Preparing for next month's Precepts Ceremony and initiation to Zen Buddhism for some members of the Chattanooga sangha brought up some complicated emotions regarding our teacher. One teacher certainly familiar with complicated emotions, Dennis Genpo Merzel, once wrote, "It's scary to begin work with a teacher, but when suffering becomes great enough, we find the courage to push beyond fear. I want the cure, so I accept the treatment. That openness allows the teacher to begin to reveal how attached we have become to this notion of self . . . the teacher becomes a mirror that reflects how much we cling to the self."
Zen Master Dogen once said you should believe your teacher even if he says that buddha is nothing but a toad or an earthworm. "If you continually reform your discriminating mind and fundamental attachment in this way according to your teacher’s instruction, you will naturally become one with the Way. Students today, however, cling to their own discriminating minds. Their thinking is based on their own personal views that buddha must be such and such; if it goes against their ideas, they say that buddha cannot be that way. Having such an attitude and wandering here and there in delusion, searching after what conforms to their preconceptions, few of them ever make any progress in the Buddha-Way."
Being open to the teacher and setting aside our own personal views and preferences allows us to proceed along the Buddha-Way.