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Thread: What does a good teacher see?

  1. #1

    What does a good teacher see?

    I've had some experience with different teachers in different Buddhist traditions. Some teachers seem to see wisdom in their students, and some seem to see just a lack of wisdom in the student that they themselves have. It seems to me that a mark of a good teacher is that he/she sees the wisdom. ...and I have found that there is a huge difference in my own quality of practice depending on these different teacher experiences. So, my question for formal students here at Treeleaf, informal practitioners, and teachers is..... What does a good teacher see?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    None of your business would be my first take on your question :mrgreen:

    Behind this apparent stupid joke lies an absolute truth: we are so busy with what we aren't and what we don't have (I am no exception by far :roll: ). Zen is precisely and exercise of great poverty, rather than chasing other people's tails and tales, we merely turn the light in and do the backward step, which is exactly the opposite of what you ask here.Then, the question rephrased would be: What do I see? Who is seing now? Is this seperate from that?

    I am sure that your experiences are very interesting and they make a nice collection of memories that you can wear like a neckless of beautiful beads...But all this is irrelevant in front of this moment, now.

    This collection I also have is a bit like a photo album, quite heavy memorabilia, enjoyable to flick through, and a definitive proof that I am solid, I exist, I can judge, I have an opinion, I have been there...
    Once closed, the book vanishes into thin air and our eyes may open on something so vast and fresh and free.

    Thank you for your question.


    gassho


    Taigu

  3. #3

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Hi,

    I just happened to re-read this old essay, below, by the late, great Uchiyama Roshi (translated by Muho at Antaiji). I will post a bit of that here ... He is writing for folks who wish to ordain as priests, but it applies to any Zen student really.

    I think there is a little more to it than what the essay says ... such as avoiding the real charlatans and scoundrels (and there are many around) and, after a time, making sure that there is a real resonance (between teacher and student and the flavor of the teachings being taught in that place), but Uchiyama Roshi's point is absolutely vital. The real "make or break" in the relationship is not the teacher, but the student ... for the student is the student's ultimate and true teacher. Teachers really can't teach anything in Zen practice. I sometimes write, comparing Zen practice to learning to sail and the teacher to an experienced old salt who can show one how to read a compass, the basic ropes and how to tie and untie some knots ... but then you must do your own sailing:

    ... each sailor must truly do most of the hard work by herself with "her self" ... just the "me myself and I" alone on the open ocean. Nobody can do your sailing for you, nobody can tie and untie the knots for you ... all they can be is a wise voice to point out a good way and show ya a couple of tricks.

    ... eventually, the teacher just becomes a good compass, and the words of Buddhist Teachings are good charts ... something that any good sailor, even the most independent, will keep close by on the whole trip to show where the channel is, the hidden icebergs in the fog, the strong currents ...


    For someone who has aroused this mind and aspires to practice the way, what is important is to first of all find a good master and look for a good place for practice. In the old days, the practicing monks would put on their straw hats and straw sandals to travel through the whole country in search of a good master and place of practice. Today it is easier to get informations: Collect and check them and decided for a master and community that seems suitable to you.

    You should not forget though that to practice the Buddha way means to let go off the self and practice egolessness. To let go off the self and practice egolessness again means to let go off the measuring stick that we are always carrying around with us in our brains. For this, you must follow the teaching of the master and the rules of the place of practice that you have decided for loyally, without stating your own preferences or judgements of good and bad. It is important to first sit through silently in one place for at least ten years.

    If, on the other hand, you start to judge the good and bad sides of your master or the place of practice before the first ten years have passed, and you start to think that maybe there is a better master or place somewhere else and go look for it - then you are just following the measuring stick of your own ego, which has absolutely nothing to do with practicing the Buddha way.

    Right from the start you have to know clearly that no master is perfect: Any master is just a human being. What is important is your own practice, which has to consist of following the imperfect master as perfectly as possible. If you follow your master in this way, than this practice is the basis on which you can follow yourself.

