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 Simon E. » Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:54 am

In her lifetime Jiyu Kenett was always refereed to in any formal setting as Master Jiyu or Reverend Master Jiyu.
I heard it myself.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Simon E. » Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:12 am

Whoops ! Just noticed my typo..thats " referred ".
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Namgyal » Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:41 am

'Master' like 'Chief', is a title that can only be bestowed by others. Both are much debased in the present day. I know one contemporary Zen Master who refuses to be known as such, in remembrance of his own teacher, who was a 'Master' in the full, old-fashioned sense of the word. Bruce Lee never referred to himself as a 'Master' because he had only trained for ten years, instead of the traditional forty. 'Master' is really a very serious title.
:namaste:
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:06 pm

shel wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:[what is a Zen master skilled at?] one who can lead others to the realization of the true nature of mind.


Masterful at leading students to kensho, basically. That sounds reasonable to me. I'm surprised our resident expert Sara hasn't mentioned anything like this, particularly being that she's been masterfully lead to kensho.

Genpo Roshi leads students to kensho, or BigMind as he branded it, by the roomful. He is a Zen master indeed. A bit expensive but you get what you pay for, so they say.

It seems anything can become a commodity, even a glimpse of Buddha nature, oddly enough.



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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby MalaBeads » Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:55 pm

The question has been re-asked 'what is a zen master, master of?"

Because zen is "the meditation" school, one presumes the a zen master is a meditation master. Has mastered the art of meditation. I realize this may open another can of worms (since all schools soon or later practice meditation, since "meditation" has its own definition baggage (if you don't think so, see how the Tibetans use it), and since "zen" has traditionally been known as a "sutra" school) but if it does, so be it.

I'm all for plowing up the field of definitions and views now before the soil of western dharma becomes too hard to be useful. I am not one who thinks that a "definition" is something set in stone forever. Words are useful tools, but only tools, used as they are needed and modified when the task demands it. The longer you practice, the more you realize that early translations were quite limited. But I digress....
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby shel » Fri Apr 12, 2013 5:08 pm

Sara H wrote:
shel wrote:
Sara H wrote:The word "Master" is a misnomer.


Myth, Sara, the word is myth, not misnomer.


No, actually, the correct word is misnomer. That's why I used it.


I don't know why you prefer to think of it as a misnomer rather than myth. Nevertheless, the term is used as part of a religious narrative.

It's not commonly understood that Zen masters are not Zen masters, unfortunately.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby pueraeternus » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:01 pm

shel wrote:It's not commonly understood that Zen masters are not Zen masters, unfortunately.


Maybe it's an ultra secret koan?? :tongue:
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby oushi » Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:25 pm

Case 11: Obaku's "Drinkers of Lees"

Obaku, instructing the assembly, said,
"You are all drinkers of lees. If you continue to go on your Way like this,
where will the 'Today' [The world of nirvana] be? Do you know that in
this great empire of Tang there is no Zen master?"
Now a monk came forward and said,
"What would you say to the fact that in various places there are people who
accept students and direct their assemblies?"
Obaku said,
"I don't say that there is no Zen; I only say that there is no master."
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On the meaning of the term "Rōshi."

Postby Sara H » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:06 am

This is sortof a continuation of another thread regarding the meaning of the term "Zen master," but because the word is derived from the term "Rōshi," I thought I would post another, separate thread on that here, to make it easier to find, as well as to make a separate topic on those who wish to discuss specifically that, as it has some interesting aspects to it which make it a good topic in and of itself.

Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett had this to say on the term "Rōshi.":

The title of "Rōshi" is much misunderstood in the West.
Since the word means "Reverend," it is often applied as an
honorific by people when greeting a priest. Most priests are
not too happy with the term since it has the connotation of
old and useless as well as noble; they prefer, instead, the last
half of the word, or its second Chinese character, which is shi,
or sensei, meaning "teacher" or "master" in Japanese. There
are many titles in Zen with somewhat similar uses and meanings
as rōshi, one being Zenji which means, literally, "Zen
Master," but there is a difference in the use of the term rōshi
in the Rinzai and Sōtō Churches. After receiving the title from
his master, a Rinzai priest is always called by it whilst a St
priest is not necessarily so called. Although the Sōtō priest's
master may have thought him worthy of the title, as a result
of his spirituality, other persons may not necessarily have the
same opinion. This does not mean that the priest concerned

is a bad one or unworthy of the title—there are priests who
are good for some trainees and not for others. The title should
only be conferred by a master on a really worthy disciple in
both Rinzai and Sōtō: a Sōtō priest may be a rōshi to his master
and not to anyone else. The Sōtō practice has the advantage
of keeping rōshis from temptations which, being only human,
they may succumb to—remember that, although a priest may
have understood true spirituality and become a rōshi, he is
still as much subject to making mistakes and creating bad
karma as is the next man; for this reason Dōgen wrote, in
the "Shushōgi," that it was wrong to consider a priest's shortcomings
and criticise his actions if he was teaching true
religion—one's duty was to be grateful for such teaching and
not criticise, remembering that perfection is impossible.

