Author Topic: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?  (Read 29166 times)

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #180 on: September 06, 2018, 10:05:23 am »
What a colossal waste of time! How would someone who doesn't meditate (but he's an expert on the subject) know if a meditation teacher is necessary or have any firsthand familiarity with zen practices. I've got better things to do.


My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Suiseki

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #181 on: September 08, 2018, 02:29:39 am »
 :anjali: Honestly- As a "seasoned citiZen" I'm running out of time! In over 50 years of meditation practice nobody ever told me there was anything whatsoever to learn, let-alone teachers! Thank You humbly for being my very FIRST one! It is a glorious day indeed! :headbow:
Upon reflection, I feel as though my dear friends here deserve at minimum a humble explanation.

Suiseki: (Water and Stone), is a "True man of no rank" Zen and literati name (gago). It was presented to me in 1981 by my Zen and Shodo (calligraphy) teacher, the late Reiun Sensei.

I am humbled and profoundly fortunate to have had several superlative teachers, guides and true spiritual friends. "Swami-ji", the late His Holiness Shankaracharya of Kashmir Gaddi Swami Swanandashram, graced my personal presence here in America for 17 years.

Swami-ji guided me in the Yoga tradition of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism), specifically non-dual (Advaita Vedanta) philosophy. He named me Madan Mohan, although I prefer to remain religion-free to this day.

May we share here collectively in our individual spiritual plight with humility, respect, compassion and sincerity. :)

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #182 on: September 08, 2018, 08:48:26 am »
And it can’t even be said to be learning that there’s nothing to learn.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline paracelsus

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #183 on: November 14, 2018, 06:20:06 pm »
:anjali: Honestly- As a "seasoned citiZen" I'm running out of time! In over 50 years of meditation practice nobody ever told me there was anything whatsoever to learn, let-alone teachers! Thank You humbly for being my very FIRST one! It is a glorious day indeed! :headbow:

I don't recall who said it but: "... even if you practice Zazen for fifty years, you will never become anything special"

I too have been at it a long time and ... nothing, not a damn thing.  I'm so happy I realised early on that there was nothing to be accomplished.

I stay away from spiritual heroes and accomplished beings, what can they be to me? Bigger, smaller, rounder, can sit for a week without breathing? That won't get the wood chopped or the dinner cooked.

How I laugh in the face of ambition! Of course I may be bound for hell.

« Last Edit: November 14, 2018, 06:23:05 pm by paracelsus »

Offline Zen44

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #184 on: March 04, 2019, 10:45:33 pm »
Yes.
Dzogchen Teachings

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #185 on: March 05, 2019, 04:15:09 am »
No
“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 Chaz

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #186 on: March 05, 2019, 06:33:17 am »
No

Chaz puts on moderator hat .....

 STOP!!!

Ok?

Offline paracelsus

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #187 on: March 05, 2019, 08:55:53 pm »
But to return to the topic, from my experience, I think I would have greatly benefitted from a teacher, having been unguided may've meant a lot of unproductive time (which eventually runs out).

My advice is search around until you find one who fits your requirements/personality.

Having said that, I have totally enjoyed my largely unguided life amongst the many forms of the teaching, find myself to have benefitted from the practices I have followed, and would say to anyone; enjoy the search regardless of whether you find a teacher or not.

If you are honest with yourself and modest in your self assessment you should be able to do ok but a teacher is a quicker way of discovering where you are going wrong.

The constant test for me is whether my underlying state of mind tends toward compassion and equanimity rather than toward selfishness and discordance. (maybe not the right word).

My comment above: "Not a damn thing", perfect. I have no ambition and have no accomplishment.

What I do have is a measure of internal peace and tranquility in a world which looks to be in deepening strife and trouble.

If you do have an aim for the ultimate benefit of buddhist practice though, find a teacher.
If you don't find a teacher .... :om: anyway.


 




Offline Chaz

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #188 on: March 06, 2019, 12:16:03 pm »
But to return to the topic, from my experience, I think I would have greatly benefitted from a teacher, having been unguided may've meant a lot of unproductive time (which eventually runs out).

My advice is search around until you find one who fits your requirements/personality.

Having said that, I have totally enjoyed my largely unguided life amongst the many forms of the teaching, find myself to have benefitted from the practices I have followed, and would say to anyone; enjoy the search regardless of whether you find a teacher or not.

