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Buddhadharma : Fall 2011
61 fall 2 01 1 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Zen transmission, which also does not teach people explicitly how to teach. We don’t talk about transference or the isolation that Ken was talking about. It comes up in the koans and is implicitly contained in a lot of the copy-me rhetoric of the way we teach. But I have a lot of questions. It was very good for me to see different forms of succession and transmission. Gina Sharpe: Perhaps I’m more of a traditionalist. It’s really a question of breadth and depth. There’s something really wonderful about people in their twenties and thirties being able to teach, and yet there’s something that makes me take a step back to wonder. I see breadth, but is there depth? This makes me want to re-examine what I think the teacher’s role is and how a teacher can be prepared to meet the depths of transformation that happen when we enter into practice. We have a culture that highly prizes things happening really quickly and yet I think we lose something when we hurry a process that takes a lot of annealing, and deeper and deeper and deeper work. Maybe I’ll have some rotten eggs thrown at me, but I don’t think I would give up any part of the longer traditional training that many of the older generation have received. I could have been a teacher thirty years ago or per- haps I should have been a teacher twenty years earlier, but when I think about who I was then, the thought scares me. Buddhadharma: For somebody to become a deep dharma teacher and to keep peeling away layers of the onion and examining different dimensions of mindfulness and aware- ness, and deception and ego for that matter, requires a pro- found long-term commitment. That commitment doesn’t end the day that you get called a teacher. It increases. diana WinSton: This is not an either–or proposition. There is a whole range of kinds of teaching that people can do. Indeed, one of the issues we need to be concerned about is teachers teaching before they are ready. The dharma can be deceptively simple and people think that they can do a weekend workshop or a six-week class and turn around and start teaching it. I have seen this particularly in secular mindfulness contexts. Having achieved a very basic understanding of mindfulness, they think they are ready to teach it. If we’ve been well trained as dharma teachers, we know the profound work that one has to do. In the secular mindfulness world, we need rigorous training that demands a lot of prac- tice experience. Right now, there’s not a lot of quality control. In our training program at UCLA, I was happy to see that we got people who had twenty or thirty years of dharma practice enrolling in the program. We had people with a lot less, too. How do we control for quality? This is a tricky question. Ken mcLeod: On one extreme, we have the Western medical model: see one, do one, teach one. Once you’ve seen a proce- dure, you’re qualified to do it. Once you’ve done a procedure, you’re qualified to teach it. At the other extreme, we have the Asian model followed in the Buddhist traditions: either you have extraordinary realization or you go through a very long Having a gathering that brings together all traditions is a beautiful way to break down barriers. When we reach out across boundaries, we see our differences as richness—as something that makes us more vibrant rather than something to be afraid of. —Gina Sharpe process that results in your starting to teach in middle age. In fact, there are many different paths for teaching these days. There is teaching in prisons, MBSR, Dan Siegel’s work on awareness, and so forth. There are lots of teaching situa- tions that use the dharma to improve the quality of one’s life and help people to function better in daily life, such as work- ing with conflict or leadership. At the same time, there are people for whom the buddhadharma is their religious prac- tice, their faith, and they relate to it in a different way. Each of these different ways of practicing and teaching is going to develop its own way of training instructors and teachers and creating suitable learning and training environments. Gina Sharpe: I guess I’m coming to see that there are indeed these different kinds and levels of teacher. If someone wants to develop and transform and walk a path to liberation, as described by the Buddha, through retreats and deep discipline, that requires one kind of teacher to accompany you on that journey. If you’re in prison, for example, and you are really looking for a way to find some inner freedom, you may need a different kind of teacher. It’s not shallower. It’s just a different circumstance. And there will be many different circumstances. Part of the confusion that comes up for me, though, is that it doesn’t seem that our current training programs take those photo a. jesse jiryu davis