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

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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:48 pm

tobes wrote:I think there is a definitely a paradox involved in needing a teacher - it this: How do you know that the teacher is teaching you what you need spiritually? How do you know that the teaching is true?

You are the only 'thing' that can answer those questions. When I say "you" I mean: your understanding, your intuition, your reasoning, your experience.


But in this case, that "you" merely becomes your spiritual teacher, so the very same questions, the same paradox you pose can be applied here as well:
How do you know that what you are teaching yourself is what you need spiritually?
How do you know that what you are teaching yourself is true?

This doesn't mean that understanding, intuition, reasoning and experience
have no purpose or should be abandoned.
Rather, they should help you to determine if you and the teacher are a good match or not,
and that isn't likely to happen if that teacher is only yourself.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby oushi » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:17 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:How do you know that what you are teaching yourself is true?

If I may. I is not about being able to label something true, but about freedom from suffering. No teacher can tell you if the suffering is extinguished. It's always down to practitioners experience. Spiritual guide can help you by removing your attachment to ideas, so you can be "pulled" by the true teacher(the mind) like gravity pulls down the leaf. It swings from one side to the other constantly progressing.

One cannot deceive himself about his own suffering, that is why one cannot deceive himself about his awakening. He may try to deceive others, but that is another story. But, if one is appointed to this role by a process like "transmission", he can even negate 3rd noble truth, because he is officially transmitted, and there is still suffering in his life (authentic example). This way, it's slandering the Dharma while carrying the banner of Dharma, and an ax of authority.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:50 pm

oushi wrote:If I may. I is not about being able to label something true, but about freedom from suffering. No teacher can tell you if the suffering is extinguished. It's always down to practitioners experience.
I agree 100%! Heroin is what aleviates my suffering and I will take it regardles of what others tell me because I know it is true!
One cannot deceive himself about his own suffering...
Of course they can. Sentient beings do it every single moment of their existence (until enlightenment) that's why we have samsara.
...that is why one cannot deceive himself about his awakening.
Really? Well, you obviously have not been paying attention to what is going on around this forum then, have you? I can, offhandedly, think of three specific individuals that deceived themselves (about what they believed) about their enlightenment/awakening.
But, if one is appointed to this role by a process like "transmission", he can even negate 3rd noble truth, because he is officially transmitted, and there is still suffering in his life (authentic example). This way, it's slandering the Dharma while carrying the banner of Dharma, and an ax of authority.
:shrug: What are you talking about?
"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 PadmaVonSamba » Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:24 pm

oushi wrote: One cannot deceive himself about his own suffering

It happens constantly.

oushi wrote: one cannot deceive himself about his awakening

It happens frequently.

oushi wrote:if one is appointed to this role by a process like "transmission", he can even negate 3rd noble truth

It happens rarely.

oushi wrote: This way, it's slandering the Dharma while carrying the banner of Dharma, and an ax of authority.

It happens briefly.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby tobes » Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:08 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
tobes wrote:I think there is a definitely a paradox involved in needing a teacher - it this: How do you know that the teacher is teaching you what you need spiritually? How do you know that the teaching is true?

You are the only 'thing' that can answer those questions. When I say "you" I mean: your understanding, your intuition, your reasoning, your experience.


But in this case, that "you" merely becomes your spiritual teacher, so the very same questions, the same paradox you pose can be applied here as well:
How do you know that what you are teaching yourself is what you need spiritually?
How do you know that what you are teaching yourself is true?


.


I'm not sure it's the same paradox.

In the case of relying on the teacher, the paradox is that you can only really do this effectively when you actually rely on your understanding, your intuition, your reasoning, your experience.

If you remove the teacher, then there is no longer anything paradoxical - it just becomes a straight forward enlightenment (in the European sense) project of daring to use your own understanding, and acknowledging that emergence from immaturity presupposes this.

i.e. How do I know - about what I need spiritually and whether what I am learning is true? I know because I check it against my understanding, my intuition, my reasoning, my experience. This implies a pretty intense endevour, including contemplation, reflection etc.

Where are the grounds for knowledge, really?

Even the most devoted of students, must realise that the grounds for their knowledge are within their own sphere; even if the content of that knowledge comes from a variety of external places.

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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:52 am

tobes wrote:
I'm not sure it's the same paradox.

In the case of relying on the teacher, the paradox is that you can only really do this effectively when you actually rely on your understanding, your intuition, your reasoning, your experience.