    That is why Dogen Zenji says:

    To follow the Buddha way means to follow yourself. [Genjokoan]

    Following the master, following the sutras - all this means to follow oneself. The sutras are an expression of yourself. The master is YOUR master. When you travel far and wide to meet with masters, that means that you travel far and wide to meet with yourself. When you pick a hundred weeds, you are picking yourself a hundred times. And when you climb ten thousand trees, you are climbing yourself for a ten thousand times. Understand that when you practice in this way, you are practicing yourself. Practicing and understanding thus, you will let go of yourself and get a real taste of yourself for the first time. [Jisho-zanmai]


    It is often said that for practicing Zen it is important to find a master - but who decides what a true master is in the first place? Don't you make that decision with the measurement stick of your thoughts (that is: your ego)? As long as you look for the master outside of your own practice, you will only extend your own ego. The master does not exist outside of yourself: the practice of zazen, in which the self becomes the self is the master. That means zazen in which you really let go your thoughts.

    Does that mean that it is enough to practice zazen alone without a master at all? No, certainly not. Dogen Zenji himself says in the Jisho-zanmai, just after the quote above:

    When you hear that you get a taste of yourself and awake to yourself through yourself, you might jump to the conclusion that you should practice alone, all for yourself, without having a master point the way out for you. That is a big mistake. To think that you can liberate yourself without a master is a heretic opinion that can be traced back to the naturalistic school of philosophy in India.

    When you practice all for yourself without a master, you will end up just doing whatever comes into your mind. But that has nothing to do with practicing Buddhism. After all, it is absolutely necessary to first find a good master and to follow him. Fortunately, there are still masters in Japan that transmit the Buddha-Dharma correctly in the form of zazen. Follow such a master without complaining and sit silently for at least ten years. Then, after ten years, sit for another ten years. And then, after twenty years, sit anew for another ten years. If you sit like this throughout thirty years, you will gain a good view over the landscape of zazen - and that means also a good view of the landscape of your own life. Of course that does not mean that thus your practice comes to an end - practice always has to be the practice of your whole life.

    http://antaiji.dogen-zen.de/eng/kosho-u ... monk.shtml

  4. #4
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Hi Kojip, just a vid I have just done for you-me-everybody...

    take care


    gassho

    ( by future, I meant past :roll: :lol: ... anyway)


    T.

    [youtube] [/youtube]

  5. #5
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    "...don't worry about the future."

    In many ways, I don't. But in other ways, I can't ignore it. I'm 52 years old, and a freelancer, and I have to plan for my retirement. I truly don't want to end up being one of those old people who has to eat cat food to survive, so in the past couple of years - and even more so now that I am living on my own - I've been paying a lot of attention to socking away money so I'll be able to live until... whenever.

    So how can I reconcile that with not worrying about the future?

  6. #6
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    In many ways, we are sharing the same fate. I am now in the process of loosing most of my job which could make living in Japan very tricky. There is a clear line between the fear of tomorrow and the positive action of today. To be aware of the risks is perfectly ok. What starts to be painful is when thoughts of gloomy future and dark fantaisy whirl around and are seen as truth itself. One can be responsable, take action and be careful without getting irrational. I have some interesting physical symptoms due to stress, but my mind is most of the time OK. My job is to bring it back home through sitting and questionning the reality of my thoughts.

    gassho


    Taigu

  7. #7
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    There is a clear line between the fear of tomorrow and the positive action of today.
    I would say that line is very fine, and often hard to perceive. And I guess much of what we have to do is balance ourselves on the tightrope that separates now from the future...

  8. #8

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Thanks for that question - and Taigu and Jundo for your thoughts - I hesitate to 'write' answers because
    I'm not sure you are trying to give definitive answers.

    I think I might run a mile if I thought a teacher was seeing the 'wisdom' in me. Encouragement is good - but I know
    how easily my flimsy ego gets 'puffed up'. I have also learnt from the limited/minimal contact I have had with the teaching
    on treeleaf that I find this style of teaching hard. Hard on my ego. So often I want to leap in with - 'well that's a bit harsh' -
    or 'can we give the binary opposites a rest - it's not helping.' ...... But that's the point. I can see how conditioned my mind
    is to work in a certain way.

    The mind working .... therein lies the problem. I come here to learn how to stop my mind overworking all this stuff.

    I would think an 'imperfect' master/teacher is the only kind of teacher to seek. We learn from the 'knocks', the 'flaws' because this is also our
    own mind. The light shining through imperfection - that gives me hope.

    So we all walk the same tight-rope - fear of the future - anything can happen in the future - easy as we get older/sicker/financially poorer to fill
    this 'mental space' with fearful fantasies. Zazen may not help us with our plans - we have to make plans - but how good to have a space that can be free from
    paralyzing thought - if only for a little while - not as an escape - something tangible.

