Buddhism without a teacher

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Buddhism without a teacher

Postby CoreyNiles92 » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:00 pm

Am I wrong in my decision to meditate without needing, or seeking an end goal as my reward?
When I began meditating it was simply to be there in that moment, to sit, for no other reason but to sit and focus on my breath, not considering whether or not it will make me happier.

I try not to turn meditation or loving kindness into a job where I recieve compensation, But I am unsure if my goals are wrong or negative. I also do not have a teacher, nor can I find one until I can leave the current town I am living in which I am to be living in for at least half of a year. Will I go nowhere without a teacher? I did not seek Buddhism out, and did not find it, it came to me one day in a blessing, I began to meditate and clean my life up in every single way, without having read a thing about Buddhism which I previously found to be a sham as I did not know a thing about it beyond how silly it seemed. I taught myself nearly everything I know about it, accepting only what I found to be true or real, for months I did this until I read my first book on Buddhism, which seemed to agree with all of the changes I had made on my own in my life.

Am I wrong? Was the book wrong? I have read everywhere that one absolutely 100% requires a teacher or they have no right to call themselves a Buddhist, and are not actually practicing the Dharma until they do so. But what of those who do not have Buddhist teachers anywhere near them, those who will never muster two pennies to rub together, do they simply have to live without Buddhism or the Dharma, because they were not taught by a certified teacher? Or can one learn through Buddha's teachings on their own? I personally take every idea I hear from Buddhist literature, and ponder on it endlessly, as often as I can I try to exercise mindfulness, and when there is a gap of unmindfulness I meditate on that gap. Very often I will in my own head speak philosophically, and attempt to deeply understand everything, something as simple as a leaf can bring about hours of questions, and insight.

I very much want to know as the only discouragement I have ever felt in Buddhism, is hearing "find a teacher and you will know".
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby underthetree » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:30 pm

CoreyNiles92 wrote:"find a teacher and you will know".


This is true. But teachers come in many, many forms. I practiced for a few years without a teacher and now I've found one. I don't think my teacherless years were spent in the wilderness at all. Every experience was valuable. The books I read informed me. The mistakes I made informed me. Some of the wrong turns I took led me to genuine discoveries. I found friends. I learned discrimination. My blunderings actually brought some real insights. Just learning how to meditate properly is a vast treasure.

It's a discipline in itself, this guru-less path. But the very fact that you're on the path means that there's a teacher somewhere. Courage, mate! And good luck!
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby CoreyNiles92 » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:43 pm

"But the very fact that you're on the path means that there's a teacher somewhere"

I don't think there was a better combination of words to reinvigorate me.
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby viniketa » Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:09 am

CoreyNiles92 wrote:I have read everywhere that one absolutely 100% requires a teacher or they have no right to call themselves a Buddhist, and are not actually practicing the Dharma until they do so.


Perhaps those who say such things are your teachers. ;)

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby CoreyNiles92 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:36 am

"Perhaps those who say such things are your teachers."

I'm learning more from this forum and it's contributers than I have learned in my entire life from any teacher, I love education and thrive on it, but this spiritual education is immeasurably more important and profound to me.
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby Thaijeppe » Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:28 am

Just continue your practice, when the time is right the teacher will be there for you.
:anjali:
jeppe
If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you
let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely,
you will know complete peace and freedom
Ajahn Chah
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:44 am

A teacher is really indispensable. I cannot emphasize this enough.
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby lobster » Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:15 am

You are a rhino.
http://www.hermitary.com/solitude/rhinoceros.html

If and when, teachers manifest you will find them in all things.
My greatest teaching came from a street lamp.

I have met people surrounded and in contact with great teachers.
They learned nothing because they did not apply the teachings . . . :shrug:

Everything is as it should be. You are on the path. :twothumbsup:
Those with teachers may not be . . . :shrug:

Those who are teachers (the Buddha taught before his enlightenment - what a fraud)
may be of no concern or need for the fearless rhino . . . :twothumbsup:

Integrity and practice. May all be auspicious :thumbsup:

OM YA HA HUM
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:36 am

You will read the numerous wrong views from devils who can spout some dharma words but have no teacher, no lineage and no realization. Trust and believe that the spiritual friend is the entire path.
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby underthetree » Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:43 am

deepbluehum wrote:You will read the numerous wrong views from devils who can spout some dharma words but have no teacher, no lineage and no realization. Trust and believe that the spiritual friend is the entire path.


