FreeSangha - Buddhist Forum

A Mosaic of Traditions - One Virtual Sangha => The Dharma Express => Topic started by: heybai on September 17, 2010, 08:07:10 pm

Title: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 17, 2010, 08:07:10 pm
I am following Spiny's lead in posting a simple, but I think important, question.  Some of us have been reading and studying on our own for years now without the benefit of face-to-face meetings with a teacher.  Some people are house bound, or live in remote areas.  Are the internet, books, podcasts and the like enough?   Spiny recently asked if the Internet was a virtual teacher.  I am not asking if the Net can substitute for a personal, real-world, association with a realized teacher (it cannot), but whether or not a teacher of any sort is required.

Can we follow the Path through self-study, without the formal support of a qualified Dharma teacher?
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: t on September 17, 2010, 08:23:47 pm
Quote
Mahaparinibbana Sutta ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.1-6.vaji.html[/url])
Now the Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Ananda, saying:
"It may be, Ananda, that to some among you the thought will come: 'Ended is the word of the Master; we have a Master no longer.'
But it should not, Ananda, be so considered.
For that which I have proclaimed and made known as the Dhamma and the Discipline, that shall be your Master when I am gone.


Having the above in mind....now look into this....
Quote
The Buddha Speaks on Amitabha Sutra ([url]http://www.drba.org/dharma/amitabhasutra.asp[/url])
Shariputra, just as I now praise the inconceivable merit and virtue of all Buddhas, all those Buddhas also praise my inconceivable merit and virtue, saying these words: Shakyamuni Buddha can accomplish extremely difficult and rare deeds in the Saha Land during the evil time of the Five Turbidities: during the time turbidity, the views turbidity, the affliction turbidity, the living beings turbidity, and the lifespan turbidity.
He can attain anuttara samyak sambodhi and for the sake of living beings proclaim this Dharma, which the whole world finds hard to believe.


Get my point? I have been looking for one for over a decade now....
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 17, 2010, 08:41:49 pm
Yes, t, I get your point.  Thank you for the quotations.   I am always appreciative of your knowledge.  :jinsyx:

So, the Dhamma is the central and foremost.  Agreed. 

And there may be greater struggle going it without a teacher in whom we place our trust, but how much harder?



Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: GoGet on September 17, 2010, 09:44:29 pm
I am following Spiny's lead in posting a simple, but I think important, question.  Some of us have been reading and studying on our own for years now without the benefit of face-to-face meetings with a teacher.  Some people are house bound, or live in remote areas.  Are the internet, books, podcasts and the like enough?   Spiny recently asked if the Internet was a virtual teacher.  I am not asking if the Net can substitute for a personal, real-world, association with a realized teacher (it cannot), but whether or not a teacher of any sort is required.

Can we follow the Path through self-study, without the formal support of a qualified Dharma teacher?

I think it depends on the direction your study and practice takes.

I think a qualified Dharma teacher is pretty important.  It gives direction, consistency to the path.  You don't have to be near him/her to study with them or recieve practice instruction either, especially nowadays.

Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche once taught that (and I paraphrase) the relationship between the guru (or the teacher I think) and the student is beyond meeting and parting.

There are many opportunities to work with fine, highly qualified teachers and never set foot in their presense.  You have webcasts, archived video, auidio, DVDs, online education curricum, email correspondence.  Nothing says you can't study with multiple, teachers, either.

Considering the power of modern communication and information sharing, it would be silly not to take advantage of it with the Dharma.

I'm a student of the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche.  He wants all of his students to complete an extensive study curriculum including all three yanas.  I took 1/3 of the classes online - exams and everything.  I take full advantage of Rinpoche's online video and audio offerings.  He had a piece on Huffington Post a couple weeks ago.  I can order books, CDs, DVDs, even sadhanas and restricted texts.

Reggie Ray is another teacher who works with the web a lot.   I think he does online/phone student interviews, too.

And those are just two examples I'm familiar with.

There are still times when the student must attend to study in person.  Certain teachings and many, if not all empowerments are given like that.  That and it's just good to see your teacher in the flesh at times.  Many teachers have an annual retreat for their students. Save your pennies and go every year or two.  Along with the blessings of teachers immediate presense, it's a lot of fun being around your fellow students.

All that said, I don't think you absolutely have to have a teacher, but I think it has certain advantages that when considering the easy availability ............ geez...while the hell NOT?
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 17, 2010, 10:10:59 pm
All that said, I don't think you absolutely have to have a teacher, but I think it has certain advantages that when considering the easy availability ............ geez...while the hell NOT?

Absolutely.  No reason to pass up  the rich opportunities, several of which you clearly outline,which many of us have access to and enjoy to a greater or lesser extent.  I was presuming that the teacher relationship would require some kind of in-person contact, but you are correct:  our media choices allow for creativity and physical distance is greatly mitigated technology (which continues to improve). 

On the other hand, I can imagine situations when contact with a teacher might not be possible.  [T] alluded to the problem of compatibility.  There may be many fine teachers out there, but perhaps only one or two nearby who may be working within traditions a person does not feel attracted toward.  We don't want to get snobby, but finding a suitable teacher can be a delicate task and ought not to be taken lightly.   

Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 17, 2010, 11:42:26 pm
I was practicing for ten years (exclusively anapanasati) before I started loking for a teacher.  What "made" me seek a teacher was the fact that I was experiencing various things during my mediation sessions that I could find no explanation for in any books (the internet was not such a valid option in Greece back then).

When I started Vajrayana practice it became obvious to me that a teacher is 100% imperative, you cannot avoid having a teacher(s) in Vajrayana.  Now whether one communicates with their teacher via snail mail, internet, skype, phone, etc... I don't think that this is the issue BUT having direct contact with ones teacher over an extended period of time (retreat or seminar) means that as ones knowledge/experience develops one can have ones questions answered immediately and further instruction provided and thus one can "progress" faster in ones practice.

Anyway if anybody here has ever had a long distance personal relationship (friendship, family, or other) you know that, without a doubt, that NOTHING beats, or can adequately replace, face to face contact and communication.
 :namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 18, 2010, 02:38:38 am
Can we follow the Path through self-study, without the formal support of a qualified Dharma teacher?

Yes.  In a way it's a more courageous approach to take.

Spiny 
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 18, 2010, 03:41:38 am
Anyway if anybody here has ever had a long distance personal relationship (friendship, family, or other) you know that, without a doubt, that NOTHING beats, or can adequately replace, face to face contact and communication.
 :namaste:

Quite right.  Ideally, if at all possible, it would be my preference to meet my teacher in person on at least one occasion.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 18, 2010, 03:47:25 am
Can we follow the Path through self-study, without the formal support of a qualified Dharma teacher?

Yes.  In a way it's a more courageous approach to take.

Courageous because the Path is more truly one's own?

[I quite like this Socratic thing --  :D]

Briery O'Newman

Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Caz on September 18, 2010, 04:12:14 am
Anyway if anybody here has ever had a long distance personal relationship (friendship, family, or other) you know that, without a doubt, that NOTHING beats, or can adequately replace, face to face contact and communication.
 :namaste:

Quite right.  Ideally, if at all possible, it would be my preference to meet my teacher in person on at least one occasion.

Your In Taiwan right ? I here Shar gaden opened up a new centre there ?  :pray:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 18, 2010, 04:27:48 am
Anyway if anybody here has ever had a long distance personal relationship (friendship, family, or other) you know that, without a doubt, that NOTHING beats, or can adequately replace, face to face contact and communication.
 :namaste:

Quite right.  Ideally, if at all possible, it would be my preference to meet my teacher in person on at least one occasion.

Your In Taiwan right ? I here Shar gaden opened up a new centre there ?  :pray:

Yes, Caz, it is not far from where I sit, although I haven't been there.  I believe it is more of an outreach center for the monastery in India.  It is a "Dharma Center" -- not a temple.

It's not that there are a shortage of committed Buddhists where I am.  I am looking for my niche, so to speak.   This thread also poses the question in principle: Can/should one go it alone without a teacher. 

I think the advice (I would give myself for starters  :D) is that yes, it is possible -- Greg did it for ten years, for example -- but it is always preferable to work with a good teacher (when studying anything, not just the Dharma).   

If that is true, what hindrances is one likely to face when going it alone? 

Spiny also suggests that for some, working without a teacher or in a formal setting may be preferable.  I imagine that would be the minority view on this forum, but it is intriguing.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 18, 2010, 09:37:41 am
Yes.  In a way it's a more courageous approach to take.
Courageous?  If there is a good teacher available then going it alone is not courageous, it just plain foolish!

Example:  One time I was digging a 10m long narrow trench to lay down some pipes for drainage (I am a bit of a handyman).  I had stradled the trench and was digging while walking backwards, dig-dig-dig, one step backwards, dig-dig-dig, one step backwards...

An old shepherd that used to bring his flock past where I worked and would spin tales for me about life in the village happened to be walking past.
"What you doing there?" he asked.
"Digging a trench" I answered in a tired and frustrated tone.
"You're doing it wrong" he said.
"Doing it wrong?" I answered in a ‘I’ve got post graduate degrees from university I should know how to dig a trench!’ manner
“Yeah, every time you dig up some earth you throw it onto the patch that you will be digging up next, that way you have to dig double the amount of earth each time!  Turn around and dig while walking forwards.”
BOING!

Now, of course, I would have finished digging the trench even without the instruction, but his advice meant it took me half the time it would have if I just continued slogging away doing it my way.  In both cases I would have “owned” the consequence of my actions (ie I would proudly point to the trench and say to all passers-by:  “I dug that!”) but in this specific case it took me half the effort.

Now this is just digging a Buddha damned trench for Buddhas sake!  Imagine how this translates in the realm of spiritual practice!
:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Yeshe Zopa on September 18, 2010, 10:21:18 am
I've had teachers who run meditation classes before, but the experience of having a Lharampa Geshe delivering one-to one tuition is so awesome I can hardly describe it.

Having good online resources and maybe teachers  is probably better that having a poor teacher face-to-face, but having a good teacher face-to-face is a rare and wonderful experience.

Sure, we can manage without, but we have so few opportunities in this life, I would travel wherever I could to receive personal instruction from a good teacher.

Of course,  we may all have different ideas about what a good teacher is, but that's another thread. ;)
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: nirmal on September 18, 2010, 10:55:30 am
Om Mani Padme Hom


A teacher or guru is necessary when we are involved in meditation.There can be a lot of hindrances in meditation that we may not be aware of .He could choose the right Yidam for us based on our past life.Then there could be some continuity in our meditation and progress would be faster. He could choose the right mantra for us to chant and decide how much chanting we would have to do so that it balances with our meditation.Just by meditation we might get insight and visions which we may not understand due to the lack of chanting.He can guide us along the path more effectively if he is Enlightened.We would be unfortunate if we were to meet a false guru.

Om Mani Padme Hom
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: humanitas on September 18, 2010, 11:01:17 am
Yes, a teacher is necessary, and always preferable.  Dharmakara said in the monastic world, it is plainly accepted that a teacher is a must.  IF there is no teacher close, one can do it solo, but a teacher is always preferable like a guide scaling Mt. Everest might be desirable lest you are a climbing expert, in which case you might still want a guide so you're not alone when you make a mistake and your guide can let you know (and save your life).

The way I think of it is, if I'm going to go through complex terrain I don't know well, I want someone who knows the ropes to show me what to do so I stay alive and keep navigating.   In the same way if I want to keep my practice alive and healthy, a teacher is an imperative.  Because of ignorance and the physics of ignorance.  

The thing is it's about bending your mind to acceptance.  Naturally=gently when it comes to the dharma.  Like losing weight, you can force it, but you will always revert.  So the only way to successfully lose weight is to commit to a lifestyle where you follow the correct guidelines for your body.  No one forces you to be fat or thin, awake or ignorant.  It's all you and where you are, even with a teacher.  

And it's not like a teacher is in any way superior to you, simply someone who knows the ropes better than you do and the method and can help you get sharper in your ability to encounter samsara as you inevitably will.  Like a guide, you don't think of them as superior, just someone who knows the area better than you do and he can help you get from point a to point b without all the guesswork about which way to turn, or walk into the wrong neighborhood and get robbed/killed in the process of trying to navigate your own way.  

Even with a guide, it's dangerous.  But you trust that guide to have knowledge and wisdom resources conditional to their having "been there" all this time to help you speed your journey along.  It's up to you, faster or slower route, different paces for different places and people.

Your guide already knows how to ask questions.  In getting to know you they learn what questions are burning to be asked within you.  They have accumulated some wisdom because they have been dharma students their whole lives usually.   Where we may be coming into a practice, to the teacher the practice IS their LIFE.

The guide learns from you what you need to better get to point B from where you're stuck at point A.  The guide is constantly learning to show YOU personally the way into yourself, probably because you will feel a connection to that person's way of communicating dharma.  

Just a thought about the role of teacher...

So short answer: YES.  A teacher is always necessary.

Is one always available?  Not always.  So you make do and pick the most beneficial route you have available to you I guess.  :)
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: humanitas on September 18, 2010, 11:13:01 am
I have a friend, a very dear teacher friend.  He is not a dharma teacher.  He was my college advisor for my thesis.  A published writer of 35 years, and when I wrote my thesis, I could have gone at it alone, but it was nowhere near as good as when he accepted the role of being my editor and made my thesis really to the point.

He told me, a good teacher doesn't give you the answers.  A good teacher poses the right question to his student.  A good teacher is one that asks the seed question that starts the students journey of discovery by stimulating the innate curiosity that exists in everyone.  (very dharmic in a way)

He was a great teacher, I was his last student before he retired.  My thesis was dedicated to him, because he asked me the right questions that got me thinking.  What makes a good teacher?  This question is a quarter of my thesis right there.  

I spent almost 2 years with exploring the "The Ignorant Schoolmaster" (a real life case of a French teacher who goes to Belgium with a class of students who only spoke Flemish.  With the use of a book with both translations french and flemish, the class learned to speak French fluently, and he learned to speak Flemish)   The story was so groundbreaking that it toppled the whole concept of what makes a teacher.   It's emerged that the institution of education has failed in that it has simply become an institution of explication, and not one that encourages real critical and innovative thinking.  

Yeshe, I agree we can have different ideas of what makes a good teacher, but ultimately, a teacher is one who plants the right kind of seed questions that arouse the student's natural curiosity that leads them in turn to discover the knowledge of the answer for themselves.   I think we could all agree on that.  Without that, there is no teacher and there is no student.

:headbow:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: nirmal on September 18, 2010, 11:14:39 am
Om Mani Padme Hom

Then again, if we have a good teacher but we are lazy and inconsistent, its back to square one again.


Om Mani Padme Hom
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: humanitas on September 18, 2010, 11:16:20 am
The teacher cannot make you learn.  Only ask the questions that make you search.  If you are lazy, the teacher can do no more.  :)
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: GoGet on September 18, 2010, 11:23:37 am
Can we follow the Path through self-study, without the formal support of a qualified Dharma teacher?

Yes.  In a way it's a more courageous approach to take.

Spiny  

I'm sorry Norm, but I have agree with Greg on this.

Unless there is absolutely no other option, going it alone, without a teacher's guidance and blessing, is, in a word, foolish.  It shows more hubris than courage.

Even the greatest mahasiddhas and yogins knew that much.  The great Yogi, Milarepa had more capacity for practicice and enlightenment than any just about anyone since the Buddha, but even so, he went to extreme lengths and traveled many miles to find Marpa (at first Mila only had Marpa's name and didn't know where to find him) and then, haviung found him at last, :om: spent years courting Marpa's favor.  After that he spent many additional years studying with Marpa, becoming Marpa's heart son and Dharma heir before going it alone.  Even then he remained faithful to his samaya and his guru's instruction and achieved supreme enlightenment in a single lifetime.  Would Mila have attained enlightenment without Marpa?  Probably.  In that lifetime?  Never.

Pratyekabuddhas are few and far between.  To think we measure up as one who can achieve liberation on his or her own merit and capacity and embark on such a path is foolhardy at best.  

If it can be said that such a solitary path is the more courageous one, it can also be argued that it is the more cowardly in rebuttal.  To study with Marpa, Milarepa had to endure much hardship and humiliation.  Considering the story of Milarepa, it took greater couage to to seek out and then endure Marpa's method of instruction and to abandon ego to prostrate (figuratively) before his guru.  Only then and only in that way did Mila's remarkable capacity and complete, genuine devotion come to fruition in supreme realization.  Through that devotion he was able to teach Gampopa who in turn taught Düsum Khyenpa - Knower of the Three Times and the first Karmapa, founding a lineage of practice that extends to this very day.

Can we see ourselves as Mila's equal and still attain what he did while ignoring his example and refusing the blessing of his (or any other teacher's) lineage, especially when it is so readliy available? I can only conclude no.  

It cannot possibly be courageous.  It can only be foolish.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Ngawang Drolma on September 18, 2010, 01:04:06 pm
I am following Spiny's lead in posting a simple, but I think important, question.  Some of us have been reading and studying on our own for years now without the benefit of face-to-face meetings with a teacher.  Some people are house bound, or live in remote areas.  Are the internet, books, podcasts and the like enough?   Spiny recently asked if the Internet was a virtual teacher.  I am not asking if the Net can substitute for a personal, real-world, association with a realized teacher (it cannot), but whether or not a teacher of any sort is required.

Can we follow the Path through self-study, without the formal support of a qualified Dharma teacher?

Hi Heybai  :)

I believe the answer to this question lies in the tradition one chooses to follow.

Kindly,
Laura
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: humanitas on September 18, 2010, 01:58:32 pm
I'm not sure, but IS there a tradition that does NOT put emphasis on a guide for the dharma or that advocates going at it solo?

If not, then I'd think after a few millennia, there might be a reason why...?

The answer would not necessarily lie in the tradition if you don't have a tradition.  But the answer would lie with whichever guide you chose?

