Author Topic: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?  (Read 16557 times)

GoGet

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #30 on: September 19, 2010, 10:20:07 am »
Coz he IS a teacher!  :D

Ah!  Of course.  I'm sure that's it  :teehee:.

That's awfully harsh, Greg.  A scathing endictment of The Spiney One.

I dunno, Norm may not have any real objection to working with a teacher and is playing the devil's advocate.

Even so, It's not uncommon to find people who are dead set on going it alone without teacher or sangha.  You find a lot of these people online, in forums like this one, the blogosphere and elsewhere.  They seem to think they're capable of traversing the breadth and depth of Buddhadharma without a spiritual friend to guide them.  While I would deem such a course to be foolish, it's up to the individual; it's their karma.

However I would find such an attitude repellent in a teacher.  I'd liken it to a self-taught heart surgeon. Have someone like that put me under the knife?  Not a chance!

Learn the Dharma from someone who has no teacher, no teaching lineage?  That would be more foolish than going without a teacher.

With a teacher, a proper teacher, you can not only examine him/her, but you can also examine their teacher as well, in the case of a bonafide lineage you can trace what teachings were given and transmitted over time up to the present.  You can see how and where they've changed with the needs of beings or how they've stayed the same.  It gives you all the credentials you need short of the living teacher in question and how/what they teach.

I'd go so far as to say that someone wanting to teach the Dharma shouldn't do so without their teacher's permission and direction.

Yeshe Zopa

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #31 on: September 19, 2010, 10:23:10 am »
THis sort of thing disturbs me.  I find it disturbing because it's being presented without caveat and seems to me to grossly misinformed.

Also from Dhamma Wiki:

"Teacher and Disciple"
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Teacher_and_disciple


A teacher (garu, Sanskrit guru) is a person who imparts skills or knowledge and a disciple (sàvaka) is one who learns from a teacher.

In some religions, and even within the Vajrayana branch of Buddhism, the disciple is expected to dedicate him or her self totally to the teacher and obey him unquestioningly.


Id sure like to know where the author came up with that.

I practice in the Vajrayana and I've never been told of any such expectation especially unquestioning obedience.  There are many Tantrika who obey their guru without question but I believe that arises out of devotion rather than some expectation.

The relationship with the guru is often taught like this:  If you view your guru as an ordinary being you recieve the blessing of a ordinary being's teaching.  If you view the teacher as a Bodhisattva you recieve the blessings of a Bodhisattva.  If you view the guru as a fully enlightened Buddha the the blessing willl be that of a fully enlightened Buddha.  Most people, in the presense of a Buddha, would follow the instruction for study and practice the Buddha gave them.  They, of course, have every right to question the Buddha, but once the instructions were made clear, the student would follow them.

I've never be told or shown that my guru requires or expects unquestioning obedience.  I wouldn't follow a teacher who did

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This is very much at odds with what the Buddha both taught to and required from his disciples.


Yes it is.  However, I'll say again that what the author of the piece wrote is uninformed and wrong.  Heybai, did you question that writer or did you assume, unquestioningly, that what he/she wrote was true?

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He advised that before learning under a teacher, and even while receiving instruction, the disciple should maintain a respectful but questioning and discriminating attitude. First, the disciple should investigate (vãmaüseyya) the teacher by watching and listening to see if his or her behaviour is consistent with what they teach. Continuing to investigate over a period of time, the disciple should try to see if the good qualities the teacher appears to have are internalized or only the result of making an effort or trying to impress


Does the author think such things are not followed in the Vajrayana?  In WOMPT, Paltrul Rinpoche devotes considerable time and effort to explain how a teacher/guru should be found and what criteria should be met by the teacher/guru.  PR also recommends 7 or more years to examine the teacher before commiting to him or her.




Spot on. :)

Samaya in Vajrayana  involves two-way commitment and respect,  not servile obeisance.

