…where students and teachers of all levels go to have “wedges and nails pulled out,” as Setcho put it, and to be sledged and sawed until they split open for real…
In many ways we have been well served by our western forebears. Young ingénue hopefuls who went east and sat and sat, at the feet of masters, scalding their knees with pain, enduring the unscalable enigmas of their inscrutable teachers, without even knowing exactly what for. Yet trusting that there was a purpose, a meaning, a value in it all. And there was, and in whatever dribbling leaky buckets they had to hand, however partially they themselves had tasted it, they tried to bring a little of the life-giving waters of the Dharma home. Kudos. Thanks.
But in other ways we have not always been so well served. Sometimes they took the briny puddles in the bucket’s bottom to be the real thing – the true gushing well of clear waters. Based on that miscalculation they proceeded to guide others whether or not they’d had authorization to do so, and wrote books, led workshops, retreats, opened centers, and spread the murky word. They appointed students as guides for others, unleashing generations of their teachings.
In the case of our own lineage, some attempt was made at redress, when the teaching-training program was established for westerners in the late 1980s, where senior students and teachers of all levels go to have “wedges and nails pulled out,” as Setcho put it, and to be sledged and sawed until they split open for real – until, in short, they are ready to shoulder just a little responsibility for leading others into the foothills of the Dharma.
Many avail themselves of this. Some don’t. Alas, those of us who need it the most will likely be the ones whose pride is strongest and therefore feel they need it the least.
May we all do what we can not to add to the confusion, not to contribute to spreading the entanglements of delusion. If we can just not add to the confusion — perhaps that in itself could be counted a small blessing.