Author Topic: Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching  (Read 600 times)

Offline Chaz

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Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching
« on: November 03, 2019, 06:46:25 am »
We hear about the downfall of previously respected teachers all the time.  Too much in my opinion. 

One of the usual outcomes of this disgrace is that the teachings given by the disgraced teacher meet a similar fate.  Trungpa was an alchohlic and known for his many affairs.  As a result, and on the basis of that, his teachings are often dismissed as worthless.  More recently Pema Chodron was caught up in the sex abuse scandal surrponding Trungpa's sone Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.  Needing no introduction, Ani Pema has been one of the most beloved teachers in the western buddhist world The involvment, or perhaps lack of it, has prompted people to dismer her and her teachings as well.

While I am shocked and even abhorent, I wonder if it is wise to simply dismiss teaching along with the teacher.

Ani Pema's books and teachings have respected, powerful, beneficial, and really wonderful.  Does the fact that she chose to not believe someone, mean that a lifetime of teaching is suddenly worthless?

Sidartha abandoned his wife and child.  Is the Dharma worthless?

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2019, 02:15:58 pm »
Since no one is perfect aside from the Buddha himself, the only problem I have with Trungpa's sexual and addiction problems is his denial of them. Instead, he claims it all to be the "skillful means" he was allowed to use as a highly enlightened being. How can one separate the message from the messenger when he's unwilling to admit his flaws? I don't care that Pema Chodron was divorced twice before becoming a nun, but she never claims to be a superior being.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2019, 02:18:33 pm by Dharma Flower »

Offline Chaz

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Re: Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2019, 02:45:12 pm »
You miss the point, how flawed teachers are is not the question.  Rather, are the teachings they gave somehow diminished by the teacher's flawed humanity?

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2019, 03:05:58 pm »
You miss the point, how flawed teachers are is not the question.  Rather, are the teachings they gave somehow diminished by the teacher's flawed humanity?

Yes, if they deny that their flaws exist in the first place.

Offline Chaz

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Re: Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2019, 03:44:38 pm »
You miss the point, how flawed teachers are is not the question.  Rather, are the teachings they gave somehow diminished by the teacher's flawed humanity?

Yes, if they deny that their flaws exist in the first place.

OK, so the Buddha abandoning his wife an child gets a pass?

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2019, 04:50:24 pm »
You miss the point, how flawed teachers are is not the question.  Rather, are the teachings they gave somehow diminished by the teacher's flawed humanity?

Yes, if they deny that their flaws exist in the first place.

OK, so the Buddha abandoning his wife an child gets a pass?

Didn't they become monastics and later arahants?

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2019, 09:13:22 pm »
I do feel that since Sogyal Rinpoche is recently deceased, we should lay off bad talking him. His followers and supporters need time to grieve his death.

Offline stevie

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Re: Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2019, 03:22:02 am »
The world knows persons and the world identifies persons with what they say and do. If what is done does not correspond to what is said by the person conceived by the world then the world considers the person and what they say to lack trustworthiness.
Therefore those who decide to give Dharma teachings should have attained a level of maturity through practicing the path so that what they do corresponds to what they teach. And those who have not attained that level of maturity should abstain from giving Dharma teachings. Why? Because the Dharma teachings have been given to the world by the Buddha for the benefit of the world and not to cause conflict and doubt.

 :anjali:

Offline Chaz

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Re: Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2019, 05:39:31 am »

OK, so the Buddha abandoning his wife an child gets a pass?

Didn't they become monastics and later arahants?

That's what they say.

Does that sort of thing make a difference?  Why?

Offline Chaz

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Re: Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2019, 05:59:27 am »
those who decide to give Dharma teachings should have attained a level of maturity through practicing the path so that what they do corresponds to what they teach.

I agree.

However, in the case of Trungpa, we have a situation where certain of his teachings had no bearing on his private life.  For instance, his earliest teachings, like those on Spiritual Materialism, are considered to be ground-breaking in their presentation.  They have nothing directly related to sex, or exessive drinking, except that our opinions on them may be rooted in Spiritual Materialism.  That may be a convenient excuse, but it may not be either.

So, if Trungpa is disgraced, are those teachings on Spiritual Materialism disgraced as well.

I don't get it.

