Author Topic: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?  (Read 30094 times)

Offline paracelsus

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #195 on: March 11, 2019, 04:31:11 pm »

Some teachers are useful, some are not, depending on the needs of the student.
The question “Is a Teacher necessary?” is interesting because, as I understand the history, the Buddha had several teachers and followed various paths before deciding to go it alone, through which he developed his Middle Path which brought the ultimate result.

That isn’t to say the training which failed to deliver was of no worth, more that it wasn’t the whole story. I don’t doubt his training in ascetic practices helped develop concentration and discipline but this doesn’t mean that those particular practices were necessary. There are non-extreme ways to accomplish that end.

I have a quite a few Tibetan books (translations) teaching Dzogchen and other methods, but I tend to wander in my interest when the necessity for a guru is stressed, mainly because I don’t have one, and also because I have read often that the “truth” or awakening isn’t some Thing that can be gifted or transferred.
For instance, I’m suspicious of the “Empowerments” due to knowing people who received such from other traditions or cults, and always thought of them as a sort of hypnosis rather than a genuine developing of the person. The result seemed to be a person a bit “off the planet” rather than someone in unity with it and themselves.   

I understand that Awakening comes through an absence of the aspects of our nature which block it. (the hinderances) This happens with the development of the awakening factors through the practice of virtue. Properly directed Mindfulness is a key practice. Until we manage to do this we are all corrupt in a sense, but deceit and corruption in a guru would turn me away from them immediately. I have enough to do coping with my own corruption.

The written teachings, providing they are the right ones, might be guidance enough but won’t give feedback, so would require the practitioner to be well read enough to recognise their own progress and failing and have a serious and level head to avoid the pitfalls, e.g. of believing that a satori or two mean one is home and dry.

 :om:

Offline Chaz

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #196 on: March 11, 2019, 06:06:35 pm »
deceit and corruption in a guru would turn me away from them immediately.

OK, then, how about this:

We already know the Buddha left his wife and child.  A total dick move, right?

He resisted ordaining women, right?  In a #metoo age, that's uber-dickish

Lets say, records, contemporary with the Buddha, come to light.  Lets say the portray the Buddha as a real a-hole.  Treats monks "poorly".  Hates women.  Takes a lover or two.

Yet, he gives all the teachings we know and love.

Would you abandon the Buddha because of this, or knowing he was a fully enlightened Buddha, set aside your opinion of his shortcomings continue your study and practice?

Base on what I quoted, and in all fairness, you'd have to walk, right?

Offline paracelsus

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #197 on: March 12, 2019, 03:35:35 pm »
deceit and corruption in a guru would turn me away from them immediately.

OK, then, how about this:

We already know the Buddha left his wife and child.  A total dick move, right?

He resisted ordaining women, right?  In a #metoo age, that's uber-dickish

Lets say, records, contemporary with the Buddha, come to light.  Lets say the portray the Buddha as a real a-hole.  Treats monks "poorly".  Hates women.  Takes a lover or two.

Yet, he gives all the teachings we know and love.

Would you abandon the Buddha because of this, or knowing he was a fully enlightened Buddha, set aside your opinion of his shortcomings continue your study and practice?

Base on what I quoted, and in all fairness, you'd have to walk, right?

Yes, I’d walk. If the Buddha was the sort of person you describe, I would seriously doubt the efficacy of the teachings, certainly that he had accomplished what he claimed to have, since with those afflictions he couldn’t have. Any teacher committing gross breaches of the precepts is obviously unable to practice what they preach and I’d rather learn from my own efforts and observation.

It is quite possible that I could say something which was true to buddhist teaching and not be a practitioner myself, but I wouldn't expect anyone to take me as an example of the worth of what I said.  The story has it that the Buddha demonstrated his accomplishment by the way he lived, and the worth of the lessons he passed on is proven by ardent and diligent practice, only.
I wouldn't expect to learn to make pottery from someone who couldn't throw a pot or fire a kiln.

As is my way, I doubt the teachings all the way through and don’t believe a word of them at face value, but I do know that the practice that I do is of  benefit and that what works is what I follow. I also don’t “love” the teachings any more than I love a box of tools. I do enjoy a good quality ratchet spanner though, because it does make the job quicker and easier.

I also think that your response is unnecessarily disrespectful. The purity of the aim of the teaching is not helped by the crass scenario you have drawn, which is now embedded in the mind-stream (neural tissue) of anyone who has read it.

 :om:


Offline Chaz

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #198 on: March 13, 2019, 05:00:13 pm »
deceit and corruption in a guru would turn me away from them immediately.

