Finding a teacher...

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Finding a teacher...

Postby Ken1969 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:23 pm

Hi all,

I'm fairly new to Buddhism and currently 3 months into a Buddhist foundation correspondence course with the Jamyang centre (Gelug Buddhism), and I'd like to find a teacher, but I'm not sure what's involved.

There's a Lamrim centre in Bristol (I live in Chepstow; so not too far from me) which I'm pretty sure is Gelug and plan to start visiting their weekly Lamrim class, but I really would like to know what's involved with this 'teacher' business. I've been listening to Thubten Chodron's Lamrim talks on the interweb and she places a big emphasis on how to be a good student, and my Lamrim text also strongly highlights the importance of having a teacher.

So, what exactly is a 'teacher', how do I find one (like do I just ask a monk at the centre?), and what would be expected of me? Or is it more informal, and I just turn up regularly to the classes, and the teacher who teaches is 'my teacher'?

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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby pemachophel » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:53 pm

There are different levels of teacher in Tibetan Buddhism. Since you've only been studying this path for three months, I recommend you not worry about this at the moment. Keep going to the Lamrim class. Eventually you will learn about the importance of the Guru in the practice of Vajrayana. If you decide that you really do want to achieve Buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings as quickly as possible, then you will need to find a Guru. However, by that time, you should also have a much better idea of who is (and who is not) qualified to be a Vajrayana Guru, how to check out a Guru candidate's credentials, how to ask to become a Guru's student, and how to relate to the Guru after having become His/Her student. In other words, make haste slowly and supreme good luck on this endeavor. Also remember the oft-quoted saying, "When the student is ready, the Teacher appears." Personally, I have found this to be very true.
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby gnegirl » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:39 pm

Make an aspiration, straight from the heart, sincerely as possible, and then stand back and see what happens.
"Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise." --Surangama Sutra

Phenomenon, vast as space, dharmata is your base, arising and falling like ocean tide cycles, why do i cling to your illusion of unceasing changlessness?
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby Ken1969 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:08 pm

Points noted; thank you for your replies.

Ken
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby Dharmaswede » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:14 pm

For me, it is useful to think of teachers in terms of different levels:
1. A teacher is anyone you learn something that is spiritually or psychologically beneficial. It doesn't have to be a Buddhist teacher, there is much wisdom in other religions, cultures, paradigms etc.
2. A teacher is someone whose teachings you study and practice somewhat systematically, even if it is not overtly ambitious. I took the FBT course you are enrolled in, and Geshe Tashi is just an absolutely brilliant and terrific teacher! I am not in the Gelug tradition but that doesn't matter. I think it is good to have teachers from different Tibetan buddhist schools at this level because of the precious wisdom you do receive nurtures a fundamental respect in your heart for them – which serves as a good antidote against sectetrianism. So don't pass over teachings in your area just because the lama happens to be of the "wrong" school!
3. The teacher is the one you follow 'til the end.

I am sure others can describe this better and more accurately... but a pot shot in the dark with good intentions is better than none, I figure!

Stay open, pray and practice sincerely (even if you feel like a bull in a China shop!) – and don't disparage the teacher you have in your heart that whispers words of wisdom ever so softly...

Best Wishes,

Jens

PS.
I wholeheartedly recommend reading this: http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/x/nav ... 27811.html
DS.
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby ground » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:46 am

pemachophel wrote:Also remember the oft-quoted saying, "When the student is ready, the Teacher appears." Personally, I have found this to be very true.


This is a nice saying. It takes capacity to re-cognize "teacher". It takes capacity to re-cognize a gradient of "more knowledge 'there' and less knowledge 'here'", to re-cognize benefit of openly "receiving". It appears as if one may ask "This 'capacity' and the 're-cognition' ... the locus of both being the subject ... in what way are they the same and in what way are they different? Obviously a secondary cause is required. But the locus of that appearance is the subject too."

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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby Adamantine » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:02 am

"By not examining a teacher with great care
The faithful waste their gathered merit.
Like taking for the shadow of a tree a vicious snake,
Beguiled, they lose the freedom they at last had found."


--Patrul Rinpoche, from Words of My Perfect Teacher
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby ground » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:07 am

Adamantine wrote:"By not examining a teacher with great care
The faithful waste their gathered merit.
Like taking for the shadow of a tree a vicious snake,
Beguiled, they lose the freedom they at last had found."


--Patrul Rinpoche, from Words of My Perfect Teacher


Here we arrive again at this "potential" ... rise or fall ... wisdom or ignorance ...

I am inclined to say "As soon as you have received benefit from a teacher, immediately leave him" ... which of course does not comply with vajrayana tenets.

Kind regards
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby Sherab » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:47 am

TMingyur wrote:I am inclined to say "As soon as you have received benefit from a teacher, immediately leave him" ... which of course does not comply with vajrayana tenets.

The things that come out from you never ceases to amaze me. I think you should elaborate more on what you meant. As it stands, the advice looks rather questionable to me especially when you are directing it to a newbie.
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby ground » Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:09 am

Sherab wrote:As it stands, the advice looks rather questionable to me especially when you are directing it to a newbie.


Oh sorry for that ... it was not meant to be advice for a "newbie" ... I am not in a position to give advice to anybody ... actually this is not my intention ...

Kind regards
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby Tilopa » Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:14 am

Sherab wrote:The things that come out from you never ceases to amaze me.

I think our precious TMingyur must be from another planet. :rolling:
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby plwk » Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:17 am

The things that come out from you never ceases to amaze me.