Trungpa's contemporaries admittedto Rinpoche's shortcomings and he never denied them either.   His trustworthiness as a Dharma teacher was almost never in question.  The condemnations came largely after his death.  I adore his teachings, but have struggled for years with the man.  He was everything good and everything bad anyone has ever said about him, but I can't bring myself to deny his genius.

Offline stevie

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Re: Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2019, 02:16:34 am »
It really depends on whether one shares the view of the world. And it seems to depend on the view one holds as to teachers and their teachings, whether one identifies oneself with teachers and their teachings.

 :anjali:

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2019, 04:01:02 am »
For me, Buddhism has the advantage of an underlying simple message based on trying things out for yourself rather than having to merely take what others say for granted. I can sit and meditate and change will happen, whether have a teacher or not. Where it falls down is linking too closely specific patterns of behaviour with such practice, and being told the measure of the success of the practice is how close your behaviour is to those particular patterns. Any leader who insists that this is the case and then doesn't follow them negates their particular authority to supervise such a practice, but does not necessarily negate the practice itself.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Gibbon

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Re: Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2019, 02:44:23 pm »
There is no progress on the path without faith, and the Western mind is resistant to developing it.  Now, thanks to the Internet, rumors spread instantaneously.  A judgemental mob forms and piles on.  Beings grasp on to judgement and miss out on the essence of the path -- so tragic.

Faith is a quantum-like dot in the center of your heart that opens into a flower of realization.  Once it is blocked, no further progress is made, so it needs to be preserved at any cost. 

I have read little of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche's, teachings, but I do have respect for him (as do my own teachers).

Offline Chaz

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Re: Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2019, 06:38:33 am »
There is no progress on the path without faith, and the Western mind is resistant to developing it.  Now, thanks to the Internet, rumors spread instantaneously.  A judgemental mob forms and piles on.  Beings grasp on to judgement and miss out on the essence of the path -- so tragic.

It is too bad. 

I think oe of the main problems is that we tend to refuse these teachers any sort of basic human qualities and raise them up on pedestals, far above the rest of us.  We want to seem them as perfect in the face of our own imperfection.  We want to see, in them, what we aspire to be and not what the genuinely are.  We impose this on them.  WE even have scripture to reinforce this imposition.

Then when we discover some glaring example of ordinary humanity, like addiction, or sexual activity, we are offended.  We are offended by people for their not living up to our own expectations and ideals and not any unique shortcoming they may have. 

As long as we percieve they are living up to our expectations, their teachings are genuine.  The second they fall from grace their teachings become shit.  I have to ask, what has changed in the teachings?  How can a teacher's drinking problem, somehow, miraculously, transform teachings once held dear into something smelly stuck to the sole of your shoe?

Who is the fool here?


Take Trungpa, yet, again.  It was mentioned earlier that he claimed his sexual exploits were an excercise in skillful means.  The mention included a tone that cast shade on that assertion.  First of all, I don't know if Trungpa actually said that or not.  Next, who am I to pass judgement on such a statement, even with the backing of scripture?  In my practice lineage, one of the founders was struck violently by his Guru.  That's something most of us would object to.  Not very skillfull, right?   It's also said that in that instant, he attained enlightenment.  Ok, riddle me that.

But to circle back, oftentimes are judgment is based on what we expect and not on reality.

Offline stevie

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Re: Disgraced Teacher, Disgraced Teaching
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2019, 08:53:05 am »
What do I conclude from my two posts above?

1. contrary to the view of the world the teacher as person is not more important than any other being in the world
2. only the teachings are important
3. if a teacher gives a teaching then observe only those parts of his teachings that resonate with you.

I.e. there is no need to follow a person and  there is no need to follow the whole of a person's teachings if only a part of the teaching resonates with you.

Of course my conclusions might conflict with the attitude cultivated towards teachers as persons in some traditions. But from my perspective my conclusions are appropriate in the context of dharma practice.

One may even extend the scope of meaning of 'teaching' to include the behaviour of a teacher. Why should 'teaching' refer only to spoken words? But I think in case of behaviour that conflicts with the conventions of the world the interpretation of that 'teaching' might be extraordinary difficult even for advanced practitioners.


 :anjali:
« Last Edit: November 10, 2019, 08:56:49 am by stevie »

 


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