Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

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Lindama
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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by Lindama » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:18 am

Wayfarer....
you might check out Susan Murphy, Roshi in Sydney....

http://zenopencircle.org.au/about/roshi-susan-murphy/

I've sat with her twice in CA sesshin.... I have affinity with her, but too many miles...

I agree, most important is to find a teacher you can relate to....

best wishes
linda
Wayfarer wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:58 am
I have sought out a Zen few centres in my region, although I haven’t found one that I can stick with yet; I’ll keep trying to do that. So, as for which particular lineage, I have not made a decision, although Sōtō does interest me, but I think it has to be generally Zen/East Asian.

:namaste:
Not last night,
not this morning,
melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho

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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:06 am

Thank you Linda! Actually I did go see Susan Murphy once, but their group meets a long long way away from home. I've done the rounds of the Sydney Zen teachers. As it happens, I now have a family connection near Korinji in Wisconsin, so I'm hoping to be able to attend a residential retreat there some time in the future.

:namaste:
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Larryo
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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by Larryo » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:48 am

KeithA wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:45 am
I will completely cop to being the sort of practitioner who sees the teacher in the "good friend" model, not an infallible person worthy of selfless devotion.
I always found total Surrender to my teacher very useful. But, generally speaking, not without dangers. I guess I was young, naive & lucky.

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KeithA
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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by KeithA » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:20 pm

Larryo wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:48 am
KeithA wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:45 am
I will completely cop to being the sort of practitioner who sees the teacher in the "good friend" model, not an infallible person worthy of selfless devotion.
I always found total Surrender to my teacher very useful. But, generally speaking, not without dangers. I guess I was young, naive & lucky.
I trust my teacher without question, otherwise why bother?

Here is a question that came to mind while thinking about this topic:

We have the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. I always considered the teacher as part of the Sangha. After reading some around here, it occurred to me that some folks might consider the teacher to be the Buddha (or at least "a" Buddha) in that equation.

To continue to put out what might be unpopular opinions, i do happen to think that determining who is enlightened and who is not is not possible and is a fools errand. My teacher has been given transmission in a way that I trust, again without question. Is he enlightened? I have no idea. His actions always seem to be informed by great wisdom. That's good enough for me. I do recognize this a particularly "Western" view of things, fwiw.

:stirthepot:

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bokki
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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by bokki » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:07 pm

Keith, thank u for the good post.
To continue to put out what might be unpopular opinions, i do happen to think that determining who is enlightened and who is not is not possible and is a fools errand.
somehow, i think that the whole history of zen is based solely upon the thing u doubt and think is a fools errand..
that is a bit strange 4 me, but thats just my opinion.
thnx, keith
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KeithA
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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by KeithA » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:20 pm

pokii wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:07 pm
Keith, thank u for the good post.
To continue to put out what might be unpopular opinions, i do happen to think that determining who is enlightened and who is not is not possible and is a fools errand.
somehow, i think that the whole history of zen is based solely upon the thing u doubt and think is a fools errand..
that is a bit strange 4 me, but thats just my opinion.
thnx, keith
It seems to me that Zen (and Buddhism, in general) is based on something that cannot be grasped by the intellect. That is the source of doubt. And that, in my opinion, is no fool's errand but a truly wonderful gift.
Coming empty-handed, going empty-handed – that is human.
When you are born, where do you come from?
When you die, where do you go?
Life is like a floating cloud which appears.
Death is like a floating cloud which disappears.
The floating cloud itself originally does not exist.
Life and death, coming and going, are also like that.
But there is one thing which always remains clear.
It is pure and clear, not depending on life and death.

Then what is the one pure and clear thing?

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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by DGA » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:37 pm

Larryo wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:48 am
KeithA wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:45 am
I will completely cop to being the sort of practitioner who sees the teacher in the "good friend" model, not an infallible person worthy of selfless devotion.
I always found total Surrender to my teacher very useful. But, generally speaking, not without dangers. I guess I was young, naive & lucky.
Respecfully, this ^^^ doesn't sound like a Buddhist teaching to me. It doesn't correspond to how I've been taught to relate to a teacher in any Buddhist tradition I've been exposed to.

I think you mentioned elsewhere that you follow (or followed) a Taoist master. Is total surrender how it works in that context?

This may be an invitation to a separate discussion on how one ought to relate to a Zen teacher. I think there must be a spectrum of views on this matter.

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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by Anonymous X » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:18 pm

Larryo wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:48 am
KeithA wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:45 am
I will completely cop to being the sort of practitioner who sees the teacher in the "good friend" model, not an infallible person worthy of selfless devotion.
I always found total Surrender to my teacher very useful. But, generally speaking, not without dangers. I guess I was young, naive & lucky.
A true spiritual friend will never ask for this kind of thing. Never!

