Meditation Teachers - Is One Needed, Essential, Important?
(An Interview with Genko Rainwater, Part 5)
Meditation How: Thank you. I want to ask you to briefly describe what you believe is the most positive rendition one might expect to grow into— of what is now still experienced as "negative emotion". Do you really believe one (we) are capable of ongoing bliss? We have both the laughing and the angry Buddha, do we not?
I feel that we are coming to a natural conclusion of this meditation interview. You have provided a good solid example of the meditation experience in general—and of yours in particular. Thank you for that. I do have one more question in addition to the one above, and that is as to whether you feel that a master or teacher is necessary. If one is not moved to seek out meditation teachers, do you believe that something is awry?
Genko: I suppose I don't believe that humans are capable of 24-7 bliss, at least not as it is often portrayed. Part of being human is that we are fallible, even as we are glorious and noble. The Buddha's All-Knowledge is not encyclopedic knowledge but the ability to see through causes and conditions, to see what is in front of him or her clearly. Everything that has happened to me is part of what has given me the insights I have so far.
I have been told that it is possible to be in perfect equanimity even when terrified, and I believe that is true, and I am beginning to experience it. Okay, I'm terrified. Simply accept it that I'm terrified. I've been terrified before, and will be so again. This terror is simply the current state of weather, maybe a thunderstorm, maybe a blizzard. Hunker down, accept. And watch it pass, as it will, eventually. At the very least, I find negative mind states instructive, capable of teaching me, if I can be open to their teaching. This is not the same as believing in the terror and reacting negatively to it. It has more to do with learning to sit still and take a step back to observe.
In regard to meditation teachers— my experience has been that a teacher is essential. I can't speak for others. It does seem to me that it is too easy to go astray, because habit energy is so strong and coping mechanisms so ingrained, without someone observing from the outside who has experience with this stuff. In my case, I also really have needed someone human whom I could learn to trust, who wouldn't accept my bullshit or give me any more, who would care for, trust, and encourage me, give me hints as to how to proceed, monitor to make sure I was able to continue with what I was doing, etc.
I needed someone absolutely ethical, experienced, and unfailingly kind—someone who can embody the Buddha for me. My teacher(s) have provided this for me, and have earned my undying gratitude and devotion. Because of them, I am paradoxically more able to be truly myself. I hope to be able to pass this on to others.
Meditation How: You say that your hope is to pass on some of this teaching to others. As your responses may have been somewhat limited by my curiosity and questions, is there anything you would like to add here that might encourage or help those new to meditation— something we have not covered in this interview thus far?
Genko: I like to tell those who come to me for interviews (often in connection with a class), especially young people, but it applies equally to us older types, that we each have within us a voice sometimes called Way-Seeking Mind. If we can get quiet enough to listen to it, it will guide us where we need to go. We can trust it. And a meditation practice can look like it's not accomplishing anything. But it is. We can trust that as well.
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