Are Zen teachers awakened?

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Wayfarer
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by Wayfarer »

RIght - I see what you’re getting at. And I think the answer is, if you’re a Zen student, then you’d better believe that your teacher is awakened. When it comes to idly contemplating whether this or that individual personality is ‘an enlightened being’ - then that’s something else again. But if you have a formal teacher-student relationship, then you’d better believe it otherwise there’s not a lot of point in remaining.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi
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Astus
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by Astus »

Wayfarer wrote: Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:35 amattainment/realisation is not something objectively verifiable. Insight is something that has to be attained or realised by the aspirant. There's no really objective measure, like the replication of an experimental setup that produces a result that anyone can then see. That's why the authentication has to be carried out intuitively by a designated lineage holder.
If there is no measure of attainment, how could it still be measured (intuitively or otherwise) by anyone? That is a contradiction.
All such hierarchies (and their associated hierophanies) are vigorously rejected by liberal capitalism.
Monastic hierarchies (according to the Vinaya) do not depend on any realisation, but rather on ordination age and vote by the community. In practice, heads of monasteries have often been appointed (or influenced to be appointed) by various political entities, and for instance in the PRoC (likely) that is still the norm.
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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Aemilius
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by Aemilius »

Malcolm wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:35 pm
Matylda wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:29 pm True awakening is exteremely difficult today in zen. Compare to it, it is exteremly easy to become a zen teacher or even a zen master.
It is very difficult to find a genuinely awakened teacher in any tradition these days. We live in degenerate times.

There is no "objective" enlightenment. The question is of you (or oneself) and your (or one self's) perception. Your merit and wisdom perceive enlightenment, if or when they do so. It is very difficult to find ...
svaha
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They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by LastLegend »

Aemilius wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 4:06 pm
Malcolm wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:35 pm
Matylda wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:29 pm True awakening is exteremely difficult today in zen. Compare to it, it is exteremly easy to become a zen teacher or even a zen master.
It is very difficult to find a genuinely awakened teacher in any tradition these days. We live in degenerate times.

There is no "objective" enlightenment. The question is of you (or oneself) and your (or one self's) perception. Your merit and wisdom perceive enlightenment, if or when they do so. It is very difficult to find ...
There is only samyaksambodhi.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by LastLegend »

It’s never the case that we are Buddhas and don’t take responsibility for that we only project what Buddha/s is or are.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by clyde »

A reminder, this was the question asked of Zen students:
clyde wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:32 pm This is a question for Zen students (not Zen teachers nor about other traditions, only those that follow from Bodhidharma).

Is it your understanding that all Zen teachers have had an awakening (commonly expressed in Zen as “seeing one’s true nature”) though to varying degrees? It’s my understanding that it’s so and matches my limited exposure to some Western Zen teachers.

But I’m curious how others see it.
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by boda »

clyde wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:32 pm This is a question for Zen students (not Zen teachers nor about other traditions, only those that follow from Bodhidharma).

Is it your understanding that all Zen teachers have had an awakening (commonly expressed in Zen as “seeing one’s true nature”) though to varying degrees? It’s my understanding that it’s so and matches my limited exposure to some Western Zen teachers.

But I’m curious how others see it.
They are certainly supposed to. I imagine that a talented and knowledgeable teacher might do okay without the experience but it might be like the blind leading the blind. There are of course lousy teachers who've had varying degrees.

The truth is that * * * A W A K E N I N G * * * isn't as transformative as the brochure advertises.
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by Matylda »

clyde wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:17 am A reminder, this was the question asked of Zen students:
clyde wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:32 pm This is a question for Zen students (not Zen teachers nor about other traditions, only those that follow from Bodhidharma).

Is it your understanding that all Zen teachers have had an awakening (commonly expressed in Zen as “seeing one’s true nature”) though to varying degrees? It’s my understanding that it’s so and matches my limited exposure to some Western Zen teachers.

But I’m curious how others see it.
Indeed :D

But then right from the beginning it is an invalid question.
how 'student' may know if a teacher is or is not awakened??? if he knows, he/she does not need any teacher at all, since possess enough wisdom to go on his/her own.
If one does not know, then there is no way for such person to discern if a teacher, or teachers or whoever is or is not awakened.

What I observed in the West is, that if people like a certain teacher then they do believe he has some special quality or wisdom or is enlightened etc. but once they stop to like the teacher, then exactly the same person is told to be unenlightened and in possession of bad qualities.

So if you ask such question I guess that mostly answer will relate to confused human minds of likes and dislikes. And it has nothing to do with the notion of a zen teacher and his awakening.
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by boda »

Matylda wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:29 amhow 'student' may know if a teacher is or is not awakened???
If they’re curious they could simply ask them. Would not an awakened teacher be trustworthy???
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by LastLegend »

Matylda wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:29 am
clyde wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:17 am A reminder, this was the question asked of Zen students:
clyde wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:32 pm This is a question for Zen students (not Zen teachers nor about other traditions, only those that follow from Bodhidharma).

