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Thread: TEACHER QUESTION: Teacher-student relationship

  1. #1

    TEACHER QUESTION: Teacher-student relationship

    Hi all!

    A few days ago I wrote Jundo with what I believe to be a very important question.
    He asked me to post it here for everyone's benefit.

    Here's what I wrote:

    ----
    "Dear Jundo I haven't been able to find anything about the Teacher-student-relationship in general within the context of the (Soto) Zen tradition and Treeleaf specifically.
    At least not under a heading of its own.

    I wonder if you could say something about that? What makes a good student? What makes a good Teacher? A good Practice-relationship between the two? What should and what should not be expected by the Teacher and by the student in such a relationship?

    These are not to bombard you with questions but to home in on the topic. I hope you understand.

    Seeing as Jukai is sort of a commitment to a certain style/Teacher/approach I thought it would be a good thing to have cleared up."
    ------

    Are you just as exited for the answer as I am?

    Gassho
    Aske the student
    ~ Please remember that I am very fallible.

    Gassho
    Meikyo

  2. #2
    "Sitting upright in deep inward rapture is the true path to enlightenment, said to have been followed by all teachers and holy ones who have mastered truth. In India to the west and China to the east, all those attaining enlightenment followed this way. And this was made possible by teachers carefully imparting the exquisite technique to their students, who in turn received it and made it their own.

    In our religion the real message is that this truth, as simple and straightforward as it is, takes absolute precedence. From your first encounter with a teacher just sit, letting your body/mind drop away. Make no use of incense or bowing or chanting or ceremonies or scriptures."

    - Dogen's Bendowa

    I have heard Jundo say just sit a few times. He probably got that from his teacher who got it from his teacher who....got it from Dogen.

    If I could only just sit and shut up more often I might be considered a better student.

    Gassho, Jishin
    Last edited by Jishin; 10-19-2014 at 06:31 PM.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    If I could only just sit and shut up more often I might be considered a better student.
    What he said
    "The moment has priority". ~ Bon Haeng

  4. #4
    Hello Aske,

    For me relationships based on a respectful sincere heart, whether teacher-student or student-teacher, is always a good start. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Shingen View Post
    Hello Aske,

    For me relationships based on a respectful sincere heart, whether teacher-student or student-teacher, is always a good start. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen
    Thank you Shingen. I really like that. To me, being sincere means just being here consistently and practicing consistently.

    Jishin -- I agree about just shutting up. You really need to do that Just kidding.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  6. #6

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Aske View Post
    Dear Jundo I haven't been able to find anything about the Teacher-student-relationship in general within the context of the (Soto) Zen tradition and Treeleaf specifically.
    At least not under a heading of its own.

    I wonder if you could say something about that?
    Such wise and compassionate words by the folks above.

    In this Sangha, unlike some Zen Buddhist Teachers and Sangha, I do not conduct a ceremony of formal promise of some exclusive "teacher-student" relationship (unless someone will Ordain, which is a special mutual obligation). If someone feels they learn from someone, then that person is their Teacher. In fact, we all have many Teachers (I have four Zen Priests who were particularly important in my life, although one formal Teacher in Nishijima), all the Teachers in this Sangha (we all Teach each other in a Community, and Students constantly teach Teachers) and countless Teachers (all sentient beings, the mountains and trees and stars).

    Even for our Jukai Ceremony, while there is an aspect of committing to a particular Teacher and Sangha, I believe that one can also undertake Jukai with many Teachers who are important in one's life (I have undertaken Jukai with 3 of the above 4). The universe is non-exclusive in my book! (Not all Zen Teachers agree with me, however, and I have heard of other Zen Sangha where Jukai is considered an exclusive commitment, and their is real pressure not to drift from the community and to bind to the teacher like a guru).

    However, when you are here at Treeleaf and feeling committed to this Community and the Practice here, then you are committed here, to the Teacher, Teachings and Community. The door is always open though.

    Finally, and most importantly ... the Buddha is our ultimate Teacher, and we are all our own ultimate Teacher, in addition to all Beings everywhere being our Teacher (all these are Not-Two, by the way).

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...I-TIME-2014%21

    What makes a good student? What makes a good Teacher? A good Practice-relationship between the two? What should and what should not be expected by the Teacher and by the student in such a relationship?
    Perhaps this is the same in any kind of teacher-student relationship, whether Sangha or trade or public school. The teacher should try to impart practice to the student, yet the student must herself do most of the heavy lifting. (I believe the Teacher and Community just point the way and offer guidance and advice based on their experience. I must prefer the traditional term for Buddhist Teacher as a "Good Friend" in the Way. Really, the Teacher teaches little, and it all comes down to each one of us in Practice.). The student should trust in the teacher, but the teacher must be ethical and not abuse that trust. The student should have trust in the teacher and teachings, at least for the months or longer until the teachings begin to prove themselves. The student must be diligent in practice. I sometimes say ...