If you are honest with yourself and modest in your self assessment you should be able to do ok but a teacher is a quicker way of discovering where you are going wrong.

The constant test for me is whether my underlying state of mind tends toward compassion and equanimity rather than toward selfishness and discordance. (maybe not the right word).

My comment above: "Not a damn thing", perfect. I have no ambition and have no accomplishment.

What I do have is a measure of internal peace and tranquility in a world which looks to be in deepening strife and trouble.

If you do have an aim for the ultimate benefit of buddhist practice though, find a teacher.
If you don't find a teacher .... :om: anyway.

Well said. 

A teacher can act as a friend, advising on masters of practice or study.  For example, you see new Buddhists coming online and wanting to go straight to emptiness, because they read about in another forum.  A teacher would most likely advise the student go another way.  Emptiness teachings are the most difficult and not meant for newcomers.  Better to fucus elsewhere.

Teachers can advise positively on couses to study and practice.  The teacher may advise mahamudra over dzogchen or vice-versa.  They can counsel in matters such vows or empowerment.  They can also tell you what something means and of course, when you're wrong

Some will point to abusive teachers as if it's the norm as a reason to not have a teacher.  I see this a fear-driven and/or deep-seated trust issues .

You don't have to be near a teacher, either.  Marpa lived in Tibet and his guru Naropa, was in India.  They would meet only a few times, but their bond was great.  And great was the outcome of that bond.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2019, 06:33:30 am by Chaz »

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #189 on: March 08, 2019, 02:17:01 am »
Some will point to abusive teachers as if it's the norm as a reason to not have a teacher.  I see this a fear-driven and/or deep-seated trust issues .

I think that's patronising to the victims of guru abuse.  There are so many problems that it's reasonable to question the whole rotten system of unquestioning devotion to charlatans.

 https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=56&t=33744

I'm not arguing that one shouldn't have a teacher, I am arguing against unhealthy dependence, unquestioning loyalty and group-think. 
« Last Edit: March 08, 2019, 03:55:31 am by Dairy Lama »
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Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #190 on: March 08, 2019, 03:53:04 am »
My advice is search around until you find one who fits your requirements/personality.

That's good advice - it isn't one size fits all.  And I have known people stick with a teacher out of a sense of loyalty, where it clearly wasn't working.   

Returning to the OP, I don't think it is strictly necessary to have a teacher, particularly with the enormous online resources that are now available.  By analogy I have met several accomplished musicians who were self-taught, without formal training.

On the other hand it is good to learn from people who know more than you do - though that might not be a formal "teacher" in the sense we mean here.  I've had a number of different teachers over the years in different schools, and learned from all of them, but I have strong reservations about the kind of unquestioning guru devotion and loyalty that you find in some Buddhist schools, eg Tibetan Buddhism.  I think there can be an unhealthy dependency, which leads to abuse in various forms.

Actually what I've found most useful over the years is being part of a sangha, being around people on the same path who can support, reflect and clarify. 
« Last Edit: March 08, 2019, 03:56:41 am by Dairy Lama »
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Offline Chaz

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #191 on: March 08, 2019, 05:56:29 am »
Some will point to abusive teachers as if it's the norm as a reason to not have a teacher.  I see this a fear-driven and/or deep-seated trust issues .

I think that's patronising to the victims of guru abuse.  There are so many problems that it's reasonable to question the whole rotten system of unquestioning devotion to charlatans.

 https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=56&t=33744

I'm not arguing that one shouldn't have a teacher, I am arguing against unhealthy dependence, unquestioning loyalty and group-think.

Then start a topic.

I hope you realize you're promoting groupthink, albeit of a somewhat different sort, yourself.

You are also not offering any sort of solution.  You're simply and only condemning.  Got something up your sleeve?

Offline Chaz

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #192 on: March 09, 2019, 05:58:39 am »
Some will point to abusive teachers as if it's the norm as a reason to not have a teacher.  I see this a fear-driven and/or deep-seated trust issues .

I think that's patronising to the victims of guru abuse.  There are so many problems that it's reasonable to question the whole rotten system of unquestioning devotion to charlatans.

how many problems are there?  How many yeachers have been found to be "charlatans" compared to genuine teachers.  And as long as we're on the subject of charlatans, the word, charlatan, is defined asa "person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill".  Who are these "charlatans", teachers claiming to have special knowledge or skill?  We're not tlking about some inate quality.  Knowledge and skill are things that can be learned.  So if a teacher is found wanting is some qualitative, how does this indicate that they don't have certain knowledge or skills?

