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The teaching stone
January 12th, 2013 (January 13th, 2013)
illustration

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

The teaching stone

Telling the stone you bumped into, that it should have anticipated your trajectory and should have moved somewhere else?
You are the fool, the stone is not!


If they're worth their salt, buddhist teachers may be a lot freer than you'd like them to be, and might not fit nicely into your restricted definitions and frameworks of how a teacher "should" behave:

"The Master [臨濟義玄] saw a monk coming and held his fly whisk straight up. The monk made a low bow, whereupon the Master struck him a blow.

The Master saw another monk coming and again held his fly whisk straight up. The monk paid no attention, whereupon the Master struck him a blow as well."

If you are a student, it is your job to control your reactions and learn, not to cling to your little comfort! If you think anything that happens to you deserves legitimate outrage, get a life and look at the wider world around you: show outrage in relation to wars, pollutions, famines, massacres first!
When an expectation is not met (e.g. because you were deluded enough to think that one single example —bow, or no bow— was enough to make a general rule), it is your job to let go and enquire into your own thought habits, mental fabrications, expectations and inflated self-importance. To believe that a teacher 'should' behave the way you want him/her to, is self-aggrandisement beyond measure.


The stone merely behaves the way it does. It could not care less about whether you find it precious or not, smooth or not, conveniently located or not… It may be fragile and break on impact, or it may be hard and hurt you. You might have moved into it, or it might have fallen upon you…

A teacher is neither a "teacher" merely when you agree with him/her, nor a "bully" when you disagree.
Such a judgement abusively generalises a particular experience to the teacher as a person, and thus shows no understanding of the three marks of existence: suffering, impermanence and selflessness. A teacher will not alleviate your suffering for you. A teacher is not (permanently, or even transiently) whoever you imagine he/she is. Nothing intrinsically makes 'you' better (notably if you're still making abusive generalisations blinded by your like/dislike!).


If 臨濟義玄 struck you with his stick, would you complain or walk away?
If yes, why? If no, why? He is a famous and respected teacher now, but at the time he was not politically-correct or predictable! How would you know his intention? How would you know his mastery? How would you know his commitment to help you attain Enlightenment (by all possible means, pleasant or unpleasant)? Don't know! Look, see things as they are (including your delusions, expectations and mental habits), and respond to the circumstances while being mindful and cultivating wholesome intentions!


#Buddhism   #Dharma   #buddhistcircle  

Post Scriptum: no teacher is inherently a teacher, so you're free to walk away at any time; the above text does not justify (in any way) staying in an oppressive relationship.
If you "know better" than another flawed human being (possibly Enlightened, but with karmic residues for sure!), take responsibility, "control your reactions and learn" all the same, and walk away! ["Seeing things as they are" also covers seeing the karmic residues detrimental to you and which make a particular teacher unsuitable for you… by opposition to 'idealising' the teacher.] Take your autonomy, without safety net, without victimhood, without looking back (and hopefully without marvelling at your own magnificence, superiority or righteousness which are merely delusions of grandeur).

The Cula-Malunkyovada sutta (MN 63) is famous for its rejection of metaphysical questions irrelevant to Awakening, however it may also be read as a warning against presuming what a teacher should know or teach. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.063.than.html