    My understanding of this is of course imperfect - forgive any rambling.

    Gassho

    Willow

  9. #9
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    It seems to me an attitude of utter freedom, but not foolishness. We must process the karma of the past and plan for the future, but with the attitude Taigu talks about. It is our state of mind in the only moment that exists that matters: the present moment. Still, we need not be fools in this present. If we know a storm is coming, we calmly batten down the hatches.
    Thanks Taigu,
    Gassho

  10. #10
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Willow,

    Thank you for your "ramblings" mine are often very dull and poor :?

    You are right, zazen is useless. There is no way it can be of any help. Cannot give you a job, a beloved, a reason to be.

    Zazen is useless, an therefore, boundless. So... breath of fresh air. thoughts seen as they are:clouds. Me-you as I am: just a dream.

    And back to this.Bus: Train. People. Shopping. Cleaning...looks solid?

    Clouds.


    Clouds, too.


    Just looking more real. Don't they?

    The very place though, the place where things and people dance. The very merging of absolute and relative. The working place of Bodhisattvas.

    Clouds and yet not.

    Real and yet clouds.

    Cloud-real place where the only thing is....................be


    In gratitude for your teaching


    T.

  11. #11

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Thank you for these responses, and thank you Taigu and Jundo. Taigu.... your video talk touches where the OP is coming from directly. It amazes me how in the morning there can be carefree moment to moment .... .... and then who knows why, some obscure karmic button gets pushed or something.... and it is anything but carefree. The thread in the Mala can seem like braided steel sometimes. I know that like Jundo says, we are our own teachers, and certainly I don't need any more theory... I mean I can talk and sound very good :roll: . But, I also can't do this alone, maybe alone in the woods in a kuti, but not alone in the world living a life of responsibilities, I need Sangha.



    Gassho Kojip

  12. #12
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    We all need a sangha.
    Thank you so much for your question and confusion: they are nothing but mine too.

    Take care.


    T.

  13. #13

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Taigu,

    Thank you for your video, the way you explain laughing makes me laugh (not in a bad sense) like a sunshine , it's contageous but verry deep
    Beautiful sentence carefreeness it's not careless

    deep gassho

    Yang Hsin

  14. #14
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Thank you Kojip, Kirk , Willow, Taigu, Jundo and David; for the richness of the mental images you all conjured.

    I recall the first time I flew in an airplane (not that i have flown in to many other objects :lol: ) and looking out the window at the clouds, got the feeling that one could step out and walk on them. Then you recycle the thought and imagine falling through the mist and out the bottom side of the cloud and pretty soon, splat! :shock: ; you'd land on the surface of the earth. Life is a bit like that. We imagine things we can do and then either do them or think of a good reason not to try. And, hey, the cat food doesn't taste all that bad; especially after the cat dies, there's all the more for you!!

    I received a quote from HHDL this morning:
    To help us bring benefit to others through our words and actions, it is useful to cultivate an attitude of sympathetic joy in others’ achievements and good fortune. This attitude is a powerful antidote against envy, which is not only a source of unnecessary suffering on the individual level but also an obstacle to our ability to reach out and engage with others.
    have to run now and clear some other of my sub-conscious blocks.
    take care y'all, eh?

  15. #15

    What does a good teacher see?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    I am now in the process of loosing most of my job which could make living in Japan very tricky.
    When I was younger I was once stranded in a foreign country with no money. I couldn't get a job. I was eating pasta with tomato sauce every day and I would lose my apartment in a few days. And I felt alone in the world. I remember the stress, the sleepless nights, the growing desperation.

    Now, in retrospect, I'm glad I had that experience. It has helped me to be more empathic towards people that do not have the same safety nets and material resources that I now have. Maybe it made me more understanding, more compassionate, I don't know. When I look back, it was an important scene in the movie about my life, with its ups and downs. It taught me some very valuable lessons. I didn't know it at the time, but it was practice.

    But in our delusion, we are never satisfied... Now, when I have a house, a well paid job, a wife, a kid, a dog, security, I often long for the days when I was poor and alone, but free as the bird, with no responsabilities, living from day to day, not knowing what the future would bring... Two different lives, two aspects of dukkha.

    When we see clearly, we are always completely free, always completely secure. I find Zazen to be a useful reminder of that. But sometimes the clouds are very real and very black, even though we know that there is a perfect blue sky behind them.