Dunno, not tryin' to split hairs, just seems like a distinction that's important to know about.  First question (above) being the most important.   Is there a tradition that does not advocate or advise a teacher?   

I am following Spiny's lead in posting a simple, but I think important, question.  Some of us have been reading and studying on our own for years now without the benefit of face-to-face meetings with a teacher.  Some people are house bound, or live in remote areas.  Are the internet, books, podcasts and the like enough?   Spiny recently asked if the Internet was a virtual teacher.  I am not asking if the Net can substitute for a personal, real-world, association with a realized teacher (it cannot), but whether or not a teacher of any sort is required.

Can we follow the Path through self-study, without the formal support of a qualified Dharma teacher?

Hi Heybai  :)

I believe the answer to this question lies in the tradition one chooses to follow.

Kindly,
Laura
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 18, 2010, 08:44:01 pm
I haven't found my teacher yet, but I did find "How to Find a Teacher"   :D on Dhamma Wiki, just posted in another thread by Ngawang Drolma.  Have a look & listen:

How to find a teacher by Mae Chee Maria
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=How_to_find_a_teacher_by_Mae_Chee_Maria

She believes kamma plays a key role. 
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 18, 2010, 08:49:24 pm
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. This is very much at odds with what the Buddha both taught to and required from his disciples. 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.

Other things that might indicate a teacher’s true worth are seeing if they act differently in public than in private and whether they are affected by fame and success (M.I,318-20). The Buddha approved of respect and reverence by a disciple towards a teacher. He said; ‘A teacher should look upon his student as a son. A student should look upon his teacher as a father. United by this mutual reverence and deference and living in communion with each other, both will achieve increase, growth and progress in this Dhamma and discipline’ (Vin.IV,45). However, the truly sincere teacher wants the disciple to attain the same level of virtue and knowledge as him or her self or even to surpass it, and this can only be done in an environment where questioning and free expression are encouraged.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 18, 2010, 11:40:23 pm
Here is a Vajrayana practice used to find ones guru.
Quote
Calling Guru From Afar

by 1st Jamgon Kongtrul
 
LAMA KHYEN NO
Lama, thinks of us.
DRIN CHEN TSA WIE LA MA KHYEN NO
Kind root lama thinks of us.
DU SUM SANG GYE KYI NGO WO
Essence of the Buddhas of the three times,
LUNG TOK DAM CHO KYI JUNG NE
Source of genuine Dharma in scripture and realization,
PHAK TSOK GEN DUN GYI NGA DAK
Master of the noble gathering of sangka,
TSA WEI LAMA KHYEN NE
Root lama, may you think of us.
JIN LAB THUK JE YI TER CHEN
Great treasure of blessing and compassion,
NGO DRUB NAM NYI KYI JUNG NE
Source of the two siddhis,
TRIN LE CHI DO KUN TSOL DZE
Buddha activity that grants whatever is desired,
TSA WEI LA MA KHYE KHYEN NO
Root lama, may you think of us.
LA MA O PAK ME PA KHYEN NO
Lama Amitabha, thinks of us.
TRO DRAL CHO KU LONG NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the expanse of the dharmakaya, free of fabrication,
DAK SOK LE NGEN KHOR WAR KHYAM NAM
We wander in samsara through the force of negative karma;
DE CHEN DAK PAY ZHING DU DRONG DZO
Bring us to rebirth in your pure land of bliss.
LA MA CHEN RE ZIK WANG KHYEN NO
Lama Chenrezik, thinks of us.
O SAL LONG KUE LONG NE ZIK SHIK
See us from the expanse of the luminous sambhogakaya.
RIK DRUK DUK NGAL TSE NE ZHI ZHING
Pacify completely the suffering of the six kinds of beings
KHAM SUM KHOR WA DONG NE TRUK DZO
And totally transform the three realms of samsara.
LA MA PE MA JUNG NE KHYEN NO
Lama Padmasambhava, thinks of us.
NGA YAB PE MA O NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the luminous lotus of Nga Yab Ling.
NYIK DU KYAB ME BO BANG NYAM THAK
In these dark times, swiftly protect with your compassion
THUK JE NYUR WA NYI DU KYOB DZO
We, disciples, who are destitute and without refuge.
LA MA YE SHE TSO GYEL KHYEN NO
Lama Yeshe Tsogyel, thinks of us.
KHA CHO DE CHEN TRONG NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the dakinis' city of great bliss.
DIK DEN DAK SOK SI PAY TSO LE
Bring us, who have committed negative actions,
THAR PAY DRONG KHYER CHEN POR DROL DZO
Cross the ocean of samsara, to the great city of liberation.
KA TER GYU PAY LA MA KHYEN NO
Lama of the oral transmission and terma lineages, thinks of us.
ZUNG JUK YE SHE LONG NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the expanse of primordial wisdom, the union of appearance and emptiness
DAK GYU TRUL PAY MUN KHANG TOL NE
Break through the dark prison of our confused mind
TOK PAY NYI MA SHAR WAR DZO CHIK
And make the sun of realization rise.
KUN KHYEN DRI ME O ZER KHYEN NO
Omniscient Drime Ozer, thinks of us.
LHUN RUB O NGEI LONG NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the expanse of the five spontaneous lights.
KA DAK GONG PAY TSAL CHEN DZOK NE
Help us to perfect the great display of mind, primordially pure,
NANG SHI THA RU CHIN PAR DZO CHIK
And complete the four stages of Ati yoga.
NYAM ME JO WO YAB SE KHYEN NO
Incomparable Atisha and your heart sons,
GA DEN LHA GYE U NE ZIK SHIK
Amidst hundreds of deities, behold us from Tushita.
TONG NYI NYING JEY NYING PO CHEN GYI
Bring about the birth in our mind stream
JANG SEM GYU LA KYE WAR DZO CHIK
The bodhicitta, the essence of emptiness and compassion.
DRUB CHOK MAR MI DAK SUM KHYEN NO
Supreme siddhas, Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa, think of us.
DE CHEN DOR JE YING NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the space of great vajra bliss.
DE TONG CHAK CHEN CHOK NGO DRUB CHING
Enable us to attain the supreme siddhi of Mahamudra - bliss and emptiness inseparable;
CHO KU NYING U SE PAR DZO CHIK
Awaken the dharmakaya in our heart of hearts.
JIK TEN WANG CHUK KAR MA PA KHYEN NO
Lord of the world, Karmapa, thinks of us.
KHA KHYAB DRO DUL YING NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the space where all beings, in numbers as vast as the sky, are trained.
CHO KUN DEN ME GYU MAR TOK NE
Bring us to see that all phenomena are like an illusion, without any true existence,
NANG SEM KU SUM CHAR WAR DZO CHIK
And to realize appearance and mind arising as the three kayas.
KA GYU CHE ZHI CHUNG GYE KHYEN NO
Lamas of the four great and eight lesser Kagyu lineages, thinks of us.
RANG NANG DAK PEI SHING NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the realm of pure appearances that naturally arise.
NE KAB ZHI YI TRUL PA SANG NE
Clear away the confusion of the four situations,
NAM TOK THA RU CHIN PAR DZO CHIK
And bring us to the perfection of experience and realization.
JE TSUN GONG MA NAM NGA KHYEN NO
Five Sakya forefathers, think of us.
KHOR DE YER ME LONG NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the expanse of samsara and nirvana inseparable.
NAM DAK TA GOM CHO SUM DREL NE
Help us to blend together pure view, meditation and action;
SANG WAY LAM CHOK TRO PAR DZO CHIK
Take us along the supreme path of the secret vajrayana.
NYAM ME SHANG PA KA GYU KHYEN NO
Lamas of the unequalled Shangpa Kagyu, think of us.
NAM DAK SANG GYE ZHING NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the totally pure realms of Buddhas.
THAB DROL NYAM LEN TSUL ZHIN JONG NE
Train us correctly in the methods of practice that bring liberation;
MI LOB ZUNG JUK NYE PAR DZO CHIK
Lead us to discover the path of no more learning, the ultimate union.
DRUB CHEN THANG TONG GYAL PO KHYEN NO
Great Siddha, Thangton Gyalpo, thinks of us.
TSOL ME THUK JEY LONG NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the expanse of effortless compassion.
DEN ME TOK PAY TUL ZHUK DRUB NE
Enable us to attain the discipline that brings realization of
LUNG SEM RANG WANG DU WAR DZO CHIK
Ultimate non-existence, and to master prana and mind.
PHA CHIK DAM PA SANG GYE KHYEN NO
Only father, Dampa Sangya, thinks of us.
LE RAB DRUB PAY YING NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the space of the accomplishing supreme activity.
GYU PAY CHIN LAB NYING LA ZHUK NE
Bring into our heart the blessing of the lineage,
TEN DREL CHOK ME CHAR WAR DZO CHIK
And make auspicious signs arise in all directions.
MA CHIK LAB KYI DRON MA KHYEN NO
Only mother, Labkyi Dronma, thinks of us.
SHE RAB PHAR CHIN LONG NE SIK ZHIK
Behold us from the space of prajnaparamita.
DAK DZIN NYEM CHE TSE NE CHO CHING
Enable us to uproot ego-clinging, the source of pride,

