Buddha Zhen in Utah 1994
Buddha Zhen

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Kung Fu Shifu,
Tai Chi Master,


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Every person is a Disciple of someone, whether you know it or not. Unless you grew up raised by wolves, in which case you'd be the Disciple of some wolf...

The problem is that most people don't even realize who they are a Disciple of. Child abuse is perpetrated against children mostly by people who were abused themselves. Even though an adult may hate and despise the parent who beat them with a stick, they often end up duplicating this behavior and beating their own children with a stick also.

Each person needs to analyze their behavior and recognize where they learned it. In order to take control of your life and determine your own destiny, you must first understand who you are and how you became who you are.

An Apprentice is a Disciple who learns a craft or skill from a Master. A spiritual Disciple is an Apprentice who learns a path or lifestyle from a Master.

In order to be a Disciple a person must make an effort to be a Disciple. Even if you are forced into joining a school, unless you willingly work to graduate, you will either flunk out or be kicked out. I guess you could remain in school forever...but that's imprisonment not discipleship.

In America we have heroes, but we don't call them Masters. We honor and worship a sports hero or actor while they are famous and successful, then replace them with someone else when their career fades. This discardable hero concept has ended the ancient concept of Discipleship where a hero was not just adored from afar, they were sought after, worshipped, supported, and honored even after their glory days.

The American news media have also injured the concepts of Discipleship by destroying many heros as they illuminate the mistakes and misdeeds of heros until the public is bored with them. Every hero is human. Every human makes mistakes. The less we know of Albert Einstein, the easier it is to honor him. The color of a person's socks and personal lifestyle choices of a person are not really meant to be the focus of international scrutiny. Just as each Master may have something to offer the world, the way one uses toilet paper may not be appropriate headline material for a newspaper.

I point this out because every person has something they do that may be unappealing or offensive to someone else. Be as openminded to someone else's lifestyle as you'd want them to be about your lifestyle. In doing so, you will be able to discover more of what the person has to offer despite some differences of opinion you may have with them.

The other side of this argument is that we should be careful not to follow heroes who are despicable persons in their private lives or commit heinous acts against other persons. A thousand years ago some religious leaders committed horrifying acts of violence and decadence that were kept secret from the public.

Each Disciple should allow their Master to be human yet expect their role models to achieve the highest standards possible. A Disciple inspires their Master to greatness just as a Master inspires their Disciple to greatness. Be demanding and compassionate of your leaders.

Now, let's put these human bickerings behind and move on to loyalty and devotion. Statistics prove that Americans have become less committed to marriage, business, and friendships than any civilization in history. This is why some of the traditional concepts of Discipleship need to be viewed from an antiquated ideology. The reason why people get married and have elaborate ceremonies is to make it harder to get out of. Just as marriage has ups and downs, so might your discipleship. Buddhist ceremonies and rituals are beneficial in that they enhance the Disciple's feeling of belonging and remind them of what they've already invested.

I am opposed to 'blood oaths' and threats of death, it is important to remember that the strongest commitment is the one made willingly, without threats, and without fear. If your discipleship depends on threats, fear or being kicked out of Heaven... it is probably not a worthwhile endeavor.


  Zhen Shen-Lang,  November 8, 2002

  Chinese chop of Shifu Zhen Shen-Lang
  Buddha Zhen Shen-Lang
  Patriarch, Shaolin Zen


Disciple-Z / p07-discipleZ.html
"Disciple Pages p7: The Path of the Disciple"