    I appreciate your honesty Taigu and I thank you for sharing. That is teaching too. There should be no need for playing charades, not among friends.

    I may not be a very good student, but I want to say that I really appreciate having you and Jundo as teachers. And I'm thankful for having a Sangha.

    Thank you,
    Pontus

  16. #16

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    So difficult not trying o be someone else...

    Great talk, Teacher. Thanks for turning the light and stepping aside.

    gassho

    Rimon

  17. #17

    What does a good teacher see?

    Just watched the video and l'll sit care free tonight!

    It made me think of a stream running through the landscape. Sometimes in runs wide and calm, sometimes narrow and wild. Along the way, it is colored by the landscape it is passing through. Born crystal clear in the mountains, it gets muddy when it passes through farmlands, chalky when it goes through limestone, tinted red when it encounters iron deposits. It doesn't care. Even when muddy, it's still water, doing what water does. Muddy water, clear water, it doesn't matter. It just keeps going, colored by the past, but never looking back. If it meets an obstacle, it doesn't care. It just carries on. It never gives up, never despairs. If an obstacle doesn't yield, it goes around. Finds a way. Where is it going? Wherever the landscape will take it. It doesn't care where. It's care free.

    I believe mind can be like water, care free, adaptive, never judging, expecting nothing, just flowing naturally.

  18. #18

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    From what I've read, I find Uchiyama's writings to be some of the clearest, precious, and most helpful for me. But my brain is doing its usual dualistic flapping (please excuse me!) in noting the fact that Uchiyama says to stay with a teacher for 3 decades, but Shakyamuni spent many years before his enlightenment searching, learning from, and rejecting teachers, as did Dogen in his pursuit for an answer to his question.. Dogen traveled far for his time, searching, rejecting and disparaging many teachers.

    He seems to have spent only 2-3 years with Rujing, who he finally accepted. Moreover Dogen writes that he had an instant face-to-face, finger-to-finger transmission from Rujing at their first meeting. (Moon in a Dewdrop p5). He earlier met teachers, such as the tenzo drying the mushrooms and the tenzo who came to his ship buy mushrooms, whose teachings he made central to his own, but he didn't follow them, though he probably could have (coming in search from Japan to China was a much longer voyage).

  19. #19

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Uchiyama Roshi's Opening the hand of thought was the first book I read about Zen and I'm still a great fan of the teachings of Sawaki/Uchiyama.

    Didn't Dogen's teachers mostly die on him..? :?

    /Pontus

  20. #20

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Thank you for that talk Taigu Sensei

  21. #21

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Great talk and teaching Taigu.

    Thank you indeed

  22. #22

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Quote Originally Posted by gongli
    From what I've read, I find Uchiyama's writings to be some of the clearest, precious, and most helpful for me. But my brain is doing its usual dualistic flapping (please excuse me!) in noting the fact that Uchiyama says to stay with a teacher for 3 decades, but Shakyamuni spent many years before his enlightenment searching, learning from, and rejecting teachers, as did Dogen in his pursuit for an answer to his question.. Dogen traveled far for his time, searching, rejecting and disparaging many teachers.
    Hi Gongli,

    Yes, this is a Koan, is it not? The Koan of moving in life while being ever still ... with no leaving, no coming and thus no need of going. In this world of Samsara, we are very expert at moving, leaving, searching, shopping around for "the thing that will finally make us content and happy", never being quite satisfied for very long. But we sentient beings are not very expert in living a Buddha's Realm of Stillness, Nothing Lacking, Equanimity, Satisfaction Without Price.

    Nor expert in living in this world of Samsara Just Nirvana, ALL AT ONCE AS ONE! 8)

    Perhaps finding one's One Right Teacher & Path, and staying with that Teacher & Path Perfectly ... beyond teacher/student perfections and imperfections and the inevitable disappointments and dissatisfactions of the path ...

    ... is something like finding the "right spouse" ... and marrying that person perfectly ... beyond his/her perfections and imperfections and the dissatisfactions of the marriage!

