Guruphiliac: Stuart And The Zen Master

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stuart And The Zen Master

File under: Real True Gurus

Our friend and fellow gurubuster Stuart Resnick has been talking about his experiences with Zen Master Seung Sahn, a Korean Zen guru, at his blog Random Thoughts:
"What is your name?" ZMSS asked. "Stuart," I replied. "No, no, no," he scoffed. "That's just body's name." It was confusing. I'd given a clear, simple answer. His words, though, were a philosophical idea, the type of unnecessary thinking I'd been told to throw away. But what could I say? How could I question his teaching, when he was the Big Zen Master, and I was the new kid?

After some awkward silence, ZMSS explained, "Now you must say, 'You are incorrect, Zen Master.' When I make mistake, you must correct it." Wow. After all the years I'd spent meeting gurus who claimed perfection, here was ZMSS, right from the get-go, saying that I had to watch for his mistakes.
This may be obvious to y'all, but those kind of mistakes are just another level of the discourse rather than anything that would sully a guru's perfection, if there ever was such a thing in existence.

Every time we read Stuart we learn something new. We blame our pop culture fetish for not having ever heard the story of the birth of Zen:
Buddha was set to give a discourse, and many hundreds had gathered to hear the Renowned Holy Teacher explain enlightenment 'n' stuff. But when he faced the assembly, Buddha said nothing. He just stood there a few minutes, and then held up a flower.

No one in the vast audience understood. Then a monk named Mahakashyapa looked at that flower and smiled. Buddha saw him smile and said, "I have got the Wondrous Dharma Seal of the Supremely Enlightened Mind, the Gateless Gate to Formless Nirvana. I now transmit it to Mahakashyapa."

All Zen schools and Masters trace their lineage back to that transmission incident. What was it about? What was transmitted? Damned if I knew. It was a puzzle, and I like puzzles. Maybe with intense contemplation and special experiences or something, I'd figure it out some day.
Well, certainly the idea of transmission was transmitted. But also transmitted was Buddha's recognition. Mahakashyapa already knew. Buddha merely acknowledged that fact.

Our ass-talking analysis aside, we can't recommend Random Thoughts enough for those readers who like their nonduality straight, yet still kinda sweet.



At 10/24/2007 11:19 AM, Blogger stuartresnick said...

Many thanks, Jody. I'll take a plug from Guruphiliac over one from Oprah's Book Club any day!


At 10/25/2007 9:45 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

I understand your predicament when first talkin to your Zen Master, Stuart. Lot of the time when my mule Da Free Jack is talkin to me, I hardly know how to respond. Sometimes at the end of a long sermon on topics I have little understandin of, I will simply break wind, which the mule always seems to get a kick out of!


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