Wednesday, September 26, 2007

In California, They Sue

Question: Why are some teachers violent with their students? Why would a teacher beat a student? That happens in Buddhism, doesn’t it?

Answer: Sometimes it does. I can hypothecate all sorts of answers to that question, but the real answer is locked in the dynamic of the student-teacher relationship. The reason is thus highly individual. Somebody wrote a book about this and gave it a nice title: Dangerous Friend.

Question: What would be some reasons?

Answer: How should I know? You want me to speculate? The teacher may wish to show the futility of violence to a violent student. The teacher may wish to work through some karmic obstacles. The teacher may whack a student to produce an endorphin rush. I really do not know, because this is an area where the student shapes his or her own experience. So not only how should I know, but how could I know ex post facto?

Many years ago, I went to visit the xvith Karmapa. My friends all argued that I should show proper respect, and dress up for the occasion in a gold brocade robe. Therefore, I dressed up for the occasion although I felt a little silly. My reasoning was, it should not be necessary to visit the Karmapa as this or that, because the Karmapa is a come-as-you-are proposition.

Anyway, once I got there, somebody else said I should give him something. I did not have anything to give him because I thought he did not need anything. People insisted, so I scrambled around and I found a feather. I knew he liked birds, so when I came to see him, I gave him a feather.

The Karmapa accepted the feather, and lightly traced a line on my forehead with the tip. He did not say anything to me on this occasion and I did not say anything to him. That was the whole of the exchange.

We all left this venue and traveled to another venue where he was to give a lecture. On the way there, I was involved in an automobile accident, and I received a hairline fracture of the forehead that duplicated the line the Karmapa had traced.

So, should I tell people that the Karmapa once beat me up with a feather and fractured my head?

Western students really whine too much, you know?

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