    It reminds me of my good friend Bill who has been married 6 times to 6 different women! However his last marriage has now lasted about 25 years! I once asked Bill if he had learned any great lesson and insight to pass on from his experience. He told me that the only thing he had learned is "I shouldn't have married my first 5 wives!" :roll: He also told me, though, that he had also learned in his 6th marriage to be easier going ... overlooking the inevitable rough patches, disagreements, "things that drive one crazy" about the other person, sometime tedium or roving eye, little disappointments and dissatisfactions. Yes, there may be times in any relationship when the chemistry is just not right, when trust has been completely lost, when it is time to head to the door and the divorce lawyer. Some relationships must end. But he had also learned to experience the shining jewel at the heart of the marriage that transcends and enlightens all the seeming flaws and difficulties ... the richer and poorer, sickness and health. This is What Finally is Content and Happy.

    Perhaps it is something like that.

    Gassho, J (a flawed teacher and imperfect spouse too)

  23. #23

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by gongli
    From what I've read, I find Uchiyama's writings to be some of the clearest, precious, and most helpful for me. But my brain is doing its usual dualistic flapping (please excuse me!) in noting the fact that Uchiyama says to stay with a teacher for 3 decades, but Shakyamuni spent many years before his enlightenment searching, learning from, and rejecting teachers, as did Dogen in his pursuit for an answer to his question.. Dogen traveled far for his time, searching, rejecting and disparaging many teachers.
    Hi Gongli,

    Yes, this is a Koan, is it not? The Koan of moving in life while being ever still ... with no leaving, no coming and thus no need of going. In this world of Samsara, we are very expert at moving, leaving, searching, shopping around for "the thing that will finally make us content and happy", never being quite satisfied for very long. But we sentient beings are not very expert in living a Buddha's Realm of Stillness, Nothing Lacking, Equanimity, Satisfaction Without Price.

    Nor expert in living in this world of Samsara Just Nirvana, ALL AT ONCE AS ONE! 8)

    Perhaps finding one's One Right Teacher & Path, and staying with that Teacher & Path Perfectly ... beyond teacher/student perfections and imperfections and the inevitable disappointments and dissatisfactions of the path ...

    ... is something like finding the "right spouse" ... and marrying that person perfectly ... beyond his/her perfections and imperfections and the dissatisfactions of the marriage!

    It reminds me of my good friend Bill who has been married 6 times to 6 different women! However his last marriage has now lasted about 25 years! I once asked Bill if he had learned any great lesson and insight to pass on from his experience. He told me that the only thing he had learned is "I shouldn't have married my first 5 wives!" :roll: He also told me, though, that he had also learned in his 6th marriage to be easier going ... overlooking the inevitable rough patches, disagreements, "things that drive one crazy" about the other person, sometime tedium or roving eye, little disappointments and dissatisfactions. Yes, there may be times in any relationship when the chemistry is just not right, when trust has been completely lost, when it is time to head to the door and the divorce lawyer. Some relationships must end. But he had also learned to experience the shining jewel at the heart of the marriage that transcends and enlightens all the seeming flaws and difficulties ... the richer and poorer, sickness and health. This is What Finally is Content and Happy.

    Perhaps it is something like that.

    Gassho, J (a flawed teacher and imperfect spouse too)
    Hi Jundo. Doesn't it go both ways? A teacher might also not settle with a given student, and it seems to be a matter of chemistry. I thought I bugged one teacher, then thought nooo I must be paranoid, but was later told by someone in the Sangha that yes Indeed I bugged him. Learned a lot, just the same, but left wondering...

    Gassho , Kojip

  24. #24

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Hey Kojip,

    Yes, sometimes the teacher knows that the student should find another teacher! Yes, some students bug the heck out of me (bug beyond bugging or not bugging, of course)! :twisted:

    But don't judge by appearances.

    Years ago, I tutored some young Japanese lawyer who was heading to study for a year at a law school in America. We met every week, and ... well ... he seemed so cold, unfriendly, uninterested. I actually thought he hated me at one point.

    On the last day, I said goodbye and wished him luck (kind of happy to see him go). Suddenly, he started tearing up and sobbing (rare for most Japanese), letting me know how much he had enjoyed our heartfelt (he felt) chats each week ... and that saw me as one of the best friends he had ever had.

    So, I am not so fast to judge surface appearances, and my own mental suppositions and paranoia!

    Sometimes, by the way, the most difficult teacher/student relationships are the most fruitful in the end (Aren't there a dozen movies about that? "To Sir With Love?" "Good Will Hunting"?)

    Gassho, J

  25. #25

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Thanks Jundo and Taigu and all contributors. Don’t. Know what a good teacher sees but have seen good teachers be very present and compassionate .