DAK ME TRO DRAL DEN THONG DZO CHIK
And see the truth of egolessness, beyond conception.
KUN KHYEN DOL PO SANG GYE KHYEN NO
Omniscient Dolpa Sangya, thinks of us.
NAM KUN CHOK DEN YING NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the space endowed with all supreme aspects.
PHO WAY UG NAM U MAR GAK NE
Help us to bring into the central channel, the prana of transference
PHO DRAL DOR JEI KU THOB DZO CHIK
And to train the immovable vajra body.
JE TSUN TA RA NA THA KHYEN NO
Jetsun Taranatha, thinks of us.
NAM SUM PO NYAY YING NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the space of the three mudras.
DOR JEY SANG LAM GEK ME DRO NE
Help us to travel without obstacle, the secret vajra path,
JA LU KHA CHO DRUB PAR DZO CHIK
And bring us to the attainment of a rainbow body, the enjoyment of all space
JAM YANG KHYEN TSE WANG PO KHYEN NO
Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, thinks of us.
KHYEN NYI YE SHE YING NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the space of primordial wisdom that knows
MI SHE LO YI MUN PA SANG NE
Clear away the mental darkness of ignorance;
KHYEN RAB NANG WA GYE PAR DZO CHIK
Increase the luminosity of our supreme intelligence.
O SAL TRUL PEI DOR JE KHYEN NO
Osel Tulpay Dorje, thinks of us.
JA ZER O NGEI LONG NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the expanse of the five rainbow lights
THIK LUNG SEM KYI DRI ME DAK NE
Purify the stains from bindu, prana, and mind.
ZHON NU BUM KUR CHANG CHUB DZO CHIK
And bring to the enlightenment of youthful vase body.
PE MA DO NGAK LING PA KHYEN NO
Pema Do Ngak Lingpa, thinks of us.
DE TONG GYUR ME LONG NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the expanse of unchanging bliss and emptiness inseparable.
GYEL DANG GYEL SE GONG PA THA DAK
Enable us to fulfill perfectly
DAK GI YONG SU KONG NU DZO CHIK
The intentions of all the Buddha and bodhisattvas.
NGAK WANG YON TEN GYA TSO KHYEN NO
Ngakwang Yonten Gyamtso, thinks of us.
YING YE ZUNG JUK LONG NE SIK SHIK
Behold us from the expanse of space and primordial wisdom in union.
NANG WAY DEN DZIN HRUL GYI ZHIK NE
May we stop taking appearances to be real;
GANG JUNG LAM DU KHYER NU DZO CHIK
Develop our ability to carry onto the path whatever arises.
GYEL SE LO DRO THA YE KHYEN NO
Bodhisattva Lodro Thaye, thinks of us.
JAM DANG NYING JEI NGANG NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from your state of loving-kindness and compassion.
DRO KUN DRIN CHEN PHA MA SHE NE
Enable us recognize all beings as our kind parents;
ZHEN PHEN NYING NE DRUB NU DZO CHIK
Develop our ability to benefit others from the depth of our hearts.
PE MA GAR GYI WANG CHUK KYEN NO
Pema Garyi Wangchuk, thinks of us.
DE CHEN O SEL YING NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the expanse of great bliss and luminosity.
DUK NGA YE SHE NGA RU DROL NE
Liberate the five poisons into five wisdom;
PANG THOB NYI DZIN ZHIK PAR DZO CHIK
May our dualistic clinging to loss and gain disappear.
TEN NYI YUNG DRUNG LING PA KHYEN NO
Tenyi Yungdrung Lingpa, thinks of us.
SID ZHI NYAM NYI YING NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the space where samsara and nirvana are equal.
MO GU NAL MA GYU LA KYE NE
Engender genuine devotion in our mind;
TOK DROL DU NYAM CHEN POR DZO CHIK
Bring us to simultaneous realization and liberation.
DRIN CHEN TSA WEI LAMA KHYEN NO
King root lama, thinks of us.
CHI TSUK DE CHEN NE NE ZIK SHIK
Behold us from the place of great bliss on the crown of our head.
RANG RIK CHO KUE RANG ZHAL JAL NE
Bring us to meet the very face of the dharmakaya, the awareness of our true nature,
TSE CHIK SANG GYE DRUB DZO CHIK
And in this very life, bring us to complete enlightenment.
KYE MA DAK DREI SEM CHEN LE NGEN DIK TO CHE
Alas, sentient beings like ourselves, who have committed negative actions,
THOK ME DU NE KHOR WAR YUN RING KHYAM
Wander in samsara from beginningless time.
DA RUNG DUK NGAL THA ME NYONG GYUR WAY
Still experiencing endless suffering,
KYO SHE YE CHIK TSAM YANG MA KYE PAY
We do not feel even an instant of repentance.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JEY NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
NGE JUNG TING NE KYE WAR CHIN GYI LOB
Bless us that renunciation arise from the depth of our heart.
DAL JOR THOB KYANG MI TSE TONG ZE KHEN
Although we have attained a precious human birth with leisure and resources, we waste it in vain,
DON ME TSE DIR JHA WAY TAK TU YENG
Constantly distracted by the activities of this hollow life.
DON CHEN THAR PA DRUB LA LE LO KHYER
When it comes to accomplishing the great goal of liberation, we are overcome by laziness
NOR BUY LING NE LAK TONG LOK GYUR PAY
And return empty-handed from a land filled with jewels.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JEY NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
MI LU DON DEN DRUB PAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we make this life meaningful.
MI SHI SA TENG LU PA CHIK KYANG ME
There is no one on this earth that will not die.
DA TA CHIK JE NYI THU PHA ROL DRO
Even now, people are passing away, one after the other.
RANG YANG NYUR WA NYI DU CHI GO KYANG
We also soon must die,
YUN RING DO DRAB CHE PAY NYING RUL PO
But like a fool, we plan to livelong.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JEY NYUK DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
LONG ME LO NA THUNG WAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we curtail all our scheming.
NYING DU DUK PAY DZA SHE SO SOR DRAL
We will be separated from our closest friends.
SER NAY SAK PAY NOR DZE ZHEN GYI CHO
Others will enjoy the wealth we as misers kept.
CHE PAY LU KYANG SHUL DU BOR NE SU
Even our body we hold so dear would be left behind,
NAM SHE BAR DO TOL ME KHOR WAR KHYAM
And our consciousness will wander without direction in the bardo of samsara.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JEY NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
CHI KYANG GO ME TOK PAR JIN GYI LOP
Bless us that we realize the futility of this life.
JIK PAY MUN PA NAK POE NGON NE SU
In front, the black darkness of fear waits to take us in;
LE GYI LUNG MAR DRAK PO GYAB NE DE
From behind, we are chased by the fierce red wind of karma.
MI DUK SHIN JE PHO NAY DEK CHING TSOK
The hideous messengers of the lord of death beat and stab us,
ZO KA NGEN DROY DUK NGAL NYONG GO NA
And so we must experience the unbearable sufferings of the lower realms.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JEY NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
NGEN SONG YANG LE THAR WAR JHIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we are liberated from chasms of lower realms.
RANG KYON RO WO TSAM YANG KHONG DU BE
We conceal within ourselves a mountain of faults;
ZHEN KYON TIL DRU TSAM YANG DROK CHING MO
Yet, we put down others and broadcast their shortcomings, though they be minute as a sesame seed.
YON TEN CHUNG ZE ME KYANG ZANG POR LOM
Though we have not the slightest good qualities, we boast saying how great we are.
CHO PAY MING TAK CHO MIN KHO NA CHO
We have the label of Dharma practitioners, but practice only non-Dharma.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JE NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
RANG DO NGA GYAL ZHI WAR CHIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we loose our pride and self-centredness.
TEN PHUNG DAK DZIN GONG PO KHONG DU CHUK
We conceal within the demon of ego-clinging that always brings us to ruin.
SAM TSE THAM CHE NYON MONG PHEL WAY GYU
All our thoughts cause kleshas to increase.
JHE TSE THAM CHE MI GEY DRE BU CHEN
All our actions have non-virtuous results.
THAR PAY LAM DU CHOK TSAM MA CHIN PAY
We have not even turned towards the path of liberation.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JE NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
NGAR DZIN TSE NE CHO PAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that grasping onto a self be uprooted.
TO ME TSAM LA GA DANG MA GA KYE
A little praise makes us happy; a little blame makes us sad.
TSIK NGEN TSAM LA ZO PAY GO CHA SHOR
With a few harsh words, we loose the armor of our patience.
NYAM TAK THONG YANG NYING JEY SEM MI KYE
Even if we see those who are destitute, no compassion arises.
JIN YUL JUNG DU SER NAY DU PAY CHING
When there is an opportunity to be generous, we are tied in knots by greed.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JEY NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
SEM GYU CHO DANG DRE PA JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that our mind be one with the Dharma.
KHOR WA NYING PO ME LA NYING POR ZUNG
We think samsara is worthwhile, when it is not.
TO GO CHIR DU TEN DUN LING GI BOR
We give up our higher vision for the sake of food and clothes.
KHO GU TSANG YANG GO GO CHI CHIR MANG
Although we have all that is needed, we constantly want more.
MI DEN GYU MAY CHO GYI RANG SEM LU
Our minds are deceived by unreal, illusory phenomena.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JEY NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
TSE DI LO YI THONG WAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we let go of the attachment to this life.
LU SEM DUK NGAL TRA MOANG MI ZO KYANG
Not able to endure the merest physical or mental pain.
NGEN DROR DRO LA MI TSER NYING DOL CHEN
With blind courage, we do not hesitate to fall into lower realms.
GYU DRE LU ME NGON SUM THONG ZHIN DU
Although we see directly the unfailing law of cause and effect,
GE WA MI DRUB DIK PAY YO LANG PHEL
We do not act virtuously, but increase our wholesome activity.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JE NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
LE LA YI CHE KYE WAR CHIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we come to trust completely in the law of karma.
DRA LA DANG SEM NYEN LA CHAK SEM KYE
We hate our enemies and cling to friends.
LANG DOR NE LA TI MUK MUN TAR THOM
Lost in the darkness of ignorance, we do not know what to accept of reject.
CHO ZHIN CHO TSE JHING MUK NYI WANG SHOR
When practicing Dharma, we fall into dullness, drowsiness, and sleep.
CHO MIN CHO TSE WANG PO SAL CHING DRUNG
When not practicing Dharma, we are clever and our senses are clear.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JE NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
NYON MONG DRA WO CHOM PAR JING GYI LOB
Bless us that we overcome our enemy, the kleshas.
CHI NE TE NA YANG DAK CHO PAY ZUK
From the outside, we appear to be genuine Dharma practitioners;
NANG DU RANG SEM CHO DANG MA DRE PAY
On the inside, our minds have not blended with the Dharma.
DRUL DUK ZHIN DU NYON MONG KONG NA BE
We conceal our kleshas inside like a poisonous snake,
KYEN NGEN TRE TSE CHO PAY TSANG TAK TON
Yet when difficult situations arise, the hidden faults of a poor practitioner come to light.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JEY NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
RANG GYU RANG GI THUL WAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we ourselves are able to tame our mind.
RANG KYON NGEN PA RANG GI MA TOK PAY
Not recognizing our own faults,
CHO PAY ZUK ZUNG CHO MIN NA TSOK CHO
We take the form of a Dharma practitioner, while engaging in non-Dharmic pursuits.
NYO MONG MI GEY LE LA SHUK KYI GOM
We are habituated to kleshas and non-virtuous activity.
GE LO YANG YANG KYE KYANG YANG YANG CHE
Again and again virtuous intentions arise; again and again they are cut off.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JEY NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
RANG KYON RANG GI THONG WAR JING GYI LOB
Bless us that we see our own faults.
ZHAK RE SONG ZHIN CHI LA PHAR PHAR NYE
With the passing of each day, we come closer and closer to death.
NYIN RE LONG ZHIN RANG GYU CHI CHIR GYONG
As each day arrives, our mind gets more and more rigid.
LAMA TEN ZHIN MO GU RIM GYI DRIB
Though we serve the lama. Our devotion is gradually obscured.
CHE LA TSE DUNG DAK NANG JE CHUNG SONG
Our love, affection, and pure outlook, towards our Dharma friends diminish.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JE NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
MU GO RANG GYU THUL WAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we tame our obstinate mind.
KHYAB DRO SEM KYE SOL DEB CHE NA YANG
Although we have take refuge, engendered bodhicitta, and made prayers,
MO GU NYING JE TING NE MA KYE PAY
Devotion and compassion have not arisen in the depth of our being.
TSIK TSAM WANG GYUR CHO CHO GE JOR NAM
Dharma activity and the practice of virtue have turned into hollow words.
JED LO TSAM LE GYU THOK MA KHEL WAY
Our empty achievements are many, but none more have moved our mind.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JEY NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
CHI CHE CHO SU DRO WAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that whatever we do is harmony with Dharma.
DAK DE DO LE DUG NGAL THAM CHE JUNG
All suffering arises from wanting our own happiness;
ZHEN PEN SEM GYI SANG GYE DRUB SUNG KYANG
Although it is taught that enlightenment is attained through benefiting others,
SEM CHOK KYE CHING RANG DO PHUK TU CHUK
We engender bodhicitta, while secretly cherishing our own desires.
ZHEN PEN TA CHI ZHEN NO ZHOR LA BRUB
We do not benefit others, and further, we even unconsciously harm them.
LAMA KYEN NO THUK JEY NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
DAK ZHEN JE PAR NU PAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we are able to exchange self for others.
SANG GYE NGO NANG LAMA MI RU ZUNG
Our lama is actually the appearance of the Buddha himself,
But we take him to be an ordinary human being.
DAM ZAB TON PAY KA DRIN NGANG GI JE
We come to forget the lama's kindness in giving us profound instructions.
RANG DO MA JUNG TSE NA YI CHE GOM
We are upset if we do not get what we want.
DZE CHO NAM LA THE TSOM LOK TA DRIB
We see the lama's activity and behaviour through the veil of doubts and wrong views.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JEY NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
MO GU DRIB ME PHEL WAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that free of obscurations, our devotion increase.
RANG SEM SANG GYE YIN KYANG NGO MA SHE
Our own mind is the Buddha, but we do not recognize it.
NAM TOK CHO KU YIN KYANG DON MA TOK
All concepts are the dhamakaya, but we do not realize it.
MA CHO NYUK MA YIN KYANG KYONG MA NU
This is the uncontrived natural state, but we cannot sustain it.
RANG BAB NE LUK YIN KYANG YI MA CHE
This is the true nature of the mind, settled into itself, but we are unable to believe it.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JE NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
RANG RIK RANG SAR DROL WAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that self-awareness be liberated into its ground.
YONG NGE CHI WA NYING NE DREN MA THUB
Death is certain to come, but we are unable to take this to heart.
PHEN NGE DAM CHO TSUL ZHIN DRUB MA NU
Genuine Dharma is certain to benefit, but we are unable to practice correctly.
DEN NGE LE DRE LANG DOR TSUL ZHIN ME
The truth of karma, is certain, but we do not decide correctly what to give up and accept.
GO NGE DREN SHE MA TEN YENG WAY KHYER
It is certainly necessary to be mindful and alert, but these qualities are not stable in us, and we are carried away by distraction.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JEY NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
YENG ME DREN PAY ZIN PAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we stay mindful with no distractions.
NGON LE NGEN PAY NYIK MAY DU THAR KYE
Out of previous negative karma, we are born at the end this degenerate time.
NGAR JE THAM CHE DUK NGAL GYU RU SONG
Al our previous actions have become the cause of suffering.
DROK NGEN NAM KYI DIK PAY DRIB MAY YOK
Bad friends cast over us, the shadow of their negative actions.
DON ME LENG MO GE JOR YENG WAY KHYER
Our practice of virtue is corrupted by meaningless gossip.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JE NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
CHO LA NYING RU NU PAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we take the Dharma deep to heart.
DANG POR SAM GYU CHO LE ME PA LA
At first there is nothing but Dharma on our mind.
THA MA DRUB DRE KHOR WA NGEN SONG GYU
But at the end, the result is the cause of samsara and lower realms.
THAR PAY LO TOK MI GEY SE KYI CHOM
The harvest of liberation is destroyed by the frost of unwholesome activity.
TEN DUN NYE PAY MU GO DAK DRA NAM
We, like wild savages, have lost our ultimate vision.
LAMA KHYEN NO THUK JEY NYUR DU ZIK
Lama, thinks of us, beholds us swiftly with compassion.
DAM CHO THA RU CHIN PAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that within we bring the genuine Dharma to perfection.
KYO SHE TING NE KYE WAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that repentance arise deep from within.
LONG ME LO NA THUNG WAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we curtail all our scheming.
CHI WA NYING NE DREN PAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that from the depth of our heart, we remember death.
LE LA YI CHE KYE WAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we develop certainty in the law of karma.
LAM LA BAR CHE ME PAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that our path is free of obstacles.
DRUB LA TSON DRU NU PAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we are able to exert ourselves in practice.
KHYEN NGEN LAM DU LONG WAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we bring difficult situations into the path.
NYEN PO RANG TSUK THUB PAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that antidotes, through their own power, are completely effective.
CHO MIN MO GU KYE WAR CHIN GYI LOB
Bless us that genuine devotion arise.
NE LUK RANG ZHEL JEL WAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we see the very face of the mind's true nature.
RANG RIK NYING U SE PAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that self-awareness awaken in the center of our heart.
TRUL NANG ZHI TSA CHO PAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that delusive appearances are completely eliminated.
TSE CHIK SANG GYE DRUB PAR JIN GYI LOB
Bless us that we achieve enlightenment in one lifetime.
SOL WA DEB SO LA MA RIN PO CHE
We pray to you, precious lama.
DUNG WAY BO DO DRIN CHEN CHO KYI JE
Kind lama, lord of Dharma, we call out to you with longing.
KAL ME DAK LA RE SA KHYO LE ME
For us, unworthy ones, you are the only hope.
THUK YI YER ME DRE PAR CHIN GYI LOB
Bless us that your mind blends with ours.
You can listen to it here:
http://www.last.fm/music/Lama%2BGyurme%2B%2526%2BJean-Philippe%2BRykiel/_/Calling+The+Lama+From+Afar
:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 19, 2010, 03:19:48 am
Spiny also suggests that for some, working without a teacher or in a formal setting may be preferable. 

I meant possible rather than preferable really.  I mean if it's a choice between practising without a teacher or not practising, then IMO it's better to practice.

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 19, 2010, 03:25:18 am
Yes.  In a way it's a more courageous approach to take.
Courageous?  If there is a good teacher available then going it alone is not courageous, it just plain foolish!

I meant it's more courageous to tread a path without access to a teacher. 
There are of course related questions about what a "teacher" is, how dependent to be on a teacher, whether there is a "right" way to practice, whether we acknowledge diversity or cling to orthodoxy, etc etc.

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Ngawang Drolma on September 19, 2010, 07:14:31 am
I'm not sure, but IS there a tradition that does NOT put emphasis on a guide for the dharma or that advocates going at it solo?

If not, then I'd think after a few millennia, there might be a reason why...?

The answer would not necessarily lie in the tradition if you don't have a tradition.  But the answer would lie with whichever guide you chose?

Dunno, not tryin' to split hairs, just seems like a distinction that's important to know about.  First question (above) being the most important.   Is there a tradition that does not advocate or advise a teacher?   

Hi humanitas  :)

Yes I think you're quite right, a teacher/guide is always a big benefit on the path.

Kindly,
Laura
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: GoGet on September 19, 2010, 09:29:11 am
I meant it's more courageous to tread a path without access to a teacher. 
I think that was understood.

That may have been true is some time and place in the past, but today the only way a student takes the path without a teacher in this day/age is if the choose to do so and that, my friend is a foolish choice.

Quote
There are of course related questions about what a "teacher" is, how dependent to be on a teacher, whether there is a "right" way to practice, whether we acknowledge diversity or cling to orthodoxy, etc etc.

Nit picking over irrelevant details.  The OP asked for no definition of a teacher or any of the other things you mention.

What is a teacher?  Read "Words of My Perfect Teacher".

A right way to practice? Sure, if you think there is a wrong way to practice then surely there must be a right way.

Diversity?  What does that have to do with anything?

Clinging to orthodoxy?  Hmmmmm..... In no way different from clinging to diversity.

All that said, it's still very foolish to attempt the path without a teacher.   It's like trying to climb a mountain you've never seen before.  Yeah, you can do it but a guide not only makes the climb easier, the guide makes it a lot safer.

It seems you have some fundamental objection to having a teacher.  Why is that?
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 19, 2010, 09:45:11 am
Coz he IS a teacher!  :D
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: GoGet on September 19, 2010, 09:50:20 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"
[url]http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Teacher_and_disciple[/url]


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

Quote
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?

Quote
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.

Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: GoGet 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.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Yeshe Zopa 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"
[url]http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Teacher_and_disciple[/url]


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

Quote
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?

Quote
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. ;)
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai 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
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: GoGet 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.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai 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:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: catmoon 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.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai 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?
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: GoGet 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.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman 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
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman 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
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: GoGet on September 21, 2010, 08:03:23 am
Don't you think that labelling such people "foolish" is patronising?   

No, not really.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman 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
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos 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

Quote
"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

Quote
"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.
Quote
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:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: nirmal 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
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 22, 2010, 10:44:50 am
Dear Nirmal,

There is some stuff that should not be spoken about in public.
:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: nirmal on September 22, 2010, 11:00:05 am
Om Mani Padme Hom

Yes Gregkavarnos,

You're right. It's a leak. But I had to somehow show that we could use ancient gurus for the benefit of the others who were looking around for gurus.I think that the Chinese emperors had done enough in keeping the teachings and the benefits of this school a secret just confined to the courts for a long time.


Om Mani Padme Hom
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 23, 2010, 04:39:45 am
...I also believe that actively choosing to practice without a teacher (most probably motivated by ego) when there are qualified teachers available is foolish.....

We don't know that such people are motivated by ego, and we don't know what choices are actually being made.  Maybe there aren't any qualified teachers available locally, maybe there are misgivings about the local groups that are available, maybe these people have personal problems which make it difficult, etc etc.
In any case I wouldn't use the word "foolish" about anyone who is trying to practice Dharma.

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 23, 2010, 10:01:58 am
We don't know that such people are motivated by ego, and we don't know what choices are actually being made.
So what would be  the motivation to ignore available qualified teachers and strike out on your own?  This is the third time where I state clearly that an indivdual CHOOSES to not follow a qualified teacher when they are AVAILABLE.

Quote
Maybe there are misgivings about the local groups that are available, maybe these people have personal problems which make it difficult, etc etc.
All of these justifications are based on ego:  misgivings, personal problems, etc. etc.

If you are uncomfortable with the term "foolish" then we can use the synonym "unwise", but now we are just splitting spines.
 :namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heart on September 23, 2010, 09:26:28 pm

In any case I wouldn't use the word "foolish" about anyone who is trying to practice Dharma.


Anyone might give it a try after reading a book, right? Well then you take a book as your teacher. So what is this "without a teacher" actually? The questions is always if we choose to be more or less informed in what we do. Nothing compares to a teacher in the flesh if you want to be fully informed about what you are trying to do. This is not only true for meditation but just about everything.

/magnus
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Caz on September 24, 2010, 01:31:07 am
Self-guidence on the Dharma ? Isnt that sort of like asking the village idiot for directions  :teehee:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 24, 2010, 01:55:41 am
So what would be  the motivation to ignore available qualified teachers and strike out on your own? 

I don't think I've met anyone like that.  I have met people who base their practice on Dharma books though.

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 24, 2010, 01:56:46 am
Self-guidence on the Dharma ? Isnt that sort of like asking the village idiot for directions  :teehee:

It isn't always obvious who the village idiot is though. :wink1:

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Caz on September 24, 2010, 02:00:05 am
Self-guidence on the Dharma ? Isnt that sort of like asking the village idiot for directions  :teehee:

It isn't always obvious who the village idiot is though. :wink1:

Spiny

In this case there are many profoundities on the path of Dharma, Having been taking Samsaric Rebirth over and over mind covered with Ignorance how can we do it alone ?  :gawrsh:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 24, 2010, 02:06:40 am
In this case there are many profoundities on the path of Dharma...

Essentially Dharma is very simple, and so is practice.  Just meditate, be mindful and keep the precepts.

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 24, 2010, 02:18:39 am
In this case there are many profoundities on the path of Dharma...

Essentially Dharma is very simple, and so is practice.  Just meditate, be mindful and keep the precepts.

Spiny
Yeah right!  Dharma/Dhamma is simple?  You must be joking!!!

Some of the strongest and most unexplainable experiences I had were doing plain, old, boring anapanasati!  Without a teachers guidance insanity was a very viable option.

As for the precepts there is a matter of debate regarding the exact nature of what is contained within the precepts, one requires clarificationa and explanation.  And what if a "Why?" question arises?  How many books would you have to read to find the answer that a real and qualified teacher will give you within seconds?
:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 24, 2010, 02:29:13 am
Thank you all for returning the thread to topic.  (I am not complaining, though, and do like it when a conversation grows organically to touch on tangential issues -- which often then return to the original query).

I think studying on one's own is better than nothing.  Critical reading of a text is of course engaging with the mind of another, albeit in a unique and limited way.

Discussing questions online, as we do here and at other forums, is also valid.

The village idiot by definition does not know he is an idiot.  The etymology of "idiot" (from Greek) suggest a person who is so mentally stunted that he is incapable of thinking reasonably.  I don't think that applies to anyone at this forum.  

But of course we have other problems.  Ignorance is not idiocy.  It is blindness.  One first has to become aware of one's own ignorance and understand that it is as limitless as the stars.  

A teacher, a trusted mentor, can be a great source of help and inspiration.  I believe a teacher is probably essential for most of us at some stage.

I think we can also teach one another, in our limited way, as we grow and learn.


An additional  :twocents:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 24, 2010, 02:32:58 am
Hi Greg.

What is anapanasati?

(See, now Greg is my teacher.)
 :)

heybai
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Bodhicandra on September 24, 2010, 02:45:08 am
 Without a teachers guidance insanity was a very viable option.

Yep! I was going to introduce the aspect of danger to this thread.

Practices can be dangerous - the further you go the more potential for danger and the more difficult it could be to get out by yourself.

Possibly, if you restricted yourself to reading traditional 'hearer' texts, you would never get close enough to the Dharma  to encounter a danger zone, but anyone meditating and/or trying to do anything Vajrayana-ish would be foolish (and I make no apologies for using that word) to try to do it solo.

