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Buddhadharma : Spring 2015
20 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 1 5 point of view. Authentic teachers do not curry power. They are willing to do humble tasks and will do them well. They can apologize and admit mistakes. They are always work- ing on their own practice. Authentic teachers take the seat of authority in a graceful way, without belittling others. They allow students to express dharma in different ways and do not concretize awakening. Just as a teacher may appear in many forms, so too will a student, as well as our understanding. Most of the teaching we receive is not in words but in how life is lived, in day-to-day activities, in ordinary condi- tions. Your teacher might already be standing in front of you. In Zen, there is a saying: When the student is ready, the teacher appears. narayan helen liebenson: An authentic teacher is someone you have something to learn from. Do you resonate with what they say and by their presence? Sometimes there is an intellectual connection; what’s being said makes sense and stretches you at the same time. Other times it’s an emotional connection, a sense that what you have to learn from this person isn’t easy to put into words. The best is when the connection is multilayered; you resonate with the teacher, there is an intellectual and emotional connection, and you feel attuned to the practice the teacher offers. It’s helpful to recognize the difference between cha- risma and realization. Charisma is distinct from realiza- tion, and realization can be found in the most ordinary of expressions. The fundamental ground of realization is not causing harm. The pith instructions taught by all buddhas, past and present, are: Do no harm, engage in wholesome actions, and purify the mind. These are instructions for all practitioners. If a teacher is leaving one of these aspects out, I’d take it as a limitation of understanding. I am blessed to have known a number of teachers in whom I have had great confidence. Each sustained a level of integrity that was the ground upon which trust could build. I didn’t see them as perfect, and all of them practiced with vigor throughout their entire lives. These teachers combined an impeccable integrity with a depth of realization of empti- ness. One of the expressions of understanding emptiness is confidence coupled with humility. Authentic teachers love their students without clinging to their students. Without the need to convince anyone of anything, they share what they know has helped them to see into the truth of things. They see teaching as a calling, not as a career—a path of renunciation rather than a path of accumulating power, fame, money, or praise. Authentic teachers have been asked by other authentic teachers to teach. They don’t believe their press; they are not seduced by praise and are responsive to criticism. It’s important to examine your motivations for wanting a teacher. In today’s consumer culture, a teacher can become New from the makers of Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma: Taking its name from the Buddha’s metaphor for the fearless proclamation of the truth, our new website gives you access to content from both the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma magazines, along with up-to-the-moment news and commentary. BUDDHISM CULTURE MEDITATION LIFE JULY 2014 Insight Meditation Loving-Kindness Zen Meditation Visualization Walking Meditation Dzogchen and more... Your Guide to Buddhist Meditation Learn a wealth of meditation techniques to develop calm, awareness, wisdom & love LET YOUR CONFIDENCE SHINE • A PUNK LOOKS AT FIFTY • THE BUDDHAS OF WEST 17TH SHAMBHALA SUN Buddhadharma THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY WINTER 2014 PUTTING KARMA IN PERSPECTIVE • ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE FOR MEDITATORS • THE ZEN OF MOBY DICK ¡ How it harms practitioners and communities ¡ What can be done to prevent it ¡ How to address abuse when it happens ¡ Steps you can take to protect yourself and others Abuse OF Power CONFRONTING BUDDHADHARMATHEPRACTITIONER’SQUARTERLYWINTER2014 Subscribe and Save The Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma offer the best in Buddhist teachings and writings for our times. SUBSCRIBE today and you’ll earn substantial savings. Or visit LIONSROAR.COM to update your subscription details any time. VISIT TODAY AT LIONSROAR.COM • Easy search & navigation • Fully mobile- and tablet-friendly • Secure webstore