Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system?

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Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system?

Postby rob h » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:21 am

The more I meditate the more this seems to come up in my mind.

We always hear that you have to have a teacher, that you can't wake up without one, that even the Buddha needed teachers, etc.

Well, so what? Maybe some people can awaken without teachers, and here's simply why I think this is :

If meditation is the art of accessing your In-Tuition, then once you access it you can wake up, because you just carry on uncovering layers until you find the truth, because you are your own teacher with that access.

Yes, some people need guidance to get to that point, but simply saying everyone has to have a teacher just seems bizarre now. Isn't that like Christians needing Church to access Christ? To me it's very, eerily, similar.

The Buddha teaches us to look within and find the answers ourselves, and to question whatever we want to question, so I'm questioning this. Isn't it just convenient that we're told we need teachers all the time so that we feel dis-empowered to wake up ourselves? The problem I see with a lot of this is that Tibetans, with respect, place so much importance on the teacher, but I think that many of them, if left to their own devices, their own in-tuition, would wake up eventually anyway.

Isn't a lot of what's practised nowadays just clinging to rituals and forms anyway? And I mean most Buddhism, not just Tibetan, there.

We're told not to disrespect the Sangha or cause division, etc, too, and that we could go to hell if that happens, well, isn't that convenient too! Keep quiet or hell? No, I'll question. The Buddha taught me to and I won't stop until I have the correct answers.

I'm just thinking, the more I meditate, that a lot of the problems with Buddhism are down to the fact that there's a control system in place to stop people just learning their own ways. (No this does not have to mean a big conspiracy. It could simply be neglect and habit-energy that's been ingrained down through the centuries. Basically : our own bad karma that we have to overcome.) That to have respect you need to have had a teacher, etc, and that without having had one you surely don't know what you're talking about. This needs to be questioned.

I just think this is by design a lot of the time, and that if you put a few thousand people on an island with no teachers and just some books and sutras, and had some very dedicated people in that group, yes, you'd see some very good meditators emerge.

I'm just bored of it. Something inside has just broken with this whole view, and I'm not going to fear speaking out about it, simply because : when you access your intuition, you are your own teacher. This is a fact, if it wasn't, then how did the Buddha fully wake up? You can say "Ahh, but the Buddha had teachers too." Yes maybe, but he still did the final steps using his intuition. He didn't need a teacher to finally wake up. He did that final part without one. Maybe this should be remembered.

I just think this whole idea of "needing" a teacher is right at the root of the three poisons : delusion. I think you need the sutras, as in the "teachings" that meditators have learnt to help you start out, but once you're going it's often fine. Some people will struggle and need teachers, but that doesn't, and should never mean, as far as I can tell, that all people need them. The main thing to protect is the sutras, the guides on meditation. I don't believe any longer that lines of transmission mean a thing, because all our minds come from the same place. Teachers can be great, teachers can help people wake up, learn to meditate, there's thousands of good teachers all over the world. I'm not attacking them, what I am attacking is the idea that you "need" a teacher.

Sorry if this offends anyone, but I've been taught to question and will continue to until I no longer need to.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:46 am

