Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

seeking the teacher's approval

genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
edited October 2013 in General Banter
I made this blog post today and thought I would post it here FWIW:

Taste is taste and I've got mine ...

In general, I don't like latter-day appreciations of Zen Buddhism. They are too frilly, too self-important, too slickly tricky-dick, too caring and sharing and compassionate without compassion for my taste. Too often they set aside what is important while donning the robes of importance. Sometimes I go so far as to become infuriated. As I say, it's just a matter of taste: I don't like anchovies either.

Nor yet do I like pimping for latter-day appreciations, crooning self-importantly about how powerful or profound or marvelous or on-the-mark they might be. Ick, ick and more ick. It's just my generalized taste.

But for every 'rule' there is an exception and I am not immune.

Today I read Zen monk Koun Franz' blog entry ("My Teacher Doesn't Get Me") and was touched. I was touched not because I thought he was right, especially, but rather by the fact that he took a shot at something I think of as a meat-and-potatoes issue in Zen (or perhaps any Buddhist) practice -- the desire on the part of the student to receive approval and love from his or her teacher.

Imagine: If love and approval on the part of the teaching were all Zen practice amounted to, how much better off could the student possibly be? Would s/he really be able to thank the teacher or would s/he instead simply be reconfirmed in the same old mind-set that brought him/her to Zen practice in the first place ... and Zen practice could be reduced to a self-aggrandizing hug festival? Tea and cookies ... how goddamned marvelous!

Everyone wants to be loved, but is that really love?

Koun Franz is much nicer than I am in asking the question.
DavidVastmindChazlobsterInvincible_summer

Comments

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited October 2013
    I think I've felt that. The two centers close to me are alright and have nice people but something seemed lacking for me. It felt more like self help groups than sanghas and I feel the secret lies in helping others. I volunteered in the garden for one and movie night for the other but it turned out it wasn't really something I could commit to.

    One kind lady went on about how one day maybe she will be able to become Buddhist and the teacher coddled her on the subject, praising her efforts... If you could have seen the look of craving in the lady's eyes, you may have felt what I did. Like a fool, lol.

    I love them and may go meditate with them again but if I volunteer I'll do it at a hospital.
    ChazInvincible_summer
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited October 2013
    Good thing my teacher lives in France, hahaha.
    (TNH)

    Seriously, though, I remember getting frustrated at our
    ordained facilitator because I wasn't 'getting him'.

    After he shared his own personal story, (that made me cry),
    and HE felt comfortable enough to joke with me...
    We are gooood! :D He can 'check' me in a funny way...
    I think we get each other now. :)

    He says I "always got something to say" hahaha....true... hahaha
    I'm trying to learn to be quiet.....
    riverflowInvincible_summer
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    I think one of the toughest things in being a Buddhist, is dealing with the teacher/student relationship.

    The hardest lesson to learn is to trust in the Guru's unconditional, but non-referential love for you, his student. Dilgo Khyentse once said that the relationship is "beyond meeting and parting".

    I haven't seen my guru is years. A close friend saw him in San Antonio over ther weekend and I'll be having dinner with my friend tomorrow night to hear all about it. I'm sure it will be a meeting of jealousy and wonder and that's a part of the rather unconventional relationship I have.

    Part of the teacher's job is to help us work through our neurosises - like what we want, what we like, our preconceived notions and to in gereral aid us in awakening. Sometimes that job may cloud or dimish our trust in the guru's compassion, but that's a part of it. Tibetn Buddhist teaching are replete with these unusual relationships - Tilopa and Naropa, Marpa and Milarepa and so on. These were not conventional relationships. Milarepa made several stone towers at Marpa's direction, only to have to tear them down and rebuild them. Are such requests from someone with compassion? A conventional relationship might indicate not, but that back-breaking labor contributed to Awakening, so .......

    It's quite natural to think the teacher doesn't care, or he has not love/compassion, that he just a jerk or a bully that "doesn't get me".