A teacher is one who knows the territory, she can catch you, guide you back on to the path.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 24, 2010, 02:50:51 am
Hi Greg.

What is anapanasati?

(See, now Greg is my teacher.)
 :)

heybai

Bow at my lotus feet lowly one and prepare to receive my knowledge which will fall upon your head like a rain of flaming vajras!  Uuuuummmmmm.... where was I?  Oh yeah, anapanasati, mindfullness of breathing:   now I inhale, now I exhale, now I inhale, now I exhale, now I inhale, now I exhale, ad nauseum...
Can't get more basic than that one!  The Buddha reccomended the practice to all practitoners regardless of their mental proclivities.
:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Bodhicandra on September 24, 2010, 02:51:57 am
Self-guidence on the Dharma ? Isnt that sort of like asking the village idiot for directions  :teehee:

It isn't always obvious who the village idiot is though. :wink1:

Spiny

Yes it is: he's right there with you - he's your ego  :D
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 24, 2010, 02:53:48 am
I assume you both mean it when you say insanity is a risk from going it alone.  

Are you perhaps referring to Tantric practices?  I don't follow how meditating on breath, metta meditation, thinking about the Four NT, and the ethical aspects of Buddhism, along with reading key critical texts carries such a risk.  If anything, I think I am a calmer, less angry person than I have been in my entire adult life.  

If anything, I think I was edging closer to insanity (or mental unhealth, to put it less dramatically) before I began my modest, self-styled practice.

maitri --
heybai
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 24, 2010, 02:56:00 am
Hi Greg.

What is anapanasati?

(See, now Greg is my teacher.)
 :)

heybai

Bow at my lotus feet lowly one and prepare to receive my knowledge which will fall upon your head like a rain of flaming vajras!  Uuuuummmmmm.... where was I?  Oh yeah, anapanasati, mindfullness of breathing:   now I inhale, now I exhale, now I inhale, now I exhale, now I inhale, now I exhale, ad nauseum...
Can't get more basic than that one!  The Buddha reccomended the practice to all practitoners regardless of their mental proclivities.
:namaste:

Geez, how'd I miss that one?  Thanks for the quick response.

Your eager disciple  :D --

uh, yours truly --
heybai
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heart on September 24, 2010, 04:49:11 am
I assume you both mean it when you say insanity is a risk from going it alone.  

Are you perhaps referring to Tantric practices?  I don't follow how meditating on breath, metta meditation, thinking about the Four NT, and the ethical aspects of Buddhism, along with reading key critical texts carries such a risk.  If anything, I think I am a calmer, less angry person than I have been in my entire adult life.  

If anything, I think I was edging closer to insanity (or mental unhealth, to put it less dramatically) before I began my modest, self-styled practice.

maitri --
heybai

It is impossible to practice Vajrayana without a Guru. However the OP asked without a teacher. According to the Buddha you need a teacher, just like when learning anything you have to find someone capable of teaching you. These days, depending on your situation, it might be at first the Internet or a book or a cd or something else. There is nothing wrong with that. But eventually, if you are very interested to understand and master the teachings, it is very important to find someone that actually mastered the teachings. This is not such an easy thing at all no matter what kind of tradition you follow.

/magnus   
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Bodhicandra on September 24, 2010, 07:55:15 am
I assume you both mean it when you say insanity is a risk from going it alone.  

Are you perhaps referring to Tantric practices?  I don't follow how meditating on breath, metta meditation, thinking about the Four NT, and the ethical aspects of Buddhism, along with reading key critical texts carries such a risk.  If anything, I think I am a calmer, less angry person than I have been in my entire adult life.  

If anything, I think I was edging closer to insanity (or mental unhealth, to put it less dramatically) before I began my modest, self-styled practice.

maitri --
heybai

Certainly anything approaching Tantra needs a qualified teacher.

But I understand there can be other sorts of problems well before Tantra.

Some mediation states, we have been told, can appear very pleasant and blissful - you sink into them and slide into a god-realm existence lasting thousands of years - with an ending which is very painful with regret for all the lost time.

Or else you can have various 'experiences' (Tib: nyams) at quite an early stage of meditation and think they mean something significant and get unhealthily attached to them,

Or you might have a brief glimpse of what appears to you to be 'Reality' and then waste the next few years trying to re-produce the circumstances which, you presume, lead to that experience,

Or ....

If you are ready to do more than just read books, it's foolish not to seek a teacher.

And when you are ready and sincere in your search, one will appear; it's what Bodhisattvas are there for.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 24, 2010, 11:26:06 pm
I assume you both mean it when you say insanity is a risk from going it alone.  

Are you perhaps referring to Tantric practices?  I don't follow how meditating on breath, metta meditation, thinking about the Four NT, and the ethical aspects of Buddhism, along with reading key critical texts carries such a risk.  If anything, I think I am a calmer, less angry person than I have been in my entire adult life.  

If anything, I think I was edging closer to insanity (or mental unhealth, to put it less dramatically) before I began my modest, self-styled practice.

maitri --
heybai
I am not talking about Tantric practices, thankfully I have qualified teachers guiding me through these practices so the experience, although rocky at times, follows the correct direction.  I am talking about plain old breath meditation.  The mind, with a bit of help from Mara, can play all sorts of tricks on you during the practice.  As one slowly penetrates the outer coating of the supposed stability of the ego construction one finds all sorts of crazy s**t buried under the thin crust.  Sometimes it projects as mystical experience, sometimes a emotion, sometimes as supposed insights but always as a butress to ego.  This stuff, if its presence is not explained or analysed by an experienced and qualified teacher can lead to all sorts of insanity:  delusions of spiritual grandeur, fear of death and/or loss of control, hallucinations, etc...  I am talking about intense practice here, not five-fifteen minutes on the pillow in the safe and controlled environment of the home or temple.  I am taking about hours spent meditating on mountain tops and caves during full moon nights,etc...
 :namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 24, 2010, 11:37:42 pm
 I am talking about intense practice here, not five-fifteen minutes on the pillow in the safe and controlled environment of the home or temple.  I am taking about hours spent meditating on mountain tops and caves during full moon nights,etc...
 :namaste:

Not there yet!  Still quite mired in the lowlands.  Got some high mountain tops around here though.  The highest is 3950 meters.  So I will keep this advice in my hip pocket for the days to come.

 :)
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 24, 2010, 11:49:05 pm
All that said, I don't think you absolutely have to have a teacher, but I think it has certain advantages that when considering the easy availability ............ geez...while the hell NOT?

This is probably quite true for anyone reading these words.  But I think it is helpful to remember that there are some 6.7 billion people in the world, and many, probably billions, do not have easy access to the Dharma or expert teachers.  For many 100s of millions simple survival is the "practice" of the day.

For others religious or political prohibitions may pose considerable obstacles.  Think of North Korea, for example.  Since my question is one of principle, I would suppose that all would agree that even modest self-study in the Dharma is beneficial and worthy in such cases, assuming personal safety can be assured of course.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 26, 2010, 02:13:50 am
Yeah right!  Dharma/Dhamma is simple?  You must be joking!!!


No, I wasn't joking atall.  Mind you it's taken me 30 years to realise that it is very simple. :wink1:

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 26, 2010, 02:50:55 am
Without a teachers guidance insanity was a very viable option.


I've heard of people developing mental health problems with a teacher, so I think it's hard to generalise.

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 26, 2010, 02:59:52 am
No, I wasn't joking atall.  Mind you it's taken me 30 years to realise that it is very simple. :wink1:
If it takes thirty years to realise something then normally that is evidence of how complicated it is.

Quote
I've heard of people developing mental health problems with a teacher, so I think it's hard to generalise.
And I know people that have developed lung cancer without ever having smoked cigarettes but it is pretty smart to not smoke if you don't want to increase your risks of developing and dying of lung cancer and I would feel quite happy making a generalisation to the tune of: smoking is a cause of lung cancer.

:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 26, 2010, 03:35:22 am
Without a teachers guidance insanity was a very viable option.


I've heard of people developing mental health problems with a teacher, so I think it's hard to generalise.

Spiny

Yes, this troubles me too.  I feel that finding a teacher in whom to place my utmost trust will be a delicate task.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 26, 2010, 03:58:07 am
Can we take it for granted, at least within the context of this thread, that every time we say teacher we mean a qualified, experienced and responsible teacher and not just somebody with a title?  It will make the thread less repetitive.
:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: catmoon on September 26, 2010, 05:10:52 am
No, I wasn't joking atall.  Mind you it's taken me 30 years to realise that it is very simple. :wink1:
If it takes thirty years to realise something then normally that is evidence of how complicated it is.

Quote
I've heard of people developing mental health problems with a teacher, so I think it's hard to generalise.
And I know people that have developed lung cancer without ever having smoked cigarettes but it is pretty smart to not smoke if you don't want to increase your risks of developing and dying of lung cancer and I would feel quite happy making a generalisation to the tune of: smoking is a cause of lung cancer.

:namaste:


Hmmm. What do you think of this: Something is a cause of an effect if and only if:

When the cause is present, the effect is is present
When the cause is absent, the effect is absent.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Bodhicandra on September 26, 2010, 05:24:10 am


Hmmm. What do you think of this: Something is a cause of an effect if and only if:

When the cause is present, the effect is is present
When the cause is absent, the effect is absent.

So which is the cause and which the effect?

What about some 'hidden variable' influencing both?

Traditionally 'causes and conditions' lead to phenomena; there may be required conditions as well - are they also causes?

Vast area for debate - elsewhere??
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heart on September 26, 2010, 05:56:43 am
Without a teachers guidance insanity was a very viable option.


I've heard of people developing mental health problems with a teacher, so I think it's hard to generalise.

Spiny

Yes, this troubles me too.  I feel that finding a teacher in whom to place my utmost trust will be a delicate task.

It should be a delicate task, the most delicate task in this life actually. The reason that people have problems is that 1) they already had problems 2) they don't understand how delicate task it is.

/magnus
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 26, 2010, 06:11:48 am
No, I wasn't joking atall.  Mind you it's taken me 30 years to realise that it is very simple. :wink1:
If it takes thirty years to realise something then normally that is evidence of how complicated it is.


But I'm not normal.  :wink1: In my case I spent a long time being told how complicated it was. 

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 26, 2010, 06:13:08 am
But I'm not normal.  :wink1:

"Normal O'Norman" just doesn't work. :teehee:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 26, 2010, 06:16:20 am
Without a teachers guidance insanity was a very viable option.


I've heard of people developing mental health problems with a teacher, so I think it's hard to generalise.

Spiny

Yes, this troubles me too.  I feel that finding a teacher in whom to place my utmost trust will be a delicate task.

I think it's fine to be pragmatic and to spend time developing confidence in a teacher.  Or teachers.

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 26, 2010, 07:12:21 am
Hmmm. What do you think of this: Something is a cause of an effect if and only if:

When the cause is present, the effect is is present
When the cause is absent, the effect is absent.
Refer here to reply #59 http://www.freesangha.com/forums/index.php?topic=1896.45 for the full answer.

a) If the cause and the effect are present simultaneously then how is the cause (which theoretically should come before the effect) the cause of something that already exists?  Then either both are causes or both are effects, but effects of what?
b) You cannot have the non-existent cause of a non-existent effect for example:  the unborn barren mother of an unborn son.  :silly:

I thoroughly reccomend to everybody (as I did to Spinoza in the "Ultimate Reality" thread) to read Nagarjunas Mulamadhyamaka-Karika (Verses from the Centre).
:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: nirmal on September 26, 2010, 12:23:46 pm
Om Mani Padme Hom

If chanting is done before meditation, nothing can go wrong in one's meditation practice, be it tantric. False gurus can mess up our practice and even cause us to have mental health problems and they usually end up saying," It's his bad karma."


Om Po Ru Lan Cher Li
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Ngawang Drolma on September 26, 2010, 12:51:32 pm
I'd like to expand a little on what I wrote before regarding different traditions.  Humanitas was curious about why I stated that it might depend a bit upon which tradition a person practices, how necessary a teacher is.  But here's why I said that.

In Vajrayana, a guru is a requirement.  It's necessary and you can't practice Vajrayana without it.
In Mahayana it's highly recommended.  It's always a bonus.
Same goes for Theravada for Dhammavada but many people choose to go by the Buddha's words alone.

So while a teacher is always good, it's totally possible to be a very good Buddhist practitioner working hard on the path with good friends, following the words of the tathagata.

Kind wishes,
Laura
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: humanitas on September 26, 2010, 12:53:54 pm
I might need a day or so for that Greg, I'm still halfway through the first part of the nagarjuna stuff...  Valuable, but I need time to digest.

:headbow:

Hmmm. What do you think of this: Something is a cause of an effect if and only if:

When the cause is present, the effect is is present
When the cause is absent, the effect is absent.
Refer here to reply #59 [url]http://www.freesangha.com/forums/index.php?topic=1896.45[/url] for the full answer.

a) If the cause and the effect are present simultaneously then how is the cause (which theoretically should come before the effect) the cause of something that already exists?  Then either both are causes or both are effects, but effects of what?
b) You cannot have the non-existent cause of a non-existent effect for example:  the unborn barren mother of an unborn son.  :silly:

I thoroughly reccomend to everybody (as I did to Spinoza in the "Ultimate Reality" thread) to read Nagarjunas Mulamadhyamaka-Karika (Verses from the Centre).
:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Jikan on September 26, 2010, 01:06:07 pm
One problem many people have with this question is the related question of how to identify a teacher who can help, especially since we've been warned over and over not to be duped into handing our wallets and minds over to a fraud or worse. 

Basically, it's just hard to be a beginner.  You need to know a certain amount of Dharma in order to understand who can teach you more, and how (and how to weed out the ones who are clearly way out in the weeds).   But how do you know how to acquire just that amount of teaching?  Discussion boards like this one help, previous experience in learning new things helps, but the bottom line is that starting out on the Buddhist path is uncomfortable.  You have to trust a little bit, and who wants to do that?

Some useful commentary on one higher-profile not-so-trustworthy non-Buddhist example here that may well apply to others as well:

http://for-the-turnstiles.blogspot.com/2010/09/problem-circularity-in-knowledge.html

I'm of the opinion that no one goes without a teacher.  If you are trying to practice solo, you have a teacher, in fact a deluded one:  you.  If you're stuck in a burning house and you're not a fire fighter or rescue professional, maybe it's not such a bad idea to call 911?
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: humanitas on September 26, 2010, 01:55:17 pm
Wonderful input Jikan, thank you.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 27, 2010, 02:13:54 am
If you're stuck in a burning house and you're not a fire fighter or rescue professional, maybe it's not such a bad idea to call 911?

I think a better analogy might be whether to tackle some work on your house yourself or get a builder in, or maybe ask a friend who knows about building to help.  But finding a reliable builder isn't all that easy.

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 27, 2010, 02:47:36 am

So while a teacher is always good, it's totally possible to be a very good Buddhist practitioner working hard on the path with good friends, following the words of the tathagata.

Couldn't have said it better myself. 

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heart on September 27, 2010, 03:00:29 am
If you're stuck in a burning house and you're not a fire fighter or rescue professional, maybe it's not such a bad idea to call 911?

I think a better analogy might be whether to tackle some work on your house yourself or get a builder in, or maybe ask a friend who knows about building to help.  But finding a reliable builder isn't all that easy.

Spiny

"A friend that knows about building" that is the definition of a teacher in the Mahayana context, it is called a spiritual friend.

/magnus
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 27, 2010, 03:05:10 am
If you're stuck in a burning house and you're not a fire fighter or rescue professional, maybe it's not such a bad idea to call 911?

I think a better analogy might be whether to tackle some work on your house yourself or get a builder in, or maybe ask a friend who knows about building to help.  But finding a reliable builder isn't all that easy.

Spiny
I get the feeling (from other comments of yours of a similar nature) that you are just being antithetical for the sake of being antithetical.  Purposefully difficult for no purpose at all.
:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: catmoon on September 27, 2010, 06:13:47 am
I get the feeling (from other comments of yours of a similar nature) that you are just being antithetical for the sake of being antithetical.  Purposefully difficult for no purpose at all.
:namaste:

So you are saying Spiny has a purposeless purpose?
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 27, 2010, 08:49:55 am
I get the feeling (from other comments of yours of a similar nature) that you are just being antithetical for the sake of being antithetical.  Purposefully difficult for no purpose at all.
:namaste:


So you are saying Spiny has a purposeless purpose?
No, I am saying that he is purposefully purposeless!
(http://img839.imageshack.us/img839/4596/funnyandcutehedgehog03.jpg)
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: catmoon on September 27, 2010, 10:32:24 am
No, I am saying that he is purposefully purposeless!



Ok, change that to "intentionally purposeless" and I might buy it.  Might.

(http://www.heavingdeadcats.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/funny-pictures-your-cat-does-not-want-to-explain-any-more-450x337.jpg)
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 28, 2010, 12:40:16 am
If you're stuck in a burning house and you're not a fire fighter or rescue professional, maybe it's not such a bad idea to call 911?

I think a better analogy might be whether to tackle some work on your house yourself or get a builder in, or maybe ask a friend who knows about building to help.  But finding a reliable builder isn't all that easy.

Spiny
I get the feeling (from other comments of yours of a similar nature) that you are just being antithetical for the sake of being antithetical. Purposefully difficult for no purpose at all.
:namaste:

I completely disagree.  I think Spiny likes to be whimsical at times but is a serious thinker who likes to challenge other people on basic points, and always does so without heat and with proper respect.

