What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby seeker242 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:57 pm

Astus wrote:If we want to look for an ancient source that still has a clear explanation on the subject, it is Fayan Wenyi's "Ten Guidelines for Zen Schools" (宗門十規論) that was translated by Thomas Cleary in "The Five Houses of Zen" book. It describes the requirements of a teacher and how in his time most of the Zen communities and teachers fail to uphold the correct way.

His ten points (from Cleary's translation):

1. On false assumption of teacherhood without having cleared one's own mind ground
2. On factional sectarianism and failure to penetrate controversies
3. On teaching and preaching without knowing the bloodline
4. On giving answers without observing time and situation and not having the eye of the source
5. On discrepancy between principle and fact, and failure to distinguish defilement and purity
6. On subjective judgement of ancient and contemporary sayings without going through clarification
7. On memorizing slogans without being capable of subtle function meeting the needs of the time
8. On failure to master the scriptures and adducing proofs wrongly
9. On indulging in making up songs and verses without regard for meter and without having arrived at reality
10. On defending one's own shortcomings and indulging in contention


Thus, Fayan's criteria of a Zen teacher is that he should (1) be enlightened to the nature of mind, (2) don't attach to specific methods, (3) teach direct insight, (4) teach according to the situation, (5) clarify the two truths in teaching, (6) have appropriate training in the Dharma, (7) teach with insight and not just words, (8) know the scriptures, (9) don't write non-sense but clear and pleasant words, (10) don't disparage the Triple Jewels, the scriptures and the vehicles, and don't fail in upholding morality.


Nice list. :) Do you think that if a person meets all of the above criteria, they can then rightly be given dharma transmission and called a official "zen master"?
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:56 pm

I thought it might be helpful to insert what Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennet
had to say on this subject regarding Training after Realization:

There are some people who are called "masters" who
think that once they have been named as a master, that is the
end of their training. In Sōtō Zen, if a master's fellow mas-
ters do not recognize the training beyond realization, they
will cease to use the title of "Master" for him or her. It is
very important not to become "tetchy" or oversensitive
once one has become a master, lest you project what is
going on within yourself onto other people. I have had
monks complain to me after a realization that they were suf-
fering from the feeling that people were spiritually "eating"
them or projecting their past life material upon them. If a
person is a true master this does not happen, simply because
he or she knows how to handle it. Yes, you may have mo-
ments of oversensitivity to the mental and spiritual states of
others now and again, but you know how what to do. You do not
complain, you do not blame others; instead you look within
and do your own training.

-Source: from the Roar of the Tigress, Volume II: Zen for Spiritual Adults.
In Chapter 14, "Training After Realization", from a lecture on Butsu
Kōjō Ji
, "The Experiencing
of That Which is Above and Beyond Buddhahood."
(a chapter of Dogen's Shobogenzo)
2005, Jiyu Kennett, and Order of Buddhist Contemplatives,
Mt. Shasta, California. Shasta Abbey Press


The whole book is downloadable here:
http://www.shastaabbey.org/pdf/bookRoar2.pdf

Sara
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Astus » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:47 am

Sara,

What you describe as kensho, that is the initial certainty arising about the Dharma, and that is the level of Faith. It is important, very much. But the first bhumi, as you could see, is a lot more than that, where such external issues that you describe are not problems and internally it is a lot more peaceful and free.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Astus » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:57 am

seeker242 wrote:Nice list. :) Do you think that if a person meets all of the above criteria, they can then rightly be given dharma transmission and called a official "zen master"?


There is no mention of any transmission. It is a guideline for those who are or plan to be teachers. There is no such thing as "official Zen master" in Buddhism, only in specific organisations. That is, if you set up a Buddhist community, you can create such a title, and that will be official there, but not necessarily for others.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:56 am

(To Astus)
Well,

I'm just going to use the term kensho then.

That will keep it simple because that's what we're talking about here.

How it compares, straight across to other Buddhist terms, I'm not entirely sure, and I don't want to add confusion here, so let's just keep it at that.

I'd rather that, than more confusion.

Sara
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Astus » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:58 am

Kensho can mean so many things that, as I see it, it requires a definition if we are to understand each other. Now that we have it, it is quite easy to see what you mean when you say that Zen teachers are ordinary people.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:02 am

Well, one of the problems Astus (I'm in agreement with you about how terms can mean different things), is that the term "enlightenment" can mean so many different things.

It's one of the biggest problems in western Buddhism, and why many Zen teachers are drawing away from the term. It's confusing to people.

Especially with all the new-age people using the term, many people have no idea what it means, and in what context.