    I think the purpose of the teacher is to help you learn to get over the teacher.
    VastmindEvenThirdlobster
  • howhow Veteran
    I think the purpose of the teacher is to help you learn to get over the teacher.

    @Chaz..wonderful....Not the whole story but in Zen it should be on the front gate right after "put your slippers straight".

    What is love/compassion from a teacher who is trying to show you how to free yourself from the human condition? If the human condition is that innate expression of inadequacy and separation that fosters our self and other attitudes, is a teachers job to salve such pains or to leave them be as a truth for the student to face?

    My teacher is now my meditation and anyone I meet so my memories long ago of what it's like to look for everything in one person (teacher) being might be questionable.
    Invincible_summer
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    how said:

    I think the purpose of the teacher is to help you learn to get over the teacher.

    @Chaz..wonderful....Not the whole story but in Zen it should be on the front gate right after "put your slippers straight".




    Thanx and well put!

    In saying "get over", I didn't mean leaving a teacher. What I'm refering to is letting go of all the conceptual bullshit, neuroses, and spiritual materialism that often confuses the relationship we have with a teacher.

    In TB, the role of the teacher/guru in a student's path is of paramont importance. This doesn't mean the teacher is put on a pedestal, or we become fawning sycophants, blindling reacting to every word spoken by the guru. What we need to realize, and this can be so hard for all of us, is that the guru is supposed to guide the student to an awakened state. If that's a gentle word, that's fine, but we must also have an open heart so when he "smacks us on the head with his shoe" we are not so overcome by our own prejudices that we fail to see the lesson.
    What is love/compassion from a teacher who is trying to show you how to free yourself from the human condition?
    It can be virtualy anything. Even hitting the student with a shoe.

    It's pretty hard to have an obsequeous relationship with someone who just hit you with his Converse All-Star.
    If the human condition is that innate expression of inadequacy and separation that fosters our self and other attitudes, is a teachers job to salve such pains or to leave them be as a truth for the student to face?
    The latter. Without question. The teacher doesn't make you feel better. The teacher leads you to Awakening. To do that he/she must point out the truth - left out in the open, naked, unadorned, raw and juicy.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    how said:

    I think the purpose of the teacher is to help you learn to get over the teacher.

    @Chaz..wonderful....Not the whole story but in Zen it should be on the front gate right after "put your slippers straight".

    "Followers of the Way [of Chán], if you want to get the kind of understanding that accords with the Dharma, never be misled by others. Whether you're facing inward or facing outward, whatever you meet up with, just kill it! If you meet a buddha, kill the buddha. If you meet a patriarch, kill the patriarch. If you meet an arhat, kill the arhat. If you meet your parents, kill your parents. If you meet your kinfolk, kill your kinfolk. Then for the first time you will gain emancipation, will not be entangled with things, will pass freely anywhere you wish to go."

    I think another purpose of the teacher is to TRY to mislead you and if you follow, then that shows that you haven't understood yet. But if he tries to mislead you and you kill him instead of following, then you get the teachers approval! Especially so with koan practice. :lol:

    Of course the best kind of teachers IMO intuitively do whatever is best for that particular student. If a student needs to be coddled and that is what would be most helpful to them, then the teacher will coddle them. If the student needs to be kicked in the ass and that is what would be most helpful to them, the teacher will kick them in the ass!
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited October 2013
    Sign me up for coddle, raw, juicy, real...all that...but I'm here to tell
    you I don't need an ass kicking or a shoe in the head to teach me ..
    .....that's some unskilfull stuff, IMO.
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    edited October 2013
    Vastmind said:

    Sign me up for coddle, raw, juicy, real...all that...but I'm here to tell
    you I don't need an ass kicking or a shoe in the head to teach me ..
    .....that's some unskilfull stuff, IMO.

    Of course. Everybody says that.

    But consider ....

    If your guru smacked you on the forehead with his sandle and in that moment you achieve enlightenment, as did Naropa, how is that unskillfull?

