some pretty good guidelines for appropriate teacher behavior - but he ALSO excepts those rough edges in people.

    Chet

  45. #45
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: False Teachings

    Kojip wrote:
    There is also some absurd Buddhist practice. ...a war over the Buddha's tooth anyone? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relic_of_t ... the_Buddha
    Ha!

  46. #46

    False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I hope Taigu realizes that I wasn't intentionally dissing him. I respect his teaching style very much, actually.
    Yes, your post reflected that, in a unique Chet kind of way. You have come quite far with your own issues this past year too, haven't you? I wish I will be able to work as hard as you with my own issues!

    /Pontus

  47. #47
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: False Teachings

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Kojip wrote:
    There is also some absurd Buddhist practice. ...a war over the Buddha's tooth anyone? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relic_of_t ... the_Buddha
    Ha!
    This is for all those who don't speak Japanese. Here is the answer to my Koan.....

    [youtube] [/youtube]
    :wink:
    Gassho,
    John

  48. #48
    Stephanie
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    Re: False Teachings

    This thread is bringing me out of "read-only" mode for a moment as this question - this issue - is central in my practice. Dogen was driven by his question, "If we are already perfect as we are, why practice?" I have been driven by many questions, one of the most central being "How can a person with deep insight into the nature of things still be blind to his or her own faults and motivations?" Or "How can a wise person make grave moral errors?"

    These questions have again and again pointed me to insights of Western psychology into the unconscious and the shadow. A good metaphor would be that a person might be able to see the dirt on others' faces, but not his or her own.

    But "dirt" is a questionable metaphor. We tend to think of people who transgress our moral sensibilities as being somehow "dirty" or "impure," and capable of being scrubbed clean. I do not think this is true. For one, a common error is not to see how many of our moral ideas are merely social conditioning. Sexuality is a great example. In our modern culture, our moral sensibility is that homosexual love is as valid and good as heterosexual love, and that it is actually our moral duty to defend the rights of individuals to love who they love. In many traditional cultures, however, homosexuality is viewed as a transgression.

    I personally believe that our views about the moral correctness of monogamy are similarly conditioned, rather than absolute. We are deeply conflicted about sexuality and so judge as immoral that which may simply make us uncomfortable. And I believe in America sexual mores have actually regressed, given how we gasp and cluck at Chogyam Trungpa and other people living in the "free love" culture of the 1960s and 1970s.

    I think this comes back to "the shadow." We act strongly to that which we see in others that we have not resolved in ourselves. And we are still so uptight about sex - its power, the weird vulnerable and aggressive ways it can make us feel. So we become repressive. I find Treeleaf to be a very repressive environment. There is a bland ruling fantasy here that lives in a sort of dull early morning sunlight, and nighttime things are aggressively kept outside of the picket fence, so as not to disrupt the tranquil garden scene with the baby angel birdbath and the fluffy domesticated rabbits.

    This is the path many take - the dull comforts of quiet repression that come with faith in a moral certitude. Evil is what shakes the bird's nest out of the tree. We love the purity and innocence of their cheeping, not the blood on the maw of the night predator who eats them. This is how we get absurd ideas like "The Peaceable Kingdom," moral Utopias that ignore or distort the full, healthy, balanced expression of our natural world.

    So part of the issue, is that we take to be moral transgression that which is not immoral, because we are afraid of the way it smells, the sound of its panting from behind the bush, even if blood is not part of it, if the "evil" we fear is in no way destructive. Another part is that, when it comes to the truly predatory behavior, the truly destructive, we think this cannot coexist with the good. But in my searching the opposite has been true.*

    Over and over I have seen the truth of Tom Waits' line, "If I exorcise my devils, well my angels might leave too, and when they leave they're so hard to find." It is often the creative energy, the power and tension generated by our demons, that fuels our greatest acts of goodness. Is it better to be a neutered person who quietly and harmlessly passes through this world, or a fiery, demon-driven agent of transformation? I know I cast my lot with those with the inner fire. Because I have seen how the passion and creative tension in my life arises out of my own struggle to work with my demons.

    A major insight that has blessed my seeking this year is that the life energy of practice is the questions we carry. Without questions, practice is dull and inert. In Zen, this energy of questioning is known as Great Doubt, one of the three pillars of practice. And it is in this I find Treeleaf weakest of the three. People ask and talk about questions here as if simple, pat answers van resolve those questions. If they can, then your spiritual lamp is dim; your fiery demons of urgency locked away, neutered, or repressed.*

    John Daido Loori said in a talk from 2006, "[His] question took Dogen from his home to Tendai Mountain in Kyoto, and from Tendai Mountain it took him to Kannon-ji to study in the Rinzai school with Myozen and Eisai, and having completed his training there, he still wasn't satisfied, and it carried him across the ocean to China.

    The question - there's nothing more important than the question. If you're a resident of a human body and you're not asking questions, you're dead; we should do a memorial service for you. The question is the cutting edge of life, to say nothing of the spiritual journey.

    If you don't have a question and you hear something like that, it means you probably accept it. 'Well, I'm already enlightened according to the Buddha, so I don't have to do anything. That's the beginning of Buji Zen, of New Age Zen."

    I would add that sitting is inert if there is no question driving the practice. No, Soto Zen does not have to be bump-on-a-log complacency, but that is what it will be if the sitter has no question, no doubt, nothing but a desire to feel and be peaceful.

    So to those who have no such burning energy, the flaming messes of the demon-driven cannot be understood or accepted. We cannot accept what we see as the moral failings of others because we have not reckoned with our own shadows. This is how we can get quite comfortable in preaching about our rightness - this is how Dharma brothers Brad and Jundo are so alike, in their plastering their belief in their own rightness from one end of the Internet to another. I wonder, Jundo, if you ever stop and think of your reams of posts at ZFI, "Why do I do this?"

    Which brings me to my final point. The opening question in this thread was, Why do we target people we see as more similar to ourselves over those we see as less similar? I think this is a clear matter of the ego, the sense of self, in operation. We are much more defensive of that with which we have identified ourselves. The further one gets from the center of the circle of what one has claimed as part of his or her identity, the less emotional energy it commands. Hence, family feuds, sport team loyalty, tribal warfare, holy war, and all of that.

    In conclusion - I think the saving grace of all this is that it can make all of us less arrogant, as this is something we ALL struggle with, our tendency to identify with something and fight what we see as its opponent, even if our fighting is purely ego-driven. This is lost if we get fired up on our holy crusades against those we see as morally inferior to ourselves. I personally have struggled with a fixation on Treeleaf and what I think is wrong with it - why? In the big picture, I see Treeleaf as overall a force for good. At the very least, people are practicing, and asking some questions, and finding hope and fellowship with one another. So why my quixotic impulse to charge at it? Certainly some must be ego; perhaps some part of my thinking is good here, but what part? In my own practice, it is continuing to turn the lens of the question on myself and everything that keeps my practice alive.

  49. #49

    Re: False Teachings

    Hello Stephanie. I know that we tend to want to eradicate those things in the world we cannot accept in ourselves. A common example these days seems to be the anti-gay crusader, who has repressed his own homoerotic side...and says " I'm not gay but someone is". Things bug us because they impinge upon something, or else they would not bug us. What gets under my skin might not get under your's, and vice versa. So here is a question for you... What is getting under your skin here?

    Sexual matters don't upset me, but when I hear someone say (as in the vid) they have a special ability to quickly bring people to Enlightenment at their trademarked seminar, it makes me squirm. So, what is getting under my skin?

  50. #50
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: False Teachings

    Great Doubt is upon me!

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