If you remove the teacher, then there is no longer anything paradoxical - it just becomes a straight forward enlightenment (in the European sense) project of daring to use your own understanding, and acknowledging that emergence from immaturity presupposes this.


I think somebody once said, "This doesn't mean that understanding, intuition, reasoning and experience
have no purpose or should be abandoned."
...oh yeah..I remember now...it was me who posted that. in the same post as the quote you cited. Wow, deja vu!!!

Well, when you are doing sitting meditation, it's your butt that's doing the work.
That doesn't mean a good cushion isn't helpful,
or lacking that, some good solid ground.

Even though you can only sit on your own butt,
you can't really sit on your own butt.
You always have to sit on something else.

A student should definitely bring their understanding, intuition, reasoning, experience and everything else they are lugging around with them into their practice.
If they can bring it to somebody with even greater understanding, intuition, reasoning, experience,
all the better.
.
.
.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby jeeprs » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:27 am

Tobes wrote:If you remove the teacher, then there is no longer anything paradoxical - it just becomes a straight forward enlightenment (in the European sense) project of daring to use your own understanding, and acknowledging that emergence from immaturity presupposes this.


I am all for self-reliance and critical thinking. But enlightenment 'in the European sense', knows nothing of moksha, nirvana, liberation 'in the Eastern sense'. This is precisely why a teacher is necessary: to demonstrate transcendent truth in his or her way of being, to provide a concrete realization of enlightenment.

Whether that teacher manifests as an actual 'spiritual teacher' in some organization or another, is something else again.

Tobes wrote:Where are the grounds for knowledge, really?


I believe there is a formal discipline in Tibetan philosophy that deals with this, which I haven't studied in any depth. But my intuitive answer is that, in the Buddhist context, the grounds for 'knowledge' is Prajñā, meditative insight into emptiness. It might or might not be a very hard thing to realize depending on your pre-disposition and other factors. But you can be sure that knowledge in this sense is not something generally understood in Western philosophy or culture. It doesn't grow on trees, or even get taught in school.

So, it may be true, in fact it is true, that the basis of this knowledge is 'within', in the sense of 'within the nature of experience itself', but it is still very hard to see in my opinion. There are plenty of people who don't understand it.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby tobes » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:02 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
tobes wrote:
I'm not sure it's the same paradox.

In the case of relying on the teacher, the paradox is that you can only really do this effectively when you actually rely on your understanding, your intuition, your reasoning, your experience.

If you remove the teacher, then there is no longer anything paradoxical - it just becomes a straight forward enlightenment (in the European sense) project of daring to use your own understanding, and acknowledging that emergence from immaturity presupposes this.


I think somebody once said, "This doesn't mean that understanding, intuition, reasoning and experience
have no purpose or should be abandoned."
...oh yeah..I remember now...it was me who posted that. in the same post as the quote you cited. Wow, deja vu!!!

Well, when you are doing sitting meditation, it's your butt that's doing the work.
That doesn't mean a good cushion isn't helpful,
or lacking that, some good solid ground.

Even though you can only sit on your own butt,
you can't really sit on your own butt.
You always have to sit on something else.

A student should definitely bring their understanding, intuition, reasoning, experience and everything else they are lugging around with them into their practice.
If they can bring it to somebody with even greater understanding, intuition, reasoning, experience,
all the better.
.
.
.


Sure. I'm not denying the usefulness of cushions.

I'm just saying that when you really look at it carefully, you sit on your sitbones ~ they're the only things that you can't sit without; they are there even when cushions are not there. They are there even when cushions are there. They are with you when you stand up. They are with you when you walk.

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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby tobes » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:12 am

jeeprs wrote:
Tobes wrote:If you remove the teacher, then there is no longer anything paradoxical - it just becomes a straight forward enlightenment (in the European sense) project of daring to use your own understanding, and acknowledging that emergence from immaturity presupposes this.


I am all for self-reliance and critical thinking. But enlightenment 'in the European sense', knows nothing of moksha, nirvana, liberation 'in the Eastern sense'. This is precisely why a teacher is necessary: to demonstrate transcendent truth in his or her way of being, to provide a concrete realization of enlightenment.

Whether that teacher manifests as an actual 'spiritual teacher' in some organization or another, is something else again.


I'm not saying we should all become Kantians. (Although on another tangent, I might be tempted to say that perhaps we already are).

