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False Teachers & Zen

False Buddhist Meditation Teachers, Siddhi Powers, and Fake Teachings of Zen Buddhism.
Living Buddha Dechan Jueren, June 3, 2003

Los Angeles
Dari Rulai Temple
Translated by: Kuo
Transcribed by: Decheng


It's quite a common teaching for many of the modern Buddhist schools that advocate not to seek siddhi powers and so on. Why do these people say not to seek siddhi power? Very simple. They don't know any siddhi powers themselves. If their own teachers are not even accomplished…don't have any siddhi powers, therefore they will say you should not seek siddhi powers. Of course other comments/teachings say that siddhi powers are dealing with the devils and are evil practices. The so-called modern day Buddhists, most of them are really in ignorance and being fooled by the so-called teachers that don't know anything about real Buddhist teaching.

I often use this example, its quite common that you go to a Buddhist temple, bow to the master there, and very often the master will have you get a copy of the sutra and read the sutra. The most common teaching you simply recite the sutras. If you read the sutra and don't understand and ask the teacher about what is in the sutra very commonly they will say just recite the sutra over and over again, that's all you need to do.

I say this because I have seen this for myself, they are very sincere, however very ignorant followers of Buddhism. So sincere that they will sit all day long reciting the sutras over and over again. The end result is…he is not awakened in any sense. And his defilements actually are not lessened, but are getting worse.

I often wonder why people do not wise up about this kind of thing. Why do they not think about why for the past 1400 years roughly probably none, or very few actually attain Buddhahood? Because most of these Buddhist followers follow teachers who are not enlightened. If they don't follow a Buddha's guidance, how can they attain enlightenment when their teacher is not enlightened yet? So if your teacher is not a Buddha himself, then it is impossible for him to make you a Buddha.

I often use this example: If you go buy a piece of equipment and read the instruction manual, but are unable to understand it, you can recite the manual over and over and over again, but will still be unable to get the equipment to work properly. So in other words, if you really want to be able to operate the equipment efficiently and effectively then when you read the instruction manual, certainly you will want to understand everything in the manual. There's no difference in terms of attaining Buddhahood. You have to understand the words in the book…the teachings in the sutra, what exactly they mean. And you have to follow accordingly.

In the process of doing and following accordingly, then you continue to know yourself and change yourself…and to learn to discover others strengths that you can learn from…and continue to discover ones own shortcomings…ones own lacking… and to learn to forgive…really be able to forgive anyone. Only when you have really learned what forgiveness means and are able to really forgive others will you begin to have that heart of tolerance and patience. Only so is the proper path of practicing.

However modern day Buddhist followers often were duped by the teachers who don't even know about Buddhist teaching. Just like many people have written books about the topic of Zen. Many of these writers simply try to write about a topic they don't even know. It's like they are standing outside of a house talking about what's happening inside of the house. Those people have never even entered the house to find out what's really happening in there. But they will stand outside and keep talking and telling others about it. If you want to talk about what's happing in the house, you certainly have to enter that house. You can talk all day long elaborating complicated theories and conjectures about what is in the house, but once you enter the house…often its very simple.

Dharma teaching is not a set pattern or set form. The real kind of dharma is the realization where everyone will have that experience. However, not everyone's experience will be the same, each individual is different. The law is not so…there's a common saying in Buddhist teaching that the dharma, or the law is not set. In the sense that under different arising conditions of the environment the law may change, however the underlying principle is the same. In other words, the same type of dharma practice, when realized by different people, they will have different experiences and results. This kind of different change of conditions also goes with each individual…or having different effects. The real dharma practice there's no real form that will fit everybody. Therefore there's no way to put it in words in a book telling people what would be the right way or correct formula for dharma teaching.

If you can take the dharma teachings and put them in a certain course…like a syllabus in a school…and planning accordingly which day you will do each course and so on, that is not real dharma teaching. If you think about it a good example will be…there are many students under the same teacher in the same classroom, and the teacher gives them a topic to write an essay on, everyone will write different essays, they will not all be the same. Everyone comprehends things differently, they are not at the same level. How they perceive things are not the same either. Definitely the end result, the effect on each individual will also be different.

When I ask you to practice dharma with your effort, I do not mean expending your time or physical strength in that way. I mean with your effort, with your heart in the practice. If you really understand about what I mean then whatever you experience in your practice you will never say it to others. Because you know that whatever you experience will definitely be different than what others experience. If you begin to tell others what you experience and so on, and the other person does not experience that same thing, the other person may begin to think and ponder how come I don't have that experience, am I supposed to have that? …and so on. Then you are misguiding that person by sharing your experience in that way.

Perhaps you feel that you have good intentions saying that this is so and so experience you may feel. In a way if you create an obstacle for that person and misguide that person, you actually are doing yourself a disservice to undermine your own merits. Of course you may study with each other and discuss about the dharma practice because you want to familiarize yourself with the steps of the practice. But your own individual experience, your own level of awareness when you practice, you should not share this with others.

