The question is, “what does it mean to become a Buddhist Student?”
Well, first I hope that you have thought it over deeply. This is meant to be a lifelong relationship, sometimes. I say, sometimes, because in some cases it is something that may change or evolve. That is the tenet of impermanence.
Thinking it over: Well, one reference that I like to share is from the 80’s movie, Karate Kid. A young student states that he would like to study Karate with the teacher. After many refusals, the teacher decides based on the circumstances that the relationship would be appropriate for his life at this time. The reason why I state, “the circumstances”, is because most people do not fully understand the commitment, when they make the request. They just have a feeling, like for a hobby or a momentary interest, but most of the time they don’t know what they are requesting or why. The proper timing is essential.
Upon deciding to begin the relationship and the student has knocked on the door many times (being refused). He accepts him, once he knows that his intent is for the must part pure.
The teacher then goes on to place a hachimaki headband with the crest of his family on his head and states, “I promise to teach you Karate, you promise to learn”. The student confirms that he understands and the teacher says, “lets begin”. The teachers first request, “Please wash all the cars”. Is immediately met by the student saying, “What!” Thinking what does that have to do with Karate training.
In the very traditional manner the teacher then changes the position from standing to squatting to pause the moment and offer him some insight, before continuing with the agreement. He gives a analogy of walking safetly on both sides of the street as examples of the answers yes and no. Maybe is the center of the street where eventually you may be hit by traffic. “You practice Karate yes, Safe! You practice Karate no, safe! “You practice Karate maybe, sooner or later, squish, you get hit by a car.”
This situation can be applied to any aspect of our life, not only Buddhism. If you do not trust the teacher, you should not become their student. Because in every situation they will consider what they should teach you, weather you like it or not. I will care for you as my own body.
The other point is that their are basic rules, you must not abuse the teacher and will listen to his instruction. If you are simply always wishing to take in the relationship, that is abuse of your teacher. It is a relationship based on mutual respect and requires your time and consideration. However, the teacher decides the when and where to disperse the teachings, not simply based on your desires. Also, the teacher has the right to null and void the contact at anytime that it becomes necessary. That is why you must be totally responsible for what you say and your behavior. Patience is awarded to those who truly aspire.
If you are not there to learn, I will release you. Effort is expected on the student’s part. If you do not want to change, I cannot help you, I will release you.
Again, the responsibility of effort is on your part. I will not hound you or demand of you. If you say yes, let us continue, or if you say no or show no effort, the time may not be appropriate. Then I will wait or reconsider the relationship.
The relationship is not maniplating you to change and grow your life. You must want it more then anything in this world. That is what is required on your end. If you do not have it, I cannot give it to you.
This has become an issue with modern technology and teaching. You must be before my eyes to learn. If you do not come, with the proper motivation, I will be unable to instruct you. That is your fault and personal karma. Just as with your behavior, your karma is yours and you must work through it.
Also, sometimes the teacher must release the student to find their intent once again and perhaps the right teacher for them. This is not from a place of anger but of compassion. I really wish all beings to find freedom. The student is not mine but the Buddha’s and Nichiren Shonin. I have been asked to assist in sharing the little amount of teachings that I have learned.
I hope that this gives some insight into this important and necessary relationship as a Buddhist practitioner. My gate is always open for the sincere, but it is not a easy road. However, if you are brave, you will surely benefit.
Rev. Kanjin Cederman