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 muni » Tue Apr 09, 2013 12:17 pm

randomseb wrote:
You are born from a body, in which you start experiencing the world, you build up experience, memory, a modal of the world, neuroses,.behavior patterns, the works..Standard psychology, right.. All of this is like a big looming dark storm cloud of mind-crap growing and growing and flowing around and such, and in this analogy, behind this cloud is the clear blue sky, peaceful and serene, and beyond this clear sky shines the brilliant sun, fiercely illuminating the world. This mind-crap cloud is what we usually thing of our self, but clouds are rather insubstantial and temporary, right? In this meaningless analogy, the clear blue sky is undifferentiated pure Mindspace, and the sun is the light of awareness shining forth.

:quoteunquote:


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

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 09, 2013 12:24 pm

seeker242 wrote:I think it depends on which scripture you read. Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra describes Avalokitesvara as a bodhisattva who can manifest in a Buddha body, pratyekabuddha's body, or any kind of body, if needed to help the world, etc.


That's just one of the many inconceivable qualities of a bodhisattva, as the Vimalakirti and other sutras explain. It doesn't make them buddhas. Even Mara can appear as a buddha.
"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 seeker242 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 12:50 pm

Astus wrote:
seeker242 wrote:I think it depends on which scripture you read. Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra describes Avalokitesvara as a bodhisattva who can manifest in a Buddha body, pratyekabuddha's body, or any kind of body, if needed to help the world, etc.


That's just one of the many inconceivable qualities of a bodhisattva, as the Vimalakirti and other sutras explain. It doesn't make them buddhas. Even Mara can appear as a buddha.


Avalokiteśvara is not a Buddha, even though he is already "saved from all suffering and distress"? How can one who is already saved from all suffering and distress, not be a Buddha?
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 09, 2013 1:31 pm

seeker242 wrote:Avalokiteśvara is not a Buddha, even though he is already "saved from all suffering and distress"? How can one who is already saved from all suffering and distress, not be a Buddha?


Arhats are free from suffering and they are not buddhas either. Even a stream-enterer is free from the suffering of the three lower births. I recommend you look into this short summary: Guide to the Stages and Paths of the Bodhisattvas.
"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 Jikan » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:26 pm

Now that we're more than ten pages into this discussion, it might be worthwhile to reconsider the question:

What exactly is a Zen Master, now? There have been many claims and rebuttals, some contradictions, some contra-indications, but utterly no clarity on this.

Is a Zen Master a bodhisattva? someone on the first bhumi?

Is a Zen Master an arhat?

A Buddha?

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

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:44 pm

Jikan wrote:Is a Zen Master a bodhisattva? someone on the first bhumi?
Is a Zen Master an arhat?
A Buddha?
???


From my perspective, a Zen teacher is anyone who teaches Zen. Since there are many forms and styles of Zen there are also many kinds of teachers. The fact of teaching Zen is no indication of one's attainment, neither is any sort of authorisation from any teacher. This is a minimalist approach based on the term itself "Zen teacher", similarly to "English teacher" or "Maths teacher". The idea of a "Zen Master" who knows things beyond comprehension and sees through the student, while there might be individuals like that, it is mostly a myth and pious imagination.
"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 plwk » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:49 pm

I think it depends on which scripture you read. Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra describes Avalokitesvara as a bodhisattva who can manifest in a Buddha body, pratyekabuddha's body, or any kind of body, if needed to help the world, etc.


That's just one of the many inconceivable qualities of a bodhisattva, as the Vimalakirti and other sutras explain. It doesn't make them buddhas. Even Mara can appear as a buddha.


Avalokiteśvara is not a Buddha, even though he is already "saved from all suffering and distress"? How can one who is already saved from all suffering and distress, not be a Buddha?

Then Ananda asked the Buddha: "Bhagavan, what is the name of this Bodhisattva-Mahasattva, who is so good to teach us this Dharani?"

