Monday, November 5, 2012

Non-Genuine Dharma Transmissions

Recently I read an article of an interview between a magazine and a Zen teacher. He is a Westerner and had many years of Zen meditations under many teachers, roshis, shifus, etc. He had the opportunity to see the many things that were going on in the Zen world. Among the things he revealed in that Q & A was that not all persons who got a dharma transmission or who have the title 'roshi' are actually enlightened. From his wide experience he can vouch that there were on occasions 'other considerations' for granting dharma transmissions. Moreover, he said that certain meditative experience of oneness may not be considered as an 'enlightenment' in the Buddhist sense. There could also be people who did not actually penetrate the entire course in koan study but decided to take on the title of 'roshi'. This article confirms my own thoughts that these sort of things could indeed happen. Something similar is mentioned in the book "Foundation of Japanese Buddhism, vol. II" by Alicia & Daigan Matsunaga, publication of Buddhist Books International.  

That was why I said that it is not about the master, but about yourself, ultimately. Also the fact is if the master is genuine, you can still learn a thing or two from him, even though he may not be as enlightened as you think (and even if his dharma transmissions were not based on spiritual attainments). He may still be able to guide you and others in his/her own ways. So some trust and respect to him is still proper. It is different, though, if he is only out to gain fame, position and money. Then you better run. But scandals do happen. How you react to it will depend on your personal experience with the teacher involved in the scandal. It is also completely possible that completely pure enlightened persons could sacrifice themselves in compromising positions merely to help the other persons. As unenlightened persons, we will not be able to fully comprehend this matter. Thank goodness my experiences with my own gurus and masters have not been any other thing but pure. I am not saying the scandals are all lies, nor am I validating them. Only that my spiritual development does not have any such hindrance. I completely trust my gurus and masters. If you do become  'Roshi' or 'Zen Master' (or whatever title) one day or offered a dharma transmission, make sure you are a worthy recipient, enlightened or otherwise. For me, I am not interested in such titles. But I do want someone qualified to check my progress. That's for sure.

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