I think our precious TMingyur must be from another planet. :rolling:

Well Vimalakirti was from another world system wasn't he..... :tongue:
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby Tilopa » Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:27 am

Ken1969 wrote: I'm fairly new to Buddhism and currently 3 months into a Buddhist foundation correspondence course with the Jamyang centre (Gelug Buddhism), and I'd like to find a teacher, but I'm not sure what's involved.

Good advice given so far, just take it easy. You don't need a guru to begin your spiritual journey because your inner wisdom is also your teacher so learn to listen to what it has to say. As has already been accurately said when the time is right and you are ready the external guru will appear.

Also read this so you don't get swept away by some of the lamadramagurugroupie nonsense that some people confuse with 'guru devotion'.

http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/x/nav ... 69672.html
Last edited by Tilopa on Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby Adamantine » Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:44 am

One of the most important things to know about when examining a vajrayana level teacher is if their own samaya (tantric vows) are kept pure in relation to their own teachers. If their samaya is broken, there will be no benefit in studying with them and even worse, they may bring you with them to lower realms. Since this is a degenerate age, those who are unfit to be teachers, who are prideful and want big followings and whose samaya may be broken-- these types can attract the biggest followings and appear to have the most 'success'. Whereas those teachers who are of pure lineage, unbroken commitment, with sincere motivation and humility, beyond the 8 worldly concerns -- these have the most to offer but are not often in the public spotlight, they may remain more hidden. This is a generality, of course there are some wonderful teachers who are widely known. However, there are some very widely known teachers who will bring you more harm then benefit. I say this not to scare you, but because knowing how to examine a teacher properly is one of the foundational instructions anyone interested in Vajrayana practice should learn. May you have the great good fortune to meet with an authentic spiritual guide, and swiftly move through the bhumis to benefit all.

Sarwa Mangalam!
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby Adamantine » Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:49 am

TMingyur wrote:
Sherab wrote:As it stands, the advice looks rather questionable to me especially when you are directing it to a newbie.


Oh sorry for that ... it was not meant to be advice for a "newbie" ... I am not in a position to give advice to anybody ... actually this is not my intention ...

Kind regards


Tmingyur, I appreciate that you apologized, but in general I believe it would be best if you avoid commenting on vajrayana topics, if you can't refrain from saying things that contradict the most important aspects of vajrayana view and conduct. You may disagree, based on your firm faith in different teachings, but it is best to respect other systems from a distance rather than add confused interpretations to people who sincerely want to know authentic view within this system. This tendency will only bring you obstacles or confusion on your own path, due to the law of karma.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby Adamantine » Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:55 am

Ken1969 wrote:
So, what exactly is a 'teacher', how do I find one (like do I just ask a monk at the centre?), and what would be expected of me? Or is it more informal, and I just turn up regularly to the classes, and the teacher who teaches is 'my teacher'?

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There's many levels of teacher as others have said. For now, attend teachings and listen to recorded teachings, etc. Learn how to examine a Vajrayana teacher properly. You want to be careful about who you accept as a Vajra master, because once you take empowerment with them you make a very powerful commitment to following them, and from then on you must always practice pure vision towards them. So it is important to remove all doubt before you take this step. As a general rule, try to avoid controversial teachers. . .
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby plwk » Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:58 am

And overzealous disciples....
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby ground » Fri Mar 11, 2011 6:10 am

Adamantine wrote:
TMingyur wrote:
Sherab wrote:As it stands, the advice looks rather questionable to me especially when you are directing it to a newbie.


Oh sorry for that ... it was not meant to be advice for a "newbie" ... I am not in a position to give advice to anybody ... actually this is not my intention ...

Kind regards


Tmingyur, I appreciate that you apologized, but in general I believe it would be best if you avoid commenting on vajrayana topics, if you can't refrain from saying things that contradict the most important aspects of vajrayana view and conduct. You may disagree, based on your firm faith in different teachings, but it is best to respect other systems from a distance rather than add confused interpretations to people who sincerely want to know authentic view within this system. This tendency will only bring you obstacles or confusion on your own path, due to the law of karma.


Karma depends on motivation ... it is not inherently caused by the application of words.

Kind regards
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby Tilopa » Fri Mar 11, 2011 10:12 am

Adamantine wrote:One of the most important things to know about when examining a vajrayana level teacher is if their own samaya (tantric vows) are kept pure in relation to their own teachers. If their samaya is broken, there will be no benefit in studying with them and even worse, they may bring you with them to lower realms. Since this is a degenerate age, those who are unfit to be teachers, who are prideful and want big followings and whose samaya may be broken-- these types can attract the biggest followings and appear to have the most 'success'. Whereas those teachers who are of pure lineage, unbroken commitment, with sincere motivation and humility, beyond the 8 worldly concerns -- these have the most to offer but are not often in the public spotlight, they may remain more hidden. This is a generality, of course there are some wonderful teachers who are widely known. However, there are some very widely known teachers who will bring you more harm then benefit. I say this not to scare you, but because knowing how to examine a teacher properly is one of the foundational instructions anyone interested in Vajrayana practice should learn. May you have the great good fortune to meet with an authentic spiritual guide, and swiftly move through the bhumis to benefit all.

More excellent advice. :good:
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Re: Finding a teacher...

Postby Adamantine » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:32 pm

TMingyur wrote:
Karma depends on motivation ... it is not inherently caused by the application of words.

Kind regards


Well, for a 'complete' form of negative karma to accrue you need all three aspects, the negative intent/motivation/afflictive emotion (which of course, could be ignorance itself), the action itself, and then satisfaction afterwards (as opposed to recognition and remorse). The application of words counts as the action. That is why "right speech" is considered an essential aspect of conduct for any Buddhist.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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