Further, I think his analogy works better for me than does Jikan's (whose post I also read with interest)

Further --

1.  You are off-topic.
2.  Speculation on another member's motives ought to be handled in a PM, in my opinion.

Respectfully,
heybai
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Bodhicandra on September 28, 2010, 12:53:14 am
I've started a related thread in the Danger Zone:
http://www.freesangha.com/forums/index.php?topic=1922.0 (http://www.freesangha.com/forums/index.php?topic=1922.0)
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 28, 2010, 02:22:16 am
Dear Heybai,

I’m going to be a pain in the donkey-horse hybrid and agree and disagree with you.

This
I completely disagree.  I think Spiny likes to be whimsical at times but is a serious thinker who likes to challenge other people on basic points, and always does so without heat and with proper respect.
Though the first part of this statement is mainly true Spinys comments, both here and in the “Ultimate Reality” thread, show a distinct, though at times cleverly camouflaged as whimsical, disrespect for practitioners of the maha and vajrayana.

We all agree and have agreed repeatedly in this thread, that a good teacher is difficult to find.  Yes that’s right we ALL know that, and I can furnish a number of anecdotes from my personal experience, and so can you, and almost everybody else who has been following this thread.  But this DOES NOT mean that a teacher is not necessary.

And you know what?  This is not a Theravadra vs maha-vajrayana thing.  This is just a straw man.  Where, in any of the Theravadra traditions, does it say that teachers are unnecessary?  Let’s accept that the words of the Buddha, Dhamma in this instance are enough.  What about all those people out there that have translated the texts so that we can read them?  Are we not accepting them as some sort of teachers (authority) since, ultimately, what we are reading is their interpretation of the original texts?  Coz ultimately the translator (like the teacher) is merely a conduit of information between the original source and the individual receiving the teaching.  Soooo…?

To say that teachers are not necessary because it is difficult to find a good teacher is throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Quote
Speculation on another member's motives ought to be handled in a PM, in my opinion
Hmmmmm… yes and no.  You see I am trying to ascertain Spiny McNormans motives.  Why?  Since he is the OP of this thread, if I know his motives, I can then decide as to whether I wish to participate in this thread or not.  You see even though this thread began with a question it doesn’t look like Spiny wants answers but merely posed the question in order to project his opinion.  Now that’s fine (Spiny wishing to project his opinion) but it would have been more honest if the title was:  “A teacher is not really necessary, please discuss.”  Rather than:  “Is a teacher really necessary?” please answer, although I don’t really want to hear your answers!

Sorry for having pulled the thread off track with my silly bantering with catmoon, I hope this post sets it back on track and I am sorry if you feel that my motives were negative.  It was not my intention.
:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 28, 2010, 03:29:14 am
I get the feeling (from other comments of yours of a similar nature) that you are just being antithetical for the sake of being antithetical.  Purposefully difficult for no purpose at all.
:namaste:

I'm probably just disagreeing with you.   This is a discussion forum, after all.

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 28, 2010, 03:40:20 am
I'm probably just disagreeing with you.   This is a discussion forum, after all.
No qualms about that, just for the sake of polite conversation you may wish to outline why you disagree instead of just one line write-offs, repetitive statements and lightly disguised put-downs.

As you may notice (from Bodhichandras new thread) that I am not the only one who feels this way.
:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 28, 2010, 03:59:19 am
I'm probably just disagreeing with you.   This is a discussion forum, after all.
No qualms about that, just for the sake of polite conversation you may wish to outline why you disagree instead of just one line write-offs, repetitive statements and lightly disguised put-downs.

My perception is that you don't like being disagreed with, and are trying to undermine.  This isn't the first time this has happened here unfortunately.

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 28, 2010, 04:06:10 am
Let me put it to you another way:  Why do you believe a teacher is not necessary?  I am actually, strangley enough, interested in knowing why you believe this.  I am actually here to listen to others opinions as well as to express my own.  Monologues tend to be rather boring (even if I do end up being the "winner" of my monologues on all ocassions  :D ).
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 28, 2010, 04:10:02 am
Let me put it to you another way:  Why do you believe a teacher is not necessary?

I think guidance is necessary.  For some people that guidance may come from reading books, attending a local meditation group, or even participating in internet discussions.  :wink1:  But let's not look down on people like this, let's respect the fact that they are practising and are part of the wider sangha.

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 28, 2010, 04:24:51 am
I think guidance is necessary.  For some people that guidance may come from reading books, attending a local meditation group, or even participating in internet discussions.  :wink1:  But let's not look down on people like this, let's respect the fact that they are practising and are part of the wider sangha.
Message received and understood!  Please comment on this previous post of mine:

Quote
And you know what?  This is not a Theravadra vs maha-vajrayana thing.  This is just a straw man.  Where, in any of the Theravadra traditions, does it say that teachers are unnecessary?  Let’s accept that the words of the Buddha, Dhamma in this instance are enough.  What about all those people out there that have translated the texts so that we can read them?  Are we not accepting them as some sort of teachers (authority) since, ultimately, what we are reading is their interpretation of the original texts?  Coz ultimately the translator (like the teacher) is merely a conduit of information between the original source and the individual receiving the teaching.  Soooo…?
:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heart on September 28, 2010, 06:58:23 am
Let me put it to you another way:  Why do you believe a teacher is not necessary?

I think guidance is necessary.  For some people that guidance may come from reading books, attending a local meditation group, or even participating in internet discussions.  :wink1:  But let's not look down on people like this, let's respect the fact that they are practising and are part of the wider sangha.

Spiny

Spiny,

I think you mentioned in your presentation that you were "leading a local group" of Buddhists, right? So you probably already taken on the role of a "spiritual friend" or older brother if you give "guidance" to the people of the group.

In Vajrayana the teacher is a Guru.
In Mahayana the teacher is a "spiritual friend".
In Theravada a teacher is an older brother or sister.

The relationship is very different in the various yanas. Please don't equate the word teacher with the Vajrayana Guru. Because a Theravada practitioner for sure don't need a Guru. But all Buddhist do need guidance and the one that gives it is in fact a teacher. What kind of teacher he/she is will depend on the teaching that we are talking about. 

/magnus



Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 28, 2010, 07:10:01 am
Quote
Since he is the OP of this thread, if I know his motives, I can then decide as to whether I wish to participate in this thread or not.

Nope.  Check again.  I am the OP of this thread. 

I respectfully ask you to stay on topic and cease speculating about other members's motives.  If you wish to discuss your differences with Spiny, please resort to personal messaging.

You do not read carefully sometimes, Greg.
,
Best regards,
heybai
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Padawan on September 28, 2010, 07:11:43 am
Interesting thread! To come in  the middle and throw another Question out there, are there certain teachers who do distance teaching? I am in the same boat int hat the nearest center is almost 2 hours from me.

I understand the point that one would be able to learn on their own without a teacher, but would guidance not be more beneficial? I would liken it to Christians who read and interpret the Bible themselves, saying god puts the knowledge in their hearts.  God apparently has different knowledge for different people as they interpret it many ways, leading to much division in christianity. It would seem a teacher would keep those harmful or misguided interpretations from coming about and clouding the mind.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Monkey Mind on September 28, 2010, 09:49:23 am
Wow! This thread has become rich with interesting dialogue. My confession to the community: I posted on page 1, and then have not really followed with any interest. But a couple of people  have pulled the "report post" lever, so I am reviewing with renewed interest. I see no content that requires intervention, but I will offer a word of caution: this question has different meaning when viewed through the lens of different traditions. Please be respectful that people are guaranteed to disagree on this topic, which is why it is a brilliant conversation starter.

I'll add an additional level to this debate: modern Western practitioners have an unprecedented ability to pick-and-choose. In the old days, if you were born on this side of the mountain you belonged to this sect of Buddhism, and if you were born on the other side of the mountain, a different sect. People rarely moved from one sect to another, and doing so meant leaving much behind to move into absolute uncertainty.

In the Theravada tradition, the relationship was with the Dhamma and not with a teacher. Villagers would go to the monastery and hear teachings from the "monk of the day", or on certain days from the head of the monastery. You want a different teacher? Then travel 300 miles by foot to the next nearest monastery. Some (wealthy) people apprenticed themselves to a specific teachers, but this was not the norm. What little I know about Mahayana traditions, I suspect it was not much different for lay people. So please recognize that this very debate is born of privilege that is relatively new to Buddhism.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: humanitas on September 28, 2010, 09:57:16 am
Ok, as the moderator, I can understand why the questioning emerges on "What is your motive to ask this" as that seems to often determine whether we want to get involved or not.

Greg, please PM the OP when in doubt of motives, it does take the subject off topic, but at the same time I feel it's fair that know what you're answering to in the thread so you're not putting a lot of time in posting if it's not appreciated.  These things are easily resolved through PM, no need to derail the publicly visible discussion.

As for Spiny, I can certainly understand your conundrum.  I think what Magnus pointed out is right ON!  In the different schools the teacher is viewed a little differently because the PRACTICE itself is different, and so the teacher's role and necessity is reflected by the practice.  

Greg you're a Vajrayanist, Spiny you're a Theravadan, I can absolutely see how this can lead to a difference in perception of the importance of the teacher.

Is there any other yana where the teacher (guru/lama) is emphasized as much as in Vajrayana?  Not to my knowledge, but we already know that's rather limited.  My understanding is that Vajrayana is sort of the "fast" path, that is people who have committed to awakening in a lifetime.  If you think of how you might need to crash course something, the pitfalls are greater, meaning, the need for a guide is HUGELY mandatory/emphasized in its fundamental necessity.  Whereas, the other yanas have a longer view in mind..?  What do you guys think?

I think you guys mostly have it worked out in this discussion, I know no one here meant harm, let's just stay on topic, k?

Thanks,
the Moderatorship.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: humanitas on September 28, 2010, 10:00:00 am
LOL, MM and I were on the same page without realizing it.  We posted at the same time.

Please continue, the discussion seems healthy to us as you guys have caught what could have been an issue before us and addressed it!  Thank you for such mindfulness!

:headbow:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: GoGet on September 28, 2010, 10:08:19 am
Interesting thread! To come in  the middle and throw another Question out there, are there certain teachers who do distance teaching? I am in the same boat int hat the nearest center is almost 2 hours from me.

There are a number of teachers who offer onine teachings and in some cases entire study curriculums.  These can be good, because oftentimes there is the opportunity to contact the person teaching for clarification on points of conusion that may arise.

Quote
I understand the point that one would be able to learn on their own without a teacher, but would guidance not be more beneficial?

You can gain greater intellectual knowing and understanding of Dharma on your own.  However having a "friend" to offer help and guidance can be extremely beneficial.

Still, simply knowing Djarma on a purely intellectual level is not all there is to consider here.  Simply knowing Dharma is insufficient with regards to realization.  Anyone can study and recall things - 4NT, 8NP, Nidannas and so on.  If you have a mind for storing and recalling info it can be very easy.  But, when the vitally important aspect of practice enters into it, you have a completely different matter entirely. Here is where a guide/teacher/guru becomes absolutely essential.  While guidance for practice can be gained online, or from books, there are some instructions you simply won't find there.  Some things are only passed to a student orally, or via a specific relationship based on personal contact with the teacher.  For instance, my guru will respond to emails a such requesting help on matters of practice, but there are limits to what he will repond with.  Some questions will only be answered in person.  There is no other way.

Quote
I would liken it to Christians who read and interpret the Bible themselves, saying god puts the knowledge in their hearts.  God apparently has different knowledge for different people as they interpret it many ways, leading to much division in christianity. It would seem a teacher would keep those harmful or misguided interpretations from coming about and clouding the mind.

I think there is too great a premium placed on what a student "knows" about the Dharma, especially in online communities.  There's nothing wrong with knowing the Dharma, but unless it can be or is directly applied to practice I would seriously question the value of that study. You can study the Dharma untill the cows come home, but if you have no practice to back that up, then all you have is knowledge and knowledge not enough.  Without practice, knowledge of Dharma is not much different than knowing what the outside temperature is.

And it's in the matter of Dharma practice is where the teacher is essential - I would say an absolute neccesity.  There are too many pitfalls, obstacles and dangers to be encountered in practice to not have a relationship with a qualified and bonafied teacher to help as well as instruct.

If all a student wants is to "know" the Dharma, fine - learn any way you want or can. If you seek enlightenment, then you must  have a teacher.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: humanitas on September 28, 2010, 10:26:06 am
Quote
If all a student wants is to "know" the Dharma, fine - learn any way you want or can. If you seek enlightenment, then you must  have a teacher.

This is a rather profound point.  You want to know about the Himalayas and scaling the mountains, you can know everything from the conditions of the snow, the scaling challenges from what you've read, as well as testimonies of the world's best mountain climbers.

But that does not make you a mountain climber.  To climb the mountain you need someone to teach you so you don't fall to your death in the million ways that can happen on Mt. Everest.  It is not enough to know that at a certain altitude your lungs will bleed, when you're there, you HAVE to know what you're doing.  Or you will die.  Knowing why and how things happen is not enough.  WHAT do you do when you're lungs start bleeding?  This is where correct application is the difference between living and dying. 

Dharma is much the same.  We can be experts on the dharma and everything it does, teaches, etc.  But PRACTICING it, is the difference between theory and practice.

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice.  In practice, there is. -C. Reid.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 28, 2010, 11:12:28 am
I'll add an additional level to this debate: modern Western practitioners have an unprecedented ability to pick-and-choose. In the old days, if you were born on this side of the mountain you belonged to this sect of Buddhism, and if you were born on the other side of the mountain, a different sect. People rarely moved from one sect to another, and doing so meant leaving much behind to move into absolute uncertainty.

In the Theravada tradition, the relationship was with the Dhamma and not with a teacher. Villagers would go to the monastery and hear teachings from the "monk of the day", or on certain days from the head of the monastery. You want a different teacher? Then travel 300 miles by foot to the next nearest monastery. Some (wealthy) people apprenticed themselves to a specific teachers, but this was not the norm. What little I know about Mahayana traditions, I suspect it was not much different for lay people. So please recognize that this very debate is born of privilege that is relatively new to Buddhism.

MM, this is good and sobering stuff.  It often crosses my mind that I am being really quite self-absorbed concerning my search for a teacher.   Nonetheless, I do not live in a traditional culture and do not attend prayer meetings in the village square.  (I actually live in a quasi-Christian missionary community, LOL.  No, I am not now, nor have I ever been an evangelical  :wink1:)

best,
heybai
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Padawan on September 28, 2010, 12:05:33 pm
Interesting thread! To come in  the middle and throw another Question out there, are there certain teachers who do distance teaching? I am in the same boat int hat the nearest center is almost 2 hours from me.

There are a number of teachers who offer onine teachings and in some cases entire study curriculums.  These can be good, because oftentimes there is the opportunity to contact the person teaching for clarification on points of conusion that may arise.

Quote
I understand the point that one would be able to learn on their own without a teacher, but would guidance not be more beneficial?

You can gain greater intellectual knowing and understanding of Dharma on your own.  However having a "friend" to offer help and guidance can be extremely beneficial.

Still, simply knowing Djarma on a purely intellectual level is not all there is to consider here.  Simply knowing Dharma is insufficient with regards to realization.  Anyone can study and recall things - 4NT, 8NP, Nidannas and so on.  If you have a mind for storing and recalling info it can be very easy.  But, when the vitally important aspect of practice enters into it, you have a completely different matter entirely. Here is where a guide/teacher/guru becomes absolutely essential.  While guidance for practice can be gained online, or from books, there are some instructions you simply won't find there.  Some things are only passed to a student orally, or via a specific relationship based on personal contact with the teacher.  For instance, my guru will respond to emails a such requesting help on matters of practice, but there are limits to what he will repond with.  Some questions will only be answered in person.  There is no other way.

Quote
I would liken it to Christians who read and interpret the Bible themselves, saying god puts the knowledge in their hearts.  God apparently has different knowledge for different people as they interpret it many ways, leading to much division in christianity. It would seem a teacher would keep those harmful or misguided interpretations from coming about and clouding the mind.

I think there is too great a premium placed on what a student "knows" about the Dharma, especially in online communities.  There's nothing wrong with knowing the Dharma, but unless it can be or is directly applied to practice I would seriously question the value of that study. You can study the Dharma untill the cows come home, but if you have no practice to back that up, then all you have is knowledge and knowledge not enough.  Without practice, knowledge of Dharma is not much different than knowing what the outside temperature is.

And it's in the matter of Dharma practice is where the teacher is essential - I would say an absolute neccesity.  There are too many pitfalls, obstacles and dangers to be encountered in practice to not have a relationship with a qualified and bonafied teacher to help as well as instruct.

If all a student wants is to "know" the Dharma, fine - learn any way you want or can. If you seek enlightenment, then you must  have a teacher.

Excellent response, that is exactly what I was curious about,.not the learning per say, bu t the actual impletmetntation of practicing. As you say anyone has the ability to learn something, but being able to actually do it is what is neccessary.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Padawan on September 28, 2010, 12:06:30 pm
Quote
If all a student wants is to "know" the Dharma, fine - learn any way you want or can. If you seek enlightenment, then you must  have a teacher.

This is a rather profound point.  You want to know about the Himalayas and scaling the mountains, you can know everything from the conditions of the snow, the scaling challenges from what you've read, as well as testimonies of the world's best mountain climbers.

But that does not make you a mountain climber.  To climb the mountain you need someone to teach you so you don't fall to your death in the million ways that can happen on Mt. Everest.  It is not enough to know that at a certain altitude your lungs will bleed, when you're there, you HAVE to know what you're doing.  Or you will die.  Knowing why and how things happen is not enough.  WHAT do you do when you're lungs start bleeding?  This is where correct application is the difference between living and dying. 

Dharma is much the same.  We can be experts on the dharma and everything it does, teaches, etc.  But PRACTICING it, is the difference between theory and practice.

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice.  In practice, there is. -C. Reid.

Excellent analogy ! Thank You
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: GoGet on September 28, 2010, 04:42:12 pm
Some of you may recall that I've been on retreat for the last week or so and offically came out of that retreat yesterday AM.