    There's also the "Keisaku" tradition of Zen where the meditator is struck with a flat stick in order to reinvigorate the meditator. Skillful means or ......
  • howhow Veteran
    seeker242 said:

    how said:

    I think the purpose of the teacher is to help you learn to get over the teacher.

    @Chaz..wonderful....Not the whole story but in Zen it should be on the front gate right after "put your slippers straight".

    "Followers of the Way [of Chán], if you want to get the kind of understanding that accords with the Dharma, never be misled by others. Whether you're facing inward or facing outward, whatever you meet up with, just kill it! If you meet a buddha, kill the buddha. If you meet a patriarch, kill the patriarch. If you meet an arhat, kill the arhat. If you meet your parents, kill your parents. If you meet your kinfolk, kill your kinfolk. Then for the first time you will gain emancipation, will not be entangled with things, will pass freely anywhere you wish to go."

    @seeker242
    Perhaps you can ask your teacher if you can name him here.....
    I'd love to know where monastic chants of KILL, KILL, KILL, could be avoided.

    Chaz
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    ^^^
    It's not the bathroom mirror's fault.
    lobster
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited October 2013
    @Chaz
    No flat sticks either.
    Show me an object...make a point.
    I'm right here. Look at me.
    Right in the eyeballs.
    Talk to me...I'll either
    listen or I won't. I'll either apply the lesson or I won't.
    That's as real as it gets.

    Don't hit me 'cause you've
    run out of ways to communicate. That would not do.

    Everybody may say that...but I can show you better than
    I can tell you.

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    Vastmind said:

    @Chaz
    No flat sticks either.
    Show me an object...make a point.
    I'm right here. Look at me.
    Right in the eyeballs.
    Talk to me...I'll either
    listen or I won't. I'll either apply the lesson or I won't.
    That's as real as it gets.

    Don't hit me 'cause you've
    run out of ways to communicate. That would not do.

    Everybody may say that...but I can show you better than
    I can tell you.

    Then you limit your opportunities for awakening. Of course if that isn't your goal, then the point is moot. You don't have to become enlightened in this lifetime, or any other for that matter. Nobody holds a karmic gun to your head.

    The thing is, it's your sensibilities, your conceptualizations, your opinions, likes and dislikes that are, in part, keeping you from the ultimate realization. Sometimes, simply saying "Wake Up" doesn't work. Sometimes a gentle shake will do the trick. Sometimes you need more drastic measures.

    If you want to limit your opportunities, it's your karma.

    ;)
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited October 2013
    Limits?....what?
    Just give me my Dharma ticket and I'll be on
    my way....... Have a good day, officer.
    I'll do better next time..... :D
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    Vastmind said:

    Sign me up for coddle, raw, juicy, real...all that...but I'm here to tell
    you I don't need an ass kicking or a shoe in the head to teach me ..
    .....that's some unskilfull stuff, IMO.

    I prefer the ass kicking teachers myself, they are the most fun kind, especially when you can kick them back and they just laugh!:lol:
    how said:


    @seeker242
    Perhaps you can ask your teacher if you can name him here.....
    I'd love to know where monastic chants of KILL, KILL, KILL, could be avoided.

    Ask my teacher to name who, what? I don't understand!

    Vastmind
  • howhow Veteran
    @seeker242

    If this kill kill kill teaching is being promoted by your teacher, then telling me who he/she is gives me a chance to doge his/her place of teaching but it would be polite if you asked him/her first if it was OK to publicly name him/her here first.


    And is the trainee who survives this teaching the winner or the loser?