    I would say that we do need a kind of trust and confidence in the Teachings and Practice before seeing any results (I hesitate to use the word "faith" because it is such a loaded term in the west), much like one must trust and have confidence in the doctor and the medicine prescribed even before the cure. One can look at the diploma and white coat, but one expects to see some results with time (even in a Practice such as ours where the "results" are sought primarily by dropping all seeking and thought of "results" ... all to work the Big Cure! )
    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-22-2014 at 01:46 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Hi all,

    To me a relationship between a teacher and a student has to be based in trust, honesty and wisdom.

    A teacher has to inspire you to learn, research, question everything and put stuff to the test. And he has to feel free to slap you in the head when needed.

    And when I see that the "slapping" helps in my practice, it all results in respect.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  9. #9
    Thank you Jundo and everyone else for such good and kind responses.
    Will ponder.

    Gassho
    Aske
    ~ Please remember that I am very fallible.

    Gassho
    Meikyo

  10. #10
    Hi Aske,

    it could be that I have too high expectations in a teacher. I am teaching guitar, therapy and some other things.
    The criteria for a good teacher was always for me, that I can recognize the state of ability, where the student is right now. So, here I am expecting, that the teacher gives you the right advice appropriate to the certain situation . That is - for me - the hard thing for the teacher. The student has to exercise the way the teacher is saying. No discussions. That is the trust-thing. But here it is a little more difficult. If I take the guitar-teaching: the Student sees and hears, what the teacher has mastered. Here, you must trust. I cannot observe the teachers life. But you also never know, if the guitar-teacher is using a playback if you have an online-teacher.
    And if the guitar-teacher is good in playing the guitar it doesn´t mean that he knows how to teach. So, the teacher has to know many metaphors and explanations for every step of enhancement.
    And there is no possibility to give back if it doesn´t work. I mean, you get the advice to do zazen in this and that way, but it does not work. What can you give back? You loose time and energy. So you have to proove your teacher before you start with him seriously. After the decission you have to trust. Otherwise it is a nonsense to be the student of somebody you do not trust???

    Gassho
    Ernst

  11. #11
    Relationships with teachers have always been strangely ambiguous for me. I used to really want to be someone's "Grasshopper", but it never worked out that way. No one has ever taken me by the hand like that. It has always been like getting tossed into a pool and told to go ahead and swim..."you'll work it out, keep going" with the occasional correction when I get really dumb. The most important thing has been to receive simple encouragement from a person I respect. The teacher's presence and friendship is the main thing.

    Teaching art is not the same as teaching Dharma, but maybe there are some similarities. The best art teachers see that the student's eye is best, and help the student realize that. They never act like they possess something the student doesn't have. They pass on skills and tradition but trust in and encourage the vision of the student.

    Gassho
    Daizan

  12. #12
    Yes, the teacher is within you but would never have learned that without the help of others.

    Kind regards. /\
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  13. #13
    As a wise man once said "The job of the teacher is to insult you." Without a teacher it is easy to think we have it figured out, so we need someone who knows better to give our ego a proverbial ass-beating now and again.

    Gassho,
    Jeffrey
    "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
    Henry David Thoreau, Walden

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    Teaching art is not the same as teaching Dharma, but maybe there are some similarities. The best art teachers see that the student's eye is best, and help the student realize that. They never act like they possess something the student doesn't have. They pass on skills and tradition but trust in and encourage the vision of the student.

    Gassho
    Daizan
    Hi.
    Very good comment.
    Thank you.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    Yes, the teacher is within you but would never have learned that without the help of others.

    Kind regards. /\


    Gassho
    Lisa

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    Yes, the teacher is within you but would never have learned that without the help of others.

    Kind regards. /\
    Right on! It's like when Bruce Lee said drop the forms; I'm paraphrasing. But you have to know this stuff in your bones before you can drop it and do free expression. If you don't know how to punch, form or no form, it won't matter. If you already know how to punch then drop the form. I guess it's also like the analogy of taking the raft to the other shore. When you no longer need it, there is no need to haul it. At the same time, practice is endless, so is there ever really a point when it can be dropped?

    Sorry for the tangent... thank you Rich!

    Gassho,

    Risho

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    Right on! It's like when Bruce Lee said drop the forms; I'm paraphrasing. But you have to know this stuff in your bones before you can drop it and do free expression. If you don't know how to punch, form or no form, it won't matter. If you already know how to punch then drop the form. I guess it's also like the analogy of taking the raft to the other shore. When you no longer need it, there is no need to haul it. At the same time, practice is endless, so is there ever really a point when it can be dropped?

    Sorry for the tangent... thank you Rich!

    Gassho,

    Risho


    Practice is endless so you are not dropping practice, you are dropping everything else so just this moment
    Is perceived. The forms as Bruce Lee correctly says are dropped and your actions will be correct according to your ability. Imo the raft is all the concepts and opinions about Buddhism that helped you to the shore. I'm just a beginner so pleas keep practicing and find your own truth.



    Kind regards. /\
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  18. #18

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