-Source: Kennett, J. (1999). In Chapter 9, "Apostolic Succession" Zen is eternal life (4th ed.). Mount Shasta, California: Shasta Abbey Press.

Downloadable for free from:
http://www.shastaabbey.org/pdf/bookZel.pdf

In Gassho,

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 Huifeng » Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:28 pm

While this discussion is taking place in English, it may be worth pointing out that:
The term 禪師 chanshi / zenshi is not derived from 老師 laoshi / roshi.
And 師 shi neither means "master" nor "teacher".

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

Postby dearreader » Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:10 pm

Huifeng wrote:While this discussion is taking place in English, it may be worth pointing out that:
The term 禪師 chanshi / zenshi is not derived from 老師 laoshi / roshi.
And 師 shi neither means "master" nor "teacher".

~~ Huifeng


Venerable, if you have time, would you please expound on this further? I would be most grateful.
"Inscribed with the brush of Mt. Sumeru and the ink of the seas,
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 dzogchungpa » Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:27 pm

Huifeng wrote:While this discussion is taking place in English, it may be worth pointing out that:
The term 禪師 chanshi / zenshi is not derived from 老師 laoshi / roshi.
And 師 shi neither means "master" nor "teacher".

~~ Huifeng

I don't know any Chinese, Ven., but what about this:
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%B8%AB ?
ཨོཾ་མ་ཧཱ་ཤུནྱ་ཏཱ་ཛྙཱ་ན་བཛྲ་སྭཱ་བྷཱ་བ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔

The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1) One should become a Bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2) There is no such thing as a Bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a ‘being’, or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment.
To accept both these contradictory facts is to be perfect.
- Conze
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:43 am

Huifeng wrote:While this discussion is taking place in English, it may be worth pointing out that:
The term 禪師 chanshi / zenshi is not derived from 老師 laoshi / roshi.
And 師 shi neither means "master" nor "teacher".

~~ Huifeng

Yes, it basically does mean teacher:
http://zhongwen.com/d/174/x118.htm

This 老師 laoshi =
師 (shi) is used in conjunction with other words to describe teacher.
If you say. "I am an English teacher" you would use "laoshi" for the word teacher.
老 (lao)="aged" + 師 (shi) teacher, thus "old teacher" which implies one who has experience, perhaps some wisdom associated with age, and elder.
It has as much meaning as saying "my old man" in English when referring to one's father.

禪師 (chan shi)=
禪 (chan /ZEN ) + 師 (shi) teacher, thus chan (zen) teacher.

Although, you are correct, the one term is not derived from the other. But theu both share the character shi 師.

Generally, "shi fu“ (師父) refers to a buddhist "master" although the terms is often used to address monks in general.
.
.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby pueraeternus » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:14 am

Actually, I think Ven Huifeng is alluding to the fact that when we say a monk is a 禪師/禅师 (traditional, simplified), we are really saying that the monk is a specialist in Dhyana. In the same way as when we say a chef is a
廚師/厨师, we really mean that the person is a chef/cook, not a teacher of other cooks.

This is probably more apparent to speakers of chinese languages. There are 2 senses of the word 师.
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Huifeng » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:19 pm

Now it's getting ironic...
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby pueraeternus » Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:28 pm

This is what Master Shengyen wrote about this subject.

禅师,本来是指修禅的比丘,所以,三德指归卷一说:‘修心静虑曰禅师’。但在中国,有两种用法,一是君王对于比丘的褒赏,比如陈宣帝大建元年,尊崇南岳慧思和尚为大禅师;又如唐中宗神龙二年,赐神秀和尚以大通禅师之号。另一是后来的禅僧对于前辈称为禅师。到了后来,凡是禅门的比丘,只要略具名气,均被称为禅师了。

In summary: 禅师 initially refers to a bhiksu specializing in meditation (as opposed to specializing in sutra, vinaya, etc). In China, there are 2 usages: one is a honorific conferred to monks by emperors, the other is how Chan monks refer to their elders/predecessors. Much later, this term is used to refer to any monk from the Chan tradition who had some fame.

