Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Count Your Breaths

If your teacher is not a fake, he or she will tell you to count your breaths. If he or she advises you to do something else at the outset of your practice, you have a fake teacher. Use this criterion and find somebody genuine.


  1. Roshi,

    Thank you for this teaching, but I have one question.

    If this is true then Uchiyama Roshi and all of those that come from his lineage would be fakes.

    I'm not being confrontational as I highly respect your teaching. I actually admire such a strong stance, I'm just wondering your reasoning.



  2. Made my day!

    Hoping all is well.


  3. Hey, I like my fake teacher: We have a lot in common!!!




  4. There is an interesting discussion about this posting by Roshi on Zen Forum International. Most of the people and priests seem to say it is off base and too extreme.

  5. It doesn't matter what they say there really.


  6. Dear Aitken Roshi,

    Thank you for this excellent Dharma teaching!

    I hope that genuine students take it to heart. I would only add that this can only narrow the field a bit; of the teachers that do advise counting your breaths, many of them are also fakes. What else can demonstrate a fake teacher?

    A few indicators I would include are:

    Teachers that say reading and study are not required, or worse, hindrances on the Zen path.

    Teachers that fail to explain the nature of "makyo" to novices, and offer guidance on how to deal with it if it occurs.

    Teachers that suggest teachers are infallible.

    Teachers that describe Zen koans as "devices" to frustrate the intellect, or as "explanations" of Buddhist principles, or as "following a logical system" in which they can be understood by applying a "system" of logical study.

    Teachers that suggest enlightenment is more likely to occur for students that sit in the Roshi's lap.

    Of course I could be wrong...

    Thanks again!

    Three Full Bows.

    Ted Biringer

  7. I guess... fake or not, it's a matter of perspective. Without judgement, isn't it just it is?

  8. It takes a lot of courage to stand up and say what you think knowing many will not approve, sometimes extreme measures are called for.

    I am very grateful for being taught to count the breath because I realised that there really was ONLY 1, ONLY 2, ONLY 3. Nothing else. A wonderful formation containing the Universe, full and complete.

    I was lucky, I met a genuine one!

  9. Ted asked: "What else can demonstrate a fake teacher?"

    I would add:

    Those who mistake their own crude beliefs and opinions about the Buddha-dharma as the Buddha-dharma.



  10. Fake? Isn't this manifested existence fake? Isn't this mind full of words fake? Isn't the idea that there are such things as "teachers" fake. The One obviously enjoys all of this fakery! We are all the One, so isn't it a Hoot!

  11. Really? Wow. I mean, really?!?!


  13. I just breathe in and out :-)

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Oh! Don’t say anything.
    Say anything…

    We are all teachers.
    We are all students.

    What is the teaching?
    It can be the cry of a baby, the song of a bird; the song of a baby, the cry of a bird.

    When it comes to such questions pertaining to edification;
    I remember Yamada Koan Roshi, when he said:

    We left it open, but watch what you accept.
    We can become very vulnerable when we are completely open.

    And so; what we accept is left up to us.
    Is the master home?

    Home, yes; how could it be other?

    I hope this doesn’t add to the confusion; adding to the confusion. 

    Good Day!

    O. B. Ray

  16. Oh! By the way.
    I practice and teach breath counting from time to time.
    But don't let that limit you.
    Don't stop there...
    O. B. Ray

  17. By the way,

    I find labeling or name calling someone as a “fake” to be less enlightening,
    And not a useful practice (right practice),

    Instead I would try to inspire or give insight (to teachers).

    O. B. Ray

  18. Thanks Roshi.
    My teachers say lots of stuff; sometimes I'm able to hear it as "count your breaths".
    May all be well,

  19. counting the breaths is useful, but a discerning mind, one that is on thelook out for arrogance, mystification and a lack of generous humility is better at discerning a fake..old student of Suzuki who left early realizing that the next "lead' was not fit to be a "teacher"

  20. Dear Aitken Roshi,

    Thank you for this teaching. Thank you for keeping Dogen's torch crackling...

    What he calls ‘distinguishing a Buddha’ means being clear in realizing what the merits of a Buddha are, both as to their cause and as to their result. It is being able to clearly distinguish between the genuine and the fake, the mundane and the saintly.
    Shobogenzo, Shukke Kudoku, Hubert Nearman

    This is right belief and the right conclusion. But many accept what they know to be fake. The stupidity of living beings who insult the great prajñā is pitiful and sad.
    Shobogenzo, Bussho, Gudo Nishijima & Mike Cross

    Ted Biringer

  21. Sort of sounds like a false profit warning...