I purposely left as much of the flotsam of my life behind for that time, including this forum.  However, during my daily break time I found this book in the retreat center's library:

Teacher - Student Relationship
By: Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye

http://www.namsebangdzo.com/Teacher_Student_Relationship_p/5900.htm

Of course, considering my recent involment in this thread, I decided to read as much as I could while on retreat (breaks, dinner and before bed).  I found it to be an excellent resource on the subject of this thread.  Much of the writing applies to this relationship and it's necessity in a Vajrayana context.  Still, much of it would apply equally to a Theravedan context as well.  It also has a rather comprehensive treatment of the criteria for both the teacher and the student - what constitutes a proper Dharma teacher as well as a Dharma student (kinda sobering actually).

If I was to summarize Jamgon Kongtrul's view(as portrayed in this translation) on the necessity of a teacher/guru (and in my mind it is impossible, if not foolish, to discount or dismiss his view), I would have to say that yes, the teacher is absolutely and positively necessary.  Period.  End of discussion. No way around it.  If the goal of the student's study and practice is to reach enlightenment in this or some future life, then a teacher/spiritual friend/guru is necessary.

And I liked the book enough that I will probably buy my own copy in upcoming weeks.

PS:  At the risk of being a bit egotistical about it, I would prefer that this be the end of discussion of my retreat in this thread.  If anyone has questions about that, I would prefer to discuss it privately if it's just the same to everyone and I'm happy to do so (privately).
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on September 28, 2010, 10:19:38 pm
Quote
You want a different teacher? Then travel 300 miles by foot to the next nearest monastery. Some (wealthy) people apprenticed themselves to a specific teachers, but this was not the norm. What little I know about Mahayana traditions, I suspect it was not much different for lay people. So please recognize that this very debate is born of privilege that is relatively new to Buddhism.

I have another thought in regard to this helpful reminder from MM.  I recently heard a Dhamma talk in which the concept of "Buddha Nature" was discussed.  Instead of the usual metaphysical aspects of this idea, the speaker traced its etymology (forgive, I do not know Pali or Sanskrit and therefore cannot recall the details) to pre-Buddhist India and to really down-to-earth origins which the Buddha probably had in mind.  According to this definition of "Buddha Nature" the Buddha had in mind four prerequisites:

1.  To be at ease with one's food
2.  To be at ease with one's abode
3.  To be at ease with one's clothing
4.  To have an active curious mind

It's not that one needs to be rich, but the Buddha seems to have been quite clear that people whose entire energies are given up to keeping the wolf at bay could not be expected to have time or energy for the Dhamma.   Likewise, it is important not to be caught up in materiality.  One must be easily satisfied with a simple house, simple clothing, and adequate food.

That can be shown to possess curious minds, both in the Buddha's time and in ours, than have the means to free themselves from want is a saddening reality that should trouble us.

We are indeed privileged. How foolish it would be to squander our blessings. 
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 29, 2010, 09:33:30 am
I think guidance is necessary.  For some people that guidance may come from reading books, attending a local meditation group, or even participating in internet discussions.
I, like you, organise and lead a local meditation group.  What I would like to know is how you delineate between guiding and teaching.  Where is the line that one crosses that takes one from being a a guide and makes them a teacher?

For example is leading people through a meditation session teaching or guiding (or both)?  What about answering question pertaining to practice ("Is it better to have my eyes open or closed?"  "Should I stop myself from thinking or merely observe thoughts" etc...)  What about explaining the theoretical basis behind practice?  I mean the Buddha taught meditation as part of the Noble Eightfold Path, if you explain the part that meditation plays in Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration does that make you a teacher or aguide along the Buddhas path?  Is expounding Dha...ma teaching or guiding?

Personally anybody that knows more than me about a subject is automatically entitled to the title of teacher within the bounds of their knowledge and practice of a subject.
:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Monkey Mind on September 29, 2010, 10:33:16 am
I, like you, organise and lead a local meditation group.  What I would like to know is how you delineate between guiding and teaching.  Where is the line that one crosses that takes one from being a a guide and makes them a teacher?

For example is leading people through a meditation session teaching or guiding (or both)?  What about answering question pertaining to practice ("Is it better to have my eyes open or closed?"  "Should I stop myself from thinking or merely observe thoughts" etc...)  What about explaining the theoretical basis behind practice?  I mean the Buddha taught meditation as part of the Noble Eightfold Path, if you explain the part that meditation plays in Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration does that make you a teacher or aguide along the Buddhas path?  Is expounding Dha...ma teaching or guiding?

Personally anybody that knows more than me about a subject is automatically entitled to the title of teacher within the bounds of their knowledge and practice of a subject.
:namaste:
Tying this into Spiny's question about MBSR... When I was "facilitating" a meditation group at the therapy clinic, I felt very queazy about this very issue. Anyone can download mindfulness meditation instructions from the internet, and some of the sources I was using were very reputable. I was also using guided meditations on MP3. I was trying to minimize the perception that I was a "teacher". However, I often received questions about practice, technique, theory. It was easy for me to think that I "knew" the answers to the questions and answer them, and it required a lot of restraint on my part to instead repeat my disclaimer, "I am here to offer support and encouragement, not to teach." Add to the confusion, some of the people in my group were newbies to meditation, some practiced with a Zen community, some with a Tibetan community, some with new agers, etc.

And we were billing insurance companies for the service. I'm an amateur meditator, presenting watered down teachings of the Buddha while claiming not to be a teacher, and charging a fee when the Buddhist temple down the street was offering a better product for free... Reason #33 why I stopped running this group...
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 30, 2010, 03:34:51 am
I, like you, organise and lead a local meditation group.  What I would like to know is how you delineate between guiding and teaching.  Where is the line that one crosses that takes one from being a a guide and makes them a teacher?

This is a tricky one.  Effectively I am teaching, but I don't consider myself to be a "Teacher", if you see what I mean.  So if somebody better qualified turned up I would happily hand over to them.  Where I live the choice is between me or nothing - so I guess "me" is slightly better. :wink1:

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Caz on September 30, 2010, 04:48:07 am
I, like you, organise and lead a local meditation group.  What I would like to know is how you delineate between guiding and teaching.  Where is the line that one crosses that takes one from being a a guide and makes them a teacher?

This is a tricky one.  Effectively I am teaching, but I don't consider myself to be a "Teacher", if you see what I mean.  So if somebody better qualified turned up I would happily hand over to them.  Where I live the choice is between me or nothing - so I guess "me" is slightly better. :wink1:

Spiny

Good for you Spiny Benifiting others.  :blush:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 30, 2010, 06:25:15 am
I was trying to minimize the perception that I was a "teacher". However, I often received questions about practice, technique, theory. It was easy for me to think that I "knew" the answers to the questions and answer them, and it required a lot of restraint on my part to instead repeat my disclaimer, "I am here to offer support and encouragement, not to teach." Add to the confusion, some of the people in my group were newbies to meditation, some practiced with a Zen community, some with a Tibetan community, some with new agers, etc.

Yes, it's complicated, and can be personally very challenging.  But if a beginner turns up and wants to know, and given that there is nothing else available locally, then I will tell them what I know.  However, I only talk about what I know from experience, and I keep it very simple, always with the caveat that there are different schools with different approaches.

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heart on September 30, 2010, 08:09:01 am
I was trying to minimize the perception that I was a "teacher". However, I often received questions about practice, technique, theory. It was easy for me to think that I "knew" the answers to the questions and answer them, and it required a lot of restraint on my part to instead repeat my disclaimer, "I am here to offer support and encouragement, not to teach." Add to the confusion, some of the people in my group were newbies to meditation, some practiced with a Zen community, some with a Tibetan community, some with new agers, etc.

Yes, it's complicated, and can be personally very challenging.  But if a beginner turns up and wants to know, and given that there is nothing else available locally, then I will tell them what I know.  However, I only talk about what I know from experience, and I keep it very simple, always with the caveat that there are different schools with different approaches.

Spiny

To me it seems that you two very clearly recognize the need and the reason for searching for a qualified teacher (not a guru) or qualified guidance.  :anjali:

/magnus

   
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on September 30, 2010, 08:21:44 am
This is a tricky one.  Effectively I am teaching, but I don't consider myself to be a "Teacher", if you see what I mean.  So if somebody better qualified turned up I would happily hand over to them.  Where I live the choice is between me or nothing - so I guess "me" is slightly better.
This is my take too on the situation I find myself in.  I always point out to the group that I am not a qualified teacher and (whenever possible) refer them to qualified teachers to answer their question.  I also give answers when I have answers and (in the cases where I don't know the answers) utilise the students questions in order to broaden my own knowledge.  I have found that most people ask the basic questions we have all asked a thousand times, the answers to which exist in books like the Milindapanha or Waholas book "What the Buddha taught" or "Good question Good Answer" by Ven. S Dhammika.  The beauty of these books are that they are very simple AND all three are available online.

In the Vajrayana there are things that only a lama is qualified to teach (normally tantric practices).  Of course I have permission from my teachers to teach/guide people through mindfulness practices.
:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: humanitas on September 30, 2010, 10:02:00 am
Upon revisiting this thread, I realize who started me in the right direction in terms of how to think "through" the solidity of my notions:

Dechen Norbu.  Some of you might remember him. 

He was a moderator at esangha (and is now a member of FS) and I remember distinctly where I for the life of me could not progress, I was stuck where I was.  Then I think he made some analogy about solidity.  And suddenly I realized re-reading this that I've come full circle answering someone else with the same kind of post he answered me once when I was confused.

I don't know if Dechen Norbu is a teacher offline, or if he was simply enacting the role of "facilitator".  Today, almost 2 years later, his seed germinated into a full realization.  So really, did it even matter which he was?

Please don't cut your role down.  Even if you are not a "qualified teacher" like any teacher at any time your words could start realization in a peer.   The fact that you take responsibility for the weight of your role the way you do and minimize your self-importance alone shows you are good students.  Inevitably one day you will be qualified teachers.  I suppose right now you're somewhere in between, by how you describe how you view the role, you don't feel yet ready to build those deeper relationships with people who will be your juniors.  Which I admire for the honesty, it already shows the kind of cloth you're made of when you will teach (and I'm talking in the whole spans of lives).

I don't know if this is the end of the realization of this particular notion, it could be, but Dechen Norbu's help was helpful regardless of what ROLE he filled at the time.  Whether big or small, it made a difference.  To one person at least.

Am I making sense?

:headbow:
Ogyen.

Quote
If all a student wants is to "know" the Dharma, fine - learn any way you want or can. If you seek enlightenment, then you must  have a teacher.

This is a rather profound point.  You want to know about the Himalayas and scaling the mountains, you can know everything from the conditions of the snow, the scaling challenges from what you've read, as well as testimonies of the world's best mountain climbers.

But that does not make you a mountain climber.  To climb the mountain you need someone to teach you so you don't fall to your death in the million ways that can happen on Mt. Everest.  It is not enough to know that at a certain altitude your lungs will bleed, when you're there, you HAVE to know what you're doing.  Or you will die.  Knowing why and how things happen is not enough.  WHAT do you do when you're lungs start bleeding?  This is where correct application is the difference between living and dying. 

Dharma is much the same.  We can be experts on the dharma and everything it does, teaches, etc.  But PRACTICING it, is the difference between theory and practice.

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice.  In practice, there is. -C. Reid.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on October 01, 2010, 01:48:27 am
This is a tricky one.  Effectively I am teaching, but I don't consider myself to be a "Teacher", if you see what I mean.  So if somebody better qualified turned up I would happily hand over to them.  Where I live the choice is between me or nothing - so I guess "me" is slightly better.
This is my take too on the situation I find myself in.  I always point out to the group that I am not a qualified teacher and (whenever possible) refer them to qualified teachers to answer their question.  I also give answers when I have answers and (in the cases where I don't know the answers) utilise the students questions in order to broaden my own knowledge.  I have found that most people ask the basic questions we have all asked a thousand times, the answers to which exist in books like the Milindapanha or Waholas book "What the Buddha taught" or "Good question Good Answer" by Ven. S Dhammika.  The beauty of these books are that they are very simple AND all three are available online.

Something which makes it easier for me is having a Theravadan focus, so I'm just dealing with "basic" stuff like the Noble Truths and the 3 characteristics.  The practices we do are also relatively simple, mainly mindfulness of breathing and metta bahavanana.

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on October 02, 2010, 03:21:19 am
To me it seems that you two very clearly recognize the need and the reason for searching for a qualified teacher (not a guru) or qualified guidance.  :anjali:


Though are different ways to think about what "qualified" means?

Spiny
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: gregkavarnos on October 02, 2010, 03:44:57 am
Something which makes it easier for me is having a Theravadan focus, so I'm just dealing with "basic" stuff like the Noble Truths and the 3 characteristics.  The practices we do are also relatively simple, mainly mindfulness of breathing and metta bahavanana.
This is what I teach too, except for the metta bit where I teach the vajrayana equivalent:  tonglen.
:namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heart on October 02, 2010, 06:50:27 am
To me it seems that you two very clearly recognize the need and the reason for searching for a qualified teacher (not a guru) or qualified guidance.  :anjali:


Though are different ways to think about what "qualified" means?

Spiny

Spiny,

"Qualified" is defined according to which "yana" and which tradition a teacher belongs to. For example in the Theravada tradition, were there is a heavy emphasis on monasticism, the one that uphold the monastic vows the longest time are the one treated with most reverence and who's advice is most valued. I'm not sure how that would translate among lay practitioners? 
However, I think in general that the rule is that is if your own teacher ask you to teach you can be considered "qualified" in most yanas and traditions.

/magnus
 
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Thao on October 10, 2010, 12:02:02 pm
I am following Spiny's lead in posting a simple, but I think important, question.  Some of us have been reading and studying on our own for years now without the benefit of face-to-face meetings with a teacher.  Some people are house bound, or live in remote areas.  Are the internet, books, podcasts and the like enough?   Spiny recently asked if the Internet was a virtual teacher.  I am not asking if the Net can substitute for a personal, real-world, association with a realized teacher (it cannot), but whether or not a teacher of any sort is required.

Can we follow the Path through self-study, without the formal support of a qualified Dharma teacher?

Well, I keep looking at this topic but never saying anything.

Heybai wrote:
In some religions ...the disciple is expected to dedicate him or her self totally to the teacher and obey him unquestioningly. This is very much at odds with what the Buddha both taught to and required from his disciples

I was never good at worshipping God, much less man. But I can think of some Hindu gurus that considered this to be my problem.  :smack:

I used to believe that a teacher was required, but after having run ins with a few, I decided that maybe a teacher was a really bad thing. Then I met a good teacher and found him to be helpful. But then I moved away and left Buddhism and went on my own. Didn't work so well. So then I  found a new teacher in a different tradition, and he has been very helpful. So I would say if you can't find a good teacher, go it alone. But remember, a very good teacher makes it much easier to stay on the path and to grow.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Padawan on October 22, 2010, 05:41:46 am
I found this on Roshi Hogans Blog...

The Value of a Teacher


It makes sense to many people that making mistakes and discovering them for yourself is of great value, but to have someone else to point out your mistakes is a shortcut of the process. That is the value of a teacher, it can save time the way a map can save time when traveling. It can eliminate roadblocks, detours, and congested roads.

If possible, try to find teacher you can work with. You may need to search some before finding comfortable fit, much like shoes. Some teachers encourage, some are quiet, others are sometimes difficult taskmasters. Everyone has their own learning style that fits. Teacher often does not give direct answer but points in direction for you to travel.

Do not despair if teacher not available. This does not mean you cannot be successful student. Read and re-read Tao Te Ching. Most likely each time you read, you will discover something you missed before; a new idea, a new perspective. Find different translations and compare. One may be more clear than another to you. Most importantly, do not be content just reading. Put wisdom into action.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Monkey Mind on October 25, 2010, 10:26:37 am
Forgive me if this link has already been shared:
http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/BDSpring10Unaffiliated.pdf (http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/BDSpring10Unaffiliated.pdf)

As I mentioned before, finding the right teacher(s) has moved my practice forward, but I've "gone it alone" for much of Buddhist career, I wish I had seen this article before attempting that...
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: GoGet on October 25, 2010, 11:07:13 am
Forgive me if this link has already been shared:
[url]http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/BDSpring10Unaffiliated.pdf[/url] ([url]http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/BDSpring10Unaffiliated.pdf[/url])

As I mentioned before, finding the right teacher(s) has moved my practice forward, but I've "gone it alone" for much of Buddhist career, I wish I had seen this article before attempting that...


MM:

Thanx for posting that article.  I haven't read it completely - rather, I just skimmed it, but will return a bit later.  I would like to say, that the writers are are excellent - all highly reputable teachers in their respective traditions.  Definitely worth reading.

It should be noted that some of the writers come from traditions that put a high premium on a teacher/student relationship.  For example Ferguson and Lief are senior teachers in the Shambhala mandala.  Shambhala's Buddhist heritage is mainly Kagyu/Nyingma, so there will be a pro-teacher/guru bias there, at least some degree.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: t on November 11, 2010, 04:11:01 am
I was browsing through some stuff on Youtube and found this thought provoking eight stanza poetic composition by Ādi Śaṅkarācārya known as 'Guru Astakam' and found some near similar ideals...
Quote
[url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JutVlgPS9i8&feature=channel[/url]
"Body is handsome, wife is attractive,
fame spread far and wide,
wealth enormous and stable like Mount Meru;
but of what consequence are all these,
if the mind is not riveted in devotion to the lotus feet of Guru?
Really of what use is all this, what use, what use?

Wife, wealth, son, grandson, and the like,
house, relations, even if all these are there fate is certain,
of what consequence is one's life
if his mind is not devoted to the feet of Guru?
Ascertain, what use is any possession, person or object?
Of what use, of what use, of what use indeed?