Sara
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Astus » Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:14 am

To avoid such confusion there are quite elaborate descriptions and terms in Buddhism. The problem can be is that Zen is generally viewed as the path of sudden enlightenment. Now that is resolved by teachers like Zongmi and Jinul who established the system of sudden enlightenment and gradual practice, but that is not used in Japanese Zen and so Western heirs of that tradition have this trouble of not being clear about the nature of enlightenment and the actual stages. Since apparently very few Zen master teach actual sudden liberation there is a great need for a proper description of the gradual process, something that is readily found in Mahayana.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:04 am

Astus wrote:To avoid such confusion there are quite elaborate descriptions and terms in Buddhism. The problem can be is that Zen is generally viewed as the path of sudden enlightenment. Now that is resolved by teachers like Zongmi and Jinul who established the system of sudden enlightenment and gradual practice, but that is not used in Japanese Zen and so Western heirs of that tradition have this trouble of not being clear about the nature of enlightenment and the actual stages. Since apparently very few Zen master teach actual sudden liberation there is a great need for a proper description of the gradual process, something that is readily found in Mahayana.


Well, the term "sudden enlightenment" is actually sortof a nickname term for the Rinzai system.

I'm not a Rinzai practitioner.

The corresponding nickname for Soto is "gradual".

Traditionally in Japan, people referred to the two schools as the "sudden" and "gradual" schools respectively.

It's a misnomer, but it is quick way to refer to the methods that in Rinzai they use a koan book with 300 or so koans that they give to everybody, to try and force kensho to the surface,

And in Soto, the method is generally to just let people sit and let it arise naturally (though a Soto Master will occasionally use a koan if and when they feel it's necessary),

But you know, I mean if you're Japanese, and Zen has been there for hundreds of years, it's an easy, highly overly-simplified way to refer to the distinguishing differences in a casual conversation.


Sara
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Astus » Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:39 pm

Sara,

What kind of Soto Zen do you mean to be gradual? Shikantaza is enlightenment from the very beginning and there is nothing to improve about it. On the other hand, in Hakuin's system people go through several stages in practice and they recognise various levels of attainment. Of the two it is in fact Rinzai that is gradual.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:47 pm

Sara H wrote:Well, one of the problems...is that the term "enlightenment" can mean so many different things. It's one of the biggest problems in western Buddhism, and why many Zen teachers are drawing away from the term. It's confusing to people. Especially with all the new-age people using the term, many people have no idea what it means, and in what context.

I don't think the Buddha ever talked about enlightenment anyway.
He talked about the cessation of suffering
Zen talks about realization of the true nature of mind,
which is the essence of the cessation of suffering.

I think this is part of the confusion about
What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.
But he might tell you that,
if you are still dwelling in the dualism of IS and ISN'T
you haven't got realization.

"Enlightenment" means that the light goes on, doesn't it?
Like a cartoon picture, the tiny light bulb floating over the head starts to glow.
So we are not in darkness any more.
But Zen teaches to go beyond the concepts light and dark,
beyond any conceptual grasping of realization and ignorance,
and just let the mind see awareness itself, directly.

This is where the word "enlightenment" fails in meaning,
and if we apply that failed understanding to teachers,
all sorts of trouble starts.


.
.
.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:52 pm

It can take an apple 5 or 6 months to go from a tree blossom to a ripe apple.
Then, all at once, in a split second, it just falls off the branch.
is that gradual, or sudden?
.
.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby MalaBeads » Wed Apr 10, 2013 2:28 pm

One of the aspects of this conversation that has begun to bother me is the fact that a tradition that centuries ago declared itself to be one "outside words and letters" is now being redefined as one beholden to even older words and definitions.

By the time zen (ie the meditation school) arrived in China, wise ones saw that the human beings practicing Buddhism were devolving into those who needed to cling to words and definitions. Those wise ones practicing in the meditation school (aka "Zen") felt very much the living quality of meditation practice. I would like to say the "here and now" quality of meditation but dislike the phrase and so I won't.

Sara, dont let yourself be back into the corner of definitions. Zen is an experiential school and unless you have actually practiced it, you will never understand it. Definitions notwithstanding.

:shrug:

My two cents.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Astus » Wed Apr 10, 2013 2:33 pm

MalaBeads,

You define Zen as "outside words and letters" and "an experiential school" and then say how erroneous it is to define Zen. What do you mean?
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby MalaBeads » Wed Apr 10, 2013 2:57 pm

:shrug:
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby shel » Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:22 pm

MalaBeads wrote:Sara, dont let yourself be back into the corner of definitions.


:tongue: I wouldn't worry about that. For Sara, a Zen master can be anything from someone with a "glimpse of Buddha nature" to a Buddha. They may or may not be freed from greed, anger, and hate.

