By J. C. Cleary
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Extra info for A Tune Beyond the Clouds: Zen Teachings from Old China
H e just had his skin totally stripped off, but he did not know that his true reality was still there. ” [W ith this disciple, Yaoshan] planted wheat but produced beans. Check it out: where was his defeat? " Mr. Bei and Mr. Hui [who uttered these sayings] were from different times and different regions, but one indictment covers their crime [of clinging to oneness]. Why didn’t [Mr. Bei] who "broke up his family and scattered his household at eighteen" get old without stopping and resting? Did he not spend his money for straw sandals [for his travels in quest of enlightenment] in vain?
This is as true today as it was a thousand years ago. Likewise, a sentimental longing for "spirituality” and a taste for the exotic does not automatically make someone a Zen student. Modern people interested in Zen should be thankful that the authentic masters of the tradition were so clear in their analysis of what can go wrong with misconceived approaches to the teaching. We should heed their warnings. Sectarian biases, blind adherence to inherited routines, dogmatism, putting on airs of wisdom and mystery, power trips and mind games: these are clear signals that the "Zen followers” in question are rank pretenders.
The lesson of Buddhist history is that there was no simple correlation between the prosperity and social standing of Buddhist institutions in a given 18 A Tune Beyond the Clouds time and place, and the real quality of the Teaching there. We should remember that the teachings of the Buddhist adepts repeatedly warned of the dangers of worldly motivations corrupting the pursuit of religious goals. According to the adepts, the most dangerous enemies of Buddhism were not its overt opponents, but rather monks and nuns with worldly aims.