My great big Zen Center Dilemma

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My great big Zen Center Dilemma

Postby ZenLem » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:09 pm

I have a Zen teacher, but he is anti-social. When I first came to the center I go to, I would try and talk to him after practice and he really couldn't give a flying two-bit dung pile about what was going on in my life. So, fresh out of college, I moved to NYC and he was very panicked about this fact, and at the time, told me it was his opinion that was a mistake, despite the fact I am an actor and NYC is the place to be for that, although I was still attending at the center, after my move.

Fast forward to today, the center is on the verge of financial collapse after being in the same place for ten years, I have been there six years, and everyone is trying to figure out ways to keep/find new interest, and structure our fiances better. The glaring problem to me though, being, no one is talking about our teacher's tendencies to be kinda of a grumpy old man, both in response to student's questions and in conversation. I admit, he is quite vigorous, and powerful, with a great emotional range and four decades of meditation under his belt. He is a qualified Zen teacher, but, something about the situation has me awry.

On the one hand, we have this great teacher, but on the other, our center lacks a certain "fun", light-hearted spirit, that I feel is keeping people away. So for the sake of the middle path, I have been wanting to try and show that more sociable, less direct, more forgiving aspect, but I don't feel my point is being felt or noticed.

So what do I do? I want to talk to my teacher, but I feel he will shut me down with some Zen BS, i.e., turning the whole situation onto me in some metaphorical abstract sense of it, which has me even more demoralized about actually bringing it up, or just explaining my reasons for leaving. Since it takes me about an hour of public transportation to get there, which use to be no big deal when I first started going, but now feels like "ugh".

Do I bail, or try and stay and get things back on course? I am thoroughly in a state of mixed emotions on this.
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Re: My great big Zen Center Dilemma

Postby Caz » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:42 pm

ZenLem wrote:I have a Zen teacher, but he is anti-social. When I first came to the center I go to, I would try and talk to him after practice and he really couldn't give a flying two-bit dung pile about what was going on in my life. So, fresh out of college, I moved to NYC and he was very panicked about this fact, and at the time, told me it was his opinion that was a mistake, despite the fact I am an actor and NYC is the place to be for that, although I was still attending at the center, after my move.

Fast forward to today, the center is on the verge of financial collapse after being in the same place for ten years, I have been there six years, and everyone is trying to figure out ways to keep/find new interest, and structure our fiances better. The glaring problem to me though, being, no one is talking about our teacher's tendencies to be kinda of a grumpy old man, both in response to student's questions and in conversation. I admit, he is quite vigorous, and powerful, with a great emotional range and four decades of meditation under his belt. He is a qualified Zen teacher, but, something about the situation has me awry.

On the one hand, we have this great teacher, but on the other, our center lacks a certain "fun", light-hearted spirit, that I feel is keeping people away. So for the sake of the middle path, I have been wanting to try and show that more sociable, less direct, more forgiving aspect, but I don't feel my point is being felt or noticed.

So what do I do? I want to talk to my teacher, but I feel he will shut me down with some Zen BS, i.e., turning the whole situation onto me in some metaphorical abstract sense of it, which has me even more demoralized about actually bringing it up, or just explaining my reasons for leaving. Since it takes me about an hour of public transportation to get there, which use to be no big deal when I first started going, but now feels like "ugh".

Do I bail, or try and stay and get things back on course? I am thoroughly in a state of mixed emotions on this.


My friend there are plenty of Dharma centres and groups in NYC, such is a good time to tactfully explain your opinions to your teacher having a grim face isnt a big attractor for new people...If hes a well practised Bodhisattva he will accept this point if not then what is there left to do ?
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

Liberation in the Palm of your hand~Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche.
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Re: My great big Zen Center Dilemma

Postby Mr. G » Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:06 pm

I'm in NY, though I study Tibetan Buddhism. If you decide to leave (and that's my advice), I'm sure I and other members here can assist with finding a new center for you.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: My great big Zen Center Dilemma

Postby fragrant herbs » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:24 pm

Teacher grumpy
Find new teacher
Seriously.
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Re: My great big Zen Center Dilemma

Postby ZenLem » Fri Apr 01, 2011 2:12 am

Urgyen Chodron wrote:Teacher grumpy
Find new teacher
Seriously.


haha, that's pretty funny. I am seriously stressed though, maybe that is a game we are playing though, "don't dare leave! you won't become enlighten!". The more I trace my history there the more I find things I initially accepted as "zen practice" that I now view as "not really knowing better." The main thing though, is I think my progress has been mostly a result of my dedication to sitting and focus than to my teacher's guidance, which isn't to say he hasn't helped, it's just, our conversations are very disconnected now, and he tells me "just tell me what's on your mind" in that very direct voice, and I am reeling like, "I don't want to", so he calls me stubborn and pig-headed. And I think to myself, "I am not this way with everyone." I so want his teachings and directness, but not at the cost of being close to someone so obtuse.
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Re: My great big Zen Center Dilemma

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri Apr 01, 2011 2:17 am

I think prolonging the dilemma about staying in that Dharma center vs moving to another will be bad for your practice. You are not compelled to attend a certain Dharma center if it doesn't rub you in the right way (whether you are right or wrong is beside the point).
Take a time out from your old center, visit others and see how it goes. Remember though that we always meet things we don't like in nearly every Dharma center in the world and we can't keep leaping till we find the "perfect center". There's no such thing. Sangha is like a bag filled with grain that rub against each other until the husk falls. A more secure "training ground", if you will, than most environments where people don't share our ideals of compassion, loving-kindness and so on. Still, some places are more adequate to our needs. Just don't harbor resentment or spend too much time thinking about what is going wrong with the center you leave. It's pretty much useless. 40 years of practice and still that long face aren't likely to change because you want it to. Maybe that grumpy old style tickles someone else's fancy.
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Re: My great big Zen Center Dilemma

Postby ZenLem » Fri Apr 01, 2011 3:45 am

You sir, win the clarity prize for today. This I will do.
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Re: My great big Zen Center Dilemma

Postby plwk » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:31 am

Every coin, they say, has 2 sides...
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