Ven Huifeng: were you referring to any of these explanations?
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Sara H » Mon Apr 15, 2013 11:30 pm

Rōshi (老師?) (Japanese: "old teacher"; "old master"; Chinese pinyin: Lǎoshī) is an honorific title used for a highly venerated senior teacher in Zen Buddhism.

Etymology

The Japanese rōshi is a translation of the more antiquated Chinese Laozi (Wade-Giles; Lao Tzu) meaning 'Old Master' and connoting the archetype of a wise old man. The modern Chinese 老師 (Chinese pinyin: Lǎoshī) is a common word for teacher or professor without the religious or spiritual connotation of rōshi. Chinese Chán Buddhism uses the semantically related title sifu (師父, literally "master father" or "father of masters", or 師傅, literally "master teacher" or "teacher of masters"; both pronounced "shīfu") as an honorific title for the highest masters, but it also may be used in respectful address of monks and nuns generally.


-from the Wikipedia article on "Roshi".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C5%8Dshi

In Gassho,

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 Huifeng » Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:16 am

In the face of the superior wisdom of Wikipedia entries and other tidbits from the 'net, I shall remove myself from the discussion. Originally I was thinking of citing the Hanyu Dacidian, maybe some Kangxi, and so forth (almost none of which describe 師 in said terms), but I wanted to avoid flaunting my ax before Lu Ban's door.

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

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:27 am

If you've got it, flaunt it!!! And you've definitely got it baby! :smile:
axe wielding maniac.jpg
axe wielding maniac.jpg (8.86 KiB) Viewed 363 times

But seriously Venerable. Please set things right. The ignorant and opinionated will continue to babble, but some here will actually benefit from some words of truth.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Huifeng » Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:30 am

pueraeternus wrote:This is what Master Shengyen wrote about this subject.

禅师,本来是指修禅的比丘,所以,三德指归卷一说:‘修心静虑曰禅师’。但在中国,有两种用法,一是君王对于比丘的褒赏,比如陈宣帝大建元年,尊崇南岳慧思和尚为大禅师;又如唐中宗神龙二年,赐神秀和尚以大通禅师之号。另一是后来的禅僧对于前辈称为禅师。到了后来,凡是禅门的比丘,只要略具名气,均被称为禅师了。

In summary: 禅师 initially refers to a bhiksu specializing in meditation (as opposed to specializing in sutra, vinaya, etc). In China, there are 2 usages: one is a honorific conferred to monks by emperors, the other is how Chan monks refer to their elders/predecessors. Much later, this term is used to refer to any monk from the Chan tradition who had some fame.

Ven Huifeng: were you referring to any of these explanations?


Something like that. That fact that in the term 大禪師, it's more the 大 that makes it "master"; just like the 教 that makes a 教師 a teacher; or the 老 that makes a 老師 a role model. Or, for a full "master", it's 大師, where the 大 and not the 師, makes it "master". 禪師 alone is "meditation specialist", or just "meditator" (dhyanin / jhanin). I was referring to just 師 alone.

I doubt whether anyone else participating in this thread knows how the term 師 is used in China, but when we see the range of terms such as 工程師 engineer, 律師 lawyer, 會計師 accountant, 醫師 doctor, and so forth, all of which have 師, it should be rather obvious that the Hanyu Dacidian's "14.指專精某種技藝的人。" is probably spot on. In other words, it refers to some sort of specialist / professional. The stock terms in the Dharma of 法師, 禪師, 律師, etc. reflect this.

In a particularly Buddhist context--and probably less people know this--the way of referring to a junior monastic as XX師 is so far from "teacher" or "master" as to almost be an opposite. They are not even yet a specialist of the Dharma, meditation or anything, but they are still called 師. It is what a senior person uses to refer to a junior. In this sense, it is not fixed, but relational; just like 老師 or 師父; ie. to certain people one may be a 老師 or 師父, but not to others. Or, in broader terms, 先進山門為師兄. Likewise for 師父, where within the family / guild / organization / or whatever, the person in charge takes the basic Confucian leader role of the 父, and the 師 is the basic specialist area of whatever craft or profession is in question. Likewise for Buddhism, same basic Chinese model.

But this should be fairly obvious to anyone who knows a bit about Chinese Buddhism.

~~ Huifeng
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