On Collecting Lineages

By Paul Fretter and Wee Kee Jin

Some people cite the names of teachers they have studied with, either in depth or only in passing, with the aim of promoting their own reputation, school or system. While it is polite to acknowledge the names of teachers whom you have studied with, it can be another thing entirely to claim a ‘lineage’ for the purposes of promoting yourself or your own system.

Firstly, just because you have learned from a good teacher it does not mean that you yourself will be good, because skill and understanding is not inherited from your teacher and can only come from your own practice. You should not borrow the names of others merely to give your own system the appearance of credibility, and instead you should let your own skill do the talking.

Secondly, until you yourself have developed some of the skill and understanding of your teacher your relationship with them is in name only, and not in the art. This may take many years for the right communication and trust to develop, and cannot be achieved by learning from the teacher for a few days or weeks, even if sprinkled over a number of years.

Third, by citing many teachers, how can one person possibly have learned so much about each of their systems which themselves require a lifetime of study, and to then claim they understand enough to pass on their collective knowledge and cite them as pillars of their own system. This is self-delusional and also gives a dishonest impression to the public.

Fourth, if you have not learned sufficient of a teacher’s system to legitimately say your knowledge is representative, then it is not appropriate. This is equivalent to claiming a degree from a University, when you only attended a few of the early lectures and then left the course early.

Paul Fretter and Wee Kee Jin