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 plwk » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:46 am

Reminds me of this story...
http://www.101zenstories.com/index.php?story=67
What Are You Doing! What Are You Saying!

In modern times a great deal of nonsense is talked about masters and disciples, and about the inheritance of a master's teaching by favorite pupils, entitling them to pass the truth on to their adherents. Of course Zen should be imparted in this way, from heart to heart, and in the past it was really accomplished. Silence and humility reigned rather than profession and assertion. The one who received such a teaching kept the matter hidden even after twenty years. Not until another discovered through his own need that a real master was at hand was it learned that the teching had been imparted, and even then the occasion arose quite naturally and the teaching made its way in its own right. Under no circumstance did the teacher even claim "I am the successor of So-and-so." Such a claim would prove quite the contrary.

The Zen master Mu-nan had only one successor. His name was Shoju.
After Shoju had completed his study of Zen, Mu-nan called him into his room. "I am getting old," he said, "and as far as I know, Shoju, you are the only one who will carry on this teaching. Here is a book. It has been passed down from master to master for seven generations. I have also added many points according to my understanding. The book is very valuable, and I am giving it to you to represent your successorhip."

"If the book is such an important thing, you had better keep it," Shoju replied. "I received your Zen without writing and am satisfied with it as it is."

"I know that," said Mu-nan. "Even so, this work has been carried from master to master for seven generations, so you may keep it as a symbol of having received the teaching. Here."

They happened to be talking before a brazier. The instant Shoju felt the book in his hands he thrust it into the flaming coals. He had no lust for possessions.

Mu-nan, who never had been angry before, yelled: "What are you doing!"

Shoju shouted back: "What are you saying!"
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Simon E. » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:25 pm

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

Postby oushi » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:20 pm

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

Postby Sara H » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:36 pm

Simon E. wrote:What a selfish oaf.

That was my thoughts.

The master gave him a present to be nice, and signify the time they had together.

The disciple was more concerned with his clinging to an idea of non-attatchment to realize that the book had the Buddha Nature too,
And so selfishly discarded a kind gift.
"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 Wayfarer » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:14 am

I found that story confronting when I first read it many years ago, but I think it says something very important about attachment to forms and externals. It was one of many such stories in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, by Paul Reps.

I delved a little into the background of that book. Paul Reps was a 'student', in a very informal sense, of Nyogen Senzaki, who was one of the pioneers of Zen in the US. He arrived as an assistant to Soyen Shaku in 1905 and stayed until the end of his life in the 1958. He had to work as a bell-boy and in other basic jobs in San Francisco before he got enough support from his students to start renting rooms to teach in. He eventually moved his 'floating Zendo' to Los Angeles in the 1930's and kept teaching throughout. The book of his collected writings is Like a Dream, Like a Fantasy edited by Eido Shimano Roshi.

Here is about the only photograph of him:

Image
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby oushi » Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:30 am

Sara H wrote:realize that the book had the Buddha Nature too

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

Postby Luke » Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:39 pm

I would be curious to see what terms of respect are used in other languages, since "master" is just an English word. For example, I know that "shifu" is the word for teacher in Chinese, but do the Chinese have any sort of "Super Shifu" word which they use when talking about undisputably great Zen Masters like Linji, Dongshan Liangjie, etc.? If so, it would be interesting to know their criteria for when they use such a word.
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Huifeng » Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:24 am

I've already detailed a lot of the Chinese position in earlier pages of this thread.

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

Postby seeker242 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:40 pm

Astus wrote:Therefore it is up to the system to show the correct way to beginners that will teach them how to gain that confidence and not to give up yourself to a seemingly superior being.


And how can this be done without having a hierarchy of people maintaining control over other people, telling them what to do? Who is going to be in charge of "the system"?
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Astus » Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:08 pm

seeker242 wrote:And how can this be done without having a hierarchy of people maintaining control over other people, telling them what to do? Who is going to be in charge of "the system"?


By recognising the qualities of others, their experience, knowledge, kindness and wisdom, there are people who one considers good friends from whom one can learn. Usually lay people learn from monastics, and in the monastery there is a seniority system. Buddhism doesn't work like the Catholic Church, there is no strict hierarchy, no Magisterium. Whatever one teacher says is not compulsory for anyone else to accept it. The Zen tradition itself is diverse. And there is no need for any control over others. By "system" I mean the way people are taught about the Dharma. And either one accepts the idea that people are capable of comprehending and practising the teaching (one of the meanings of universal buddha-nature), or doesn't accept it.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Luke » Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:16 pm

Huifeng wrote:I've already detailed a lot of the Chinese position in earlier pages of this thread.

~~ Huifeng

Oh! You certainly did! I'm sorry, I didn't realize this. (Other people can look at pages 15 and 16 to so Ven. Huifeng's explanations).
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Re: What a Zen Master is, and what a Zen Master isn't.

Postby Luke » Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:28 pm

Sara H wrote:The term "Zen master" is a translated title of a position.

It is not a literal English description, meaning "someone who has 'completely mastered' Zen"

Ah, this makes things much more clear!
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