I would not wish to study under a teacher who expected it, and I'm very sure my Guru would fall about laughing if I behaved that way towards him. ;)

Offline heybai

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #32 on: September 19, 2010, 11:05:20 am »

Yes it is.  However, I'll say again that what the author of the piece wrote is uninformed and wrong.  Heybai, did you question that writer or did you assume, unquestioningly, that what he/she wrote was true?


Hi GoGet --

I posted the article from a source that was brought to our attention on another thread today.  I posted it without comment, just as an example of one point of view, but do not endorse that statement because:

a) my knowledge of Vajrayana is almost nil -- limited to what I have read online over the past year or so, including what I have been told by friends, etc.

b) I also noticed something funny about that tone -- quite a blanket statement, but again, I can't really dispute it as a non-expert.

Keep in mind this article is a wiki piece.  As you probably know, articles in that format routinely get worked over as new points of view and greater editing skill is applied.  Perhaps you and others more knowledgeable about Vajrayana could contribute to the Dhamma Wiki by registering and taking part in the discussions of such articles.

Best wishes,
heybai

GoGet

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #33 on: September 19, 2010, 11:15:21 am »
Hi GoGet --

I posted the article from a source that was brought to our attention on another thread today.  I posted it without comment, just as an example of one point of view, but do not endorse that statement because: <snip>

I was hoping that was the case, so thanks for clearing that up.

Just the same, Heybai, what the writer wrote is still misinformed and incorrect and gives an unfair view about just what goes on in the Vajrayana - one that people, knowing little about Vajrayana will take as true - that tantrikas are nothing but mindless automatons forced into draconian servitude of the worst sort.

Anyway, not to worry.  Truth will out as they say.

Be at peace and may all beings benefit.

Offline heybai

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #34 on: September 19, 2010, 11:35:56 am »
Thanks for the re-direct.  Honestly, I felt a little funny about the passage, but thought you and others would point it out more ably and concisely than I could if you thought it was way off base.   And you did and you have. 

The wiki world is full of surprises!   :wink1:

Offline catmoon

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #35 on: September 19, 2010, 04:42:52 pm »
Hi GoGet --

I posted the article from a source that was brought to our attention on another thread today.  I posted it without comment, just as an example of one point of view, but do not endorse that statement because: <snip>

I was hoping that was the case, so thanks for clearing that up.

Just the same, Heybai, what the writer wrote is still misinformed and incorrect and gives an unfair view about just what goes on in the Vajrayana - one that people, knowing little about Vajrayana will take as true - that tantrikas are nothing but mindless automatons forced into draconian servitude of the worst sort.

Anyway, not to worry.  Truth will out as they say.

Be at peace and may all beings benefit.

Yup thats the impression I got. To put it more bluntly, the article is strongly biased and about as well informed as, say, your average Jehovah's Witness article on another rieligion.
Sergeant Schultz was onto something.

Offline heybai

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #36 on: September 20, 2010, 12:34:03 am »
Again, it is a wiki piece.  Wiki writing can be wonderful or wacky or something in between.  My guess is the author is reflecting a received bias rather than going for an out-and-and slur on an entire tradition, but who knows.  I wonder how long it will stay up there as is before someone alters it?

GoGet

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #37 on: September 20, 2010, 07:10:28 am »
Again, it is a wiki piece.  Wiki writing can be wonderful or wacky or something in between.  My guess is the author is reflecting a received bias rather than going for an out-and-and slur on an entire tradition, but who knows.  I wonder how long it will stay up there as is before someone alters it?

Who knows?

The article you referenced is only one example of what a lousy resource this wiki wil be.  I checked around the site.  Some observations ....

For a site that's dedicated to Theraveda, it does make a awful lot of references to Mahayana traditions.

The "Wonders of the Buddhist World is, shall we say, kinda silly. Citing the internet as a wonder of the Buddhist world?

The "Misconceptions about Buddhism" is a riot.  Reincarnation is fun?  I never really thought of it those terms.  Or how about "Buddhists are all dreadfully serious people, don't wear make up and never have any fun"? Now there's a real misconception for you. I have people accosting me all the time wondering if Buddhists wear makeup (I don't) and why they're such killjoys.  The author sure hit that nail on the head.  All Buddhists are Bald?????  There's another one.  Have have people asking me about this all the time - usually along the lines of "Oh, you're a Buddhist?  Why aren't you bald?".

