The Marks of the true Masters

Ever curious about a true master?
   What would a true master do in this world?
   Want to know what is inside an "enlightened" mind?
   What do one really achieve being a true master?
   Or would you like to take up the path as a true master?

Knocking on the Gateless Gate
   First, I would like to clarify that a true master is not a real person, there were never a person entitled as such, not a real title.  "True masters" is merely a figure of speech, a term I made up to coin a small group of people. Thus, a true master is not really a true master, but because there is a lag of word to describe, therefore I use the word "True Master". Others may call various different name...

   Spending most of my life since the age of fourteen, learning, seeking, hoping to find a true master, "a wizard kind...," I thought. I used to dream that someday, down from the street, a true master would miraculously appear, took me as a student, and showed all the secret knowledges. I would learn all the cool stuffs, mystical things, magic stuffs,... and then became a young master myself! (that sort of thing still happens in the far east Asia sometimes, I thought....)

   Well, it never did happen to me that way, ... bummer..., but I was able to asorb the knowledge from a few remarkable minds over the years searching, mostly from the books, from the life stories;
never found a living true master who is completely free from illusions though. Oftentimes, I learned many valuable lessons from ordinary events, with the help of ordinary people who know less than myself, surprisingly!

   Many zen stories told of various cases where certain zen masters came to a realization over ordinary things that happened unexpectedly when they were still zen students. Even the sixth patriach Hui Neng came to his first realization when he overheard a layperson reciting the Diamond sutra, though the person recited the sutra himself didn't come to any realization despite chanting it so many times.


   From the things I learned, first there are the masters, (whom can be found anytime, anywhere in the world.) And then there are the TRUE masters. The distinction between the first kind and the latter are the levels of honesty in their motives, ambitions, and intentions. The first would be somewhat distracted, more ambiguous, or seemed concern about the fruits of their financial "gains", "reputation", or "deeds" they have done. Most of the "masters" would therefore limit or revolve their lives around these things: teaching, expansion, build temple, create a reputation, creditability, and more expansion; some even create their own "doctrine", cult, or go global...

   However for the TRUE masters, the most concerns are to seek the path unceasingly, never satisfy with their achievements, until they completely reach the goal. The true masters can always see through their ignorance and admit their weaknesses. Their main goal is to truly break free from the karmic law, the illusions, and then show the way to others, but not beforehand, not when they were still ignorant, which may be likened to "a blind leading the blind". Thus, one who faithfully sets his goal on this path of life, does it quietly, and ignores all personal or egoistic gains.
The True masters, therefore,  are Extremely, extremely rare. So rare that it seemed they only appeared at the rate of one or two every 400, 500 years.

   Now, there are also the "burst" periods when a highly enlightened True master came along, he would then form a circle of concentrating, emerging, and gathering of other true masters. Such periods can be observed in the time of the Buddha, Jesus, Bodhidharma, and Hui Neng...

Here is an example of the synchronization of the burst periods:

Buddha's era: 500  BC
Jesus' era:      0     BC
Bodhidharma: 500  AD
Hui-Neng:    ~630-700 AD
Soto-Rinzai  ~900-1100 AD

These are the periods when there were the great aggregrations of the True Masters.


Most of the true masters are different from each others in many ways: characters, nationality, personality, appearances, faiths, belief, knowledge.  But there are some qualities that you can find they all have in common. These qualities or virtues are their exclusive marks:

1. The true masters possess solid knowledge about the absolute yet elusive Truth, the true Dharma, not by what they have learned, but what comes spontaneously from within, shined forth through their training, "realizations", and practice, which cast away all doubts in their minds. This knowledge eventually becomes the source of wisdom that will guide them in life.

2. Determination and self-control, self-discipline. (No master can be true master without practicing what he preaches.)

3. The absence of greeds and all selfish desires, -- which were replaced by wisdom, peace, love, and compassion. The true masters freed themselves from all attachments and regards their gains, fame, or pride as the distractions which hindered their progress on the true path.

  What would a true master gain?

   Absolute freedom, the true knowledge of life without illusions, and the ability to control his own destiny.

   So that's how a true master going thru life, not to seek fame or riches, but quietly seeks to free oneself from all attachments and boundaries which hold the free spirit down: greeds, lust, desires, fame, materialism. After all, the paths are pretty well laid out by the previous enlightened masters such as Jesus, Buddha, Bodhidharma, Hui Neng, Basui... The needed thing now may not be prolitising, recruiting, shuffling religions faiths, but more honest people working the path toward their spiritual freedom and salvation. It's may be the time now to call for quality instead of quantities.

  Two Zen Stories...

     Regarding re-incarnation, detachment:

    A student asked an old zen master,
   " Master, what will you do after you passed away?"
   " I will be an ox chewing grass by that foothill under the temple." The master replied.
   " Can I come with you?"  Asked the student.
    The master said, "Don't forget to bring along a pack of hay..."

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   The Truth that has not been taught:

   A monk asked Nansen, "Is there any Dharma that has not been preached to the people?" Nansen answered, "There is." "What is the truth that has not been taught?" asked the monk.  Nansen said, "It is not mind; it is not Buddha; it is not things."

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