  26. #26

    What does a good teacher see?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Sometimes, by the way, the most difficult teacher/student relationships are the most fruitful in the end
    I like this passage from Shunryu Suzuki Roshi's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind:

    “In our scriptures (Samyuktagama Sutra, volume 33), it is said that there are four kinds of horses: excellent ones, good ones, poor ones, and bad ones. The best horse will run slow and fast, right and left, at the driver’s will, before it sees the shadow of the whip; the second best will run as well as the first one does, just before the whip reaches its skin; the third one will run when it feels pain on its body; the fourth will run after the pain penetrates to the marrow of its bones. You can imagine how difficult it is for the fourth one to learn how to run!

    When we hear this story, almost all of us want to be the best horse. If it is impossible to be the best one, we want to be the second best. This is, I think, the usual understanding of this story, and of Zen. You may think that when you sit in zazen you will find out whether you are one of the best horses or one of the worst ones. Here, however, there is a misunderstanding of Zen. If you think the aim of Zen practice is to train you to become one of the best horses, you will have a big problem. This is not the right understanding. If you practice Zen in the right way it does not matter whether you are the best horse or the worst one. When you consider the mercy of Buddha, how do you think Buddha will feel about the four kinds of horses? He will have more sympathy for the worst one than for the best one.

    When you are determined to practice zazen with the great mind of Buddha, you will find the worst horse is the most valuable one. In your very imperfections you will find the basis for your firm, way-seeking mind. Those who can sit perfectly physically usually take more time to obtain the true way of Zen, the actual feeling of Zen, the marrow of Zen. But those who find great difficulties in practicing Zen will find more meaning in it. So I think that sometimes the best horse may be the worst horse, and the worst horse can be the best one.”

  27. #27

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Thank you for the (always) timely video, Taigu. I will have to bookmark and watch frequently!

    _/_

  28. #28
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Thank you Taigu, you have returned me to something still central in my life and practice.

    I find and have found it is so hard to balance this 'carefreeness' with our great 'human doubt' (about everything! past and future). So is it not here that we need to have a carefree faith? A faith that in letting go we are open to something different that we are not usually allowing to potentiate in our lives. A faith that is not desirous or grasping but is more like a trust that we will be nurtured...like a child.
    As we get older our horizons in life are not as wide as they once were but that shouldn't diminish our capacity to have this 'trust/faith' that our practice nurtures. Perhaps this is when we get to know the depth of our own practice? But as a fellow traveller once remarked you don't stop because you just never know what is around the next bend!

    Sorry about my ramble but these issues have been on my mind both as present concerns and a past memory that has been jolted out of the blue like an old forgotten friend.

  29. #29

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Hi,

    This whole thread led me to recall a section at the start of the Lankavatara Sutra in which a student, Mahamati, asks Buddha ... all at once ... 108 amazing questions.

    The questions cover everything and the kitchen sink, much as a child might ask ... things like: "Why is there wind and why clouds in the sky?" "Where do food and drink come from?" "Why are there male and female trees?" "how many grams in an ounce?" (in Red Pine's recent translation)

    ... or students in a Zen forum ... "How many kinds of liberation are there?" "How is thinking purified" "If we shouldn't eat meat, why do carnivorous animals exist?"

    And among these many questions are ... "how do meditation masters teach? What kind of people do they train? Why do some adepts regress, why do some advance?"

    The Buddha responds to this last one:

    "A statement about disciples is about no disciples. A statement about masters is about no masters."

    (D.T.Suzuki has this as "A statement concerning disciples and masters is no statement concerning disciples or masters")


    Same with advancing and regressing and all the rest. As a matter of fact, the Buddha responds to all the questions this way ... that a question about 'wind, clouds, sky, food, drink, trees, ounces, liberation, purity, thinking, meat, kitchen sinks etc.' is about no 'wind, clouds, sky, food, drink, trees, ounces, liberation, purity, thinking, meat, kitchen sinks etc.' :shock:

    He concludes, "A statement about words is about no words." Suzuki does not have the line, but his version might then be "A statement about statements is no statement." 8)

    Perhaps the best response.

    Gassho, J

  30. #30

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    .....so a statement about knowledge is no knowledge :?:

    gassho

    Willow

  31. #31

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Quote Originally Posted by willow
    .....so a statement about knowledge is no knowledge :?:

    gassho

    Willow
    He who knows does not speak; he who speaks does not know.
    Laozi

  32. #32
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    _/_

  33. #33

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Sounds like driving the whole cast off a cliff in a bus.