And somewhere in this site, Zen practioners are referred to as "Zennies".  That's a good one.  Maybe I'm living in a different universe than the author, but where do people use terms like "Zennie"?  Someone please tell me.  And after reading all that, I find myself fighting off an urge to call Theravedins, "Tools"  :lmfao:.  Fortunately I'm experiencing high levels of relative self - control and have way too much respect and compassion for my Theravadin brothers/sisters to lump them in with the people on that wiki.

Someone posted that this wiki was a good resource.  I can't help but wonder, in what alternate reality that would be true in?  This site is a joke.

And bring this back to the OP,  this wiki is an example of why a teacher is a good thing.   My teachers would never let me get away with referring to Zen practitioners as "Zennies" (or Theravadins as "Tools" for that matter).  They wouldn't allow my posting misinformed and/or incorrect info about another tradition. Hell, they probably wouldn't stand for a site like that in the first place.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #38 on: September 21, 2010, 04:38:27 am »
It seems you have some fundamental objection to having a teacher. 

Not atall.  I'm just exploring ideas as usual.

Spiny

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #39 on: September 21, 2010, 04:42:44 am »
Even so, It's not uncommon to find people who are dead set on going it alone without teacher or sangha.  You find a lot of these people online, in forums like this one, the blogosphere and elsewhere.  They seem to think they're capable of traversing the breadth and depth of Buddhadharma without a spiritual friend to guide them.  While I would deem such a course to be foolish, it's up to the individual; it's their karma.


Don't you think that labelling such people "foolish" is patronising?   

Spiny

GoGet

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #40 on: September 21, 2010, 08:03:23 am »
Don't you think that labelling such people "foolish" is patronising?   

No, not really.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #41 on: September 22, 2010, 03:59:11 am »
Don't you think that labelling such people "foolish" is patronising?   

No, not really.

I do.  I think it would be better to encourage such people to have some contact with other Buddhists, while recognising their commitment to the path they are travelling.  I think it would be better for us to be inclusive and to have the widest possible sense of Buddhist community.

Spiny

Offline gregkavarnos

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #42 on: September 22, 2010, 08:57:08 am »
The Buddha used the term “foolish” on a number of occasions:
Quote
It is not fit, foolish man, it is not becoming, it is not proper, it is unworthy of a recluse, it is not lawful, it ought not to be done. How could you, foolish man, having gone forth under this Dhamma and Discipline which are well-taught, [commit such and such offense]?... It is not, foolish man, for the benefit of un-believers, nor for the increase in the number of believers, but, foolish man, it is to the detriment of both unbelievers and believers, and it causes wavering in some.
The Book of the Discipline [Vinaya], Part I, by I.B. Horner (London: Pali Text Society, 1982), pp. 36-37

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"Malunkyaputta, did I ever say to you, 'Come, Malunkyaputta, live the holy life under me, and I will declare to you that 'The cosmos is eternal,' or 'The cosmos is not eternal,' or 'The cosmos is finite,' or 'The cosmos is infinite,' or 'The soul & the body are the same,' or 'The soul is one thing and the body another,' or 'After death a Tathagata exists,' or 'After death a Tathagata does not exist,' or 'After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist,' or 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist'?"

"No, lord."

"And did you ever say to me, 'Lord, I will live the holy life under the Blessed One and [in return] he will declare to me that 'The cosmos is eternal,' or 'The cosmos is not eternal,' or 'The cosmos is finite,' or 'The cosmos is infinite,' or 'The soul & the body are the same,' or 'The soul is one thing and the body another,' or 'After death a Tathagata exists,' or 'After death a Tathagata does not exist,' or 'After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist,' or 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist'?"

"No, lord."