OK, then, how about this:

We already know the Buddha left his wife and child.  A total dick move, right?

He resisted ordaining women, right?  In a #metoo age, that's uber-dickish

Lets say, records, contemporary with the Buddha, come to light.  Lets say the portray the Buddha as a real a-hole.  Treats monks "poorly".  Hates women.  Takes a lover or two.

Yet, he gives all the teachings we know and love.

Would you abandon the Buddha because of this, or knowing he was a fully enlightened Buddha, set aside your opinion of his shortcomings continue your study and practice?

Base on what I quoted, and in all fairness, you'd have to walk, right?

Yes, I’d walk. If the Buddha was the sort of person you describe, I would seriously doubt the efficacy of the teachings, certainly that he had accomplished what he claimed to have, since with those afflictions he couldn’t have. Any teacher committing gross breaches of the precepts is obviously unable to practice what they preach.

Or just don't.

Everything a Buddha does, EVERYTHING, is done for the benefit of beings.  It doesn't matter what.

If you think that a Buddha's conduct somehow affects the Buddha's teaching, then I'd suggest that on you, not the Buddha.  The truth is the truth, no matter who speaks it.

What done in the the scenario you present is that you are trying to force a teaccher into your conception of what the teacher should be.  Even if you're drawing on "scripture"  it's still your judgement.  Its still your karma.

Chogyam Trungpa called it Spiritual Materialism.


Quote
I also think that your response is unnecessarily disrespectful. The purity of the aim of the teaching is not helped by the crass scenario you have drawn, which is now embedded in the mind-stream (neural tissue) of anyone who has read it.

No, it's called "questioning".  We all know (or should know), that the Buddha abandoned his wife and newborn child.  We also know that he strenuously resisted ordaining women.  Niether are qualities that would endear him to a modern western mindset.  Yet, many Buddhists overlook this and follow him anyway.  I assume you're aware of these things.  So it's not crass or distrespectfull.  I added a theoretical possibility  of even more damning evidence.  Hell, if he'd abandon his wife, what wouldn't he do?  So if you accept the Buddha abandoning his wife and child, and demonstrating a misogynistic bent where it comes to ordination, how far are you willing to go?  Where do you draw the line? 

His own companions abandoned the Buddha when he gave up his life  of austerity.  He defied their concepts of what a spiritual path should be.  Later, after his Enlightenment, the Buddha returned to his companions, who politely listed.  5 of them achieived enlightement on the spot as the Buddha delivered his first sermon on the Four Noble Truths.  His old companions may have been a bit hastey in their repudiation of the Buddha-To-Be, but they were wise enough to lend an honest ear to what he had to say upon his return. 






Offline paracelsus

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #199 on: March 13, 2019, 08:57:26 pm »
deceit and corruption in a guru would turn me away from them immediately.

OK, then, how about this:

We already know the Buddha left his wife and child.  A total dick move, right?

He resisted ordaining women, right?  In a #metoo age, that's uber-dickish

Lets say, records, contemporary with the Buddha, come to light.  Lets say the portray the Buddha as a real a-hole.  Treats monks "poorly".  Hates women.  Takes a lover or two.

Yet, he gives all the teachings we know and love.

Would you abandon the Buddha because of this, or knowing he was a fully enlightened Buddha, set aside your opinion of his shortcomings continue your study and practice?

Base on what I quoted, and in all fairness, you'd have to walk, right?

Yes, I’d walk. If the Buddha was the sort of person you describe, I would seriously doubt the efficacy of the teachings, certainly that he had accomplished what he claimed to have, since with those afflictions he couldn’t have. Any teacher committing gross breaches of the precepts is obviously unable to practice what they preach.

Or just don't.

Probably can't

Everything a Buddha does, EVERYTHING, is done for the benefit of beings.  It doesn't matter what.

   What the historical Buddha did, he did for the good of all beings. Of course it mattered what he did, because it had to be for the good, and would have been able to be explained in the context of the circumstances if we had the details.



If you think that a Buddha's conduct somehow affects the Buddha's teaching, then I'd suggest that on you, not the Buddha.  The truth is the truth, no matter who speaks it.



   “The truth is the truth” and I think it makes a great deal of difference who speaks it. One who knows from practical experience, or one who is just quoting from books or repeating someone else’s words? There is a difference.
   I learn a lot from practices derived from what I read in books.  The books are well behaved and never throw themselves at the cat in anger, nor do they go on a bender at the local pub, or pick up strange journals on street corners. If they did I’d send them to the recycling.