    Chaz
  • I say Mu (no thing) to the student teacher relationship:

    “in the universal womb that is boundless space
    all forms of matter and energy occur
    as flux of the four elements,
    but all are empty forms, absent in reality:
    all phenomena, arising in pure mind, are like that.

    just as dream is a part of sleep,
    unreal in its arising,
    so all and everything is pure mind,
    never separated from it,
    and without substance or attribute.

    experience is neither mind nor anything but mind;
    it is a vivid display of emptiness, like magical illusion,
    in the very moment inconceivable and unutterable.
    all experience arising in the mind,
    at its inception, know it as emptiness!”
    ― Longchenpa
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    Vastmind said:

    Limits?....what?
    Just give me my Dharma ticket and I'll be on
    my way....... Have a good day, officer.
    I'll do better next time..... :D

    Channeling Lobster now?

    :eek2:
    MaryAnne
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    Jeffrey said:

    I say Mu (no thing) to the student teacher relationship:

    “in the universal womb that is boundless space
    all forms of matter and energy occur
    as flux of the four elements,
    but all are empty forms, absent in reality:
    all phenomena, arising in pure mind, are like that.

    just as dream is a part of sleep,
    unreal in its arising,
    so all and everything is pure mind,
    never separated from it,
    and without substance or attribute.

    experience is neither mind nor anything but mind;
    it is a vivid display of emptiness, like magical illusion,
    in the very moment inconceivable and unutterable.
    all experience arising in the mind,
    at its inception, know it as emptiness!”
    ― Longchenpa

    How does that address the teacher/student relationship?
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited October 2013
    It is a dream, I guess. Or rather the experience is ineffible. I can't put my finger on what my guru teaches me. I can remember teachings to trot out, but it goes back to the mind. The guru is my cheerleader on realizing the dreamlike nature of reality. This applies not only to our meditation, but also to the relationships between us and other sentient beings. And that includes the guru.

    in the very moment inconceivable and unutterable.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    how said:

    @seeker242

    If this kill kill kill teaching is being promoted by your teacher, then telling me who he/she is gives me a chance to doge his/her place of teaching but it would be polite if you asked him/her first if it was OK to publicly name him/her here first.

    And is the trainee who survives this teaching the winner or the loser?

    I'm sure he would not mind me naming him. :) He is american-korean monk dae kwang sunim zen master. Although, one should not dodge being killed! Being killed is emancipation from samsara!

    The trainee who survives this teaching is neither the winner nor the loser because he no longer cares about winning and losing. The trainee who survives this teaching has left the playing field behind altogether and has entered into the deathless realm. There are no games of living or dying in the deathless realm as there is no life and no death, no being born and no dying.

    :D
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    How I sometimes wish that explanations were worth more than a hill of beans. Unfortunately, experience teaches that they don't amount to more than a fart in a wind storm.

    Damn!
    lobster
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited November 2013
    Chaz said:

    Vastmind said:

    Limits?....what?
    Just give me my Dharma ticket and I'll be on
    my way....... Have a good day, officer.
    I'll do better next time..... :D

    Channeling Lobster now?

    :eek2:
    Nope.

    I'll explain it another way....
    I disagree that I'm 'limiting' myself. I'm also not about
    to take a shoe to the forehead to find out. haha

    I am trying not to judge those who have...if you needed drastic measures...
    who am I to say, it didn't work...Just not my preference for
    learning, I suppose. I also have not been exposed to that
    kind of intention/behavior.....not in my temple or monastery....
    long story short....just my opinion...I don't think that kind of teaching is
    effective...for several reasons. I gather you think it is..... for several reasons.
    That's ok...... :)
    Spanking or no spanking the kids...the debate will go on........
    MaryAnneriverflow
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited November 2013
    genkaku said:

    How I sometimes wish that explanations were worth more than a hill of beans. Unfortunately, experience teaches that they don't amount to more than a fart in a wind storm.

    Damn!