rob h wrote:We always hear that you have to have a teacher, that you can't wake up without one, that even the Buddha needed teachers, etc.
So you believe that the Buddha may have needed teachers but you do not?
If meditation is the art of accessing your In-Tuition, then once you access it you can wake up, because you just carry on uncovering layers until you find the truth, because you are your own teacher with that access.
Without a teacher (or texts written by teachers) how do you know when you have uncovered the final truth? How will you know that you are not just kidding yourself? You know how many people get stuck at certain levels/layers thinking they have achieved enlightenment? Why do you think that you will not get stuck somewhere?
The Buddha teaches us to look within and find the answers ourselves, and to question whatever we want to question, so I'm questioning this.
Hello!!! You are quoting a teacher to say that you do not need a teacher! I guess the irony is lost on you?
Isn't a lot of what's practised nowadays just clinging to rituals and forms anyway? And I mean most Buddhism, not just Tibetan, there.
Sure, you may get that idea if you have not been taught the meaning behind everything being done. And who will teach you the meanings? I bet you can guess that one!
We're told not to disrespect the Sangha or cause divison, etc, too, and that we could go to hell if that happens, well, isn't that convenient too! Keep quiet or hell? No, I'll question.
Who said this and where did they say it? I mean, yes, respect the sangha and do not cause divisions, but the second part?
I'm just thinking, the more I meditate, that a lot of the problems with Buddhism are down to the fact that there's a control system in place to stop people just learning their own ways. That to have respect you need to have had a teacher, etc, and that without having had one you surely don't know what you're talking about!
I'll take it that you do not have access to a teacher and you are looking to justify this to yourself? Instead of justifying it why do you not engage in a practice, like the 35 Confession Buddhas, which will burn a hole through some of that negative karma and let a teacher in?
Well I just think this is by design a lot of the time, and that if you put a few thousand people on an island with no teachers and just some books and sutras, and had some very dedicated people in that group, yes, you'd see some very good meditators emerge.
Who wrote the books and sutras? That's right, TEACHERS.
I just think this whole idea of "needing" is teacher is right at the root of the three poisons : delusion. I think you need the sutras, as in the "teachings" that meditators have learnt to help you start out, but once you're going it's often fine.
cf above comment.
Some people will struggle and need teachers, but that doesn't, and should never mean, as far as I can tell, that all people need them.
So your ego is telling you that you (being so smart clever and advanced) do not need to put a teacher above you, that you can do it by yourself, that you do not need any help, that everybody else is deluded and needs help but not you, that you understand everything written in the TEACHINGS without needing any help to interpret them, that you are capable of explaining and overcoming all meditational experiences and obstacles by yourself, etc...?

Tell your ego to shut up for a second and listen. When I started practicing I relied solely on Sutta and Sutras and books because I lived in a small town, on a small island in the middle of the Aegean. Now I loved practicing and would spend lots of time just doing sati meditation. The thing is, that at some point in time, I had some experiences that I could not explain, that I could not find described in books, Suttas and Sutras. Experiences that were quite capable of compromising my sanity. And you know what? You know what the only answer to my dilemma (insanity or progress) was? I'll leave it up to you to guess. But obviously your practice has not arrived at this point yet. If you keep at it, it will! ;)
"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."
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby LastLegend » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:47 am

If people have the confidence in themselves to practice, then don't need a teacher. I personally would recommend a teacher for anyone. If they are sure that they don't need a teacher, then that's fine. Remember no one is forcing anyone to have a teacher. It's only a recommendation.

I follow Pure Land and it does not require a teacher. Amitabha Buddha himself is the teacher, Pure Land Sutras are Dharma, and Avalokiteśvara and Mahāsthāmaprāpta are Sangha. The meaning of that is triple jewels-Buddha (Amitabha this case) refers to Awakened, Dharma as proper views and under-standing, and Sangha (Purity of Mind and the Six Principles of Living in Harmony). Avalokiteśvara and Mahāsthāmaprāpta also mean compassion and wisdom. So we are to be awakened, have proper views and understanding, and have purity as well compassion and wisdom. These are to be practiced within our mind, and not externally. That's the perspective of Pure Land without needing a teacher. We do recitation for the most part or being mindful of Amitabha. Not trying to selling anything here. Just explaining from a Pure Land perspective why we don't need a teacher.

http://www.amtbweb.org/tchet112.htm
Last edited by LastLegend on Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:48 am

LastLegend wrote:I follow Pure Land and it does not require a teacher. Amitabha Buddha himself is the teacher.
:rolling: I love it!
"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."
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby rob h » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:53 am

By the way, if anyone thinks my comments on Tibetans back there were attacking Tibetan Buddhism, that's wrong. I'm questioning the importance on teachers. The Buddha that inspires me most of the time, and that I often try to work with (I've been told I can't work with her properly without a teacher, there we go again....) is Vajrayogini. And hopefully she'll help be shred up the remaining bits of delusion if I stick with her. Yes I realize I need to be careful, but I don't try to work with her all of the time out of respect. I have no plan on not trying to work with her because I'm told I need empowerment either. This is because if I work properly for enough time, I think she's quite skilled enough to do that for me herself.