Because with the same type of problem, everyone will have different perceptions and different reactions to it. Each individual sees things differently. There's no one way of saying which is right or wrong. A few days ago I saw a picture in the newspaper, perhaps you have seen it. It's a picture of some civil rights people protesting against the Chinese government, they are going to carry out an execution of a criminal that was dealing drugs. In that photograph you can see two policemen holding onto this woman, the drug dealer who has been sentenced to go to the execution place. It would appear to be a very cruel display. She was found guilty of dealing drugs. If you really think about it, there's no question about it she was dealing in drugs. If she was dealing drugs, how many people were hurt by her? How many people will die from drug addictions? How many families will be shattered? She makes money doing these kinds of things hurting people. I will pose this question to you. Is it better, for these kinds of people, to execute them or to return them to society?

In today's world, people don't really know what is right or wrong anymore. They are so opinionated about what they believe is right or wrong, and they do not see things the same way. Perhaps because of different cultural backgrounds or different educations or perceptions of things, certainly they will have different views.

I came to the United States for four years now. For these few years I have met many people. However, for all these people I have met in the United States only one person, a professor in the university in Columbia Missouri, I believe he's a person who actually understands something about Zen.

I have visited many meditation centers. And I have to say I have discovered for myself. They are all the kind of people standing outside of the house talking about what's happening inside the house without really knowing what's going on. Then they will be pondering and making conjectures while they are still standing outside of the house not knowing what's really going on and they will make comments and start to tell people and talk about this subject. Of course, it's freedom of speech. But do you want to know the cause and effect? They are misguiding a lot of sincere seekers of the law, of the truth. In that way they are duping the people.

I have to say that 99% of these so-called meditation centers are for profit-seeking purposes. Honestly many of these people will live up to an image, dress up in such a way that will appear they are legitimate in their understanding. But in reality they do not know anything. The real Buddhist teachings were actually trampled since emperor Tang Wuzong's time. People only learn about the derivative forms of the teachings.

For example: Some of these Buddhist temples will tell their followers, if they are sick, their teachers will tell them its all karma related. They have bad karma that's why they are so ill. It's actually a common teaching in many schools to say it should not be treated, that you should endure and bear the karma and it will pass. This is actually quite common in many countries in many of the Buddhist schools. Many of these so-called Buddhist teachers will say this kind of thing, that this is karma related. But if you were to open their drawers you will see they have a stock of all kinds of pills and medicines for themselves. They will guide others and say to endure the pain, its karma. But he will not bother enduring it because he will pop a pain killer himself.

This is against the real Buddhist teachings. This is nonsense. If you think about it, its common understanding now, Buddhist teaching is about relieving the suffering of all and every being. And not only relieving the suffering of illness, also relieving the suffering of bad luck, misfortunes, and disasters and so on. And certainly to relieve the suffering of peoples defilements. If you want to be able to actually do this, to relieve people from all different kinds of sufferings, certainly you have to have dharma attainment, to be able to use your dharma to accomplish this goal.

Today there are so many so-called dharma teachers that really don't know anything about dharma teachings. They are so good with words, and such studious scholars they will come up with so many nice words to dupe the people of the real teachings.

Let's use an example here, if a person is ill, and if it really is because of bad karma, if you are truly following your religious teachings, you will have no philosophical difficulty or struggle on this thing. Your teaching is very simple, to relieve that person of their suffering, free him from the suffering. And be able to guide him, so that he will learn to do service and accumulate merits in order for him to make up for his bad karma. And teaching him different methods, so he will be able to know himself and overcome himself to free himself from his own limitation and hindrances. So maybe he will be able to free himself from his own self-limitation, and to be able to renounce his attachments, and not continue to cling on. And he will also learn to forgive others, so his heart will truly become vast. When someone's heart is that great, whatever suffering or illness he has, will naturally disappear. At the same time, the defilements in his mind will also disappear. Because now he has a much greater heart, and therefore he will free himself from his own limitations.

You must be able to teach them properly methods of knowing themselves. At the same time knowing how to use all these methods to change themselves. If you really think about it, only he who is able to change himself will be able to help change others, or to change the conditions of the environment. He must be able to do this for himself first. To do all this, you must have the right type of guidance and teaching. At the same time, the students that actually learn these kinds of methods must actually do so(practice them).

The Buddhist teachings never ask you to pick up a sutra and recite it over and over again. Reciting a sutra is not good enough. You can read all the sutras you want, if you don't really pay attention and know yourself well and change yourself, what good is it to read so many sutras? The road will only be there by walking on it. And you have to open up your own path by walking it. Tasks are only accomplished by someone actually doing it. Same idea, dharma can only be accomplished by you actually practicing it.

All our knowledge that we have, it's because we continue to learn, and ponder, and think about it. None of these things can you ever accomplish or have by simply closing your eyes and blindly talking about it. This is a very simple principle, simple reasoning that you must understand. Once you truly understand this simple reasoning then you have to do accordingly. If you say you hear what I say and you understand the point, but you don't do anything about it or take action, it's still useless for you. So I mention these very practical points.

© 1999-2003 Dari Rulai Temple

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