    A fart in a windstorm is Buddha! A fart in an elevator is also Buddha! Just a different kind! :lol:

    But seriously I agree. :) I brought this very thing up with the teacher at the last retreat. Her response was interesting. I rambled on and on about reading all the books and hearing hundreds of dharma talks, with all of them just saying the same thing over and over and over and none it actually helps! I literally told he she is just talking a bunch of bullshit and that she should shut her mouth! It ended with me saying "If nothing you say can help me, then how can you help me?" She said "I can't help you! It's all up to you!" It was a very inspiring exchange. :)

    p.s. But before anyone freaks out about me telling the Buddhist teacher to STFU, (LOL) it's called "dharma combat" and it's pretty common zen thing for people who might be reading this who don't know much about zen. And if you are able to kill the teacher completely, you emerge victorious! And then people start calling you "zen master" and you sit on the other side of the room now. Unfortunately, my teacher is still alive. Perhaps one of these days I will be able to chop his head right off. :lol:
    Vastmind
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited November 2013
    Just an after thought here: It's not a guarantee, so what if the sandal leaves a
    bruise, and I'm no better off? Ouch...now I'm just mad and hurt.

    If the opportunities were that easy...people would be lined up
    for an ass kickin' lololol

    Maybe that's why they invented UFC...hahaha
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    Vastmind said:

    Just an after thought here: It's not a guarantee, so what if the sandal leaves a
    bruise, and I'm no better off? Ouch...now I'm just mad and hurt.

    If the opportunities were that easy...people would be lined up
    for an ass kickin' lololol

    Maybe that's why they invented UFC...hahaha

    Definitely channeling Lobster.

    One is enough.

    More people might be lined up, except most people, like yourself, have some narrow preconceptions about what this is about.

    The Buddha was a deadbeat dad. Walked out on his family in the middle of the night. left a wife without her husband, an infant son without a father, a father without an heir and a people without their prince. How can some low-life scum like that be a Buddha? You follow that guy's "teaching"?

    And you object to getting hit on the head with a shoe?

    Right.

    Vastmind
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited November 2013
    Narrow? Really?
    I thought I was pretty open to what you were saying...
    I'm sorry if I came across as narrow....
    I'm not being a smart-ass here....I mean it.
    I thought I was mindful of saying MY experience
    and thought...just as you did.

    You started with the converse joke, so to be honest...
    I didn't think the sandal/ bruise reference would get to you...
    Sorry.

    @Chaz
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    Vastmind said:

    Just an after thought here: It's not a guarantee, so what if the sandal leaves a
    bruise, and I'm no better off? Ouch...now I'm just mad and hurt.

    If the opportunities were that easy...people would be lined up
    for an ass kickin' lololol

    Maybe that's why they invented UFC...hahaha

    Have you seen how they train monks at head Soto zen Eiheiji Temple in Japan? It's interesting. It's VERY disciplined! It's almost like a military boot camp zen temple, ha! It's like the UFC of zen training! Of course that kind of training is not for everyone, but some people prefer that kind of training and some find it very helpful. 84,000 dharma doors I guess you could say. :)
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited November 2013
    ^^^ yes, I have heard. In fact, that's the word I used awhile ago...
    like boot camp. BTW...I took a couple ass-kickin's in bootcamp. My
    feeling and reaction was the same at the time. It didn't work for
    me...and I didn't re-enlist. Sandals are for babies....try a boot, hahaha
    Also got it with my mattress. The whole thing. You heard me right.

    I agree....84,000 doors... :)
  • If there are different ways of teaching to suit different people (cf. The Lotus Sutra) then one would think there would be different teachers too-- or a teacher who able to meet the particular needs of a particular student in a particular way-- who is skillful enough to respond differently to different students, each according to their weaknesses and strengths.

    Insisting that a good teacher is one who teaches the same cookie-cutter way for all students doesn't make a lot of sense.
    VastmindJeffrey
  • The teacher approves when the student becomes increasingly free from suffering. If it's a good teacher they don't approve of being a yes man. That would be samsaric and of the worldly winds: pleasure/pain, gain/loss, praise/blame, fame/infamy.
  • Even if a teacher is studied, nice as pie, and articulate, if they are not free from the worldly winds then how can they give pointing out instructions? Better off listening to youtubes of liberated beings.
Sign In or Register to comment.