Have just seen responses, will get to them soon.

One more thing : I'm questioning here, if I'm proven wrong, fair enough. But please don't start twisting what I'm saying or attacking me for questioning.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby rob h » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:57 am

gregkavarnos wrote:So you believe that the Buddha may have needed teachers but you do not?


Not me, we. We have an advantage here that he didn't have back then : his meditation guides for awakening that make up the sutras, that have been fortunately passed down through the years.

Do you think if the Buddha before his awakening had had the sutras he'd still have been stuck, even if he tried years to make them work? I think this is very doubtful.

(I'll hopefully get to your other questions soon.)
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby LastLegend » Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:11 am

rob h wrote:By the way, if anyone thinks my comments on Tibetans back there were attacking Tibetan Buddhism, that's wrong. I'm questioning the importance on teachers. The Buddha that inspires me most of the time, and that I often try to work with (I've been told I can't work with her properly without a teacher, there we go again....) is Vajrayogini. And hopefully she'll help be shred up the remaining bits of delusion if I stick with her. Yes I realize I need to be careful, but I don't try to work with her all of the time out of respect. I have no plan on not trying to work with her because I'm told I need empowerment either. This is because if I work properly for enough time, I think she's quite skilled enough to do that for me herself.

Have just seen responses, will get to them soon.

One more thing : I'm questioning here, if I'm proven wrong, fair enough. But please don't start twisting what I'm saying or attacking me for questioning.


May I ask what discipline do you practice? Zen, Tibetan, Pure Land, Theravada?
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby rob h » Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:20 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Without a teacher (or texts written by teachers) how do you know when you have uncovered the final truth? How will you know that you are not just kidding yourself? You know how many people get stuck at certain levels/layers thinking they have achieved enlightenment? Why do you think that you will not get stuck somewhere?


The Buddha managed it, so can some of us that have the right karma, or maybe any of us if we do it properly.

gregkavarnos wrote:Hello!!! You are quoting a teacher to say that you do not need a teacher! I guess the irony is lost on you?


I mean a real life teacher in the here and now that guides you through meditation.

gregkavarnos wrote:Sure, you may get that idea if you have not been taught the meaning behind everything being done. And who will teach you the meanings? I bet you can guess that one!


Yes, there are meanings, I get that. I also get that they can work and send you closer to awakening. But there's other ways too, and I often think there's an over-reliance, and attachment to ritual.

gregkavarnos wrote:Who said this and where did they say it? I mean, yes, respect the sangha and do not cause divisions, but the second part?


This might be wrong actually, so sorry if so. Maybe I got mixed up with going to hell for creating a schism. I'm sure I saw that one somewhere!

gregkavarnos wrote:I'll take it that you do not have access to a teacher and you are looking to justify this to yourself? Instead of justifying it why do you not engage in a practice, like the 35 Confession Buddhas, which will burn a hole through some of that negative karma and let a teacher in?


What negative karma makes me need a teacher if I can access my own inner teacher by meditating properly? There's no way you can tell me on a message board that I don't meditate right. You can find faults in some of my words, fair enough, but I'm not pretending to be awake. I'm just saying that I think I'm on the right track if I carry on meditating by using sutras and my own intuition (intuition = inner teacher. Same thing that the Buddha used to achieve enlightement, as far as I can tell.) as guides.

gregkavarnos wrote:Who wrote the books and sutras? That's right, TEACHERS.


