When Buddhism goes bad?
- Bad teachers <– most common!
- Bad Sangha – ignorant and arrogant Laymen, priest, and scholars (gurus)
I disagree with u/sittingstill9 that Monks/Nuns, ministers, or Priests are the solutions because mostly they are the cause of Bad Buddhism! Just look at the chaos and damages that came out of the Sambo Kyoden Zen lineages or even the sexual and financial abuse of Kuan Um Zen. I can go on with many more examples of Japanese Zen Priest, and major Zen centers here in the USA that have had major BAD TEACHERS and taught BAD ZEN and wrong-headed Buddhism.
Meditation is a tool to center our minds, to be in a neutral position, to allow us to Practice the Buddhas teachings that is outlined in the Eight-fold Path
Do you need a Teacher (guru)?
Not everyone needs one, some students do just fine on their own and achieve the goal. Yet, some have lots of pre-conceptions (indoctrinated views) that they have to work through and renounce in order to even set foot on the path. Often those with prior religious education and study find they have to go through a process of understanding and renouncing the prior-religion.
How to find a teacher (if you need one)?
Honestly, you find a teacher who matches your own temperament and style. No teacher is universal, or for everyone. In my own personal search for my teacher I meet many Zen teachers, I sat in their Zendos and listen to them speak. Many of their students adored their teacher, told me how wonderful the teacher is – whereas I found the teacher lacking and trite.
Over a period of 10 years of searching, I did find my teacher, but it was not who I expected him to be! LOL I have been with my teacher now for over 22 years.
In China, once you are ordained you are instructed to ‘Find your teacher’. In Theravada, the monks have many teachers and is the same in Tibetan Buddhism
Do you need to Join a Zen Center/Dharma Center?
No, however, the temples and centers are where the laymen meet and where the Monk Sangha congregates at.
I personally have not set foot in a Buddhist temple or Zen Center for now 24 years, whereas prior to that I lived in temples and monastic centers.
Most of what you need to know about Buddhism and Zen can be read in books. Buddhism believes in the oral tradition (The Living Dharma) and there are Arhats out there that speak the Dharma exactly as the Buddha spoke and have the same authority when it comes to the Dharma. How do you know if the person is an Arhat? Well, you just have to listen to them, because your own future enlightenment will know! LOL
Just go forward and seek! Listen to many teachers, visit many temples, and find out for yourself what works for you and what does not.
Sure there are many frauds out there, Fake Buddhism, bad teachers, and rotten Sanghas out there, but those become self-evident once you visited and SEEN FOR YOURSELF what is what.