a zen buddhist monk's blog about things almost zen and telling it the way it is - zen or not (yet)

January 20, 2010

Master? Of what?

"Zen Master"

This expression surely conjures up an image in our minds; probably an image influenced by Hollywood and the popular press! One of a mystical figure, all-knowledgeable, all-understanding; a being who has transcended our worldly shackles and has the answers to everything!

Well ... that's Hollywood!

The real reality in my experience is quite different. These people (men & women) calling themselves "master" are far from being mystical, and far from being masters of anything other perhaps than deception (their own as well as ours). They are for the best part just as deeply routed in jealousy, hatred and greed as the rest of us mortals. What's that? You don't want to read that? Then please stop reading and leave.

I have seen numerous people who, admittedly, don't say out loud "I'm a zen master" but they do all give themselves the title "Master" or " Mâitre". There are also a plethora of them on the Internet writing all kinds of rubbish about what they are doing and what books they have sold recently or in what country they have just been giving groups of innocent people a "talk" about some subject or other. Not yet "zen" all that.

Some, openly criticize and bicker with each other on the Internet in their blogs or on their websites! (links to this are somewhere on this blog site) Not yet "zen" all that.

But then I'm sure it's me who has misunderstood, after all I'm NOT a master: I think zen (soto) is a branch of Buddhism were one uses seated meditation as a means to hopefully attain elightenment gradually. "Not so" they seem to be saying! Zen seems to be about having more followers than the other guy, or having more TV appearances or even, more books published than the other guy. On a smaller scale, zen is about isolating themselves and their little sanghas from the other little sanghas in the area and not communicating with each other. It's about complaining that the people in the sangha down the road have stolen their ideas or followers! About who THEY studied with and why the guy the others studied with is not worthy.

Does all of this sound like something we know? Yes, that's right folks; this is business as usual in the world of phenomena; this is exactly what we are trying to free ourselves from. This is the same crap we are fed every evening on our TV in the insidiously mind-numbing reality shows and soporific weekly series we follow avidely because something "juicy" might happen.

The image of a mystical all-knowing sage is just that - an image. It has been conjured up by the media to sell stuff. We are intrigued by people who have "powers" and real or false we don't seem to care. The Uri Gellers of the world have and will always exist to enthrall and entertain us, as will the George Bush's of the world; people who are so obviously inept and preposterous BUT we follow them anyway! What's that all about? Are we so lethargic that we would rather have a "fake" making our decisions than have to do it ourselves?

Come on people, snap out of it for goodness sake. Wake up! We only have one go at this! Don't let these charlatains and snake-oil salesmen run our dojos and sell us their books of platitudes and regurgitated new-wave babbling! Remember the old adedge; "Those who are not good at it, talk about it. Those who are good at it, don't talk about it!"

There are some really great teachers out there (somewhere) but most of them have passed and those still alive don't write books or appear on TV - our legacy is their teachings recorded and published for us in book format, but actually getting to sit with one...

晴 雲 法 声 seiun hosei

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