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 muni » Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:51 am

Awaken nature/awaken master its compassion has no ideas but uses methods to awaken "dreaming me".
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby Anders » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:05 am

The need for a teacher I would say varies by methods, tradition, your own propensities and how far you want to go. Some periods of your life could greatly benefit from it, others it is so and so. And Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism at any rate, is also very much about unearthing the inner teacher, though of course this also requires learning not only to access that, but also to sift that from our own delusion. As the late Hsuan Hua said - until you are either an arhat or on the irreversible bhumi, you can never truly trust your own thinking.

That said, Huineng didn't need a teacher to have a deep awakening and be the most profound guy in the fifth ancestor's monastery. He did need a teacher to go from there to full awakening. Bodhidharma had a teacher who gave him transmission. He didn't need one for the nine years he sat facing a wall though. Neither insisted on the necessity of a teacher.

On top of that, there are formless teachers, sometimes aiding unseen as well. For the same reason, I wouldn't be rolling my head laughing at the notion that Amitabha is all the teacher you need for pureland practise.

I think the question is not formed rightly though. Rather than ask "is a teacher necessary" we should be asking "how useful is a teacher?" If we are sincere and genuinely interested in developing the path in a way that goes above our own preferences and bias (a highly necessary prerequisite for one who intends to go at it on his or her own), then really we should be looking for all the best aides and supports for practise we can find.

Seated meditation, for example, may not be a necessary requisite for awakening in the strictest sense but there is little doubt it makes a huge positive difference to one's cultivation that serious practitioners would not want to be without.

Similarly, I would say the benefits of finding a teacher are too good to want to miss out on. They help with a host of supports to the storm of spiritual qualities cultivators need to kick off to get on the track of genuine awakening. So we see, though Bodhidharma does not insist on the necessity of a teacher for awakening, he does make the point that to get there without one requires a truly exceptional storm of conditions:

    Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without a teacher’s help. If, though, by the conjunction of conditions, someone understands what the Buddha meant, that person doesn’t need a teacher. Such a person has a natural awareness superior to anything taught. But unless you’re so blessed, study hard, and by means of instruction you’ll understand.

One of the main benefits of a teacher to me is not so much what they say as it is what they do. The conduct and demeanour of deeply realised beings sets a totally different standard of manifesting practise than we can imagine for ourselves. What we unconsciously pick up from such association goes a long way towards acting as a kind of inner compass for adjusting the strings of practise into a harmonious chord that addresses the whole range of practise.

That and the ability of such adepts to speak turning phrases. Not necessarily of the '"Katz!" -> Boom! Awakening!" variety, but of speaking some words that are able to strike a powerful and transformative chord within ourselves because they are heard not just at the right time for us, but come from a place of deeply cultivated inner power, insight and sincerity on behalf of the teacher that enable such words to strike such a clean note that can reverberate to our very core. For many years, I had never been able to sit for longer than 20 minutes or so, 30 minutes at a stretch (but not a pleasant one) for a variety of reasons. Then I heard a true adept say that if I just learned the art of sitting in meditation for an hour a day then, no matter what else happens, he promised one's life would be highly fulfilling in the end. That rang home as such an obvious truth coming from a guy like him and somehow all my obstacles evaporated after that to the point that I was sitting 60+ minutes sessions comfortably every day four months later.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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

Postby muni » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:25 am

Anders wrote:
    Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without a teacher’s help. If, though, by the conjunction of conditions, someone understands what the Buddha meant, that person doesn’t need a teacher. Such a person has a natural awareness superior to anything taught. But unless you’re so blessed, study hard, and by means of instruction you’ll understand.




...by the conjunction of conditions... I don't understand English very well but this can be a good description of interconnection student - teacher.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby oushi » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:50 am

Anders wrote:but come from a place of deeply cultivated inner power

And the decoy is out... "power" goes hand in hand with "control system".
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby Astus » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:52 am

Thanks for sharing that Anders.

The vows of Samantabhadra (PDF) represent the attitude one should have in order to obtain the mind set of a disciple and be able to learn the Dharma. And that is crucial to find the teacher in every situation.
"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 Anders » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:09 pm

oushi wrote:
Anders wrote:but come from a place of deeply cultivated inner power

And the decoy is out... "power" goes hand in hand with "control system".


I think you're getting hoodwinked by the word 'power' here. The meaning of inner power is very different from external 'power' as a means of control - The connotation here is really much closer to power in the sense of 'energy' than 'dominance' (ie, "there is a lot of power running through that cable" - nothing to do with control there). I certainly would not associate inner power with control systems of any sort.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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

Postby muni » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:11 pm

oushi wrote: Some need guides, some don't.