Hum, isn't it also true - equally as true - that the teacher is not the first person to come along. If we are searching for a human teacher we must already be connected to the Dharma or else we wouldn't be searching. One shouldn't feel inadequate or less of a practitioner because one hasn't found the spiritual friend yet.
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:06 am

CoreyNiles92 wrote:But what of those who do not have Buddhist teachers anywhere near them, those who will never muster two pennies to rub together, do they simply have to live without Buddhism or the Dharma, because they were not taught by a certified teacher? Or can one learn through Buddha's teachings on their own?
As long as one focuses on Sutta and Sutra techniques a teacher is not 100% necessary. At some point in time though, even with sutta/sutra techniques, your practice will start to present experiences that without the guidance of, at least, a spiritual "equal" you will not be able to explain. So you will turn to books. Thing is will you find the right book? If you go to a "certified" teacher though, you will be sure that they have the "answers" because, even if they have not experienced the specific problems themselves, they have been taught about them and their antidotes.

There are all sorts of pitfalls that one can fall into in Buddhism practice: identifying the practice as "me" or "mine" and thus using practices to further worldly ambitions, getting trapped in notions of emptiness, having an expereince and believing that the experience means you are enlightened, ad nauseum... A teachers job is to pull you out of the traps and set you back on the path again. A task that is difficult and, in some cases, even impossible for you to do for yourself.

So are teachers 100% necessary for you to be considered a Buddhist practitioner? NO! Are they 100% necessary to ensure a stable and safe journey along the path? YES!
:namaste:
PS A teacher will not necessarily ask you for money, especially if you do not have money. You can offer to work, etc... Thing is, it is quite amazing how the people that complain about not having money for teachings have money to go to the pub, cinema, etc... Set up a piggy bank and every time you have a few dollars spare throw it in and you will be amazed how quickly you will amass the money you need!
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby Anistar » Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:55 am

Dear OP,

Like you, I have been guided to Buddhism. A great many Buddhists say they didn't choose Buddhism but that it choose them. Indeed, I believe that in my past lives I asked to never be seperated from the Dharma, so now no matter which life I am living, the Dharma will find me.

Like you I live in a small village and can not go to temple as much as I like, nor do I have a physical ordained spiritual teacher. However, when I feel like I am lost, I recall that as only NOW exists, I am already realised and being realised in this moment, I would have sent help to myself in this troubled period.

So always remember to look for the help and realise that you are being cradled as you walk the path. Sometimes you are scared that you are alone (like when I change my children's t-shirts and it is dark while the fabric covers their heads). It seems dark to them, but it isn't really.

If you feel tight, let go and expand out into your true nature.
You are doing great. Don't worry about reading the wrong teachings or books, remember that you will come across the correct teachings and cannot make a misstep.

Have compassion for yourself and realise that your ultimate buddha nature is already realised so therefore the path you walk at the moment is the one you walked to attain enlightenment :).

Trust.

Jay
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:11 am

Dear Anistar,

I also live in a small village but once or twice a year I make an effort to travel and come into contact with teachers in order to ask them questions and receive practices. This annual contact also allows me to develop personal relationships with teachers so that if I am experiencing problems in my practice I can phone them or write to them for advice.

Trusting ones true nature is very good, but how do you know it is your enlightened nature that you are tapping into and not just another one of 100,000,000 traps the ego (Mara) is setting for us?

You cannot. That is the importance of a teacher and sangha, to not delude ourselves. To have a point of reference for our practice.
:namaste:
Last edited by Sherab Dorje on Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby Anistar » Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:21 am

You are absolutly correct Greg :).

Love and light

Jay
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby lobster » Thu Oct 25, 2012 5:13 am

From where you are, it is Permissible and possible to contact and interact with a variety of guides. Some you will ignore, some will ignore you (we can learn from that), some will be unavailable. Some died a Buddha age ago. I would trust you as a future Buddha to know what mind, Companionship and teaching, if any, you require. :yinyang:

Everything depends on your capacity as an adult. :buddha1:
The 3 jewels are very much present in a variety of ways and forms open to you.
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby Quiet Heart » Thu Oct 25, 2012 7:36 am

:smile:
CoreyNiles92

Just my personal opinion .... but maybe you are one of those who can find a path without a formal "Teacher".
I am one. It's NOT an easy path .... but in my particular case it seemed to be the only path I would accept.
Yes, a lot of errors were made, but then realizations too.
If you do have the right attitude then every day that you start is your teacher for that day.
I used to worry about not having a Teacher also.....until I realized I DID have a Teacher that day.

