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

Posted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:07 pm
by clyde
Astus; I view this differently. Zen, the tradition, is a religious institution (or institutions) and as such it’s to its leaders to determine what is and is not part of their tradition. You may be right that some (mistakenly) view Zen as “some undefinable practice that cannot be spoken of” or with fear that without a teacher “one will fall into unfounded conceptual constructs and misinterpret everything.” Of course, misunderstandings happen - with or without a teacher.

About Zen practice, I agree that most Zen practices (e.g. - zazen) can be skillfully practiced without a living face-to-face student-teacher relationship. And I agree that practice is an individual effort, but one that can benefit from Dharma friends (sangha).

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

Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:35 am
by Astus
clyde wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:07 pm
Zen, the tradition, is a religious institution (or institutions)
Zen is a very loose term applied to a chain of concepts within East Asian Buddhism. Institutionally it has always existed within the framework of the monastic tradition, and to that added its main defining idea of lineages.
and as such it’s to its leaders to determine what is and is not part of their tradition.
Today there are bigger and smaller organisations (Soto, Jogye, Fo Guang Shan, etc.), but even within those there isn't much of doctrinal unity, not to mention all the Western Zen communities that can operate in complete independence apart from any Asian hierarchy.

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

Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:18 pm
by Matylda
I can only repeat in this discussion - do not follow lineage, do not follow group of friends even if calls it 'sangha', do not follow all those nice quotations, they lead one nowhere, one who is just unenlightened being. Follow a teacher, one who is realized in a real snese in zen practice and knws exatly where is taking you.

Understanding of writings of past masteres mostly is very obscure, following the group of riends unenlightened as we are, is dengerous, not finding a teacher is risky.

All above counts only for really serious practitioner who wants to realize true nature. For those who do not care, it is not so important... zazen could be done in a relaxed or recreational way, any zazen will do, that is fine. But do not mislead potential of some individuals, who may read what you write.

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

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:57 am
by kausalya
clyde wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:07 pm
About Zen practice, I agree that most Zen practices (e.g. - zazen) can be skillfully practiced without a living face-to-face student-teacher relationship. And I agree that practice is an individual effort, but one that can benefit from Dharma friends (sangha).
This.

The question is not "can something be practiced without a teacher?", but rather, "what does a living teacher bring to the table that a book, or other static resource, does not?"

I'll leave it to others to probe more deeply, but the surface answer that comes to mind for me is simply this: a living teacher represents a continuation of the manifest benefits of a practice, someone who can impart information to you that may never be found in a book, or whose experiences will unveil the practice for you in a way that you could never achieve on your own -- not because you aren't intellectually capable, but because other people act as mirrors through which we can observe our own nature. (The Sangha serves a similar function, helping us to avoid obstacles and perhaps sometimes reminding us of why we practice in the first place.)

Technically, a teacher need not be someone with a special title or status, just as long as they are someone who is further along the path at the moment. You may be able by some miracle to achieve the same thing on your own as you could with a teacher, but (respectfully) why would a person do that unless they literally had no other choice? The progress you will make in direct connection with others will almost certainly be exponentially faster.

If someone never engages their "dharma karma" by undertaking the search for a teacher and going wherever it may lead them until they find the person or persons best suited to helping them, they're cutting themselves off from a vital resource. It would be like accessing the world's most powerful computer and using it only to play Solitaire.

I thought about adding my opinion that disregarding the mechanisms that propagate the Dharma (lineage, Sangha, etc.) could lead to degeneration of the teachings in future years, and I do believe this, on some level, but one would have to check the kind of attitude that's motivating them to seek an entirely solitary practice to find out if this is an obstacle for them or not.

On further reflection, it may be possible to counteract this effect either fully or partially by funding Dharma projects, copying sutras, and the like, as well as sharing helpful advice with others, and being a good example in general.

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

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:41 am
by clyde
kausalya wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:57 am
"what does a living teacher bring to the table that a book, or other static resource, does not?"
That’s an interesting but different question, especially as it applies to Zen.

A Dharma teacher of any tradition can be a great benefit to a Buddhist practitioner, but in the Zen tradition, a Zen student must have a face-to-face relationship with a Zen teacher, not just someone.

Without a living relationship with a Zen teacher, one can study Zen and practice (most of) the Zen methods, one can even experience kensho and satori, but one is not a Zen student.

So, while I may not be a Zen student, I do recognize the importance of propagating the Dharma and do support Zen organizations (and other Dharma organizations).

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

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:52 am
by kausalya
clyde wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:41 am
kausalya wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:57 am
"what does a living teacher bring to the table that a book, or other static resource, does not?"
That’s an interesting but different question, especially as it applies to Zen.

A Dharma teacher of any tradition can be a great benefit to a Buddhist practitioner, but in the Zen tradition, a Zen student must have a face-to-face relationship with a Zen teacher, not just someone.

Without a living relationship with a Zen teacher, one can study Zen and practice (most of) the Zen methods, one can even experience kensho and satori, but one is not a Zen student.

So, while I may not be a Zen student, I do recognize the importance of propagating the Dharma and do support Zen organizations (and other Dharma organizations).
I suppose I was engaging in sophistry, there. I agree with you fully on what you've said :)