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Buddhadharma : Summer 2013
8 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SUMMER 2 0 1 3 teacher first and foremost by the level of personal integrity demonstrated: “Are there in this teacher any states based on greed, hatred, or delusion such that, with his mind obsessed by those states, while not knowing, he might say, ‘I know,’ or while not seeing he might say, ‘I see,’ or he might urge others to act in a way that would lead to their harm and suffer- ing for a long time?”(Majjhima Nikaya 95). Even a good teacher is capable of wrongdoing: “How does a teacher’s undoing come about?... He goes astray, becomes filled with desire, succumbs to craving, and reverts to luxury... He has been struck down by unwholesome states...” (MN 122). But when wisdom has truly sunk in deeply enough to be transformative, one is incapable of mis- behavior: “When a person... has under- stood that attachment is the root of suffering, and is without attachment... it is not possible that he would direct his body or arouse his mind toward any object of attachment” (MN 105). Perhaps it is unfair to expect our teachers to be awakened. But it is not unreasonable to expect them to demon- strate some wakefulness from a lifetime of study and practice and to refrain from the mundane temptations that so easily corrupt an undeveloped mind. Many teachers do, which make those who do not stand out so sorely. The pri- mary seduction, of course, is selfhood, the insidious inclination toward conceit through which the teacher becomes more special than the teaching or the student’s quest to embody it. Here too I think the Buddha was prescient when he said, just before passing away: “What I have taught and explained to you as Dhamma and discipline will, at my passing, be your teacher” (Digha Nikaya 16). We are all walking a path together— some are a few steps ahead, some a few steps behind. We know where others are on this path not by what they say, but by what they do. If their meditation prow- ess is not integrated with ethical behav- ior, which is the natural expression of a deep understanding, then they are just talking the talk.