The story that made me understand was this:

There was a foolish man who one day while looking at his face in a mirror, accidentaly dropped the mirror, and the mirror shattered into many pieces.
Being a fooolish man he believed that like the mirror his head had also been broken into many pieces.
He spent many days running around trying to find another whole mirror so he could use it to put his head back together.
Finally he happened to pass a pool of water. Glancing down into the pool he saw his head reflected in the pool on his body.
He was greatly relevied to see that his head had been there on his shoulders all along, and therefore there was no need for him to search any longer.

In Zen, there is a saying that some people searching wildly about for understanding are like a hungery man with a pot of rice in his hand who carries around a lit candle trying to find a fire to cook his rice.
If he understood the true nature of that candle in his hand, he would not need that thing called "Fire".
:smile:
Shame on you Shakyamuni for setting the precedent of leaving home.
Did you think it was not there--
in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
from - Judyth Collin
The Layman's Lament
From What Book, 1998, p. 52
Edited by Gary Gach
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby Astus » Thu Oct 25, 2012 4:13 pm

No need to worry about having or not having a teacher. You can learn the Dharma from the right books (there are many wrong books too) and online from the right sources (and not bad sources). How to tell the difference between right and wrong? Through studying and understanding the sutras and shastras. You can also ask many questions on this forum. There are teachers you can send e-mail to, if you you want. Even without personally meeting anyone the information you can get is enormous. And if you reach a point where you find that you could really use someone experienced to talk to you will be able to find the ways to travel.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby KungaJanis » Sun Jul 07, 2013 5:09 am

Hi,

Why do you need a teacher, if you can do it all on your own?
You don't.
However, a "qualified teacher", that has a commitment to teach you and help you to become enlightened, can be of immense benefit to you.

Let's say that there are no available teachers.
So, you try to do it all on your own, by reading zillions of books, chanting millions of mantras, meditating while staring at a wall (or out of a cave) until your rear wears out, etc.
Doing these things can help you to be "READY" for what a "qualified teacher" can do for you, but these things, of themselves, can not do for you, what a "qualified teacher" can.


It's like making tea.
If the pot, or water is dirty, or the tea is moldy, or has a terrible taste, no matter what you do, the tea will not be good to drink.

So, here we go ......

Cleaning the pot = mantra repetition, reading and writing sutras, making offerings and prostrations, etc.
The clean water = the teachings with explanations, and empowerments, that your root lama(s) can give to you.
The tea = the energies your root lama(s) can use; to demonstrate various Buddhist things, to wake up your mind, and to hold your consciousness in specific states and places.

Most people NEED these things.
I really can't think of a way, you could do ALL of this, on your own.
Especially when most of the texts/books are in code, or have coded parts, you have to figure out how to pronounce the mantras, and empowerments are not given without commitments given in return.

A coded example would be a rain of flowers.
Most people think a rain of flowers is, when flowers miraculously start falling from the sky.
This is wrong.

Same thing goes for the bible.
A coded example would be "It's harder for a rich man to get into heaven, than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle."
Most people think this means putting a camel through the eye of a sewing needle.
This is, also, wrong.

Most people need a lama to explain these sorts of things and their meaning and uses.
Again, this usually requires that you make commitments to the lama, by making vows, pledges and the like.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Below is a more technical description, why I think you need a "qualified teacher".

When you find and gain a root lama, when they are with you, the energies they emit affect everything around them, but most people can't perceive this.
If you "DO the WORK" of mantra repetitions, reading and writing of sutras, make the offerings, prostrations, etc., eventually you will "WAKE UP" to these energies.

Unfortunately, you go right back to sleep, after only a speck, of a second.
Your lama will do this for you, over and over and over, until you (hopefully) wake up for a few seconds AND recognize that something has happened.
You won't know what happened, just that "SOMETHING" happened !

Eventually, you can tell, as in feel, see, smell, taste (people have lots of ways of perceiving this), when the "SOMETHING" happens.
Now, you are ready, to try to create this energy state, by yourself.

At this stage, your lama will do their best to make you experience these energies, almost nonstop.
They even do this while you are sleeping.
That's why the have dream practices.
Good luck understanding them without a lama, to explain them to you.

