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Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential? - Page 3 - Dhamma Wheel

Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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kc2dpt
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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:12 am

- Peter


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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:26 am

- Peter


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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby siaophengyou » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:31 am

...
Last edited by siaophengyou on Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:34 am

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Ngawang Drolma.
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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:39 am

Hi all,

Just a note from my personal experience. I'm so immeasurably grateful for the guidance and information I've received from teachers. It's been invaluable to me. And I seriously doubt that I could have ever reached such conclusions on my own. If I could it would take a very long time. The nice thing about teachers, both lay and ordained, is that they have a lot of information and experience that they can share and provide, if you're willing to be receptive. They've dedicated their lives to the dharma, whereas for me it's something for which I have to make time from my other daily responsibilities. But different strokes for different folks, as it goes. For me, I'll soak up anything from someone who has made a profession and life of dharma (assuming it's a reliable teacher) that they're willing to give.

Best,
Drolma

:anjali:


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Ben
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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby Ben » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:41 am

Hi David

I don't think there's anything wrong with trying out different approaches. However, I wouldn't be too concerned about a teacher saying to his or her students 'concentrate on x - don't worry about y'. For the vast majority of us, as householders, we don't have the time or the personal resources to engage in practicing all the various samatha techniques uninterrupted for years on end in total seclusion, nor the time to practice all vipassana variants.
At some point, I believe, one must devote oneself to one particular approach for a length of time to see if it gives benefit. If it doesn't one simply moves on. But having a teacher (let's say another hypothetical teacher), who provided his students with a variety of practices could be counter to the student making any progress at all. One does a little bit of anapana, earth kasina, perhaps vipassana, contemplation of death and others. One may not get established in either one and there is a danger that such approach can turn the experience into another sensory entertainment, a smorgasbord.

It was the students of Webu Sayadaw who said that he became an arahant on little more than observing his breath. On reading his discourses, it is clear that he knew nothing of the Abhidhamma and according to U Ba Khin and others, the Sayadaw knew no Pali.

So I don't think its a problem. If one doesn't get benefit from one's teacher's approach following a trial period of following that teacher's instructions, then move on.
Kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:47 am

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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby Ben » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:54 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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David N. Snyder
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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:58 am

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retrofuturist
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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:03 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:15 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:19 am

Admirable friendship is the whole of the path!

My 'teacher' lives in france, I converse propperly with him seldomly, maybe once a year now a days, and maily through a brief mail, when we talk it is more a personal hello than anything else!
he gives a teaching and then he goes, it is always the same, "live with love and let all else go, now shut up and do the practice!"

after about 3 years I am still uncomfortable calling him my teacher because he isn't my teacher, he is my friend who happends to teach! his teacher Reweta Dhamma told him when he asked 'who his teacher was?' he pointed to the Buddha statue near by and said 'his teacher was the Buddha, who taught for 45 years and died, passing on his teachings to his disciples who passed the teachings on down through the centuries to him' - basicly there is only one teacher and that is the Buddha, there is only one teaching and that is the Dhamma, and there is only one vhehicle for the transmition of the Dhamma and that is Admirable Friendship.

just my 2 pence at this stage of the discussion here.


He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby zavk » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:20 am

Dear friends,

What an interesting thread! I have been following the responses and I find myself agreeing with some aspects of both sides of the argument. If I may offer a slightly different perspective to open up the discussion...

As I was reading the posts, it dawned upon me that this very thread--such a discussion about whether a teacher or sangha or self-study is effective or not--is a unique phenomenon of contemporary (Western) Buddhism. Why do I say this?

Well, the Western encounter with Buddhism in the nineteenth century opened up ways of engaging with the Dhamma. The Western academy facilitated the translation and publication of texts, and in doing so, made the teachings widely available and intelligible to a range of audience. Buddhist historians have noted that the development of Western Buddhism has blurred the lines between the monastic and lay communities, such that teachings and practices that were once restricted to ordained Buddhists are now available to lay people. This historical development, in turn, raised questions about the boundaries of authority and expertise.

Yet, this historical development that has blurred the boundaries of authority and expertise is the very same development which has provided us with the abilities to now debate questions of authority and expertise. Produced and shaped by certain (historical, social, cultural) conditions, we are now trying to speak about these conditions--yet, all the while we are within these very conditions. It seems to me that we are, as it were, like fishes trying to argue with one another about how the sea is 'really like'!

What this suggests to me is that, regardless of what one's position is on the importance of teacher/sangha/self-study, one's position is already from the start contingent upon various circumstances. By recognising the conditionality of one's own position, we might then see that there is no one definitive way of approaching the dhamma that can be equally applied to all. In the presence of certain conditions, a student might find one approach beneficial. While in the absence of certain conditions, another student might find another approach beneficial. And conditions being conditions, are anicca and anatta.

My two cents...
Last edited by zavk on Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
With metta,
zavk

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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:25 am

- Peter


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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:26 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:27 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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retrofuturist
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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:48 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Ngawang Drolma.
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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:58 am

What I find sort of peculiar is that there's this subtle suggestion that if a teacher isn't a good fit, that we're not entirely free to move on and find the right teacher. This happens so often and is a totally appropriate, acceptable thing to do. In fact in my tradition it's recommended. Maybe it's different in Theravada? Where I come from, if a teacher makes suggestions or teaches dharma in a way that a student doesn't find agreeable or it's not a good personal match, it's best to find a better fit.

Kindly,
Drolma

:anjali:


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Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Sep 08, 2009 2:12 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Ngawang Drolma.
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Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:38 pm

Re: Sangha or Teacher: Which is Most Essential?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Sep 08, 2009 2:15 am




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