The Buddha said:
"This Bodhisattva is called Avalokitesvara, the Unrestricted One, also called Nipping a Lariat, also called A Thousand Bright Eyes. Virtuous man, this Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva has unimaginable mighty and holy powers. Uncountable kalpas before, He had already been a Buddha named True Dharma Brightness Tathagata.
Because of the power of His Great Compassionate Vows, and in order to call upon all Bodhisattvas to comfort and please all living beings, He appears as a Bodhisattva. All of you, including the Bodhisattvas, Brahmas, Gods of the 33 heavens, dragons, and divinities, should show respect to Him, do not despise Him.
All heavenly and human beings should constantly make offerings to Him and recite His Name absorbedly, then they will get infinite blessings and eliminate countless sins, and at the end of their lives, they will be reborn in the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha."

Thousand-Handed and Thousand-Eyed Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva's Vast, Perfect, Unimpeded, Great-Compassionate Heart Dharani Sutra
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby seeker242 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:51 pm

Astus wrote:
seeker242 wrote:Avalokiteśvara is not a Buddha, even though he is already "saved from all suffering and distress"? How can one who is already saved from all suffering and distress, not be a Buddha?


Arhats are free from suffering and they are not buddhas either. Even a stream-enterer is free from the suffering of the three lower births. I recommend you look into this short summary: Guide to the Stages and Paths of the Bodhisattvas.


Thanks! So what do you call someone who has completed all of the above?
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:55 pm

seeker242 wrote:Thanks! So what do you call someone who has completed all of the above?


One who has gone through the bodhisattva path is called a buddha.
"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 Jikan » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:45 pm

Astus wrote:
Jikan wrote:Is a Zen Master a bodhisattva? someone on the first bhumi?
Is a Zen Master an arhat?
A Buddha?
???


From my perspective, a Zen teacher is anyone who teaches Zen. Since there are many forms and styles of Zen there are also many kinds of teachers. The fact of teaching Zen is no indication of one's attainment, neither is any sort of authorisation from any teacher. This is a minimalist approach based on the term itself "Zen teacher", similarly to "English teacher" or "Maths teacher". The idea of a "Zen Master" who knows things beyond comprehension and sees through the student, while there might be individuals like that, it is mostly a myth and pious imagination.


This seems sensible. I think we could probably put more schematically like this:

The term "Zen Master' connotes an institutional role that involves leadership and teaching responsibility in a particular community. This role is defined and filled according to certain criteria internal to that community. The rest is, as you say, public fantasy projected onto it.

This is flexible enough to account for every claim made in this thread by Sara and others, even those that contradict!
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby dearreader » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:05 pm

Jikan wrote:This seems sensible. I think we could probably put more schematically like this:

The term "Zen Master' connotes an institutional role that involves leadership and teaching responsibility in a particular community. This role is defined and filled according to certain criteria internal to that community. The rest is, as you say, public fantasy projected onto it.

This is flexible enough to account for every claim made in this thread by Sara and others, even those that contradict!


It doesn't answer the question regarding how representative Sarah's position is for "Zen." Still don't know what tradition she studies. If I recall she is Soto-shu?
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Heaven-and-earth itself is the sutra book.
All phenomena are encompassed in even a single point therein,
And the six sense objects are all included within its covers."
-Kukai, translated in Kukai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi and Dreitlein
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby shel » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:32 pm

Jikan wrote:The term "Zen Master' connotes an institutional role that involves leadership and teaching responsibility in a particular community. This role is defined and filled according to certain criteria internal to that community. The rest is, as you say, public fantasy projected onto it.

This is flexible enough to account for every claim made in this thread by Sara and others, even those that contradict!


