Greetings Monkey Mind,
Monkey Mind wrote:Yeah, I was wondering if the results of this informal poll would be similar or different if asked on the Mahayana forum: "Have you ever met a Bodhisattva?" I suspect that many practitioners believe their root teachers or Dharma masters to be fully enlightened. This is not a criticism, just an observation that on this side of the fence, people seem to be a lot more conservative about making such claims.
At one end of the spectrum you've got a devotional "guru" mentality, and on the other end you've got a "kalyana-mitta" (spiritual friend) mentality when it comes to those we take as teachers. Whilst Theravada isn't completely at one or the other (and is most realistically represented by a range, rather than an actual point) there's certainly a greater relative focus on kalyana-mitta with respect to the Mahayana, and even moreso with respect to Vajrayana. Sometimes in cross-tradition discussions this aspect is overlooked and some people supplant structures from one tradition, and are surprised (and sometimes even offended) when they find the hierarchial structures they are familiar with in their tradition or country, not being strictly adhered to, or acknowledged by other practitioners elsewhere.
Personally, the only people and things I'm inclined to "elevate", are the Buddha, the Dhamma and the noble Sangha (i.e. the Triple Gem). I find that to be the safest and most reliable approach.
"Having understood name-and-form, which is a product of prolificity,
And which is the root of all malady within and without,
He is released from bondage to the root of all maladies,
That Such-like-one is truly known as 'the one who has understood'." (Snp 3.6)
"Whether I were to preach in brief, Sāriputta, or whether I were to preach in detail, Sāriputta, or whether I were to preach both in brief or in detail, Sāriputta, rare are those who understand." (A I 333, Sāriputtasutta)