Again, I mean real life teachers in the here and now. I get that you need to have good meditators to write books, but I'm not sure if you have to be a teacher for the books to work. For sutras, well they're supposed to come from the Buddha, who yes, is a teacher, but again I mean the reliance on real life teachers, not the Buddha as our original teacher.

gregkavarnos wrote:So your ego is telling you that you (being so smart clever and advanced) do not need to put a teacher above you, that you can do it by yourself, that you do not need any help, that everybody else is deluded and needs help but not you, that you understand everything written in the TEACHINGS without needing any help to interpret them, that you are capable of explaining and overcoming all meditational experiences and obstacles by yourself, etc...?


No, I'm saying that I doubt many of us need real life teachers. I don't do above and below so I don't think anyone is above me, or below me, I think we're all equal. To say otherwise is creating division. But you're just starting to twist things when you say everyone is deluded but me. (and smart, clever and advanced.) If that was the case I'd be awake, and not needing to ask these questions. Instead I'd be explaining how they're facts, or I'd know they're not facts and let it go as delusion. I obviously don't know if they're facts or not, so I'm questioning.

gregkavarnos wrote:Tell your ego to shut up for a second and listen. When I started practicing I relied solely on Sutta and Sutras and books because I lived in a small town, on a small island in the middle of the Aegean. Now I loved practicing and would spend lots of time just doing sati meditation. The thing is, that at some point in time, I had some experiences that I could not explain, that I could not find described in books, Suttas and Sutras. Experiences that were quite capable of compromising my sanity. And you know what? You know what the only answer to my dilemma (insanity or progress) was? I'll leave it up to you to guess. But obviously your practice has not arrived at this point yet. If you keep at it, it will! ;)


I think I'm asking honest questions here, not caught up in ego. That doesn't mean I discount this being the result of my ego, I get that I could just be deluded and have the ego causing problems, wouldn't be a very aware person if I didn't see that as a possibility, and if I couldn't I'd probably need a teacher quickly. But yes, if I have experiences that test my sanity to the point that I can't carry on, yes of course, I'll have to seek a teacher. I'm not saying I'm above teachers, again I don't do above and below like that, I'm genuinely trying to ask a question that I think is a problem, and that's the idea of "everyone" "needing" a real life teacher to learn meditation properly.
Last edited by rob h on Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:31 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby rob h » Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:22 am

LastLegend wrote:May I ask what discipline do you practice? Zen, Tibetan, Pure Land, Theravada?


A mixture of Zen, Yogacara, Theravada and what I think of as a mixture of energy and perception work with Vajrayogini.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:30 am

rob h wrote:A mixture of Zen, Yogacara, Theravada and what I think of as a mixture of energy and perception work with Vajrayogini.

images.jpg
images.jpg (5.44 KiB) Viewed 872 times
"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: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby rob h » Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:37 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
rob h wrote:A mixture of Zen, Yogacara, Theravada and what I think of as a mixture of energy and perception work with Vajrayogini.

images.jpg


Yeah I know, mixing meditations from different meditation schools can't be possible, etc, we should all find our neat little boxes and stay in them. I don't have to choose a schoool, and I can use different meditations for different situations. If I had to pick, was forced to pick, a school of meditation, it'd be Zen. Awareness and unattachment is the core of most of how I meditate. Just because I do things differently it doesn't mean I'm wrong. Look around the world, so many people doing exactly what they've been told to do, and learning only how they've been told they should learn. Then look at how utterly messed up it is. I'm not blindly following and the sutras don't state I have to do that.

And ridiculing is probably generating bad karma! (and you should use Picard far facepalming!) Why not try to prove how mixing methods from different schools has to be wrong?

Edit : Just noticed you're a global mod, you should definitely know Picard facepalms.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby Andrew108 » Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:44 am