Maybe you will help me understand how it does that. Sara's position is that Zen mastery means merely getting a glimpse of Buddha nature, and that masters are not necessarily freed in any way from greed, anger, and hate. You are saying that Zen mastery implies acting responsibly. Sara is say there is no such implication, hence there are masters who act irresponsibly.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Jikan » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:44 pm

shel wrote:
Jikan wrote:The term "Zen Master' connotes an institutional role that involves leadership and teaching responsibility in a particular community. This role is defined and filled according to certain criteria internal to that community. The rest is, as you say, public fantasy projected onto it.

This is flexible enough to account for every claim made in this thread by Sara and others, even those that contradict!


Maybe you will help me understand how it does that. Sara's position is that Zen mastery means merely getting a glimpse of Buddha nature, and that masters are not necessarily freed in any way from greed, anger, and hate. You are saying that Zen mastery implies acting responsibly. Sara is say there is no such implication, hence there are masters who act irresponsibly.


I'm assuming Sara's description corresponds to the criteria for mastership laid out explicitly or implicitly in her community. I'm not assuming her comments are generalizable outside of that community, or even that her position is coherent.

dearreader wrote:It doesn't answer the question regarding how representative Sarah's position is for "Zen." Still don't know what tradition she studies. If I recall she is Soto-shu?


To the best of my knowledge, Sara practices in the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives. I cannot verify how accurately her various descriptions of the role of the Zen Master correspond to the OBC's, but I assume she is accurately presenting what she has been taught in good faith. And I have reason to think the OBC approach as Sara has presented it may be at some distance from traditional Ch'an & Zen teachings on the subject (which I think I accounted for in the wording of my previous post: different communities assume different criteria for mastership)
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby shel » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:58 pm

Jikan wrote:
shel wrote:
Jikan wrote:The term "Zen Master' connotes an institutional role that involves leadership and teaching responsibility in a particular community. This role is defined and filled according to certain criteria internal to that community. The rest is, as you say, public fantasy projected onto it.

This is flexible enough to account for every claim made in this thread by Sara and others, even those that contradict!


Maybe you will help me understand how it does that. Sara's position is that Zen mastery means merely getting a glimpse of Buddha nature, and that masters are not necessarily freed in any way from greed, anger, and hate. You are saying that Zen mastery implies acting responsibly. Sara is say there is no such implication, hence there are masters who act irresponsibly.


I'm assuming Sara's description corresponds to the criteria for mastership laid out explicitly or implicitly in her community. I'm not assuming her comments are generalizable outside of that community, or even that her position is coherent.


Yes, I was merely pointing out the apparent discrepancy between your description and Sara's. Your description doesn't appear to be flexible enough to account for every claim made in this thread by Sara. If you were to remove "responsibility" from your description it would be flexible enough to account for Sara's claims.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Jikan » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:04 pm

Fair enough...

shel wrote:Yes, I was merely pointing out the apparent discrepancy between your description and Sara's. Your description doesn't appear to be flexible enough to account for every claim made in this thread by Sara. If you were to remove "responsibility" from your description it would be flexible enough to account for Sara's claims.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:00 pm

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.
"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 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:50 pm

Astus wrote:The first bhumi includes a number of qualities, the definition is usually derived from the Avatamsaka Sutra's chapter on the Ten Stages. Among other things, an arya bodhisattva has great compassion and doesn't fail in upholding the precepts bodily and verbally (mental perfection comes on the 2nd bhumi). He is also free from the suffering of mundane troubles.

"The bodhisattva naturally helps sentient beings without distinction or discrimination, but there is still a subject and object involved. This applies to a bodhisattva on the first through seventh bhumi."
(Sheng-yen: Complete Enlightenment, p. 202)

"At the first bhumi, a bodhisattva has transformed the sixth consciousness into the ‘wisdom of non-arising’—where afflictions no longer manifest outwardly, or arise."
(Sheng-yen: There is No Suffering, p. 30)

Other qualities described: The first bhūmi, the Very Joyous; Guide to the Stages and Paths of the Bodhisattvas; The Qualities of the Arya Sangha

Considering the above, it would be impossible for an enlightened teacher to steal others' money or harass female disciples.