Is it your understanding that all Zen teachers have had an awakening (commonly expressed in Zen as “seeing one’s true nature”) though to varying degrees? It’s my understanding that it’s so and matches my limited exposure to some Western Zen teachers.

But I’m curious how others see it.
Indeed :D

But then right from the beginning it is an invalid question.
how 'student' may know if a teacher is or is not awakened??? if he knows, he/she does not need any teacher at all, since possess enough wisdom to go on his/her own.
If one does not know, then there is no way for such person to discern if a teacher, or teachers or whoever is or is not awakened.

What I observed in the West is, that if people like a certain teacher then they do believe he has some special quality or wisdom or is enlightened etc. but once they stop to like the teacher, then exactly the same person is told to be unenlightened and in possession of bad qualities.

So if you ask such question I guess that mostly answer will relate to confused human minds of likes and dislikes. And it has nothing to do with the notion of a zen teacher and his awakening.
One will need to interact with their teacher often to know their wisdom. Then we we’ll have to go on our own at some point?
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

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clyde wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:32 pm This is a question for Zen students (not Zen teachers nor about other traditions, only those that follow from Bodhidharma).

Is it your understanding that all Zen teachers have had an awakening (commonly expressed in Zen as “seeing one’s true nature”) though to varying degrees?
Sure, if all you mean is just seeing it. But then it would also depend on what is defined as "seeing it" to begin with. Although, seeing it and actualizing, embodying it, etc. one could say are two different things. And then, it would depends on how you define "actualizing" to begin with.
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by Ayu »

In respect of the OP I moved an interesting side-discussion to here: viewtopic.php?f=39&t=34117
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by ezza »

Some are, and it's quite possible that many aren't.

I've tried looking into this in the past as I was also on the quest of trying to ascertain whether certain teachers were "awakened" or not. And also in Zen teachings and stories, they will tend to say how people were awakened or enlightened, and that begs the question as to what it is they actually awakened or enlightened to?

It doesn't help that there are different schemas and levels of awakening or enlightenment depending on the different traditions. The 4 Arhats of the Theravada, 10 Bodhisattva grounds, the 52 stages in the Shurangama and so forth.

From what I read and have to come to find, awakening can be equated to "seeing the true nature" as others have mentioned prior, that is the dharmakaya or Buddha-nature. The breaking through of the view of self (and in Mahayana speak the 88 delusions of views). The lowest level that one can awaken to and where "true" cultivation then begins to take place. I guess it could be equated to stream-entry (srotappanna) or perhaps 1st ground Bodhisattva - but don't quote me on that.

I am uncertain as to whether "awakening" equates to small enlightenment as referred to throughout the Chinese texts, although I would assume so. Whereas Great Enlightenment would be the ending of birth and death (7th or 8th Bodhisattva ground). This is why you will also find in many stories or biographies of Patriarchs or awakened monks then going into seclusion for several more years after that initial awakening.

I feel lineage is crucial in verifying the potential of a teacher in Zen, and especially having received transmission, however it only serves as one aspect. The line stems down from the Buddha himself, how does that compare to someone who just claims he has awakened and become enlightened, without having anyone certify or verify that is the case? I don't know if a "Dharma transmission" certifies that one has awakened though, it may only mean they have been authorized to teach a certain Dharma method or Dharma door to others. This would be different too say a "mind-to-mind transmission".

It is also possible that the transmitter themselves of a lineage were or are not awakened, despite their mass appeal and popularity from devout believers and followers. One needs to have an acute "Dharma-selecting eye" to be able to ascertain such things, and that comes from a study and understanding of the Dharma, along with maintaining the precepts, particularly in terms of not telling lies.

Beyond this, one would need to spend time observing and getting to know said teachers, along with their students, to determine whether there is any substance to the practice or teachings that they preach. Do they exhibit greater greed, anger, or delusion overtime? How much self is present in their actions and behaviors?

Siddhis or supernormal powers are also not a measure to judge a teacher by, it only becomes a factor if they do not exhibit the aforementioned tendencies.

I'm sure this will rub some people the wrong way however I feel Zen, particularly the Japanese tradition, has fallen far from grace after the Emperor broke up the Sangha way back when, and after the Sangha was allowed again, precepts were no longer as important or being practiced due to the new rules put in place, this invalidated the vast potential for monastics to awaken as this went directly against the Buddha's teachings and the Vinaya he instilled - the very thing he told his monks to take as his teacher upon his passing.

Long story short... It's probably more likely than not that not all Zen teachers are awakened, and the factors to discern whether this is the case or not isn't so easy to discern or quick to come about. On one spectrum, those who are awakened can seem extraordinarily ordinary despite their exalted state, and those who yearn for power and status can make themselves seem high and lofty, when they are in fact no more different than from you and I.
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by Matylda »

LastLegend wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:22 pm One will need to interact with their teacher often to know their wisdom. Then we we’ll have to go on our own at some point?
It is what every zen student should do
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

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Matylda wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:29 am
clyde wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:17 am A reminder, this was the question asked of Zen students:
clyde wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:32 pm This is a question for Zen students (not Zen teachers nor about other traditions, only those that follow from Bodhidharma).