I'm saying that if you think through the moral psychology/philosophy of mind given in the Abhidharma, the process of moving from moksha to nirvana involves arriving at your own insight; taming your own faculties; harnessing your own mental processes; developing your own understanding.

Factors of absorption, faculties, path factors, powers, wholesome and unwholesome roots.....

Who's doing that work? What is being worked upon?

Certain external things may be necessary conditions to facilitate that transition- the content of teachings, the skillful means of teachers - but the processes are really internal processes.

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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby tobes » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:25 am

jeeprs wrote:I believe there is a formal discipline in Tibetan philosophy that deals with this, which I haven't studied in any depth. But my intuitive answer is that, in the Buddhist context, the grounds for 'knowledge' is Prajñā, meditative insight into emptiness. It might or might not be a very hard thing to realize depending on your pre-disposition and other factors. But you can be sure that knowledge in this sense is not something generally understood in Western philosophy or culture. It doesn't grow on trees, or even get taught in school.

So, it may be true, in fact it is true, that the basis of this knowledge is 'within', in the sense of 'within the nature of experience itself', but it is still very hard to see in my opinion. There are plenty of people who don't understand it.


The tradition of epistemology moving from later Indian Mahayana into Tibet is indeed a rich one. I agree that the development of prajñā is in some ways quite distinct from might be called reflexive awareness, gnosis, reason or intuitive insight in various western traditions - because in its perfected form (i.e.prajñāpāramitā), it implies direct phenomenological apprehension of emptiness; and this is pretty uniquely Buddhist.

But the epistemic path towards and into prajñāpāramitā is perhaps not so distinct (from various western philosophies, practices, cultures).

Whether you've got a teacher on the bhūmis or not, "it" is still very hard to see.

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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby jeeprs » Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:01 am

Actually I don't know if it is that distinct from 'gnosis'. I am inclined to think it is gnosis. But even if it is, gnosticism is very much a fringe or underground current in Western thought. That was why I said that 'enlightenment in the European sense' generally excludes that element. If you look hard enough in the Western tradition, and you know what you're looking for, it exists in a kind of latent sense (see this link) and in some of the ancient schools, but it is hardly visible in post-Enlightenment thinking (hence our interest in Buddhism, no?)

Tobes wrote:Who's doing that work? What is being worked upon?


That's the question! think that in Buddhism, in particular, 'what does the work' is 'insight'. It is the very process of 'seeing things as they are' that is the factor of liberation. In the Vipassana schools, it is taught in terms of dependent origination, whilst in the Mahayana schools, it is taught in terms of Śūnyatā.

So it is true that the processes being learned about are 'internal' but they are in a sense also unconscious or not fully disclosed to conscious introspection. There is a barrier to overcome in order to really 'get' that insight. And I think that's where the role of the spiritual teacher (mentor, director, guide) is indispensable.

I think there are certainly parallels in Western philosophy and its various traditions, but there too, the notion of a 'spiritual teacher' might also be important. Coming to understand those internal processes might involve a kind of breakdown or crisis. I have debated Kant a lot on other forums, I'm certainly not a Kant expert, but I also know that very few people really get his idea of the way the mind generates the world. Most people are instinctive realists.

Someone I once knew went through a kind of spiritual crisis after reading Heidegger. At the time I had never heard of Heidegger and I had no idea what this friend was talking about, or going through. But in the years that have passed since, I have got a bit of an inkling about it.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby dorjeshonnu » Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:28 am

tobes wrote:the process of moving from moksha to nirvana involves arriving at your own insight;
not precisely

this involves arriving at a jina's insight
while such a thing may await some seeker
in its event it appears as a particular instance
as a phenomenon it is not some thing that is owned

taming your own faculties; harnessing your own mental processes; developing your own understanding
victory requires hearing and putting to use

without receiving a buddhist view
there appears no arena for taming
no bridle for harnessing
no process for developing

Factors of absorption, faculties, path factors, powers, wholesome and unwholesome roots...
each resulting from causes

Who's doing that work? What is being worked upon?
aggregates

external things may be necessary conditions to facilitate that transition
while this point seems to have been acknowledged as an afterthought
it does not seem integrated into the statements quoted above

content of teachings, the skillful means of teachers - but the processes are really internal processes.
these are processes of relation, not merely interiority
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby dorjeshonnu » Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:31 am

jeeprs wrote:...dependent origination ... Śūnyatā.
merely semantic difference
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby oushi » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:12 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
oushi wrote: One cannot deceive himself about his own suffering

It happens constantly.