Well that's a very nice ideal,
but in actuality, it's not a one-way elevator going constantly up.

People can, and do be led off center by temptations of their sense desires, karma, etc.

It's very difficult to train after a first kensho.

You've got this beautiful knowing of the Unborn, and at the same time, you've got everyone else around you, the whole world, trying to pull you off center, to drink, behave rudely in a way that is socially acceptable for normal people, make "white lies", oogle guys or women as sex objects, (tv and media are full of this), politics to argue about...
Then there's the fact that most people around you aren't doing Buddhist training, and so don't care to have a deep conversation to save their life...that's actually very frustrating..
the constant abrasive and insulting behavior that most people do..

And that's just the external world. Internally, all sorts of things arise that you were previously unaware. Fear. Terror, Anger, ferocious anger, worry, intense feelings of need for privacy and security, huge waves of sadness, despair, doubt...all these things that are an everyday part of normal human existence, suddenly are magnified under the lens of a new understanding.

You inevitably do get thrown off center by sheer exhaustion.

And then you pick yourself back up on the horse so to speak, and keep training.

Being a layperson, and I would consider lay-priests to be such, is incredibly hard after having a kensho, because not only is your internal world that has always tried to throw you off-center, now magnified in a new light, but also the external world is too.

In a monastery, for full time monks, they are constantly surrounded externally by reminders to train, and so it's a little easier to train in that way.

But I mean, people do get thrown off center.
It happens. This is hard-ass work. The work of a lifetime.

I don't have anything but compassion for people who make a big mistake after kensho.

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 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:02 pm

Sara H wrote:And that's just the external world. Internally, all sorts of things arise that you were previously unaware. Fear. Terror, Anger, ferocious anger, worry, intense feelings of need for privacy and security, huge waves of sadness, despair, doubt...all these things that are an everyday part of normal human existence, suddenly are magnified under the lens of a new understanding.


And this is Zen 'mastery'. :consoling:
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:08 pm

shel wrote:
Sara H wrote:And that's just the external world. Internally, all sorts of things arise that you were previously unaware. Fear. Terror, Anger, ferocious anger, worry, intense feelings of need for privacy and security, huge waves of sadness, despair, doubt...all these things that are an everyday part of normal human existence, suddenly are magnified under the lens of a new understanding.


And this is Zen 'mastery'. :consoling:


That's human beings.

Zen doesn't make you anything other than a human being.

A kensho, does not erase all karmic tendencies from previous lives, just because you had a profound realization.

It gives you the faith and certainty, to KNOW that there is an answer, and a way to sit through those things when they arise, and that you will eventually figure out how to sit through them (it takes trial and error with some of them, the more intense one's).

A pretty experience and a dollar gets you a cup of coffee.

The rest is hard-ass work.

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 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:41 pm

Sara H wrote:
shel wrote:
Sara H wrote:And that's just the external world. Internally, all sorts of things arise that you were previously unaware. Fear. Terror, Anger, ferocious anger, worry, intense feelings of need for privacy and security, huge waves of sadness, despair, doubt...all these things that are an everyday part of normal human existence, suddenly are magnified under the lens of a new understanding.


And this is Zen 'mastery'. :consoling:


That's human beings.

Zen doesn't make you anything other than a human being.

A kensho, does not erase all karmic tendencies from previous lives, just because you had a profound realization.

It gives you the faith and certainty, to KNOW that there is an answer, and a way to sit through those things when they arise, and that you will eventually figure out how to sit through them (it takes trial and error with some of them, the more intense one's).


As you say, that's being human, but the curious fact is that a kensho experience is superfluous to what you describe. Any reasonably sane person without a kensho experience can learn to deal with difficult emotions.

So what is the difference with a kensho experience? Wait, don't tell me, I've got to experience it myself to know. :tongue:
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