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Different styles

Different styles

Postby unsui on Tue Oct 08, 2013 10:59 am

I have taken the liberty of citing some lines from a response in the Ask a Teacher forum http://www.zenforuminternational.org/viewtopic.php?f=32&t=10037&p=153903#p153853:
Guo Gu wrote:square peg trying to fit into a round hole!

zafu, ashoka:...

hope this is putting it like a round peg in a round hole.
guo gu

What I think I read was a very clear example of different styles of teaching and I was wondering how they "feel" for others who have a formal practice with a teacher in a specific tradition? I am also thinking that some of these styles or methods work better in a forum setting than others???

Denko's response was very direct, terse and succinct, requiring the person, if s/he wanted to "get" what he was saying, to deeply see what lies behind the question and the answer with no explanations given - simply as an invitation to sit down and examine oneself and the universe. This has been my general experience with the Rinzai Zen teachers I have met - and it has been en effective "method" for me to learn, but not one that falls naturally for everyone.

Nonin unfolded in his response the reality lying behind the question being asked, in a way that I recognize from other Soto teachers: not so many words, but the clear, sharp presentation of Buddha's way so that we can examine how what we ask relates to what we have either learned or experienced through studies, practice and living.

I assume that Guo Gu, in his comment above, points out that there be many ways to answer a person who asks about something (rather than offering a criticism of the other responses) and very pedagogically illustrates a principle with an analogy and gives short teaching. Maybe this is a teaching method in the Chan tradition?
May we extend This Mind over the whole universe so that we and all beings together may attain maturity in Buddha's wisdom
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Re: Different styles

Postby Carol on Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:50 pm

I've noticed much variety in "style" among teachers of the same school as well as teachers from different schools. So, I think a lot is in the personality of the teacher.

That said, in the Dharma Drum Chan lineage, I have noticed and really benefited from the clear explanations they give of the method(s) they teach and how to practice them. This helped me tremendously when I was floundering and not finding a way to establish enough concentration for my meditation practice to drop beneath the constant chatter of wandering thoughts. It was really helpful to me, and I took it back to my koan practice with teachers in the Diamond Sangha tradition and found my practice deepened.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: Different styles

Postby Guo Gu on Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:30 am

unsui,

to me, playing the flute to a cow is not much use. its melody can only be appreciated by some.

the specific tradition (whether chan, son, or zen, linji or rinzai, caodong or soto, chogye or not) has little to do with it. it has to do with the teacher's perception of the situation and his/her skillful means/limitations. the workings of causes and conditions are everything. it also depends on the affinity (chn. yuan; jp. en) btn the teacher and student. there are those that the direct method will work. to my own students, sometimes only with a look and they get the message. there are a few on the forum with whom i have a strong karmic connection so i respond that way with a few words. this method is a catalyst for insight.

for others, i reply with analogies and anecdotes, step by step. otherwise, we would be talking pass one another. the internet being what it is, it's best to clarify than leave room for misinterpretation in a forum setting.

be well,
guo gu
Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
http://www.tallahasseechan.org/
Received inka from Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009) in 1995
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Re: Different styles

Postby unsui on Wed Oct 09, 2013 3:08 pm

Guo Gu wrote:unsui,

to me, playing the flute to a cow is not much use. its melody can only be appreciated by some.

the specific tradition (whether chan, son, or zen, linji or rinzai, caodong or soto, chogye or not) has little to do with it. it has to do with the teacher's perception of the situation and his/her skillful means/limitations. the workings of causes and conditions are everything. it also depends on the affinity (chn. yuan; jp. en) btn the teacher and student. there are those that the direct method will work. to my own students, sometimes only with a look and they get the message. there are a few on the forum with whom i have a strong karmic connection so i respond that way with a few words. this method is a catalyst for insight.

for others, i reply with analogies and anecdotes, step by step. otherwise, we would be talking pass one another. the internet being what it is, it's best to clarify than leave room for misinterpretation in a forum setting.

be well,
guo gu

Thank-you for your response.

Yet Buddha held a flower up, Mahakashyapa smiled and, all the while, the others in attendance were baffled. Because of this story, the penny drops for some of us as well.

I have asked similar questions before because all the teachers here and all of those I have met most certainly work in accord with upaya - and yet have such different expressions of this. I see that some of these are related to the tradition in which the teacher is trained and some related to "personality"/causes and conditions/etc. I guess I must be so shallow that I can see a meaning with all these responses --- and no square pegs with round holes. I wish to better understand these workings; we are all examples for one another and take responsibility...

ETA:
In my practice with different teachers, I take in what each says/does as my ability and degree of openness allows. I would never assume that any teacher's answer was wasted words or actions; rather, I try to sit with these differing responses and experience the meaning, my own resistance (if there is any) or habitual reactions.
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