How would you do that? As I said, you can try to deceive others, but how does one deceive himself? I mean, if you can do it like that, what is the problem? If you cannot find your suffering, with what can Buddha help you? In becoming a guru?
Your answer looks really cool, but I'm afraid your chase after nice form, covered reasoning. The whole think is, you cannot deceive yourself in the matter or your own suffering, and if you can, you do not have a problem.
Ofc, it is easier to follow a teacher that will try to achieve it, by convincing you that this world is a dream and phantom.... No doubt that 99% of society will tell you that he is trying to deceive you.
gregkavarnos wrote:Of course they can. Sentient beings do it every single moment of their existence (until enlightenment) that's why we have samsara.

Hmmm, if in every single moment of their existence people deceive themselves that there is no suffering, how can they know that there is suffering? Certainly they fail to deceive themselves, that is why they know about it. And that is precisely what I stated before. One cannot deceive himself about his own suffering.
No doubt that you can remove part of your suffering with drugs, people do it all over the planet. Maybe even you use painkillers from time to time. Is it deceiving yourself about the lack of paint or removing the pain?
gregkavarnos wrote:Really? Well, you obviously have not been paying attention to what is going on around this forum then, have you? I can, offhandedly, think of three specific individuals that deceived themselves (about what they believed) about their enlightenment/awakening.

How do you know that they deceive themselves and are not just trying to deceive others? And how can they prove to others that they do not suffer? If awakening is a magical thingy that brings superpowers and super states of the mind, then you will have all sort of magicians popping up. But if it is all down to suffering, what good is there in deceiving others when you know you suffer?
gregkavarnos wrote:What are you talking about?

About "teachers" that believes in the process to such a degree, that they can negate extinction of suffering because they are "transmitted" while still experience suffering. In simple words, if an authority says I am awakened, and gives me a paper confirming it, then I have to be awakened. Now while I am awakened I still suffer, so I conclude that there is no extinction of suffering after awakening and I pass this info to my students.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby muni » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:49 am

This is not about whether we shoot our projection of teacher or not.

Are ideas just a control system...
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby oushi » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:27 am

muni wrote:This is not about whether we shoot our projection of teacher or not.

Are ideas just a control system...

Yes, simplification... What more then a way to shape our view on reality, an idea is? So, every idea that someone shares with you, that is related to your person, is just a way to control you.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby muni » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:49 am

oushi wrote:Yes, simplification... What more then a way to shape our view on reality, an idea is?


Yes, "our view".

Then if there is a teacher which is going to control a you, it is like a one tries to maintain a you and modelate a you in accordance with its own ideas. This looks like the mafia. (I have no idea about the mafia)

No Dharma.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby oushi » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:58 am

muni wrote:
oushi wrote:Yes, simplification... What more then a way to shape our view on reality, an idea is?


Yes.
Then if there is a teacher which is going to control a you, it is like a one tries to maintain a you and modelate a you in accordance with its own ideas. This looks like the mafia. (I have no idea about the mafia) No Dharma.

But he can also modify a you, so it goes out of the labyrinth of delusion.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby muni » Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:00 am

oushi wrote: the labyrinth of delusion.


Dualism, yes.

Few words from Jamgon Kontrul Rinpoche: It is difficult to recognize an authentic teacher, because these qualities are internal. We can not depend upon external factors, but external factors are what we see. It is very difficult to see the inner qualities of another person.

Am I seeking a teacher in order to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, or am I seeking to fulfill my need to acquire the prestige associated with a famous teacher, or am I merely attracted to a lama's beautiful retreat land or the social scene of a hip sangha, and so on.

These motivations need to be acknowledged if we are to recognize an authentic wisdom teacher, because the teacher you find is related to your karma, and your karma is intimately connected to your motivation.

Fortunately, there are methods that help us purify our motivation and create the proper conditions for finding a wisdom teacher, such as bringing our awareness to our motivations as much as possible, doing daily meditation practice".
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby oushi » Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:10 am

muni wrote:
oushi wrote: the labyrinth of delusion.


Dualism, yes.

Non-duality is the true teacher that teaches with its own body. He does not need a translator, but to find him, you may need a guide. This guide can ofc deceive you on the way and take advantage of your trust. It is impossible to answer the question if a specific person needs this guide or not. Some need guides, some don't.
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