[Buddha-l] Zen Understanding (was: liturgical languages)

Franz Metcalf franzmetcalf at earthlink.net
Tue May 3 14:37:34 MDT 2005


A brief and inevitably deluded comment.

On May 2, 2005, at 12:40 PM, Stuart Lachs wrote:

> Another problem is the very conception that a Buddhist teacher/Zen
> master owns truth and so is an expert or more on everything will 
> continually
> breed one form of nonsense or another. This idea is deeply embedded, 
> to use
> a topical term, in Zen mythology at least. I have heard another Chinese
> "master" say that he could comment on everything because he understood 
> the
> underlying principles [of everything]. This master often put his foot 
> in his
> mouth, in spite of those principles.

We often say, "the Devil is in the details." I wish Buddhists would 
also say "the Buddha is in the details." It is in the detailed realm of 
samvriti-satya that we must embody Buddhahood--if we ever shall.

I imagine it is one thing (and no doubt very commendable) to understand 
"the underlying principles [of everything]." It is quite another to 
master the *details* of everything. Even if Maezumi Roshi (to use an 
example of a Zen teacher I knew) understood those principles (which I 
doubt about him and all persons), it was only when he ceased to claim 
that he was thus able to *comment* and *act* on everything that he 
became, in my view, a truly good dharma teacher.

Franz Metcalf

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