What is A Zen Master?

A Zen master is a teacher of enlightenment. In my experience that is about the only thing any two Zen masters have in common.

Each Zen master has his own style of teaching. Some Zen masters are strict and somber; some Zen masters are relaxed and funny. Some Zen masters are very easy to talk to, while other Zen masters rarely say anything.

Some Zen masters accept students readily; while other Zen masters put a person through a series of very difficult tests before working with them.

Some Zen masters are vegetarians. Some Zen masters eat meat.

Some Zen masters have girlfriends. Some Zen masters don't have sex.

Some Zen masters live alone in the mountains. Some Zen masters live in crowded cities.

Some Zen masters wear robes. Some Zen masters wear suits and ties.

All Zen masters, if they are truly enlightened, are friends to the rich and the poor, the sinner and the saint, the famous and the infamous. They see the Buddha in all beings. They don't care for codes of conduct or the praise or blame of societies. They cannot be bought or coerced, and they always tell the truth. They are essential enlightenment. They reflect reality wherever they go.

Reprinted from "The Zen Experience"
© 1987 Rama Seminars Inc.