  34. #34
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    And a good teacher sees.......... _/_ _/_ _/_

  35. #35

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Quote Originally Posted by willow
    .....so a statement about knowledge is no knowledge :?:
    A statement about knowledge is a statement about no knowledge Everything dissolves into emptiness. Don't go chasing your own tail, maybe. 8)

  36. #36

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Kaishin wrote

    A statement about knowledge is a statement about no knowledge Everything dissolves into emptiness. Don't go chasing your own tail, maybe. 8)

    I get awfully befuddled with the word play in Zen - think I've got it and then the meaning disappears! ops:


    Gassho

    Willow

  37. #37

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Quote Originally Posted by willow
    Kaishin wrote

    A statement about knowledge is a statement about no knowledge Everything dissolves into emptiness. Don't go chasing your own tail, maybe. 8)

    I get awfully befuddled with the word play in Zen - think I've got it and then the meaning disappears! ops:


    Gassho

    Willow
    Some call it opposites thinking. If you say something about knowledge it automatically infers something about no knowledge. Zen is pointing to before thinking. What's that all about?

  38. #38

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    I look at it more this way, from actual experience with questions from my 8 year old son:

    Sometimes he will ask me about things I can answer, for example, "Where do clouds come from?" Oh, I explain about evaporation, condensation, precipitation and the little bit of science I recall ... but, after awhile, I make sure to shut up ... and teach him just to sit down quietly and look at the clouds ...



    He might see flying elephants there. Are they really there, those flying elephants?

    Sometimes my son will ask his dad about something that really frightens him, the "Boogeyman Under the Bed" ...



    Oh, I will explain to him that the "boogeyman under the bed" has no more existence than our own thoughts bestow ... that the "boogeyman under the bed" is only there and scary to the extent we are scared of the "boogeyman under the bed" ... that the thoughts and fear themselves are all that make the thoughts and fear real. But more than some rational explanation (my son seems to understand the point, but still the boogeyman lingers), I will actually try to get him to forget the "Boogeyman" by sitting with him quietly, letting him quiet his mind, drop all such thoughts ... maybe distracting him if need be ... and POOF! ... THE BOOGEYMAN IS INSTANTLY GONE!

    My son may ask me, after watching the latest 'Harry Potter', where "magical dragons go when they die", if the good ones "go to Dragon Heaven" and the evil ones to "Dragon Hell". I might explain that (while I am not sure, not being myself a wizard) dragons probably do not 'go anywhere' when they die ... nor are dragons ever really 'born' ... except to and from the wonderful fruitful garden of endless human imagination. Also, it may seem like the film begins and ends, but the story is truly timeless and always being read by some child in the world! I might explain that movie dragons are no more real than light on a screen. But, more than such explanations, I might say to my son that it is just better to be silent ... to fall into the wonderful show which, though perhaps like a dream or like a fantasy movie ... is OUR dream and movie and the ticket in our hand! Best just to be quiet and enjoy the film ... get some popcorn and dig in. (And it is okay to close your eyes at the scary parts ... and to recall at those times that "it is all just a movie" ... cause they do seem so real!)



    Zazen is so much like, for a time, dropping all thought of the Dragons and Boogeymen of life, and hitting the 'reset button' on the real-virtuals and virtual-reals! Ultimately, our thoughts and mental creations about 'how the world is' are "empty" ... meaning that they have no more solid existence to them than our own thoughts bestow. Buddhist philosophers have debated for thousands of years whether all of our experience of reality is mind created ... or only lots of it ... and how much is truly "out there" in front of our eyes versus the simulated model of reality we create behind our eyes (in fact, the Lanakavatara Sutra is about that very subject ... and how the world outside, inside and the eyes themselves are all one Great Theater). Yes, there seem to be real horrors in the world ... war and disease and poverty ... and we must roll up our sleeves (dreams or not), and get to work to fix them! But even then, this birth and life, heaven and hell and so very much in between are largely up to us and our actions, all based on our fertile imaginations. One thing that all the Buddhists agree on is that ... whether 'all' or just 'a lot' ... we certainly create our experience of this life and world by the divisions, labels, fears, frictions, aversions, attractions, memories of the past, dreams of the future, anger, joy, greed, jealousy, generosity, love and other emotions, thoughts of "birth and death" and all the rest that sentient being impose in interpreting the world ... which can be dropped away in Shikantaza ... thus revealing how much of the things and fears of the world ...