I understand where you are coming from. The problem is a practical issue. Can you get a true and deep understanding of the buddha's teaching without having a guru/deciple relationship? I think it's possible that you can, but only if you take up and follow strict rules concerning your conduct.
Within Tibetan Buddhism not everyone wants or needs a close relationship with a teacher as guru. But those that do get close with the guru tend to get practical advice tailored to them and this bespoke service is quite valuable. So from a practical view having a relationship with a teacher can accelerate the pace at which you go.
Ego can make us think that all we need is to be 'guides unto ourselves', that we can provide our own council. Ego can also make us think of our teacher as being our problem solver where we passively give up our reasoning and energy for discovery.
We can create teachers as ego projections and our ego can annoint us so that we become our own teachers. It's all very problematic.
Personally I don't want a personal friendly relationship with a teacher. For me the teacher transmits and I stand within the energy of that transmission. Sometimes the energy of the transmission can be so fierce that concepts get dropped and this is the real value of being close to a teacher who holds a lineage. That ideas and concepts that ego carefully built up year after year get dropped is invaluable. When people study and seem to know a lot about the dharma they get to a point of paralysis where the act of study and meditation is sufficient. They haven't met the transmission. Their ego is safe in study and practice but they haven't experienced the type of breakthrough that being close to a lineage guru can help bring about.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby rob h » Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:51 am

Andrew108 wrote:I understand where you are coming from. The problem is a practical issue. Can you get a true and deep understanding of the buddha's teaching without having a guru/deciple relationship? I think it's possible that you can, but only if you take up and follow strict rules concerning your conduct.


This is what I'm trying to get at, but the thing that often bugs me (I know I shouldn't let it bug me.) is that this type of response is often rare, and the usual response is that it isn't possible, or ridicule, etc. I think I understand some of what you say in the rest of your post too and respect that. Would just prefer it if there was a more open minded approach in general though.

So of course this thread will probably drag on like similar ones of this type and I'll be seen as deluded, egotistical, etc. If it goes on long enough you'll probably find a few people admitting it should be possible too. I don't want to keep going around in circles with responses if that happens, but at least I got to ask the question and if that makes some people think about it a bit and there's at least a few open minded responses, I guess that's fair enough.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby LastLegend » Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:01 pm

rob h wrote:This is what I'm trying to get at, but the thing that often bugs me (I know I shouldn't let it bug me.) is that this type of response is often rare, and the usual response is that it isn't possible, or ridicule, etc. I think I understand some of what you say in the rest of your post too and respect that. Would just prefer it if there was a more open minded approach in general though.


If you have thoroughly grasped the Dharma and have the confidence to practice on your own then yes. The reason why, I think, most people recommend a teacher is because they don't want to lead people astray. At least, that's how I think.

In East Asian Buddhism, from my understanding, all the practitioners whether Chan or Pure Land have a direct relationship with Buddhas. For Pure Land, Amitabha. This might sound Christianized or Christian like, but it makes perfect sense. Buddhas do guide us as long as we truly want to be liberated.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby Andrew108 » Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:24 pm

rob h wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:I understand where you are coming from. The problem is a practical issue. Can you get a true and deep understanding of the buddha's teaching without having a guru/deciple relationship? I think it's possible that you can, but only if you take up and follow strict rules concerning your conduct.


This is what I'm trying to get at, but the thing that often bugs me (I know I shouldn't let it bug me.) is that this type of response is often rare, and the usual response is that it isn't possible, or ridicule, etc. I think I understand some of what you say in the rest of your post too and respect that. Would just prefer it if there was a more open minded approach in general though.

So of course this thread will probably drag on like similar ones of this type and I'll be seen as deluded, egotistical, etc. If it goes on long enough you'll probably find a few people admitting it should be possible too. I don't want to keep going around in circles with responses if that happens, but at least I got to ask the question and if that makes some people think about it a bit and there's at least a few open minded responses, I guess that's fair enough.

