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Buddhadharma : Spring 2008
buddhadharma| 11 |spring 2008 heart allies us with others and makes it possible for us to live for the benefit of all beings. In some cultures, weavers and potters deliber- ately create a flaw in their work. they don’t want to tempt fate by giving the impression that they are striving for perfection. they want to acknowl- edge that there is no such thing as perfection in our human endeavors. perhaps they even feel that imperfection has a kind of beauty of its own. Zen Center’s founder shunryu suzuki roshi said, “Life is like getting on a boat that is about to sail out to the sea and sink.” He sometimes referred to life, quoting eihei dogen, as “one continuous mistake.” From “success anD Failure,” puBlisheD in sangha-e!, The online neWsleTTer oF The san Francisco Zen cenTer. no transmission, no go The transmission from teacher to student is a vital component of practice and not one you can skip over, says Chogyal Namkhai Norbu. sometimes practitioners are like small babies. When babies go into a big shop, they see many different things, and they like this and that and want everything. In the same way, a practitioner reads a book and thinks it’s interesting and then wants to do the practice. I always ask people what kind of transmission they have received. If you remember that transmission, you should try to do that instead of doing something you did not receive the transmission for. some people ask if they can do a practice even if they have not received transmission. for example, some people say they’ve never received the trans- mission of dzogchen Longde but are interested in it, and they ask me to please give them permis- sion to do that practice. I can say yes, I can give you permission, but that doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because permission means you must follow the teaching and receive transmission. If someone really has a serious interest, then they can partici- pate, there is no problem. But that doesn’t mean the practice will produce a function. the function is related to transmission. If you don’t receive trans- mission, it is difficult to produce a real function. From the Mirror, sepTemBer/ocToBer 2007. put some muscle into it! The more effort you make to attend dharma pro- grams and receive teachings, the more powerful their effect will be, says Thubten Chodron. sometimes the spiritual mentor with whom you resonate doesn’t live near you. that means you have to put in the effort to travel to where he or she is teaching. some people say, “It’s so far. I don’t have the money. I don’t have the time. Why can’t my teacher come here?” While on one level, thinking in this way may seem perfectly valid, on another, I believe it is indic- ative of our consumer mentality. there may be the subtle assumption, “I’m the customer, and you’re marketing something. You should come to me and convince me that I should get your product.” a relationship with a spiritual mentor is not a consumer relationship. It cannot thrive with that mentality. that way of thinking, however obvious or subtle, hinders an actual spiritual relationship. When we read the biographies of the great masters, we see that they gave up whatever conveniences were necessary in order to receive teachings, because they valued the teachings beyond all else. and because they cherished the dharma so much, they benefited from hearing it, and with joyous effort, they put it into practice. If we lack such sincerity, even if our teachers come to us, we won’t derive the same benefit. When you have to put your energy into some- thing, you value it. When you listen to a profound teaching on the Internet, while sitting in your favorite reclining chair, eating potato chips and drinking a Coke, something is missing. When you have to spend a half hour driving to the teach- ing site or fly to where your teacher is offering a retreat, or take time off of work to be able to go to teachings, you will value the teachings you hear. It’s said that every step you take to get to a place where the dharma is being taught creates positive potential because your intention is to learn the dharma and progress on the path to liberation and enlightenment. traveling to receive the teachings of your spiritual mentor is part of your practice, and your mind should be joyous even if there are difficulties along the way. If thoughts arise, such SERgEBlOCH