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KeithA
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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by KeithA » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:43 pm

DGA wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:37 pm
Larryo wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:48 am
KeithA wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:45 am
I will completely cop to being the sort of practitioner who sees the teacher in the "good friend" model, not an infallible person worthy of selfless devotion.
I always found total Surrender to my teacher very useful. But, generally speaking, not without dangers. I guess I was young, naive & lucky.
Respecfully, this ^^^ doesn't sound like a Buddhist teaching to me. It doesn't correspond to how I've been taught to relate to a teacher in any Buddhist tradition I've been exposed to.

I think you mentioned elsewhere that you follow (or followed) a Taoist master. Is total surrender how it works in that context?

This may be an invitation to a separate discussion on how one ought to relate to a Zen teacher. I think there must be a spectrum of views on this matter.
I remember having a big dust-up on ZFI about a person's insistence that the practitioner had to "submit" to the teacher. I wonder how much of these disagreements are semantic in nature. Yes, I too recoiled at the use of the word "surrender". I think both words imply giving up one's free will and critical assessment of the situation on an ongoing basis. That's why I prefer "trust". Trust is something that is constantly earned and maintained.

The student/teacher relationship is, in many ways, a two-way street, imho.

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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by Larryo » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:47 pm

Oh Dear! I knew I'd put my foot in it sooner or later :smile:

It was something I intuitively felt at the time. Over 35 years ago. Not something that was demanded. And I did say I was young, naive & lucky. In retrospect, I'm glad I took that approach. And, yes, it was outside standard Buddhist practice.

It's not really my area, but Tibetan Guru Yoga seems to have quite high levels of teacher devotion. Especially historically.

I hope I haven't muddied the waters too much.

:namaste:

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KeithA
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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by KeithA » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:58 pm

Larryo wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:47 pm
Oh Dear! I knew I'd put my foot in it sooner or later :smile:

It was something I intuitively felt at the time. Over 35 years ago. Not something that was demanded. And I did say I was young, naive & lucky. In retrospect, I'm glad I took that approach. And, yes, it was outside standard Buddhist practice.

It's not really my area, but Tibetan Guru Yoga seems to have quite high levels of teacher devotion. Especially historically.

I hope I haven't muddied the waters too much.

:namaste:
It's funny. Because we have interacted a fair bit over the years, your statement made perfect sense to me, because you are you. :smile:

It's a good lesson about context, in terms of how we communicate in online fora. "Surrender" is a loaded word, and knowing a little about the person using it helped me to receive it more favorably than I would have from a complete stranger.

As was already mentioned, if the teacher says it, I would run out immediately. But, it's something that may happen quite naturally.

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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by Astus » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:02 pm

Meido wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:26 am
It doesn't make sense to seek out lineages, methods, styles and so on, and certainly not to choose a teacher based on them. This is because the path is actualized within human relationship with a teacher with whom one shares affinity. One should therefore just seek one's shisho, the teacher (of any tradition) with whom one has deep affinity, and take that relationship as the foundation of one's path and the source of lineages, methods, and the rest. To seek a teacher based on those things rather than affinity is exactly backwards.

In Zen this ties into what is meant by "transmission outside the scriptures, not dependent on words and letters": the lifeblood of the path is realized within face to face human relationship, that is, within the ba ("field") of the teacher. It is also related to what is meant by "direct pointing at the mind" as the function of the teacher.
That sounds to be the very opposite of one of the four reliances: "Rely on the teaching rather than the person." (Nirvana Sutra, 4.3, BDK ed, p 193; 大般涅槃經, also Vimalakirti Sutra ch 13 維摩詰所說經), that Nagarjuna explains as "Relying on the truth in itself is keeping to the twelve categories of texts and not keeping to the authority of a person." (MPPS, ch 15, tr Lamotte-Chodron, p 425; 大智度論). Mipham explains this point in the following manner: "No matter what kind of person a teacher is, he cannot purify or liberate you. If the teaching he gives is truly meaningful, it is proper to adhere to it. But if it is not meaningful, it is improper to adhere to it. Thus, one should not rely on the person but on the teaching." (Gateway to Knowledge, vol 3, p 123) Shengyan talked in a similar fashion: "If their views of the Dharma are correct, then even if their behavior reveals some weaknesses, they should not be considered false masters. On the other hand, if teachers do not have a correct view of the Dharma, they cannot be considered authentic or virtuous masters." (Zen Wisdom, p 27)

In light of the above, why would the person be the most important in Zen?
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by Malcolm » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:09 pm

Astus wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:02 pm

That sounds to be the very opposite of one of the four reliances:
You apparently missed the word "qualified."
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by DGA » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:11 pm

Larryo wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:47 pm
Oh Dear! I knew I'd put my foot in it sooner or later :smile:

It was something I intuitively felt at the time. Over 35 years ago. Not something that was demanded. And I did say I was young, naive & lucky. In retrospect, I'm glad I took that approach. And, yes, it was outside standard Buddhist practice.