We don't get to see our teachers very often. When we do it's for a short period of time. Face-to-face interaction is very limited. So in a real sense we are by ourselves most of the time in dharma. And we deal with the crud of dualistic thinking on a daily/hourly basis. So it's our work to apply the teachings of the buddha and maybe to impliment the advice of our teachers. But theres lots of advice written in the sutras and you should follow that advice if you don't have the inspiration of a genuine teacher/student relationship. And why not? Is there something wrong or misleading about that advice?
I think for me the teacher/student relationship would be problematic if my teachers didn't inspire me. In otherwords if I took on a relationship with a teacher just because I'd been told that I need to have a teacher, then that would be the worst thing. The same is true about having a famous teacher just because they are famous. So my teachers inspire me and I don't have a problem with having teachers. If none of them inspired me, but reading sutras did then that would be fine too.
One thing though. Genuine confidence in the teachings comes about not through intellectual study but through actual realization. If you use the teachings to understand and cut through suffering and ego-clinging then what more confidence do you need? What other realization do you need? That confidence in being able to overcome suffering is pretty much the same as realizing wisdom (not your wisdom) - buddha wisdom. So who is the teacher after all?
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby Astus » Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:51 pm

Rob,

There are a lot of things involved in the idea of a teacher. In general a teacher is just a person who teaches something. In Buddhism there are all sorts of teachers, that is, people who you can learn from different things. There are also specialists, people who know certain areas of Buddhism in depth. Let's say you want to study Yogacara. There are only a handful of English speakers who have thorough knowledge of Vijnaptimatra but a lot more who have some level of familiarity with it. If all you want is a basic understanding of Yogacara you can learn it in English and ask questions about points you find difficult from many teachers. However, if you aspire to become a specialist, you have to learn Chinese or Tibetan and because the problems you encounter become very technical you might have trouble finding the right person to consult with. So, do you need a personal teacher to know Yogacara? You don't. But because of your interest you might contact those who share your fascination with it and that way they become your spiritual friends (kalyanamitra).

A teacher can be an expert as I said above, but can also be a guide. People have different capacities - what usually means different levels of interest - and since the majority who study Buddhism don't have the inclination to go through the sutras and treatises, especially at the beginning, they rather rely on a single person they trust to present the Dharma in a simple and straightforward manner. But that's the case with almost everything and people usually prefer live talks and discussions rather than reading a book.

For those who only want to learn only on their own without any involvement in an actual community, well, I think it is very rare. Almost everybody wants to be with like minded people. And when it is not possible to meet in the physical space there are virtual groups like this forum.

Finally, there is the special case of the personal teacher where one follows a person to receive intensive education. It's like hiring a language teacher or a fitness trainer who you meet regularly and you get personalised instructions. Because true specialists are on high demand in a community only in specific situations is it possible to have such a tutor. Ideally a teacher knows the disciple very well, they have a close relationship, and that makes it possible to provide individual guidance. This is possible mostly in monastic and eremitic environments, or if you have a teacher living nearby whom you can visit any time you want. That's why only a few Buddhists have such a teacher. Even in a bigger monastery you see the abbot only once in a while, and becoming a personal disciple is a privilege.

In the Platform Sutra (ch. 2, tr. McRae) Huineng says,

"Because some people are stupid and some are wise, the stupid being the small and the wise being the great, the stupid ask questions of the wise and the wise preach the Dharma for the stupid. When a stupid person suddenly becomes enlightened, his mind opening forth, he is no different from a wise person.
...
If you can become enlightened yourself, don’t rely on external seeking— don’t think I’m saying you can only attain emancipation through [the help of] a spiritual compatriot other than yourself. This is not the case! Why? Within your own minds there is a spiritual compatriot [who will help you] become enlightened by yourself! If you activate the false and deluded, you will become all mixed up with false thoughts. Although some external spiritual compatriots may be teachers, they cannot save you."
"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: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby seeker242 » Sat Feb 23, 2013 1:38 pm

I find it highly unlikely that people say you need a teacher because their intention is to maintain a "system of control". Control of what? Why would they need to control anything? Teachers generally teach for your benefit, not for the benefit of themselves.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby rob h » Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:20 pm

seeker242 wrote:I find it highly unlikely that people say you need a teacher because their intention is to maintain a "system of control". Control of what? Why would they need to control anything? Teachers generally teach for your benefit, not for the benefit of themselves.