What done in the the scenario you present is that you are trying to force a teaccher into your conception of what the teacher should be.  Even if you're drawing on "scripture"  it's still your judgement.  Its still your karma.

   I’m not dictating what constitutes a valid teacher at all, but why would you go to a teacher who couldn’t or wouldn’t practice what they tried to teach?
   The Buddha is held up as an exemplar of the results and worth of the highest spiritual practices. He wasn’t just another half baked guru cashing in on the spiritual ignorance of the time.    Modern day teachers might be as casual about things as you accept from them, but that’s not how I like to imagine the historical Buddha to have been. He made claims that he had done what needed to be done and there was no more to be accomplished. Fully enlightened, Nirvana, etc. Quite a big claim, and this included moral excellence so that is what I’d expect to see.
   Maybe there’s hint of hoping that if the teacher can get away with a bit of moral laxity and still get through, then we can, but I think we’d be kidding ourselves.


Chogyam Trungpa called it Spiritual Materialism.

Quote
I also think that your response is unnecessarily disrespectful. The purity of the aim of the teaching is not helped by the crass scenario you have drawn, which is now embedded in the mind-stream (neural tissue) of anyone who has read it.

No, it's called "questioning".  We all know (or should know), that the Buddha abandoned his wife and newborn child.

When Gautama left his wife and child he wasn’t the Buddha. Divorce isn't necessarily a bad thing, anyway. It can be beneficial to all parties in the long run, as it was in this case.


 We also know that he strenuously resisted ordaining women.  Neither are qualities that would endear him to a modern western mindset.
 
The modern western mindset is hardly something I'd want to be endeared to myself.

Yet, many Buddhists overlook this and follow him anyway.  I assume you're aware of these things.  So it's not crass or distrespectfull.  I added a theoretical possibility  of even more damning evidence.  Hell, if he'd abandon his wife, what wouldn't he do?

Probably any of the things you suggested


So if you accept the Buddha abandoning his wife and child, (I do) and demonstrating a misogynistic bent where it comes to ordination, how far are you willing to go?  Where do you draw the line?

To resist ordaining women may not have been misogynstic.

His own companions abandoned the Buddha when he gave up his life  of austerity. Giving up austerity was a wise thing to do, he'd learnt his lesson. He defied their concepts of what a spiritual path should be.  Later, after his Enlightenment, the Buddha returned to his companions, who politely listed.  5 of them achieived enlightement on the spot as the Buddha delivered his first sermon on the Four Noble Truths. This may have been because he was able to demonstrate the efficacy of his teachings His old companions may have been a bit hastey in their repudiation of the Buddha-To-Be, but they were wise enough to lend an honest ear to what he had to say upon his return.

Offline Zen44

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #200 on: March 14, 2019, 08:33:26 pm »

Some teachers are useful, some are not, depending on the needs of the student.
The question “Is a Teacher necessary?” is interesting because, as I understand the history, the Buddha had several teachers and followed various paths before deciding to go it alone, through which he developed his Middle Path which brought the ultimate result.

That isn’t to say the training which failed to deliver was of no worth, more that it wasn’t the whole story. I don’t doubt his training in ascetic practices helped develop concentration and discipline but this doesn’t mean that those particular practices were necessary. There are non-extreme ways to accomplish that end.

I have a quite a few Tibetan books (translations) teaching Dzogchen and other methods, but I tend to wander in my interest when the necessity for a guru is stressed, mainly because I don’t have one, and also because I have read often that the “truth” or awakening isn’t some Thing that can be gifted or transferred.
For instance, I’m suspicious of the “Empowerments” due to knowing people who received such from other traditions or cults, and always thought of them as a sort of hypnosis rather than a genuine developing of the person. The result seemed to be a person a bit “off the planet” rather than someone in unity with it and themselves.   

I understand that Awakening comes through an absence of the aspects of our nature which block it. (the hinderances) This happens with the development of the awakening factors through the practice of virtue. Properly directed Mindfulness is a key practice. Until we manage to do this we are all corrupt in a sense, but deceit and corruption in a guru would turn me away from them immediately. I have enough to do coping with my own corruption.

The written teachings, providing they are the right ones, might be guidance enough but won’t give feedback, so would require the practitioner to be well read enough to recognise their own progress and failing and have a serious and level head to avoid the pitfalls, e.g. of believing that a satori or two mean one is home and dry.

 :om:

A teacher is somebody that you work with to get better and develop skills.
Dzogchen Teachings

 


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