Hopefully, you will learn the steps needed to recreate the energies, by yourself.
If you do accomplish this feat, you might describe it something like this; gather the energy and pile it up, then quickly rise up, twist left, move forward, dip down, then with all your ability, push your energetic self upward, leaping, off the pile you built.

This seems rather stupid, when reading these words, but many people who CAN do this AND will talk to you about it, describe it this way (a kinesthetic description).
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Most systems/religions have a core that is very similar, but you have to get rid of all the garbage that was attached, before you can get to the "Truth".
The divine revelations, knowledge and manifested energies, are always interpreted within the framework of the receiver's culture.

It's like a lama with a pet cat.
He has to tie his cat to a tree, before he starts to teach his students, so it won't disturb or distract them.
Many years later, when he dies, his students all get cats and tie them to trees, before teaching their students, because that's the way it's done.
This sort of thing has happened, many times.

This is exceptionally clear when you get a bunch of, less than brilliant, students that can not understand the more complex esoteric teachings.
When this happens, suddenly, you see lots of cats being tied to trees.

In Buddhist stories you can find many examples like this.
Great lamas show their best students a complete mandala of deities in the night sky, then the lama asks their students, "Who do you want to learn from?."
Regrettably, they usually choose the deities.
This is the wrong choice.
It shows their lack of understanding, of the true nature of reality.
It also emphasizes how important your root lama is.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Anyway, your question, as asked, can be answered yes AND no.
It all depends upon what you want to accomplish.

If you want to understand, practice and teach Buddhism or start a new religion.
Not likely.

Can you make yourself feel better?
Can you learn to relax?
Can you come up with a way to focus, without being distracted?
Can you lower your blood pressure?
Most likely, yes.
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby Koji » Mon Jul 08, 2013 12:02 am

Years ago I read in a Tibetan book called the Blue Annals that the best teacher is your own mind. :reading:
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Re: Buddhism without a teacher

Postby Ramon1920 » Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:21 am

CoreyNiles92 wrote:Am I wrong in my decision to meditate without needing, or seeking an end goal as my reward?
When I began meditating it was simply to be there in that moment, to sit, for no other reason but to sit and focus on my breath, not considering whether or not it will make me happier.

I try not to turn meditation or loving kindness into a job where I recieve compensation, But I am unsure if my goals are wrong or negative. I also do not have a teacher, nor can I find one until I can leave the current town I am living in which I am to be living in for at least half of a year. Will I go nowhere without a teacher? I did not seek Buddhism out, and did not find it, it came to me one day in a blessing, I began to meditate and clean my life up in every single way, without having read a thing about Buddhism which I previously found to be a sham as I did not know a thing about it beyond how silly it seemed. I taught myself nearly everything I know about it, accepting only what I found to be true or real, for months I did this until I read my first book on Buddhism, which seemed to agree with all of the changes I had made on my own in my life.

Am I wrong? Was the book wrong? I have read everywhere that one absolutely 100% requires a teacher or they have no right to call themselves a Buddhist, and are not actually practicing the Dharma until they do so. But what of those who do not have Buddhist teachers anywhere near them, those who will never muster two pennies to rub together, do they simply have to live without Buddhism or the Dharma, because they were not taught by a certified teacher? Or can one learn through Buddha's teachings on their own? I personally take every idea I hear from Buddhist literature, and ponder on it endlessly, as often as I can I try to exercise mindfulness, and when there is a gap of unmindfulness I meditate on that gap. Very often I will in my own head speak philosophically, and attempt to deeply understand everything, something as simple as a leaf can bring about hours of questions, and insight.

I very much want to know as the only discouragement I have ever felt in Buddhism, is hearing "find a teacher and you will know".


Your goal is to end suffering. That's what it is, that's what it has always been, and that is why you are serious about spiritual pursuits, because you want to end suffering forever.
READ!
STUDY!
LISTEN!
Investigate how to put an end to suffering and then put effort into it.
Work smarter, not harder.

Don't waste anymore time.
http://www.thubtenchodron.org/AudioLibrary/index.html
Download all the audio from there, listen to it all. If you prefer reading then read the transcripts. You'll find out what this set of teachings is as you listen to it.

In the future, everything must be supported by either sutra, tantra, or valid commentaries.
If a teacher is just making up stuff then you make up a reason to stop going to their teachings.
Commit to ending suffering, don't commit to teachers. Even good teachers die, some good teachers go crazy later in life, some are helpful and knowledgeable in some areas but not others. So keep your eye on the goal of ending suffering and take that desire seriously.
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