...and discussions on the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives and correlate groups elsewhere in the Zen forum, I'd like to consider the ups and downs of sticking with a teacher through thick and thin, and coming to grips with what such experiences offer. As a point of departure:
http://brightwayzen.org/thoughts-on-the ... nett-roshiOn the level of Dharma, what I gained from my relationship with Kennett Roshi is beyond any possible measure. The cost of this is also beyond measure. To go there one has to be willing to sacrifice everything, to give up everything, and jump beyond all knowable boundaries. The paradox in this is that while it is true the disciple must risk all, that does not justify mistreatment by the teacher. This edge will appear naturally without that, and in fact is more clearly known and understood when such methods are not used. Nonetheless, in the years since I left the Abbey the validity of what she taught me, the truth of the awakening she helped engender in me and in so many others, has found confirmation with other teachers, and my work with them has brought some clarity to what belongs in the student/teacher relationship and what does not.
Not long ago during sesshin I sat across from one of these teachers, from whom I have learned a great deal in recent years, and said, "Today I learned that you have to appreciate every Buddha for exactly what it does; nothing more, and nothing less. I am filled with gratitude and astonishment at my good karma to have met Jiyu Kennett Roshi, to have received the benefit of her teaching, and now to have met you, and to have had the opportunity for this teaching to take root in me." He smiled broadly and said, "This is how it is when we get reason out of the way. When we do that, how else could it be? But still, we have to make this true every moment." This now is my work. When you take a teacher, you take the whole person as the teacher. A good teacher will challenge you by seeing further than you can, and seeing into your koan in ways you might not want to see. Meeting that and learning from it is the Dharma of the relationship. But just as you face your own limitations and flaws, so too you face the limitations and flaws of the teacher. Accepting and responding to this is also the Dharma of the relationship. For me the time came when responding meant stating clearly just what those flaws were, and that they had gone too far. But that does not change the fact that my primary teacher, my root teacher, my lineage teacher, is and always will be Jiyu Kennett Roshi. I do not love her any less, or respect her any less, for having seen her, all of her, clearly.
So: What belongs in the student/teacher relationship? What does not?