If I understand him rightly, Hubert Benoit seems to think that one does not need a Master to learn how to let go. He writes, “I have need of a Master to learn some movements that I wish to make with my limbs, but I have no need to learn how to decontract my muscles. I have need of a professor of philosophy, or of poetry in order to learn how to think in the truest or most beautiful way; I have no need of such a person if I wish to learn not to think.”
Would you please comment?
Maneesha, the content of Hubert Benoit’s statement is absolutely true, but in practice it does not happen so. It is true that if you want to learn philosophy you need a professor, but if you don’t want to learn you don’t need a professor. He has forgotten one thing, and that is: you have already learned a philosophy; now what to do with that philosophy? You will need a professor to help you to get rid of that philosophy. In practice, nobody is unconditioned, hence, somebody is needed to indicate that your mind is conditioned, and a conditioned mind cannot know the truth.
So in content, he is right, but in practice, he is just philosophizing. He understands Zen intellectually, and perhaps he has written the most complete treatise on Zen, but what he is writing, he himself has not practiced.
Practice is a totally different phenomenon from learning. You will have to be told how to relax, although you don’t need to be told. But if you don’t need – according to this man who has written extensively on Zen… If nobody needs to relax, if nobody needs to be told to relax, why are people tense? If nobody needs to be told to unlearn, then why are there not innocent people? In practice, things take a totally different standpoint.
I will agree with him philosophically, but I know practically – you have to be told how to relax. You have to be told how to unlearn. You need a master. In reality, there is no need, because you are the Buddha. But who is going to remind you? You have forgotten it for so long that you have become accustomed to the idea that you are not the Buddha.
Maneesha, even beautiful things can be said, but only with intellectual understanding. It is not Hubert Benoit’s experience. His intellectual grasp is clear, but his existential experience is missing.
From The Zen Manifesto: Freedom From Oneself, Discourse #4
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