The only wider definition than that would be to say that everyone (in meaningful attributes) is a Zen master, oddly.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:02 pm

shel wrote:
MalaBeads wrote:Sara, dont let yourself be back into the corner of definitions.


:tongue: I wouldn't worry about that. For Sara, a Zen master can be anything from someone with a "glimpse of Buddha nature" to a Buddha. They may or may not be freed from greed, anger, and hate.

The only wider definition than that would be to say that everyone (in meaningful attributes) is a Zen master, oddly.


Nope. A "Zen Master" in the modern sense must be a priest, of the Zen tradition; have had a confirmed kensho; and received Dharma Transmission.

That does not include "everyone".

The definition is narrow in scope to those who meet that criteria.

Sara
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby shel » Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:21 pm

Sara H wrote:
shel wrote:
MalaBeads wrote:Sara, dont let yourself be back into the corner of definitions.


:tongue: I wouldn't worry about that. For Sara, a Zen master can be anything from someone with a "glimpse of Buddha nature" to a Buddha. They may or may not be freed from greed, anger, and hate.

The only wider definition than that would be to say that everyone (in meaningful attributes) is a Zen master, oddly.


Nope. A "Zen Master" in the modern sense must be a priest, of the Zen tradition; have had a confirmed kensho; and received Dharma Transmission.

That does not include "everyone".

The definition is narrow in scope to those who meet that criteria.

Sara


Hi Sara,

I clearly wrote "in meaningful attributes." Meaningful attributes in terms of religion are things like compassion, wisdom, and moral conduct. Just about anyone off the street may possess such attributes in sufficient quantity of what you say Zen mastery requires. You appear to be correct in this definition, because there are Zen masters who make dubious moral choices, and hand in hand with that, have an apparent lack of wisdom and compassion.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Thu Apr 11, 2013 12:05 am

shel wrote:Sara, dont let yourself be back into the corner of definitions.


:tongue: I wouldn't worry about that. For Sara, a Zen master can be anything from someone with a "glimpse of Buddha nature" to a Buddha. They may or may not be freed from greed, anger, and hate.

The only wider definition than that would be to say that everyone (in meaningful attributes) is a Zen master, oddly.[/quote]

shel wrote:Hi Sara,

I clearly wrote "in meaningful attributes." Meaningful attributes in terms of religion are things like compassion, wisdom, and moral conduct. Just about anyone off the street may possess such attributes in sufficient quantity of what you say Zen mastery requires. You appear to be correct in this definition, because there are Zen masters who make dubious moral choices, and hand in hand with that, have an apparent lack of wisdom and compassion.


Right, but it still wouldn't be accurate, because everyone is still not a Zen Master as it is a narrowly defined, specific term, not a general "phrase".

That would be like saying "some Zen Master's eat apples" and so "everyone (in meaningful attributes) is a Zen master" because everyone may eat apples.

Lol.

Sara
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby shel » Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:07 am

Sara H wrote:
shel wrote:Hi Sara,

I clearly wrote "in meaningful attributes." Meaningful attributes in terms of religion are things like compassion, wisdom, and moral conduct. Just about anyone off the street may possess such attributes in sufficient quantity of what you say Zen mastery requires. You appear to be correct in this definition, because there are Zen masters who make dubious moral choices, and hand in hand with that, have an apparent lack of wisdom and compassion.


Right, but it still wouldn't be accurate, because everyone is still not a Zen Master as it is a narrowly defined, specific term, not a general "phrase".


Again, I'm not talking about the mere definition as you are, I'm talking about meaningful attributes. Words and descriptions are nothing without the meaning behind them, which is exactly what this topic is really about. :emb:

That would be like saying "some Zen Master's eat apples" and so "everyone (in meaningful attributes) is a Zen master" because everyone may eat apples.


More meaningfully in regard to religion and diet, it would be like pointing out the fact that some Zen masters drink. It is well known that Taizan Maezumi Roshi was an alcoholic, even going so far as rehab, if not death. The other day I read a post from a Zen Master who wrote about his habitual drinking (http://www.zenforuminternational.org/viewtopic.php?f=32&t=9289&p=143017&hilit=beer#p143017), and he chairs the Membership Committee of the American Zen Teachers Association and serves on the Priest Training Committee of the Soto Zen Teachers Association. There are no restrictions against eating meat, free range or otherwise. Also, many Western Zen masters are overweight, suggesting poor dietary habits or gluttony.

So in terms of dietary consumption, there is no meaningful difference between the Wester Zen master and anyone else, regardless of vows. Indeed I've never taken any Buddhist vows but still drink less alcohol than some Zen masters. :cheers:

Perhaps in Western Zen vows against intoxicants and the like are seen as merely empty 'phrases'?
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