All the Vedas are mastered and ever present on the lips;
likewise, knowledge of all the sciences is well gained.
The ability to write prose or verse is also present.
Even then, of what ultimate benefit is all this,
if one's mind does not devoutly rest on the feet of Guru?
By whose grace along can one's soul be liberated?
Of what use, of what use, of what use indeed?

I am honoured well even in far off places,
held in high esteem in my own locality;
in good conduct and noble deeds
there is no one to excel me.
If one has occasion to think like this,
of what avail is it if the mind is not steeped in
devotion and humility towards the feet of the Guru
from whom alone can flow wisdom and immortality?

Your feet may be worshipped constantly
even by the great kings and emperors of the world
for reason of your greatness and scholarship;
but of what real consequence is that
if the mind is not graced by
the blessing of unflinching devotion to the Guru,
by whose loving 'touch' alone can redemption and peace be realized?

Of what avail if one has enough merits to think
my fame has already spread in several places
due to my unique generosity and a result,
all things of the world stand within my easy reach?
For, the virtue and quality that count ultimately
is only one's unflinching loyalty and devotion towards the Guru
whose blessings are the ultimate factor for realization of Truth by a devoted seeker.

The mind may have turned away
from external delights through dispassion
and from attainments like Yogic concentration,
possessions like horses and the like,
the enchanting face of the beloved,
in short, the entire wealth of the earth;
yet it will be of no real merit
if the mind is not absorbed in piety and devotion to the feet of Guru.
Bereft of this devotion, of what benefit is anything, of what benefit, of what benefit?

The mind may have lost its charm to live in forests,
and likewise in the house;
may have lost all desire to achieve whatever;
even the concern for the body's welfare may have been outlived;
the most invaluable treasure of the world may not hold any allurement.
Even then, of what avail are all these
if the supreme devotion to the Guru is not held by the aspirant?
Determine, of what use? of what use?

Result of reading:
Whoever reads, studies and recites this Ashtaka on Guru
and remains devoted and attentive to the sayings of the Guru,
he, no matter if he is a holy person, ascetic, king, neophyte, or householder,
attains his coveted object, namely the supreme abode of Brahman,
the unassailable seat of immortality.


And I also recalled reading FIFTY STANZAS OF GURU DEVOTION (http://www.bodhicitta.net/FIFTY%20STANZAS%20OF%20GURU%20DEVOTION.htm).
Of course, the contexts in both are different but it is so striking in both accounts on how paramount a teacher is on one's spiritual walk and the final fruit of Liberation...

Hmmm....  :headbow:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: PrimordialLotus on March 16, 2013, 12:24:50 am
A teacher may be beneficial but is not NECESSARY.

The worst thing that can happen to Buddhist philosophy is to institutionalize it. You have to learn to be a light unto yourself. If you want to focus on teachers; you can go to the factory school system we have here in the United States to get programmed. 
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on March 16, 2013, 04:02:10 am
A teacher may be beneficial but is not NECESSARY.

But where do you find out how to do Buddhist practice?  Is it by reading a book or reading something on the internet, in which case isn't the author effectively your teacher?
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: GoGet on March 16, 2013, 05:52:50 am
A teacher may be beneficial but is not NECESSARY.

Name one being who acchieved enlightenment without a teacher.  Note:  Even the Buddha had teachers.

Quote
The worst thing that can happen to Buddhist philosophy is to institutionalize it.

Institutionalized Buddhism has been working pretty good for about 2000 years.

 
Quote
You have to learn to be a light unto yourself.

The a teacher can help you figure that out.

Quote
If you want to focus on teachers; you can go to the factory school system we have here in the United States to get programmed.

So you think you can go it alone?  Good luck on that.

Why do you suppose Buddhists take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma AND Sangha?
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: PrimordialLotus on March 16, 2013, 06:23:59 am
A teacher may be beneficial but is not NECESSARY.

Name one being who acchieved enlightenment without a teacher.  Note:  Even the Buddha had teachers.

Quote
The worst thing that can happen to Buddhist philosophy is to institutionalize it.

Institutionalized Buddhism has been working pretty good for about 2000 years.

 
Quote
You have to learn to be a light unto yourself.

The a teacher can help you figure that out.

Quote
If you want to focus on teachers; you can go to the factory school system we have here in the United States to get programmed.

So you think you can go it alone?  Good luck on that.

Why do you suppose Buddhists take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma AND Sangha?

1. You mean name one POPULAR being who achieved enlightenment without a teacher. Asking me to name someone who achieved enlightenment without a teacher is like asking me to know everyone's lives personally and their religious beliefs. Buddhism is not a popularity contest; its a personal journey.

2. Buddhism was around long before 2000 years ago. You're simply accepting the OFFICIAL history of Buddhism. In fact, Gautama was NOT the first Buddha.

3. Help, and NEED, are two different words. Teachers can HELP but they are not NEEDED. One can travel on his own.

4. I don't "think" I know. In fact, I AM going it alone. As we all do when you really look it at.

5. "Taking refuge" only began 2000 or some odd years ago. As I said buddhism has been around for much longer in many different forms. Nor does "taking refuge" mean you NEED a teacher.     
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: PrimordialLotus on March 16, 2013, 06:33:21 am
A teacher may be beneficial but is not NECESSARY.

But where do you find out how to do Buddhist practice?  Is it by reading a book or reading something on the internet, in which case isn't the author effectively your teacher?

I guess you could look at it that way. However, if we take it to that point you may as well say that "life" period is a teacher. In that case, you have literally thousands of teachers (humans, events, intuition, etc). EVERYTHING is a teacher. Thus again, there is no need for "A TEACHER" meaning an individual teacher(s).

The point I am trying to make is that those who truly walk the path brought THEMSELVES to it. And the information they get they brought themselves to; whether it comes from a human mind or not. Some raise their nose at the deliverance instead of being able to see the source.

What you need is already asleep inside of you; thus the TRUE meaning of "awakened" when you discover this truth. Those looking outside of themselves are searching in vain.     
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: GoGet on March 16, 2013, 06:44:54 am

5. "Taking refuge" only began 2000 or some odd years ago. As I said buddhism has been around for much longer in many different forms. Nor does "taking refuge" mean you NEED a teacher.   

Well, .......

dude you REALLY need a teacher,  :eek:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: rchoates on March 16, 2013, 08:36:22 am
I recently asked this question in another area, and Monkey Mind was generous to provide me with many links concerning the necessity of a teacher, including this thread.

I've always been a solitary person, learning many things on my own. This could be karmic. And while I do agree that a teacher is indeed beneficial, I will also say that a teacher is not absolutely required for "some people". I think many people do need a teacher, and then there are those who do not.

To think that in the entire history of human existence, with now more than 7 billion people on the Earth, that not a single person, be it man or woman, has not, through self-motivation, attained the path to liberation on his/her own, is not realistic. Of course it can be done. By few, I am sure, but it CAN be done.

What a human being is capable of has broken barrier after barrier all throughout history. And the path to liberation is NOT a mystery. It's a doable systematic process, combining reason, intuition, dedication, and resolve. Much like any other path in life.

To say that liberation or enlightenment is out of reach if you aren't personally trained or guided by a qualified teacher, turns enlightenment, in my view, into a Good Old Boy's Club. The path is an internal process. Not something that anyone outside of you can judge and approve.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: PrimordialLotus on March 16, 2013, 04:30:04 pm
I recently asked this question in another area, and Monkey Mind was generous to provide me with many links concerning the necessity of a teacher, including this thread.

I've always been a solitary person, learning many things on my own. This could be karmic. And while I do agree that a teacher is indeed beneficial, I will also say that a teacher is not absolutely required for "some people". I think many people do need a teacher, and then there are those who do not.

To think that in the entire history of human existence, with now more than 7 billion people on the Earth, that not a single person, be it man or woman, has not, through self-motivation, attained the path to liberation on his/her own, is not realistic. Of course it can be done. By few, I am sure, but it CAN be done.

What a human being is capable of has broken barrier after barrier all throughout history. And the path to liberation is NOT a mystery. It's a doable systematic process, combining reason, intuition, dedication, and resolve. Much like any other path in life.

To say that liberation or enlightenment is out of reach if you aren't personally trained or guided by a qualified teacher, turns enlightenment, in my view, into a Good Old Boy's Club. The path is an internal process. Not something that anyone outside of you can judge and approve.

^^^THIS.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: GoGet on March 18, 2013, 09:18:01 am
I recently asked this question in another area, and Monkey Mind was generous to provide me with many links concerning the necessity of a teacher, including this thread.

I've always been a solitary person, learning many things on my own. This could be karmic.

It's most definitely karma.

Quote
And while I do agree that a teacher is indeed beneficial, I will also say that a teacher is not absolutely required for "some people". I think many people do need a teacher, and then there are those who do not.

To think that in the entire history of human existence, with now more than 7 billion people on the Earth, that not a single person, be it man or woman, has not, through self-motivation, attained the path to liberation on his/her own, is not realistic. Of course it can be done. By few, I am sure, but it CAN be done.

Sure, odds are, but as long as there are odds, there's always odds aren't.

I'll ask you the same question I put to PrimordialLotus:  Name one sentient being that achieved enlightenment without the blessing of a teacher.  Just one.

The odds of one person becoming enlightened, in any way, shape of form, teacher or no, is so infinitesimally small, it could be safely said to be impossible.  Thankfully it is not.

Quote
What a human being is capable of has broken barrier after barrier all throughout history. And the path to liberation is NOT a mystery. It's a doable systematic process, combining reason, intuition, dedication, and resolve. Much like any other path in life.

Quite right, but having a guide, a spiritual friend, guru, teacher, what have you, will help you stay on that path due to their having been down that path before you.  In addition if the notion of the teacher/student relationship wasn't so important, then why did the Buddha turn the wheel of dharma in the first place?  If enlightenment could be reached without a teacher why didn't the Buddha simply leave us to our own devices?

Quote
To say that liberation or enlightenment is out of reach if you aren't personally trained or guided by a qualified teacher, turns enlightenment, in my view, into a Good Old Boy's Club.

It's not an "old boys network".  The teacher/student relationship is a tradition that has worked very well for thousands of years.  Now if you think you know better than 2000 + years, well there's not much I can say.


Quote
The path is an internal process. Not something that anyone outside of you can judge and approve.

Perhaps there's fear there - fear of being found out and corrected?

There's's something I notice on boards like this.  There are lots of different sorts of Buddhists to be found, but one type that is found almost nowhere else is the person who actively resists the blessing that a spiritual friend provides.  If no teacher is available, that's one thing, but in this day and age there's really no such thing as unavailable.  The relationship I'm talking about transcends time/space/distance.  You don't have to be in your gurus presence 24/7.  In fact, you don't even have to actually meet in person.  There's really no reason not to have a teacher unless you chose refuse him or her and that is something else entirely.

I'm not saying you're that sort of person, because I don't really know, but it is something I see quite a bit, and in discussions like this I can't help but wonder .....
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: rchoates on March 18, 2013, 01:24:09 pm
Hi GoGet, I appreciate your input.

You make very good points, none of which I can really argue with... However—don't you love that word—your post did get me thinking along a very interesting line.

Let me first address a statement you made. When I said I was a solitary person and that I have learned many things on my, and then asserted this was probably karmic, I was speculating. I mean I don't really know that it's karmic or not. Probably is...

But when you state "most definitely karma", my question is: How do you know that?? Meaning, did you see it directly, as in looked into my karmic patterns and know for a certain, or are you going by information that you've read or been told on karma, the way it functions and so forth. I assure you I'm not being sarcastic. This is a fair question.

Now, as for naming a person who has achieved enlightenment without the blessing of a teacher... There are too many problems with this question. 1. How do we know when a person has achieved enlightenment? Does their name go on a list? Do they blog about it, or make an appointment with Dateline; Oprah?? Do invitations go out??? This may sound like I'm being silly, but the point is, how is anyone suppose to know if a single person living on this planet has achieved enlightenment? I think it might be a safe bet that such a person doesn't advertise it. I mean, why would they? Are they supposed to? Is it a rule? I'm enlightened now, so I must present myself as such and go and teach this to others. Do you really think that happens?

Now for the "blessing of a teacher". I hope you don't mean that a person cannot become enlightened unless given permission. By a teacher. By another enlightened being. Or to tone that down, just simply blessed. Really?? I'm going to think that's not what you meant, because that would put us into a whole other discussion. I think perhaps you meant "achieved enlightenment by way of a teacher's loving guidance". That I understand, and this brings us to the student/teacher relationship.

I as well think that relationship is an important one, and cannot be dismissed or overlook. It happens for some people and goes really well. It happens for some people and goes really bad. Or it happens, doesn't work out, which turns out to be exactly what the student needed. There are so many scenarios. Including the one where there is no teacher.

Bottom line: tradition isn't always right. 2000+ years, or 5000+ years, just because something is done in a certain way, does not mean it is the only and available way. That's not me knowing better. That's a simple fact history has proved over and over again. And a different way certainly doesn't invalidate tradition! I'm not a traditional person, but I do indeed admire tradition. I've just never been a part of it. I'm not even a club or group person. I have good friends, and such, but I've never felt a part of anything. Not to get too personal, but I'm in my forties, and I've never, and I do mean NEVER, not even for five minutes, had a romantic relationship. I just don't see the need for that level of involvement with another person. I'm far too committed to my own personal pursuits. Now mind you, I didn't say that I'm against such a relationship happening. I just don't see it for myself. Would be nice, but I'm not holding my breath.

Now about the fear. The fear you mention about being found out and corrected. Are you kidding?! So not me. I don't hide anything about myself, and I welcome correction and learning on every level, personal and professional. How else is one suppose to learn? I don't mind being wrong. Wrong is good. You can correct wrong; learn from it. Being stupid and crazy, not so much. And if you don't know how to see and listen when you are wrong, then that is stupid and crazy.

I don't know what kind of Buddhist I am, or even if I meet what may be considered the proper definition of one. What I do know is that I appreciate, immensely, the teachings of the Buddha. I may have issues with how those teachings have been interpreted, but then I'm not the only one on that account. That's a very long line, indeed.

As for resisting help from a spiritual friend or teacher... Absolutely not!!! I welcome the opportunity! What I don't do is seek out such a relationship. If it's going to happen, it will. Karma, right? Now perhaps that can be argued with, that my approach should be more proactive, so to speak, that should go to Buddhist groups and retreats, temples and monasteries, looking looking looking, for a teacher, or that one special holy/enlightened being to show me the way. Sorry... I'm just not wired that way. And has it made my life just a touch more difficult? You bet. But I'm okay with that. No matter how much the desire, a wolf cannot be a sheep, or the sheep a wolf.

And now, finally, my interesting line of thought... What exactly is enlightenment? I mean the operational and psychological and dynamic state itself. What exactly does that state look and feel like? What is the quality of it? Do you know? Or better yet, have you met or do you know a person who is fully enlightened, or attained stream entry? If so, have they even tried to explain it to you? I put forth what I think may be the possibility of such a state in a post on this forum. It's just a speculation, because I certainly don't know. But if you have some ideas on this, I would love to hear them.

I believe in being kind. We only learn and grow if we are willing to share with an open heart. This is always my goal. It is never my intent to challenge or "argue" in a disparaging manner, to put anyone down, or be hurtful. We need more caring in this world, not more Bitches. So I respond to you in true spirit of wanting to learn, and to share. Respect should always come first.       
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: PrimordialLotus on March 19, 2013, 06:42:55 am
Hi GoGet, I appreciate your input.

You make very good points, none of which I can really argue with... However—don't you love that word—your post did get me thinking along a very interesting line.

Let me first address a statement you made. When I said I was a solitary person and that I have learned many things on my, and then asserted this was probably karmic, I was speculating. I mean I don't really know that it's karmic or not. Probably is...

But when you state "most definitely karma", my question is: How do you know that?? Meaning, did you see it directly, as in looked into my karmic patterns and know for a certain, or are you going by information that you've read or been told on karma, the way it functions and so forth. I assure you I'm not being sarcastic. This is a fair question.

Now, as for naming a person who has achieved enlightenment without the blessing of a teacher... There are too many problems with this question. 1. How do we know when a person has achieved enlightenment? Does their name go on a list? Do they blog about it, or make an appointment with Dateline; Oprah?? Do invitations go out??? This may sound like I'm being silly, but the point is, how is anyone suppose to know if a single person living on this planet has achieved enlightenment? I think it might be a safe bet that such a person doesn't advertise it. I mean, why would they? Are they supposed to? Is it a rule? I'm enlightened now, so I must present myself as such and go and teach this to others. Do you really think that happens?

Now for the "blessing of a teacher". I hope you don't mean that a person cannot become enlightened unless given permission. By a teacher. By another enlightened being. Or to tone that down, just simply blessed. Really?? I'm going to think that's not what you meant, because that would put us into a whole other discussion. I think perhaps you meant "achieved enlightenment by way of a teacher's loving guidance". That I understand, and this brings us to the student/teacher relationship.

I as well think that relationship is an important one, and cannot be dismissed or overlook. It happens for some people and goes really well. It happens for some people and goes really bad. Or it happens, doesn't work out, which turns out to be exactly what the student needed. There are so many scenarios. Including the one where there is no teacher.

Bottom line: tradition isn't always right. 2000+ years, or 5000+ years, just because something is done in a certain way, does not mean it is the only and available way. That's not me knowing better. That's a simple fact history has proved over and over again. And a different way certainly doesn't invalidate tradition! I'm not a traditional person, but I do indeed admire tradition. I've just never been a part of it. I'm not even a club or group person. I have good friends, and such, but I've never felt a part of anything. Not to get too personal, but I'm in my forties, and I've never, and I do mean NEVER, not even for five minutes, had a romantic relationship. I just don't see the need for that level of involvement with another person. I'm far too committed to my own personal pursuits. Now mind you, I didn't say that I'm against such a relationship happening. I just don't see it for myself. Would be nice, but I'm not holding my breath.