    ... are no more substantial than cloud elephants and monsters under the bed and flying dragons. What then remains is a peaceful blue sky ... boundless, clear and holding all ... with clouds of appearances drifting through. Sometimes, the clearest statements about flying elephants and boogeymen and dragons are no statements at all.

    Maybe something like that.

    Gassho, J

  39. #39

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    So things do not have absolute or inherent existence, and are empty. But smoke is solid to smoke. By that I mean you and me and everything we see is without inherent existence, yet this empty show, without inherent existence, is the only existence we have, the only value we value. This show is the only show in town.

    This teaching of emptiness helps me not give absolute value to this show, but whatever value it is given, touch and go, is the only value there is.

    Sorry to ramble.

  40. #40

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    So things do not have absolute or inherent existence, and are empty. But smoke is solid to smoke. By that I mean you and me and everything we see is without inherent existence, yet this empty show, without inherent existence, is the only existence we have, the only value we value. This show is the only show in town.

    This teaching of emptiness helps me not give absolute value to this show, but whatever value it is given, touch and go, is the only value there is.

    Sorry to ramble.
    Hi Kojip,

    Oh, I (dream of "I" or not) feel that is so right! Master Dogen spoke of Muchu Setsumu, a 'dream within a dream' ... a dream so dreamy, but not merely dreamy ... a dream of life, but our lives nonetheless and the place for awakening. Taigen Dan Leighton writes:


    In another of the numerous examples in Shobogenzo of Dogen using wordplay to invert conventional thinking, in [Shobogenzo] Muchu Setsumu "Within a Dream Expressing the Dream," written in 1242, Dogen extensively elaborates on the statement that all buddhas express the dream within a dream. He thereby denies the supposedly lesser reality of the "dreams" of the transient phenomenal world, and negates a Platonic exaltation of the absolute, which LaFleur describes as the antithesis of Lotus [Sutra] teaching. Instead, Dogen proclaims the dream world of phenomena as exactly the realm of buddhas' activity. "Every dewdrop manifested in every realm is a dream. This dream is the glowing clarity of the hundred grasses. . . . Do not mistake them as merely dreamy." The liberative awakening of buddhas is itself described as a dream.

    Without expressing dreams, there are no buddhas. Without being within a dream, buddhas do not emerge and turn the wondrous dharma wheel. This dharma wheel is no other than a buddha together with a buddha, and a dream expressed within a dream. Simply expressing the dream within a dream is itself the buddhas and ancestors, the assembly of unsurpassable enlightenment.

    Dogen is not frivolously indulging in mere paradox here, but follows the logic of the dream as necessarily the locus of awakening. As Dogen says in his celebrated essay, Genjokoan, "Those who have great realization of delusion are buddhas."

    ...

    [Dogen] quotes a long passage that concludes the final verse in chapter fourteen of the [Lotus Sutra], beginning from, "All buddhas, with bodies of golden hue, splendidly adorned with a hundred auspicious marks, hear the dharma and expound it for others. Such is the fine dream that ever occurs. . . ." Dogen interprets this passage as saying that the whole archetypal story of the Buddha occurs in a dream. Dogen's reading takes this passage out of its context in the sutra to emphasize that the Buddha is "made king," leaves the palace, awakens under the bodhi tree, and conducts his whole teaching career, all in a dream. ...

    Dogen uses his creative reading to validate, or at least exemplify, his teaching that the dream-state of the conditioned phenomenal world is exactly the arena for awakening. ... Dogen continues,

    People in the past and present mistakenly think that, thanks to the power of expounding "this foremost dharma," mere night dreams may become like this dream of buddhas. Thinking like this, one has not yet clarified the Buddha's discourse. Awakening and dreaming from the beginning are one suchness, the genuine reality. The buddha-dharma, even if it were an analogy, is the genuine reality.

    For Dogen, the particular events of this dream world are the reality, and also the skillful discourse, of the awakening of buddhas.

    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/Dog ... ource.html

  41. #41

    Re: What does a good teacher see?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    Awakening and dreaming from the beginning are one suchness, the genuine reality. The buddha-dharma, even if it were an analogy, is the genuine reality.[/i]

    Thanks Jundo for explaining what a good teacher sees. I really liked the Leighten quote you quoted.

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