You mentioned self-taught musician?  Jim Hendrix had mad skills on the guitar and was a true Rock Star.  He leveraged that statis into having lots of sex with women.  Did this, somehow, negate his knowedge of and skills on a guitar?  No.

How about Freddy Mercury of Queen?  Same thing.  Huge star.  Voice of an Angel.  A rock critic aquaintance of mine, while working  for a major western newspaper, was invited to a album release party Queen threw in New Orleans.  My friend described the party to me.  Freddy had young men, dressed up in sailor suits waiting to be admited into his room for sex. This is bizaare a best and abusive at worse.  There are many who condemn such overt and deviant behavior.  Even so, does this have anything to do with Mercury's skill and quality as a vocalist?  Would that mke him a charlatan.

Or simply a rotten example of a human being?

A rotten human being can still be a good teacher.

Let's look at the Sakyong.  I've sat in his teachings.  I've read a number of his books.  I've found them to be good teachings.  About a year ago we found out about his sexual misconduct.  Sad.  Disppointing.  But does it change a single word of what he taught?  No.  Does the Sakyong's indicetions negate his knowdge of the lineage teachings, or his skill as a teacher?  No.

Quote
I'm not arguing that one shouldn't have a teacher, I am arguing against unhealthy dependence, unquestioning loyalty and group-think.

To assert there are things that are "unhealthy" presupposes the opposite.  What are the qualities of healthy dependence, unquestioning loyalty and groupthink?
« Last Edit: March 09, 2019, 07:18:09 am by Chaz »

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #193 on: March 10, 2019, 04:45:33 am »
Some will point to abusive teachers as if it's the norm as a reason to not have a teacher.  I see this a fear-driven and/or deep-seated trust issues .

I think that's patronising to the victims of guru abuse.  There are so many problems that it's reasonable to question the whole rotten system of unquestioning devotion to charlatans.

 https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=56&t=33744

I'm not arguing that one shouldn't have a teacher, I am arguing against unhealthy dependence, unquestioning loyalty and group-think.

Then start a topic.

I hope you realize you're promoting groupthink, albeit of a somewhat different sort, yourself.

You are also not offering any sort of solution.  You're simply and only condemning.  Got something up your sleeve?

The current exchange is very much on topic, since telling people they must have a teacher can lead to all sorts of problems, eg the idea that any teacher is better than no teacher, or misguided loyalty when things are clearly not working, etc.   

Disagreeing with your opinion here is actually the opposite of groupthink:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

The "solution" here is for students of Buddhism to be more discerning about teachers: not to enter into dependency relationships, the ability to recognise cultish behaviour, and the confidence to call out bad behaviour by dodgy gurus.
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline Chaz

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #194 on: March 10, 2019, 05:27:53 am »
Some will point to abusive teachers as if it's the norm as a reason to not have a teacher.  I see this a fear-driven and/or deep-seated trust issues .

I think that's patronising to the victims of guru abuse.  There are so many problems that it's reasonable to question the whole rotten system of unquestioning devotion to charlatans.

 https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=56&t=33744

I'm not arguing that one shouldn't have a teacher, I am arguing against unhealthy dependence, unquestioning loyalty and group-think.

Then start a topic.

I hope you realize you're promoting groupthink, albeit of a somewhat different sort, yourself.

You are also not offering any sort of solution.  You're simply and only condemning.  Got something up your sleeve?

The current exchange is very much on topic, since telling people they must have a teacher can lead to all sorts of problems, eg the idea that any teacher is better than no teacher, or misguided loyalty when things are clearly not working, etc.   

Disagreeing with your opinion here is actually the opposite of groupthink:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

The "solution" here is for students of Buddhism to be more discerning about teachers: not to enter into dependency relationships, the ability to recognise cultish behaviour, and the confidence to call out bad behaviour by dodgy gurus.

People have been doing just that.  Current outcry over the Sakyong.  Many in the Mandala are reevaluating their relationship to Trungpa.  Just the same, they will continue along the path as taught by Trungpa and the cultish qualities you find in the organization.  They'll stay true to the teaching and to the teacher, even though it's doubtfull he'll stay on the pedastle he was on once before.  It suits them to stay and practice, because the teachings are sound, even if the teacher isn't.  Even liars tell the truth.


 


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