Now about the fear. The fear you mention about being found out and corrected. Are you kidding?! So not me. I don't hide anything about myself, and I welcome correction and learning on every level, personal and professional. How else is one suppose to learn? I don't mind being wrong. Wrong is good. You can correct wrong; learn from it. Being stupid and crazy, not so much. And if you don't know how to see and listen when you are wrong, then that is stupid and crazy.

I don't know what kind of Buddhist I am, or even if I meet what may be considered the proper definition of one. What I do know is that I appreciate, immensely, the teachings of the Buddha. I may have issues with how those teachings have been interpreted, but then I'm not the only one on that account. That's a very long line, indeed.

As for resisting help from a spiritual friend or teacher... Absolutely not!!! I welcome the opportunity! What I don't do is seek out such a relationship. If it's going to happen, it will. Karma, right? Now perhaps that can be argued with, that my approach should be more proactive, so to speak, that should go to Buddhist groups and retreats, temples and monasteries, looking looking looking, for a teacher, or that one special holy/enlightened being to show me the way. Sorry... I'm just not wired that way. And has it made my life just a touch more difficult? You bet. But I'm okay with that. No matter how much the desire, a wolf cannot be a sheep, or the sheep a wolf.

And now, finally, my interesting line of thought... What exactly is enlightenment? I mean the operational and psychological and dynamic state itself. What exactly does that state look and feel like? What is the quality of it? Do you know? Or better yet, have you met or do you know a person who is fully enlightened, or attained stream entry? If so, have they even tried to explain it to you? I put forth what I think may be the possibility of such a state in a post on this forum. It's just a speculation, because I certainly don't know. But if you have some ideas on this, I would love to hear them.

I believe in being kind. We only learn and grow if we are willing to share with an open heart. This is always my goal. It is never my intent to challenge or "argue" in a disparaging manner, to put anyone down, or be hurtful. We need more caring in this world, not more Bitches. So I respond to you in true spirit of wanting to learn, and to share. Respect should always come first.     

Another outstanding post.

I certainly agree with you on many of your points.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: t on March 19, 2013, 08:37:52 am
Wow heybai, it's nostalgic to be in this thread again... that is if you still visit this place lol

These days I guess, I have stopped looking for any teacher and find myself going in the direction of a pratyekabuddha ... whatever, whoever comes what may, my life has to go on with or without one...

As my Muslim friends love to say.... 'takdir' .... fate...  I dunno abt that but I am always asking myself a more important question though... am I teacheable? I am more open to texts and animals than humans LOL

Remember me in your practice.
There are days when I just want to embrace atheism and get on with my life, you get the drift...   
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: heybai on March 22, 2013, 06:13:04 am
Wow heybai, it's nostalgic to be in this thread again... that is if you still visit this place lol

I am always happy to be associated with you.

Quote
These days I guess, I have stopped looking for any teacher and find myself going in the direction of a pratyekabuddha ... whatever, whoever comes what may, my life has to go on with or without one...

We have many teachers.  Ok, that does start to sound a smidge pollyannaish, but it is true.  For those who have found the perfect teacher -- wonderful -- in the meantime, for the rest of us, we learn from many, and from spiritual friends as well.

Quote
As my Muslim friends love to say.... 'takdir' .... fate...  I dunno abt that but I am always asking myself a more important question though... am I teacheable? I am more open to texts and animals than humans LOL

Scripture & explication is not trivial.  You certainly are teacheable, but I not by me!  Go easy on  yerself, t. 

Quote
Remember me in your practice.
There are days when I just want to embrace atheism and get on with my life, you get the drift...

I do.  I will.
metta
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: NepalianBuddhist on May 06, 2013, 02:02:43 pm
Good luck on finding a teacher ...
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Transition on July 05, 2013, 03:17:50 pm
Whenever I am on a journey, I like to take both approaches, one by myself to see what I can find and one with a guide to assure I have asked meaningful questions...for me, my teacher provides simplicity...in my cluttered mind, it is a wonderful sense of peace to know I have a place to find that...I think we all need a home, a place of trust and comfort
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on July 06, 2013, 05:54:38 am
Whenever I am on a journey, I like to take both approaches, one by myself to see what I can find and one with a guide to assure I have asked meaningful questions...for me, my teacher provides simplicity...in my cluttered mind, it is a wonderful sense of peace to know I have a place to find that...I think we all need a home, a place of trust and comfort

Yes, well put.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Hanzze on September 03, 2013, 11:06:46 pm
Whenever I am on a journey, I like to take both approaches, one by myself to see what I can find and one with a guide to assure I have asked meaningful questions...for me, my teacher provides simplicity...in my cluttered mind, it is a wonderful sense of peace to know I have a place to find that...I think we all need a home, a place of trust and comfort

Yes, well put.
Since that security is not the security which is lasting - your teacher will die - it's not so well put, but butter is tasty as well. Do you think that butter is well put in a the head of desire?
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 04, 2013, 06:04:57 am
Whenever I am on a journey, I like to take both approaches, one by myself to see what I can find and one with a guide to assure I have asked meaningful questions...for me, my teacher provides simplicity...in my cluttered mind, it is a wonderful sense of peace to know I have a place to find that...I think we all need a home, a place of trust and comfort

Yes, well put.
Since that security is not the security which is lasting - your teacher will die - it's not so well put, but butter is tasty as well. Do you think that butter is well put in a the head of desire?

Perhaps it's a question of refuge, traditionally that's the 3 jewels, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. 
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Hanzze on September 04, 2013, 06:23:43 am
Whenever I am on a journey, I like to take both approaches, one by myself to see what I can find and one with a guide to assure I have asked meaningful questions...for me, my teacher provides simplicity...in my cluttered mind, it is a wonderful sense of peace to know I have a place to find that...I think we all need a home, a place of trust and comfort

Yes, well put.
Since that security is not the security which is lasting - your teacher will die - it's not so well put, but butter is tasty as well. Do you think that butter is well put in a the head of desire?

Perhaps it's a question of refuge, traditionally that's the 3 jewels, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
It was not meant that a kalyanamitta (a admirable Friend, teacher,...) is not very needed as it is the prerequisite on the path to awakening, but it was meant that the kalyanamitta does not have the primary purpose to let you feel secure but show you the path to real security and that could make you feel insecure very often till you reach a good amount of own discernment and quality of judgement. So to proof a admirable friend, if he/she is one or not, should not be measured by feelings of security but by his qualities in regard of virtue, discernment and independency.   
Traditional the "object" of Sangha (the four pairs of noble beings) serve this refuge, not to speak about the Buddha and his true Dhamma. But all of that is not seen, if one does not start to walk, fall, stand up, walk, remember... keeps his direction eager.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Yvonne_Ocpress on September 16, 2013, 02:04:55 am
I think we can do more daily meditation & sutra reading, just by pad or phone:

Buddhism Classics: The Heart Sutra 心经 the best version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3k6wbKwiKU#ws)

Buddhism Classics: The Sixth Platform Sutra 六祖坛经 the best version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaUC5O9mdU4#ws)

Buddhism Classics: The Diamond Sutra 金刚经 the best version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzmqkT2Xor0#ws)

http://ocpress.org/index.php?lang=en (http://ocpress.org/index.php?lang=en)
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Hanzze on September 16, 2013, 04:56:43 pm
Ohh yes, today we can make that everywhere, at the office, in the railway, while eating and even in the bathroom. We have really all possibilities, just need some money to maintain the cellphone. Really no teacher necessary, we can take what ever we like, upload, click, click, click, such great are our past merits and we can waste them all our self.  :)
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: fragrant herbs on October 01, 2014, 09:03:39 pm
I would rather be without a teacher, without that attachment, and then I can make up my own mind on what I am reading, that is, whether I want to accept it or not. You can go and do that in a sangha just as well, or with just some friends that are like minded. While I travel far to a sangha, I often go to a kirtan here in my town with a Hindu group. But anymore I am more of a Taoist than a Buddhist. Plus,I don't get on Taoist forums or read books by any Taoist other than Laozi, nor do I ask for interpretations  and I do the same with Buddhism. Just that in Taoism so much has been added, so I want the original.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Snow Monkey on November 06, 2014, 08:32:26 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

I am new here and have read threads such as this one with interest.  I am one of those people who is isolated (as I offered in my introductory post I live at and run an animal sanctuary far out in the country).  Nirmal's post above caught my attention, since it resonates with my experience.  While I do feel I have ways of learning on line and I have what in martial arts we would call a "chi" master to work with, when I come across a question or transition point on my Buddhist path I virtually always receive a clear answer in my dreams or through meditation.  I have a deep respect for the teacher/student relationship, but as has been pointed out it isn't always possible for one reason or another.  Nirmal's experience, I think, gives another interesting viewpoint in regard to how we might acquire the necessary knowledge.  I don't think it is foolish to trust these dreams and insights over what a teacher might offer.  Not meaning offense to anyone who resonates with a different view...
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Mist on August 31, 2015, 07:27:39 pm
YES and no. I did not have one but I think it would have been easier if I had one. The dark night of the soul can be extremely intense. A teacher could help you navigate its waters without losing your way.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: subaru on September 09, 2015, 10:31:52 pm
There are beings who can attain without a teacher, they are the Pacceka Buddhas (so the says scriptures)

Try practice without a teacher, then with several teachers, or perhaps settle with one..

More importantly, one need to know when one is progressing, know when one is regressing and know when one is stagnant in the practice. else find a teacher, or two or more.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: aboddhisattva on November 26, 2015, 10:38:46 am
Teachers are for students.  One studies to learn something from one who is experienced in the subject matter. 

And here is the problem, when the subject matter is yourself and your own transformation, what can a teacher teach you that you cannot find out for yourself, as that is who you are?

Well they can certainly share their experience of their own path that transformed the way they experienced themselves and the world, and if they are skilfully aware of what obstacles you have placed in your own way to prevent yourself discovering your little secret, then they can be very helpful by giving you certain practices that lead you to your self, and shed that illusory ego, you are trying to transform.

Just bear in mind that a teacher cannot transform you.  Neither can you, for there is not a separate ego to transform!  So there you have it, a simple teaching for a simple mind!  I learned it the hard way - some learn it more softly!

Tat Tvam Asi


Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: dharmacat_ on January 24, 2016, 02:45:12 pm
real teachers are needed to help piece it all together. buddhism can be like putting together a jigsaw puzzle of stuff you don't even know what it is supposed to be in the first place.

You might do it or you might not even get a few pieces together.

Sent from my SCH-R530M using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Tritonenneptunus on March 02, 2016, 08:39:04 pm
I live in rural Texas and have no way of going anywhere to learn Buddhism from a Teacher. I understand what you all are saying but if there is no one to teach here, unfortunately I can't just uproot myself due to health problems. Can anyone make a list of resources to finding a teacher that would teach online via Skype or text or video anything like that? I can study on my own and am doing so but I have very limited resources here in the middle of nowhere  :lmfao: :teehee:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Dianet on March 06, 2016, 07:07:49 am
Hi Tritonenneptunus,

I'm not aware at the moment of anyone who teaches live online. There are lots and lots of YouTube videos on Buddhist topics.

A while back there was a thread on this forum about how there is trend at the moment for a lot of people to be studying solo because the idea of Buddhism has spread farther than there are monastics to physically teach all those who are interested, so you have a lot of company in trying to learn on your own.

I find myself in the same situation, living in a rural area where Buddhists are extremely rare. I find that it's possible to find ways to study, mostly by reading, and am pretty faithful with a simple meditation practice.

Good luck to you and let us know if you find a good online source.

 
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: ECS on July 24, 2016, 05:00:35 pm
Perhaps as one awaken to Buddhism , one will no longer choose what to learn or who to learn from so regardless Dalai Lama or serial killer or Coca-Cola can is all great source of realization and all is great teacher.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: stillpointdancer on July 25, 2016, 04:32:31 am
A good or great teacher is best. A poor teacher is worse than none. Where there is no teacher, this kind of forum is useful to both follow and to raise questions.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Spiny Norman on July 25, 2016, 09:31:07 am
A good or great teacher is best. A poor teacher is worse than none. Where there is no teacher, this kind of forum is useful to both follow and to raise questions.

For me the most important thing has been having at least occasional contact with people who understand things better than I do. 
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: DavidM843 on August 19, 2016, 03:09:02 pm
I believe a teacher is necessary if one is going to make any progress.  From my personal experience, I've found it's far too easy to delude myself when all by myself.  I practiced for many years without a teacher.  Or rather, practiced what I thought was appropriate.  It wasn't until I got with a teacher that I found out how off the mark my understanding and practice were.  Practicing dharma is all about skill, and very few of us is born skilled in anything.  We learn our skills from others.  Buddhadharma goes so contrary to normal human common sense, I think it is almost impossible to gain a working understanding of it without help.  I am very grateful to all my teachers for pointing out my errors and the potential (often inevitable) traps in my practice.  Without them, I spent years going around in circles, telling myself I was nearing buddhahood.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Rune on November 02, 2016, 06:09:53 am
I would be nice with a topic in here, regarding the beginning of buddhist practice without a teacher, in hand.
Some guidence on how to get started, for all of us who does not live close by a buddhist master.

I realise that I need to start the process by myself, and any guidence and recomondation would be appreciated :)

Please, if anyone want to start a topic, on how to start practicing meditation, chanting, mindfullness, by one self, or who will refere to some usefull links or sites, feel free to share.
I am very interested, in anything related to lerning buddhist skils, by one self, with out a teacher, in the flesh.

Thank you  :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: zafrogzen on November 02, 2016, 12:10:32 pm
A group is helpful to get a sitting practice started. Checking out different groups is good in the beginning.

A teacher can inspire and later on offer some guidance (mostly by just saying "not yet, sit more").

However you start, it's OK to practice for several years before meeting a teacher, in order to be more ready when a teacher does show up.

For what its worth here are some basics to get started on the cushion -- http://www.frogzen.com/meditation-basics/ (http://www.frogzen.com/meditation-basics/)
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Rune on November 02, 2016, 12:47:49 pm
Thank you, zafronzen (I really like your name), I have some experience in chanting, for many hours in a row, after I was involved in the "hara krishna" cult.

I guess I will just follow your advice, im usualy pretty good at keeping a good diceplin, when it come to devoting myself on to spiritual matters.

Thank you again.

 :namaste:
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Deemoid on November 12, 2016, 05:33:40 am
Gregkavarnos says it best in this thread - however for good measure I thought I would paste a link to a video which deals with this preceise question . . . . I hope some people find it useful and inspiring . . . .  :fu:

https://youtu.be/BDcUj8nhCqo
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Solodris on November 28, 2016, 01:08:31 pm
Have you ever seen the movie: The Man Who Knew Infinity?

Ramanujan was a mathematician with no education, living in India, writing down equations, formulas and theorems as if they were drawn from an expression of God.

He could not prove his claims since he simply saw the conclusion without what the English mathematicians declared as proof. He didn't even understand proof as his divine incarnation provided answers from absolute reality.

Today, Ramanujan is considered one of the top mathematicians to ever have lived, after the Englishmen managed to pull together proof that validated his theorems.

It seems I experience a similar connection to the Dharma, I understand dependent origination, but not in the sense that you do. You write down "steps" that makes no sense to me, when the entire expansion of the eon is a conceptually comprehended phenomenon, without steps that merely asserts that fabrications of a beginning and an end is required to understand time as a closed reference point to build a collective cohesion of knowledge. Even the name Dharma has no real value, as truth is truth to me.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: zafrogzen on November 28, 2016, 03:07:36 pm
What happened to "humility?" Cocaine and speed have the effect of inflating the ego with an illusory sense of power and elation, but it goes to the opposite extreme of self-hatred and depression when it wears off, which is why it is so addictive.

Even without an artificial stimulant, the ego can go through the same ups and downs naturally. Like coke, the ego is addictive but never really satisfactory.

Transcendent, peak experiences come about naturally through meditation, but it is futile to try to grasp them and attach them to an ego. IMHO, equanimity, or evenness of mind, is only achieved when the ego is transcended through meditative stability -- usually achieved only after years of practice and discipline. It's great if you are able to do it so easily -- but I'm naturally skeptical.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Solodris on November 28, 2016, 08:39:45 pm
My most genuine apologies, bipolar disorder is a very serious disorder, I can't even control my body when I'm manic. Destroying social connections is a common symtom of the disorder.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: zafrogzen on November 29, 2016, 11:32:37 am
Maybe working it out anonymously in a forum like this could give you some distance. Attaching to an identity is the cause of a lot of reactions, both high and low. If we're not able to detach from this anonymous forum identity we'll have a hard time with our more real everyday identity. .

I've never experienced bi-polar myself. If I was to go off the rails it would be schizophrenia. Although the "delusions of grandeur" and paranoia might be similar, there's not the extremes of mania and depression. For me mindfulness and exercise were very helpful. I managed to stay out of the mental health system and was never put on meds. Many mentally ill here in Amerika end up on the streets now, for lack of facilities.

My delusions were probably connected to experimentation with strong psychedelics. After the age of 35 or 40 I've had few issues, just some delusive thoughts which I can easily let go of. Finding "emptiness" of self is very fruitful, but it has taken some hard meditation practice for me to really begin to see it and learn to use it. Extreme inflating and deflating of the ego is all happening within emptiness. Just letting it go back from where it arises takes practice. Detachment is easier if one is identified with something larger than the small self.

Anyway, I hope you can find some middle way of letting go of extremes. Don't take this forum too seriously. Most of us are more focused on ourselves than anyone else.
Title: Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
Post by: Solodris on December 28, 2016, 01:00:47 pm
Simply by viewing the history of my behavior, as known to those who remember, makes a clear point in why a refuge should be taken in the Buddha, the Sangha and the Dharma before starting a practice. Mere knowledge of the Dharma will not produce insight, this is why we have individual practice.
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