Author Topic: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?  (Read 22666 times)

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #180 on: September 05, 2018, 08:55:21 am »
I'd like to be able to check in with a teacher, but all of mine are dead and gone. Now most of the teachers I know are younger and less experienced than I am. Still, if there was a viable sangha near here I'd practice with them -- if only to have someone to bounce off of and to make connections with like-minded folks.

Making connections with like-minded folk can also be a problem. Is this not the 'herd instinct'? Religions in general tend to require one to conform to a set ideology.

Buddhism, on the other hand, encourages one to think for oneself, and not accept a whole lot of rules without question (the Kalama Sutta).

Exactly what ideology do you think I'm conforming to and what rules am I accepting without question?

Only you can answer that, Zafrogzen, although people who have had a long association with you, which I haven't, might be able to make some relevant comments.

My comment was not directed at you personally, but was a general comment about the dangers of conformity when submitting oneself to the rules of a sect or a teacher within a sect.

No, you don’t know who you’re talking to, or much about Zen Buddhism either, or you would have have qualified your statement accordingly.

Zen goes out of its way to avoid a “set ideology.” To paraphrase Huang Po (died 850) – “It’s the teaching (ideology) of no teaching. It can’t even be said to be the teaching of the teaching of no teaching.”

As for rules. The only rules one is required to conform to are in the zendo (meditation hall) which is highly choreographed to avoid confusion and disturbance – similar to the rules in a library where people are trying to concentrate. In all my years of practice with zen groups I was never required to “take the precepts” or any other form of accepting “a whole lot of rules without question.”

« Last Edit: September 05, 2018, 11:30:38 am by zafrogzen »
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #181 on: September 05, 2018, 07:40:42 pm »
I'd like to be able to check in with a teacher, but all of mine are dead and gone. Now most of the teachers I know are younger and less experienced than I am. Still, if there was a viable sangha near here I'd practice with them -- if only to have someone to bounce off of and to make connections with like-minded folks.

Making connections with like-minded folk can also be a problem. Is this not the 'herd instinct'? Religions in general tend to require one to conform to a set ideology.

Buddhism, on the other hand, encourages one to think for oneself, and not accept a whole lot of rules without question (the Kalama Sutta).

Exactly what ideology do you think I'm conforming to and what rules am I accepting without question?

Only you can answer that, Zafrogzen, although people who have had a long association with you, which I haven't, might be able to make some relevant comments.

My comment was not directed at you personally, but was a general comment about the dangers of conformity when submitting oneself to the rules of a sect or a teacher within a sect.

No, you don’t know who you’re talking to, or much about Zen Buddhism either, or you would have have qualified your statement accordingly.

Zen goes out of its way to avoid a “set ideology.” To paraphrase Huang Po (died 850) – “It’s the teaching (ideology) of no teaching. It can’t even be said to be the teaching of the teaching of no teaching.”

As for rules. The only rules one is required to conform to are in the zendo (meditation hall) which is highly choreographed to avoid confusion and disturbance – similar to the rules in a library where people are trying to concentrate. In all my years of practice with zen groups I was never required to “take the precepts” or any other form of accepting “a whole lot of rules without question.”

Good. Thanks for clarifying that, Zafrogzen. However, just as my comment wasn't directed at you personally, it also wasn't directed at a specific Buddhist cult, such as Zen. It was a comment in general about the many different sects, and my statement also contained the word 'tend', as in 'Religions in general tend to require one to conform to a set ideology.'

Also, the subject of the topic is, 'Is a Teacher Really Necessary?', without reference to any particular sect. Interpreting what you've written above (and my English is quite good  :wink1: ), I think you should have chimed in earlier to state that no teacher is necessary in Zen because there's no teaching in Zen. There isn't even any teaching of the 'teaching of no teaching'.  :wink1:


Offline Lone Cypress

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #182 on: September 06, 2018, 05:09:51 am »
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« Last Edit: September 21, 2018, 07:43:31 pm by Lone Cypress »

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #183 on: September 06, 2018, 06:47:00 am »
However, just as my comment wasn't directed at you personally, it also wasn't directed at a specific Buddhist cult, such as Zen.

Yes, you just called Zen a "cult". :smack:

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #184 on: September 06, 2018, 09:34:37 am »
"it also wasn't directed at a specific Buddhist cult, such as Zen." Maybe we should stick with "sect."

Good point! The two words can sometimes be synonyms, but the word 'cult' usually has more negative connotations than 'sect', in modern usage. However, it wasn't always the case. Here's the etymology of the word 'cult', from Wikipedia.

"Cicero defined religio as cultus deorum, "the cultivation of the gods. The "cultivation" necessary to maintain a specific deity was that god's cultus, "cult," and required "the knowledge of giving the gods their due" (scientia colendorum deorum).

The noun cultus originates from the past participle of the verb colo, colere, colui, cultus, "to tend, take care of, cultivate," originally meaning "to dwell in, inhabit" and thus "to tend, cultivate land (ager); to practice agriculture," an activity fundamental to Roman identity even when Rome as a political center had become fully urbanized.

Cultus is often translated as "cult" without the negative connotations the word may have in English, or with the Old English word "worship", but it implies the necessity of active maintenance beyond passive adoration.

Cultus was expected to matter to the gods as a demonstration of respect, honor, and reverence; it was an aspect of the contractual nature of Roman religion (see do ut des). Augustine of Hippo echoes Cicero's formulation when he declares, "religio is nothing other than the cultus of God."

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #185 on: September 06, 2018, 10:05:23 am »
What a colossal waste of time! How would someone who doesn't meditate (but he's an expert on the subject) know if a meditation teacher is necessary or have any firsthand familiarity with zen practices. I've got better things to do.


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

Offline Suiseki

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #186 on: September 08, 2018, 02:29:39 am »
 :anjali: Honestly- As a "seasoned citiZen" I'm running out of time! In over 50 years of meditation practice nobody ever told me there was anything whatsoever to learn, let-alone teachers! Thank You humbly for being my very FIRST one! It is a glorious day indeed! :headbow:
Upon reflection, I feel as though my dear friends here deserve at minimum a humble explanation.

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

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

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

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

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #187 on: September 08, 2018, 08:48:26 am »
And it can’t even be said to be learning that there’s nothing to learn.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Lone Cypress

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Re: Is a Teacher Really Necessary?
« Reply #188 on: September 08, 2018, 12:08:14 pm »
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« Last Edit: September 21, 2018, 04:37:38 pm by Lone Cypress »

 


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