27.9.09

Dogen's Bible and Enlightened Teachers

This is why I intend to gather together the few experiences I

had abroad, and to record the secrets of an enlightened teacher, so that they

may be heard by any practitioner who desires to hear them.


Shobogenzo Bendowa Nishijima and Cross translation





There has been a bit of scuttlebutt about internet teachers/communities versus real life flesh and blood teachers/communities that I caught wind of recently.

That, coupled with what ideas of mine of things like teachers and organizations that have been totally smashed, I would like to put forth that the argument either for and against is pretty lame.

First of I think this is a phenomenon that is primarily occurring in the western zen communities so that is where I'm coming from.

The first idea I'd like to smash is that there is a fundamental difference between the two.

Lets think about why we committed ourselves to this practice for a moment. It should not take very long. Most of us came to this practice because we know that something is not quite right and we want to get to the bottom of it. After a bit of practice most people (who are not mentally disabled, or acutely insane) figure out that it is themselves that is not right.

The more not right the person is or the more they are affected by this not rightness is frighteningly proportionate to how dedicated they are to the practice. So the most messed up people end up being zen teachers (or at least zen bloggers.) Just because they have become teachers doesn't mean that they have solved all of their problems either. From what I have seen Dharma transmission doesn't make someone a perfect human being. That goes for pretty much any of our zen sanghas weather online or physical here in the west. I'm sure there are exceptions, but the exceptions are pretty small and are likely not part of the echosphear. Anyone of these zen teachers who present themselves as being anything but a flawed human being is probably a U.S. Marine... unh no I mean a liar liar pants on fire. Yeah, they have likely been practicing for a while, they are likely well versed in dealing with their stuff (maybe) and most of them can actually be quite helpful in coming up with ways to help point you in the right direction for you deal with yours. You may even get really lucky and find a good friend that can point you to see things as they are instead of how you are.

In the interest of full disclosure, at the time of writing this, I have no pretty bolt of silk with a list of names on it to indicate I am a somebody in the zen community. After publishing this, I probably will never get one. Oh, I'd like one, but I think what I am doing right now is more important.

Ok, on to Dogen's bible, The Shobogenzo. While as my friend Ted pointed out it is only 95% complete, it is what Dogen left behind so that we could get the stuff from the guy who kicked off this whole tradition.

So, if you can get together with a group of folks, practice sitting-zen, and clarify the Shobogenzo for the benefit of all sentient beings (it's OK if your just doing it for yourself too, I think the sentient beings will benefit regardless), I think your going in the right direction. Along your way when the time is ripe, your probably going to run in to some guy or gal that might just help you out. They may not have anything to do with zen or be a kind of zen pariah, you may meet them in the flesh or out on the interwebs. But you are going to know when you meet your real teacher. I meet them everywhere.

11 comments:

Curator said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog, especially the last sentence...I try to learn from everything I experience and every one I meet... Ive even learned a few things from you...lol... I dont know where im going with this,hahahahaha, im a bit to tired I believe, anyway, i was mostly stopping by to read your latest post, and invite you to check out my new recipe blog, Ive finally started posting in it,lol...

http://museumofmunch.blogspot.com/

I hope you like it, only 2 deserts posted at the moment, but there will be more soon.

Jordan said...

Curator, Thanks for your comments.

Just left something for you on your blog.

Sweetpersimmon said...

Hello Jordan,
Thank you for this post. I know very little about Zen, but I like to make and drink tea. Zen cha ichimi, zen and tea one taste, or so they say.

I remember when you told me that you had no credentials in Zen other than that you sit and you study some texts. And I remember that I told you if I wanted to know someone with Zen credentials, I probably would have met them already.

I don't know where I am going with this either, but I do enjoy reading your blog. Please come have tea with me sometime.

Curator said...

Thanks Jordan for the tare recipe! wow thats simple... never would've guessed,lol... I shall ha ve to try it out as soon as I go catch me another eel!

Carol said...

Jordan,

Please change your colors. This is very hard to read.

Love U!

Mom

Jordan said...

Margie, Zen and tea one taste!

I hope to take you up on your kind invitation soon.

Jordan said...

Curator,
your welcome, glad I could fasilitate the translation.

Jordan said...

Mom,
I'm still playing with the colors. But it's not permanent.

Love you too!

jundo cohen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jundo cohen said...

Hi Jordan,

Thanks for posting this from your blog at Treeleaf. It is great. I wrote the following about it ...

Jordan wrote:The more not right the person is or the more they are affected by this not rightness is frighteningly proportionate to how dedicated they are to the practice. So the most messed up people end up being zen teachers (or at least zen bloggers.) Just because they have become teachers doesn't mean that they have solved all of their problems either. From what I have seen Dharma transmission doesn't make someone a perfect human being. That goes for pretty much any of our zen sanghas weather online or physical here in the west. I'm sure there are exceptions, but the exceptions are pretty small and are likely not part of the echosphear. Anyone of these zen teachers who present themselves as being anything but a flawed human being is probably a U.S. Marine... unh no I mean a liar liar pants on fire. Yeah, they have likely been practicing for a while, they are likely well versed in dealing with their stuff (maybe) and most of them can actually be quite helpful in coming up with ways to help point you in the right direction for you deal with yours. You may even get really lucky and find a good friend that can point you to see things as they are instead of how you are.

Hi Jordan,

I believe that this is right. All human beings, from Buddhas on down to the rest of us, are human beings ... and that means rough edges, cracks and ugly spots, flesh, fallings down and flaws. Human beings are human.

All I would say is that it is a matter of what we do with those flaws, how we live as human beings ... with a bit of grace, ease, kindness, non-attachment, wholeness, peace, at-oneness and sincerity. Practice does not remove all those rough spots, but it allows a wild and imperfect stone to be imperfect (perfectly imperfect) yet material to be polished into a jewel. One cannot polish a tile into a Buddha ... but the constant polishing is Buddha.

All human beings have the tendency to fall down from time to time. I guess it is just a matter of what the person does then ... picking themselves up, recovering balance, getting back on the trail, apologizing and learning from any damage caused.

I would also, respectfully, disagree with the thought that "the most messed up person ends up as the Zen teacher". I protest! :) While you will find that many Zen teachers have had rough patches in life (I just recommended Noah Levine's Dharma Punx book as an example of such a teacher), most of the teachers I have met ... especially those with a few years and some maturity under their belt ... tend to be lovely, gentle, well rounded, self-actuated, nice and healthy people, balanced, living life with fullness and well. Sure, while there are always some Zen teachers who fall down (the recent article on Rinzai teacher Lou Nordstrom and his struggle with psychiatric issues throughout his life is an example) ...
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/magazine/26zen-t.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=nordstrom%20zen&st=cse

... most Buddhist teachers I have interacted with live life with surprising grace and beauty. It is a little like all the thousands of jet planes that land safely, day after day, at the airport. Nobody notices those. They notice the one or two that, once in awhile, take a crash.

No, I am more optimistic about this Practice, online or off ... and what it can bring to our life-world (not two).

Gassho, Jundo

Jordan said...

Hi Jundo,

Like the epic poem says, if we disagree we should discuss it.

The reason I wrote "the most messed up person ends up as the Zen teacher." Is due to my experience that this discipline has a tendency to expose our own faults to us enabling to grow into that lovely, gentle, well rounded, self-actuated, nice and healthy people, balanced, living life with fullness.

All my best,
Jordan

Thanks for looking!