Is it your understanding that all Zen teachers have had an awakening (commonly expressed in Zen as “seeing one’s true nature”) though to varying degrees? It’s my understanding that it’s so and matches my limited exposure to some Western Zen teachers.

But I’m curious how others see it.
Indeed :D

But then right from the beginning it is an invalid question.
how 'student' may know if a teacher is or is not awakened??? if he knows, he/she does not need any teacher at all, since possess enough wisdom to go on his/her own.
If one does not know, then there is no way for such person to discern if a teacher, or teachers or whoever is or is not awakened.

What I observed in the West is, that if people like a certain teacher then they do believe he has some special quality or wisdom or is enlightened etc. but once they stop to like the teacher, then exactly the same person is told to be unenlightened and in possession of bad qualities.

So if you ask such question I guess that mostly answer will relate to confused human minds of likes and dislikes. And it has nothing to do with the notion of a zen teacher and his awakening.
But haven't you made such judgments yourself here? Didn't you say that you had not met any Western Zen teacher who was awakened, or have I misunderstood? Or you don't class yourself as 'a student'?
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by Malcolm »

Dan74 wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:22 pm
Matylda wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:29 am
clyde wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:17 am A reminder, this was the question asked of Zen students:
Indeed :D

But then right from the beginning it is an invalid question.
how 'student' may know if a teacher is or is not awakened??? if he knows, he/she does not need any teacher at all, since possess enough wisdom to go on his/her own.
If one does not know, then there is no way for such person to discern if a teacher, or teachers or whoever is or is not awakened.

What I observed in the West is, that if people like a certain teacher then they do believe he has some special quality or wisdom or is enlightened etc. but once they stop to like the teacher, then exactly the same person is told to be unenlightened and in possession of bad qualities.

So if you ask such question I guess that mostly answer will relate to confused human minds of likes and dislikes. And it has nothing to do with the notion of a zen teacher and his awakening.
But haven't you made such judgments yourself here? Didn't you say that you had not met any Western Zen teacher who was awakened, or have I misunderstood? Or you don't class yourself as 'a student'?
Matylda is Japanese, raised in a traditional Soto family, who has, over many years, offered us authentic insights into how things operate in Japan. She has for many years expressed deep skepticism about Zen in Western countries.
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by Matylda »

Malcolm wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:39 pm She has for many years expressed deep skepticism about Zen in Western countries.
yes, it is true, I did it... sorry for that. but my sympathy is with Weserners in fact. Just I see the great difficulty in transferring zen or dharma in general and any Buddhist tradition to the hemisphere which was under completely different religious or culture influence for thousands of years.
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

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Dan74 wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:22 pm
But haven't you made such judgments yourself here? Didn't you say that you had not met any Western Zen teacher who was awakened, or have I misunderstood? Or you don't class yourself as 'a student'?
You are right. I am not a student or teacher. But I had to interpret for some years, not any more, and it is definitely easy to sense confused people or just fake. Or very ordinary person.
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by LastLegend »

clyde wrote: Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:54 am About Zen teachers “seeing one’s true nature”, tonight, as I continued to read Bodhidharma’s “The Bloodstream Sermon” in The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma, translated by Red Pine, I came to this passage:
If you don’t understand by yourself, you’ll have to find a teacher to get to the bottom of life and death. But unless he sees his nature, such a person isn’t a teacher.
I used to think the same. But without a teacher, it’s harder to work further from this ordinary mind because it isn’t ordinary it’s where leads to wisdom of Buddhas and where Bodhisattva work performed by Buddhas. That’s where one will become a complete Buddha and there is no stopping point or final. Infinite.boundless. Yet it’s very ordinary.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.
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Re: Are Zen teachers awakened?

Post by Dan74 »

Malcolm wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:39 pm
Dan74 wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:22 pm
Matylda wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:29 am

Indeed :D

But then right from the beginning it is an invalid question.
how 'student' may know if a teacher is or is not awakened??? if he knows, he/she does not need any teacher at all, since possess enough wisdom to go on his/her own.
If one does not know, then there is no way for such person to discern if a teacher, or teachers or whoever is or is not awakened.

What I observed in the West is, that if people like a certain teacher then they do believe he has some special quality or wisdom or is enlightened etc. but once they stop to like the teacher, then exactly the same person is told to be unenlightened and in possession of bad qualities.

So if you ask such question I guess that mostly answer will relate to confused human minds of likes and dislikes. And it has nothing to do with the notion of a zen teacher and his awakening.
But haven't you made such judgments yourself here? Didn't you say that you had not met any Western Zen teacher who was awakened, or have I misunderstood? Or you don't class yourself as 'a student'?
Matylda is Japanese, raised in a traditional Soto family, who has, over many years, offered us authentic insights into how things operate in Japan. She has for many years expressed deep skepticism about Zen in Western countries.
Yes, but that is beside the point, I think. I appreciate what matylda shares too.
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