While one is not breathing merely ones own air, I can imagine that the habitual ideas of a teacher is not needful.

"Teacher" can "appear" in many ways.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby oushi » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:25 pm

Anders wrote:
oushi wrote:
Anders wrote:but come from a place of deeply cultivated inner power

And the decoy is out... "power" goes hand in hand with "control system".


I think you're getting hoodwinked by the word 'power' here. The meaning of inner power is very different from external 'power' as a means of control - The connotation here is really much closer to power in the sense of 'energy' than 'dominance' (ie, "there is a lot of power running through that cable" - nothing to do with control there). I certainly would not associate inner power with control systems of any sort.

We shouldn't go in the subject of electricity here, but "there is a lot of power running through that cable" is directly related with work that can be done using it, change that can be made with it, so control.
"Dominance" is just expressing the outcomes of "energy". Energy itself is measured by its power compared to the rest of the environment, so dominance. Tsunami has great energy and through its power it dominates entire shore.
In the subject of interpersonal relations, power in influence.
You wrote:
Not necessarily of the '"Katz!" -> Boom! Awakening!" variety, but of speaking some words that are able to strike a powerful and transformative chord within ourselves because they are heard not just at the right time for us, but come from a place of deeply cultivated inner power [...]

Power to transform, influence, dominate you, or part of you. It can be used to help you, or to use you.

muni wrote:
oushi wrote: Some need guides, some don't.


While one is not breathing merely ones own air, I can imagine that the habitual ideas of a teacher is not needful.

"Teacher" can "appear" in many ways.

That is why I made distinction between "spiritual guide", and a "true teacher".
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby seeker242 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:43 pm

oushi wrote:
Anders wrote:but come from a place of deeply cultivated inner power

And the decoy is out... "power" goes hand in hand with "control system".


Was the Buddha himself powerful? Was the Buddha himself bound by a "control system"?
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:59 pm

Anders wrote:On top of that, there are formless teachers, sometimes aiding unseen as well. For the same reason, I wouldn't be rolling my head laughing at the notion that Amitabha is all the teacher you need for pureland practise.
Sorry if I was not clear, I was not rofl about having Amitabha as a teacher, in Vajrayana we also have primodial teachers (like Vajradhara for example) but with the way it was presented: you don't need a teacher, have Amitabha as a teacher. It struck me as oxymoronic.
"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 oushi » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:03 pm

seeker242 wrote:
oushi wrote:
Anders wrote:but come from a place of deeply cultivated inner power

And the decoy is out... "power" goes hand in hand with "control system".


Was the Buddha himself powerful? Was the Buddha himself bound by a "control system"?

He was not bound, but binding. Even today people are influenced by his authority. The problem arises when this power is used inappropriately. To know how a particular teacher will use his power, requires a firm basis. "Mystical inner power" that teacher poses is a great tool of deception. You don't have to look far to notice that. Sasaki Roshi has the inner power so great that by it, he can make a female breast land into his hand. Look around, how many stories of practitioners awakened through the guidance of a teacher can you find, and compare it with the number of abused ones. Take this very forum. How many regular members in the past, are Buddhas today?
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:09 pm

oushi wrote:
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?


You have never heard of alcoholism?
.
.
.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby seeker242 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:19 pm

oushi wrote:He was not bound, but binding. Even today people are influenced by his authority. The problem arises when this power is used inappropriately.


Sure it's a problem when people abuse their power but it also a problem to assume that it will be. The Buddha himself had great "mystical inner power" but he abused no one. There are also plenty of present day teachers who never abuse anyone. One could even argue that if you are out there abusing people, then you don't even have "inner power" but rather "ego power". "inner power" mean power over greed, hate, ignorance, not power over other people. Inner power has nothing to do with other people but only your own mind, that is why it's called "inner"
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby oushi » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:28 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:You have never heard of alcoholism?
.
.
.

How does alcoholism help you in deceiving yourself? I've never met an alcoholic that would claim he does not suffer. Did you?
Often, it is suffering that brings people to alcoholism. It helps to forget, for awhile... but forgetting is not deceiving. Even if a drunkard forgets about his suffering, it will be enough to remind him about it. So, is it enough to be drunk to say "I am free from suffering" ?
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby Astus » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:29 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Sorry if I was not clear, I was not rofl about having Amitabha as a teacher, in Vajrayana we also have primodial teachers (like Vajradhara for example) but with the way it was presented: you don't need a teacher, have Amitabha as a teacher. It struck me as oxymoronic.


