The Japanese Zen master Hakuin is one of the most revered and influential of all time. A collection of his letters was recently published. Some of the letters show Hakuin to have been vain, arrogant, hungry for fame, competitive and vindictive.
Some people in the Zen world are shocked. Others are trying to spin it, to make Hakuin’s neuroses into subtle teachings, in order to preserve the image of the perfect, enlightened master. I think that shock and denial miss the point to an equal degree.
Enlightenment does not change the color of a person’s eyes. You have eyes of a certain color, a body of certain height, and after enlightenment you still have them. Of course, you’re not your eyes or your body. You also have a mind, a personality of a certain type, and after enlightenment you still have it. But you are not your mind, not your personality. They are things that you have. Sometimes they are burdens that you carry, and sometimes they are useful tools.