"Then that being the case, foolish man, who are you to be claiming grievances/making demands of anyone?
MN 63 Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta: The Shorter Instructions to Malunkya

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"Is it true, Arittha, that you have conceived this pernicious view: 'There are things called "obstructions" by the Blessed One. As I understand his teaching those things are not necessarily obstructive for him who pursues them'?" — "Yes, indeed, Lord, I understand the teaching of the Blessed One in this way that those things called 'obstructions' by the Blessed One, are not necessarily obstructive for him who pursues them."

6. "Of whom do you know, foolish man, that I have taught to him the teaching in that manner? Did I not, foolish man, speak in many ways of those obstructive things that they are obstructions indeed, and that they necessarily obstruct him who pursues them? Sense desires, so I have said, bring little enjoyment, and much suffering and disappointment. The perils in them are greater. Sense desires are like bare bones, have I said; they are like a lump of flesh... they are like a snake's head, have I said. They bring much suffering and disappointment. The perils in them are greater. But you, O foolish man, have misrepresented us by what you personally have wrongly grasped. You have undermined your own (future) and have created much demerit. This, foolish man, will bring you much harm and suffering for a long time."

7. Then the Blessed One addressed the monks thus: "What do you think, O monks: has that monk Arittha, formerly of the vulture killers, produced any spark (of understanding) in this teaching and discipline?" — "How should that be, Lord? Certainly not, O Lord."

After these words the monk Arittha, formerly of the vulture killers, sat silent, confused, with his shoulders drooping and his head bent, brooding and incapable of making a rejoinder.

Then the Blessed One, knowing (his condition), spoke to him: "You will be known, foolish man, by what is your own pernicious view, I shall now question the monks about this."
Now while I agree that this
Quote
I think it would be better to encourage such people to have some contact with other Buddhists, while recognising their commitment to the path they are travelling.  I think it would be better for us to be inclusive and to have the widest possible sense of Buddhist community.
is true I also believe that actively choosing to practice without a teacher (most probably motivated by ego) when there are qualified teachers available is foolish. i.e.
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fool•ish adj.
1. Lacking or exhibiting a lack of good sense or judgment; silly
2. Resulting from stupidity or misinformation; unwise
3. Arousing laughter; absurd or ridiculous
4. Immoderate or stubborn; unreasonable
5. Embarrassed; abashed
6. Insignificant; trivial
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

foolish adj
1. unwise; silly
2. resulting from folly or stupidity
3. ridiculous or absurd; not worthy of consideration
4. weak-minded; simple
5. an archaic word for insignificant
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
:namaste:
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Offline nirmal

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #43 on: September 22, 2010, 10:09:20 am »
Om Mani Padme Hom

The instructions we receive and the gurus we get depends on our devotion.We should not worry about getting a guru but only about our own merits and meditation.We should ask ourselves whether we are fit for a guru or not? If we do not get a good teacher, then the grace of the ancient gurus is always here. For  instance,Guru Padma Sambhava who never died, promised before his departure from this world to come on the 10th of every(lunar) month wherever he was worshipped.I did some very serious chanting of his mantra from the first of the lunar month and on the tenth he appeared in my meditation.I chanted my protector mantra but his holy vision did not disappear.I waited patiently(for we are not allowed to speak unless spoken to first). Then in a harsh voice he asked me, " What do you want?" I replied, "Your holy light." He raised his hand holding a black object in it and colourful rays of lights came out of it and they entered my body through the top of my head. Then he disappeared.The whole conversation took place from mind to mind.Later I asked my Vajraguru why he spoke to me in such a harsh and angry tone.I was told that he always speaks in that way.

Therefore, if we continue long without a teacher, we should know that the answers lie within ourselves Are we not ready to benefit from our ancient gurus? What we have to do is clear; not passively to accept this situation but to strive earnestly to make ourselves fit for practice under a teacher.


Om Mani Padme Hom

Offline gregkavarnos

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #44 on: September 22, 2010, 10:44:50 am »
Dear Nirmal,

There is some stuff that should not be spoken about in public.
:namaste:
"A genius is a person who, on a beach full of nudists, can remember peoples faces!"  Arka

 


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