It could be that it's just a type of half-unconscious, peer pressure thing. Where most of us are told we need a teacher, but in reality, a certain percentage might not. I'm not trying to sound egotistical by implying I'm one of the rare few that might not need one, I mean that maybe a decent percentage might not need one if left to do their own thing and helped along with the idea that if you meditate enough your confidence and ability will grow. Like I said I don't think it's some big conspiracy, just something that's been muddled up along the way, to the point that if you learnt meditation on your own to a decent level and could actually teach, you'd have people ridiculing you if you said you'd not had a real life teacher of your own to learn from. Almost like your teaching ability would be null and void to some because there's no "teacher" you had to make it "credible." Many would probably think you were a fraud or something. It's that type of thing I'm meaning, which is based on judging without knowing how well someone can meditate, just because it's "generally assumed" that you can't get far without a real life teacher.

And thanks Astus, it's good to read several different approaches in your post, thanks for the help. And yeah, I think I can see even with limited knowledge of Yogacara that translations can become a problem, especially with the amount of technical terms.

Also : I said transmission doesn't mean a thing in my first post, that was wrong because to many it clearly does. I was meaning more that "ultimately" if you have two meditators with the same level of understanding but one with transmission, lineage, etc, it probably won't make much of a difference. I get that transmission/lineage is respected by a lot of Buddhists though and don't want to wind some people up with statements like that, so apologies. I know that teachers are respected a lot too! Rightly so in most cases I'd guess, but this is the question I've had to ask, so sorry again for any offence caused.

edit : Also apologies for the few typos I missed back there before I could edit, and thanks to Andrew108 and LastLegend, good points in your posts too.

edit 2 : To finish for now I'd say that my first post could have been written and explained better, but every now and then it bugs me and I'm also tired at the moment. If I make another thread in the future will make sure to cool off and take my time, because being wound up is just adding a taint of anger and that's clearly not helping. Hopefully in the near future I'll either go out and get a teacher or feel confident enough with what I do to knock back any criticism. I did actually want to write a book in the future if I could help people with meditation too, and even though it'll be more of a general help book than specialized on a certain school, it doesn't feel right that I should have to overly question myself because I'm supposed to have learnt my meditation from a specific real life teacher/single school, etc. It's just disappointing that that's the case, but yeah, if I genuinely think the meditation I'm doing and the advice I can give can help others I'm not going to let that cloud everything. I still think it's more of a Human problem that's down to conditioning, false views, habit energy, and so on in most cases.
Last edited by rob h on Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"A 'position', Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with." - MN 72
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby Matt J » Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:44 pm

The problem with doing it yourself is that we are the problem to begin with--- long standing habits and ways of doing things. It can be exceedingly difficult to see our own problems. The basic ideas of Buddhism are easy to understand, but the application of practice requires a lot of adjustment and feedback.

One issue I see with people who don't want teachers is that people want to do it yourself--- they want to pick and choose which parts to follow and which to reject. They want to mix and match based on personal preference. Yet the personal preferences create the problems to begin with.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

http://zenanddao.blogspot.com/
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby rob h » Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:56 pm

Matt J wrote:The problem with doing it yourself is that we are the problem to begin with--- long standing habits and ways of doing things. It can be exceedingly difficult to see our own problems. The basic ideas of Buddhism are easy to understand, but the application of practice requires a lot of adjustment and feedback.

One issue I see with people who don't want teachers is that people want to do it yourself--- they want to pick and choose which parts to follow and which to reject. They want to mix and match based on personal preference. Yet the personal preferences create the problems to begin with.


Agreed with this too, have had enough problems with it over the last decade, so can definitely say that can be an obstacle! But eventually if you clear your perception enough you start to notice these things, and after a certain amount of time, if you're meditating properly enough too, you can be better able to deal with them. I'm not saying it's easy though, clearly, because at first those things might not even be conscious for quite a while. A good teacher will be able to spot those things quickly I'd guess and help. So yeah, not saying having a teacher is a bad thing at all, just that I think there can be an alternative for people if they really want to go down that route, and that it'd help if it wasn't frowned upon so much.
"A 'position', Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with." - MN 72
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