Hi, I wanted to top post this as a topic, as it came up elsewhere, and I thought it would be a handy topic to reference for some people,
as it seems there is often confusion on this for a variety of reasons. I thought this would help.
I want to thank Yudron, for helping inspire me, from another list she did in another forum.
This definition isn't quite "exact" and I'm sure there might be variation from organization to organization, and I'm primarilly a Soto practitioner, so my experience is mainly through there, but, in general:
A "Zen Master" is a person who has met the following criteria:
1) They have chosen a Zen school or lineage to practice in, and receive training in.
2) They have taken the Precepts as either a Lay person or a novice Priest Trainee, or Monk.
3) They have undergone Novice Training as a Zen Priest.
4) They have spent a few years (usually around 5 or so, but can be less, depending on how far along the person is) training as a novice, and then senior novices, etc.
5) They have had a first, initial Kensho, the glimpse of the Eternal, that allows them to begin to understand the Teachings (and all other things) in a whole new way they didn't before.
6) They have completed all necessary priest training in their lineage. Ceremonies, etc.
7) They have had a few years of follow up training under the guidance of their Master, and have then received Dharma Transmission.
8) They have undergone instruction and mentorship by and from their Teacher, on the basics of how to instruct others in the Dharma.
9) Having completed all other things, if they have at least one disciple of their own, they are now considered a "Master".
Here, is a few things a Zen Master is not, or not necessarily, simply in lieu of the title.
1) They are most likely not a Buddha. A person who has cleaned up all Karma from this and previous lives. Buddha's are very rare in any lifetime, though some Zen Masters occasionally are Buddhas.
2) If they are not a Buddha, (and they most likely are not) then they are not free from Greed, Anger, and Delusion, and therefor, still have greed, have anger, and have delusion.
3) As it's highly likely that they still have greed, anger, and delusion: everything they do is not necessarily enlightened action. They are still human beings, even if they are wiser, and more advanced in their Buddhist training. They make mistakes.
4) People can make mistakes even without greed, anger, and delusion. Humans are not all-knowing, and so sometimes we have to use trial and error, or just plain get something wrong.
5) If they are not a celibate monk, they may be a Lay Zen Teacher, and thus may be "in the market" relationship-wise technically speaking. (I don't approve of this, Japanese habit, but it is what it is)
6) If they are "in the market" they may be dating, or seeking a gf, bf, or some other relationship, etc.
7) All Master's are not equal. Training begins in earnest once one has had a kensho, and continues a long time after. And so various different Masters may be in different stages of advancement or wisdom, even though they all share the same title of "Master". They all have the qualifications for sure, but beyond that, some are still more advanced than others. Some are much more advanced.
8) Cultural differences still apply. If a Zen Master is from (or was trained in) another country, they may act according to that country's cultural norms, and not fully understand your own. One culture's norm, may be another culture's insult or cause to take offense.
Again, please remember that this is in my own words, and there may be variations, from organization to organization.
If I can think of anything else, I'll add that, but that pretty much covers it for now.
"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,
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil Singer
" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy