There was a time when I was purely peeing in my pants to become a spiritual teacher of some sort. Since Zen practice was what I chose, a Zen teacher would have been nice. Think of it -- waving words like "compassion" around, veneration from left and right, and a sure handle on what it was I assumed I would be teaching. Gimme some of that! Kool clothes, too!
But today, I feel vaguely sorry for those who are cast in a life of Zen (or any other practical-type) teacher. Talk about a load to carry. Theoretically, such a (wo)man will have actualized the teaching at hand. (I said "theoretically" so don't jump my bones!) And having entered into and to some extent tested the directions of such a bright place, the job is to lend others a hand.
But lending others a hand involves merchandising because those who are investigating the imagined merchandise demand it. Straight talk is, at the moment, beyond them, so the merchant's world is the only tentative option.
But when, day after day, week after week, year after year the teacher enters this market place to ply his trade, how hard it must be not to rest on the laurels of a mere merchant. What the hell -- lots of other people are content to be merchants, to rest easy and pass out requisite and easily obtainable bits of wisdom ... why fight it ... why not go with the flow ... why not cite the texts and revere the relics of old? It puts spaghetti on the table and it might be easy to forgive if spiritual life was just an Arab bazaar.
And so, perhaps, the honest teacher is forced to be constantly on guard ... doing his or her best not to be snared by the merchandising of the trade.
Ta Hui once said, approximately, "I have always taken a great vow that I would rather burn in hell for all eternity than to portray the Dharma as a human emotion." Now he may have been doing some sexy merchandising, but I choose to believe he may have meant it exactly ... and in so doing took another stab at parrying a merchant's paradise.
Merchant teachers will defend themselves, of course, with "skillful means" and "compassion" and other tinsel-town explanations, but I'm not so worried about them: Every excellent realm is bound to excite its merchants and mediocrities. But for those who have actually touched the ground ... I do feel sorry for them and admire their wielding of the sword.
And who would know the difference between the money-changers and the bright lights? Don't ask me -- I gave up wet-dreaming about being a 'teacher' a long time ago.