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The Relationship between Master and Disciple PDF Print E-mail
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The Relationship between Master and Disciple
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I would like to talk about the relationship between Master and disciple in Buddhism, especially in Shin Buddhism, the school upon which our Buddhist centre, Three Wheels, is established.

How do disciples approach their master and how does the master respond to them? The relationship between Master and disciple varies depending on what school they both belong to.

For example, in Zen Buddhism, the most popular Buddhist school in the West, the patriarchal transmission of the truth (Enlightenment-experience), directly from person to person, is an essential part of the relationship between Master and disciple. To attain this transmission Zen Buddhists say they depend not on any letters but on the practice of 'just sitting in meditation.' Surrounded by the customary quiet of monastic life the relationship becomes highly charged, sometimes dynamic and even violent, if it proves necessary for a Master to awaken his disciple. Let me give you an example:

The Master (jp. Rinzai, ch. Lin-chi, ? - 867) took the high seat in the Hall. He said: "There is a true man of no title in your mass of naked flesh, who goes in and out from your facial gates [i.e., sense organs]. Those who have not yet testified [to the fact], look, look!" A monk came forward and asked, "Who is this true man of no title?' Rinzai came down from his chair and, taking hold of the monk by the throat, said, "Speak, speak!" The monk hesitated. Rinzai let go his hold and said, "What a worthless dirt-stick [literally, excrement-wiping spatula] this man of no title is!" Then he returned to his quarters. (The Record of Rinzai, Article 3) This story is from The Record of Lin-chi (ch. Lin-chi-lu, jp. Rinzairoku).



 
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