"If one wishes to see the Buddha then one sees him. If one sees him then one asks questions. If one asks then one is answered, one hears the sutras and rejoices greatly." (Pratyutpanna Samadhi Sutra, ch. 2. tr. Harrison)
"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 oushi » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:45 pm

seeker242 wrote:
oushi wrote:He was not bound, but binding. Even today people are influenced by his authority. The problem arises when this power is used inappropriately.


Sure it's a problem when people abuse their power but it also a problem to assume that it will be. The Buddha himself had great "mystical inner power" but he abused no one. There are also plenty of present day teachers who never abuse anyone. One could even argue that if you are out there abusing people, then you don't even have "inner power" but rather "ego power". "inner power" mean power over greed, hate, ignorance, not power over other people. Inner power has nothing to do with other people but only your own mind, that is why it's called "inner"

There are people trying to help others on the path, no question about it!
How do you measure someones power over greed, hate and ignorance? (especially the last one)
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:29 pm

oushi wrote:
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?
You don't have to be a genius to figure that one out.
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.
In other words you are just talking about delusion.
"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 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:41 pm

oushi wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:You have never heard of alcoholism?

How does alcoholism help you in deceiving yourself? I've never met an alcoholic that would claim he does not suffer. Did you?

How does alcoholism help you in deceiving yourself?
You've got to be kidding!!!!
Did I ever meet an alcoholic who claimed he did not suffer
(or to be more precise, claimed he wasn't suffering)?
All the time!
Maybe you need to get out more! Get some drinking buddies!

Everyone desires to be free from suffering,
and most people go about finding all sorts of ways to attain cessation of suffering
which do not really end suffering because the things they rely on are impermanent,
so they continue suffering.

But maybe you are not talking about dukkka.
Maybe you are only referring to acute physical pain, like getting a cut, or a bad toothache or something.
Most people, even drunks, know when they have physical pain.
Most people do not recognize fear, worry, anger, stress, longing, impatience, and so on, as suffering,
but in the Buddhist context, those are all counted as suffering.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby oushi » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:45 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:How does alcoholism help you in deceiving yourself?
You've got to be kidding!!!!

How should I understand your answer? You need to explain it a little bit more. :smile:

You should know that I was not asking about momentary experience of enjoying being drunk and forgetting all the bad stuff. If you don't know about something, you do not suffer from it. But what if you face the cause of suffering, how will alcohol prevent suffering? A drunk just got the info that something horrible happened to one of his close relatives. Will % in his blood make him not suffer? Ofc, he can go on drinking until hi forgets it, but even if he does that, you can remind him about the issue, and the suffering will be there.
Alcohol can draw your attention away from you thoughts, and bring it closer to now, but it will not prevent suffering that is happening in now. So, even if you are drunk i can make you suffer. If people could deceive themselves about they suffering, they would. They can behave like nothing happened, but they cannot deceive themselves, because it is like lying to yourself, you cannot do it consciously.

Going back to the topic, I wanted to say that no one else can tell you about your suffering, because it is your experience and you will not achieve anything by lying to yourself about it. Even if your suffering is gone, thanks to your practice, and you think you are nirvanized, it will be straightened when the suffering appears again. If it doesn't, who are others to tell you that you suffer anyway?

"Those who, either now or after I am dead, shall be lamps unto themselves, relying upon themselves only and not relying upon any external help, but holding fast to the truth as their lamp, and seeking their salvation in the truth alone, and shall not look for assistance to any one besides themselves, it is they, Ananda, among my bhikkhus, who shall reach the very topmost height! But they must be anxious to learn."
:smile:

But maybe you are not talking about dukkka.

Maybe you (and drunks you know) are not talking about dukkha?
Next time a drunk tells you he is not suffering, explain him what suffering means, and then as if he still proclaims to be free from it.
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Re: Is the idea of "needing" a teacher just a control system

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:49 pm

oushi wrote:
"Those who, either now or after I am dead, shall be lamps unto themselves, relying upon themselves only and not relying upon any external help, but holding fast to the truth as their lamp, and seeking their salvation in the truth alone, and shall not look for assistance to any one besides themselves, it is they, Ananda, among my bhikkhus, who shall reach the very topmost height! But they must be anxious to learn."


You forgot, "...and not actually paying any attention to what anyone else is saying..."
:smile:
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