Dissent - 異議 - Yìyì
Disagreement is not disloyalty,
dissenting voices must be heard-
Take care, lest you retaliate,
the messenger bears no malice.
Steel, encased in lacquer,
must not be removed
unless conflict is unavoidable.
Bones, like bonds, break all too easy.
~inspired by Deng Ming-Dao
Look to no man (or woman) as supreme authority. People often seek out leaders, priests, gurus, hermits, or other spiritually-inspiring authorities as if that individual possess a precise formula for correct living. No one does. No one can know you better than yourself. All that you may gain from a wise person is assurances of initial guidance. You may spend decades studying under an extraordinary teacher, but you should never surrender your dignity, independence, or personality for the sake of instruction.
There is no single path in life, and as such there is no single accepted way to do things in pursuit of life. There are many valid paths, even though they may differ from the way of your teacher. Diversity is beneficial for tradition. Too often, unwise elders confuse dissent with disloyalty, punishing students for the crime of having a different view. These teachers have lost touch with Tao, and are instead serving their own self-interest. In certain cases, the startling realization of impending death makes the elder clutch too strongly to their past. When such leaders become repressive, it is a sign that their time on this earth is drawing to an end.
Venerable masters used to have a saying: that they were like steel wrapped in cotton - soft on the outside but possessing phenomenal strength within. We all hope for elders such as that. But too often, old masters have lost their connection with Tao. They can no longer speak for Tao. When tested, these pompous masters are merely brittle bone, dessicated sinew, and putrid fat. How could we ever have respected such beings?