It's not really my area, but Tibetan Guru Yoga seems to have quite high levels of teacher devotion. Especially historically.

I hope I haven't muddied the waters too much.
In the Tibetan context, there's a practice called guru yoga, and there's the relationship of guru and disciple. These are distinct but related. Factors such as devotion, commitment, and trust are involved, but not really surrender in the sense of some contemporary Hindu schools and their New Age simulacra (think of Adi Da or Andrew Cohen, for instance).

But that's a rabbit hole we don't need to go down.

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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by Lindama » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:30 pm

hmmm, I trust my teacher to be exactly who they are, no assumptions about that. then, I remembered my teacher used to say: "you can learn from a bad teacher". I trust myself, same. I guess I was lucky that I came to the dharma halfway thru life.... life dissolves some of that naivete. just two days ago, lunch with a bunch of seasoned folks... one was laughing at the miraculous actions he used to read in books and used to believe.

little do I know... Guru Yoga has nothing to do with the teacher/person sitting in front of me. Once and only once, I melted on the floor, profound bows to the dharma in front of a teacher. Knowing him, he probably thought it had something to do with him... no to say that I don't love him for it.

koan... thank you very much, there is nothing I dislike.

linda
Not last night,
not this morning,
melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho

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Astus
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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by Astus » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:18 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:09 pm
You apparently missed the word "qualified."
That word was not used in that post. Still, even if it goes without saying that only qualified teachers are meant, why focus on the individual rather than the message? For instance, what qualifies a teacher in PP8000 (tr Conze) is the teaching:

Subhuti: Who are those good friends of a Bodhisattva?
The Lord: The Buddhas and Lords, and also the irreversible Bodhisattvas who are skilful in the Bodhisattva-course, and who instruct and admonish him in the perfections, who demonstrate and expound the perfection of wisdom. The perfection of wisdom in particular should be regarded as a Bodhisattva’s good friend. All the six perfections, in fact, are the good friends of a Bodhisattva. They are his Teacher, his path, his light, his torch, his illumination, his shelter, his refuge, his place of rest, his final relief, his island, his mother, his father, and they lead him to cognition, to understanding, to full enlightenment. For it is in these perfections that the perfection of wisdom is accomplished.


Similarly in the Lotus Sutra (ch 10, BDK ed, p 158):

"After my parinirvāṇa, if there are any sons and daughters of a virtuous family who expound even a single line of the Lotus Sutra in private to even a single person, they should be acknowledged as the ambassadors of the Tathāgata. They have been dispatched by the Tathāgata and carry out the Tathāgata’s work. As for those who extensively teach among the common people, know that they are yet greater ambassadors."

And the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment (ch 5, BDK ed, p 77):

"When they meet a good friend (kalyāṇamitra) and rely on the dharmic practice of the causal ground taught by him, there will be sudden and gradual [aspects] in their approach to practice. If they encounter the path of the true practice of the unsurpassed enlightenment (bodhi) of the Tathāgata, all will attain buddhahood regardless of whether their capacities are great or small. If sentient beings encounter someone with errant views in their quest for a good friend, they will never attain true enlightenment"
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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jkarlins
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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by jkarlins » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:30 pm

I really enjoy hearing about other people's experiences with teachers. Thank you.

Jake

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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by DGA » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:35 pm

Astus wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:18 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:09 pm
You apparently missed the word "qualified."
That word was not used in that post. Still, even if it goes without saying that only qualified teachers are meant, why focus on the individual rather than the message?
Who has done this?

The point is that you need a relationship with a living teacher to actualize the teachings, to realize them for yourself.

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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by Dan74 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:05 pm

Astus,

I think the importance of the relationship with a qualified teacher is that

1. He/she can identify where a student is stuck and given the students karmic package, how best to deal with this 'stuckness' - which practice/teaching is appropriate
2. Can act as a mirror to the student in which he/she can see their own projections/clinging/aversion reflected back to them
3. Basically do all they can to motivate and inspire the student to persevere with practice including modelling and giving a taste of what it is like

I'm sure I left stuff out but this is what comes at the moment.

_/|\_

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Astus
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Re: Dont follow a lineage (etc.), follow a teacher

Post by Astus » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:38 pm

DGA wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:35 pm
Who has done this?
How do you read then Meido's words?

"In Zen this ties into what is meant by "transmission outside the scriptures, not dependent on words and letters": the lifeblood of the path is realized within face to face human relationship, that is, within the ba ("field") of the teacher. ... I'd have just told him to go elsewhere. The reason is that it means to me he is not seeking relationship with a teacher and community in order to actualize Zen."
The point is that you need a relationship with a living teacher to actualize the teachings, to realize them for yourself.
I think "need" is too much. Rather it is recommended.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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