Here’s a comment about my writing that I recently received:
I must point out that your writing often carries an authoritative tone, intentional or no, that is not so much questioning as a student would, but of explaining your own interpretations. This can be confusing for new people.
… my point is, in writing to clarify your own thoughts, you’re not being honest with the reader. By taking the position of explaining something (for your own benefit), you are putting yourself out there as an authority that has something to explain (which leads to the confusion of others looking for guidance).
(“Rinzai Zen Discussion”, Facebook public group)
The complaint here is really that I’m not a lineage-holding, authorized teacher in any wisdom tradition, and yet I comment on texts that belong to the Buddhist tradition, and I comment on seated meditation as it is practiced in Zen Buddhism. Apparently the author of the criticism feels that if I am not an authorized teacher, nothing that I write on these topics can be appropriate for a Zen student to read, and he fears that the tone with which I write will cause some Zen students or potential Zen students to think otherwise.
I can only say, that I can’t help the style with which I write. If I did not strive to be beyond doubt in what I have to say, I might not find the words I myself need to hear.
If anyone should be confused by what I have to say or the manner in which I say it, I would recommend the advice given by Gautama the Buddha twenty-five hundred years ago:
Therefore… be ye lamps unto yourselves. Be ye a refuge unto yourselves. Betake yourselves to no external refuge. Hold fast to the Truth as a lamp. Hold fast as a refuge to the Truth. Look not for refuge to any one besides yourselves. And how… is (one) to be a lamp unto (oneself), a refuge unto (oneself), betaking (oneself) to no external refuge, holding fast to the Truth as a lamp, holding fast as a refuge to the Truth, looking not for refuge to any one besides (oneself)?
Herein, … (one) continues, as to the body, so to look upon the body that (one) remains strenuous, self-possessed, and mindful, having overcome both the hankering and the dejection common in the world. [And in the same way] as to feelings… moods… ideas, (one) continues so to look upon each that (one) remains strenuous, self-possessed, and mindful, having overcome both the hankering and the dejection common in the world.
(Digha Nikaya ii 100, Pali Text Society DN Vol. II pg 108)