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The Spiritual Busybodies Who Invade a Spiritual Institution

spiritual salesmanA continuation of “Words Are Not Wisdom”, an evaluation of those who do not put spiritual principles into action.

Closely related to the mental librarians (mentioned in the last article), though vastly inferior to them intellectually, are the “movers and shakers” that invade virtually every spiritual institution that shows promise of growth and influence.

These people neither study nor practice the principles and disciplines of those groups, yet they insinuate themselves into administrative positions and eventually control everything, turning it into an opportunity for both profit and power. They are always “busy” in the “work” of the institution (which they often refer to as “the Work” or “this Work”), darting here and there and hurling directives everywhere.

The dupes of the organization stand aside in awe at their “dedication” and practical abilities, not knowing they are being sheared like sheep in body (pocketbook), mind, and spirit.

A wise analysis

The Venerable Ming Zhen Shakya, in The Seventh World of Chan Buddhism, discusses these people who turn Zendos into Zen-do’s. They are:

“practical people who excel in improving earthly existence. [In the spiritual organization they] are always involved in non-spiritual activities, doing jobs which they perform with exemplary efficiency. Their strategy is simply to become indispensable and it succeeds admirably since, invariably, they are fearless and proficient in all tasks which scare the wits out of Chan masters and other spiritual persons. They know how to fill out forms, handle media, arrange excursions, regulate crowds, collect fees, profitably manufacture and peddle religious articles and other souvenir items, compile mailing lists, and operate restaurants, bakeries, retreats, hostelries, etc. When it comes to developing monastery real estate and putting the bite on tourists, pilgrims and congregation members to pay for the improvements, [they] have no peers.”

But meanwhile they are a deadweight on the spiritual dimension of the organization and often stifle it altogether, while making it well-known and very profitable.

“[They] simply do not understand that Chan is Buddhism and Buddhism is a religion, a religion of salvation. Though Buddhism may well provide for such ancillary functions, it is not a health club or a social center, a guild, an arts and crafts studio, a sanitarium, a study group, a philanthropical society, a boarding house or a profit making enterprise. The aim of Buddhism is not to cope with earthly existence but to transcend it, not to gain material comfort but to dispense with the notion of it, not to enhance or to rehabilitate reputations, but to be born anew without earthly identity in the glorious anonymity of Buddha Nature. Being a good fund raiser is a little off the mark.”

So is being a good preacher, teacher, author and debater when there is no inner realization. For example one highly-renowned American teacher, lecturer, and writer on Buddhist meditation never meditates except in his classes, when he can hardly do otherwise. The motto seems to be: Monkey talk, monkey write, monkey teach; but monkey not do.

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