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Leaving a Teacher - Dhamma Wheel

Leaving a Teacher

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Khalil Bodhi
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Leaving a Teacher

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sat Oct 31, 2009 11:24 am

For several years now I have been attending courses and retreats on a regular basis with a lay teacher who is a follower mainly of Thanissaro Bhikkhu. For some time I have been bothered by some of his interpretations of the Dhamma (such as describing metta as an unconditioned heart quality and an insistence on anapanasati to the detriment of all other meditative techniques just to name a few). There are several other things about his teachings/lifestyle that make me believe that I will not benefit much more from further serious involvement but I do owe an immeasurable debt to this teacher. He has been and still is the most serious and conservative lay teacher in my area and he introduced me to the kamatthana tradition and a whole world of practice and study to which I was oblivious. It is for all of these reasons that I feel somewhat like a traitor but I see now that the direction the group is going is too much at variance with the actual teachings in the suttas and, dare I say, of the Buddha, for me to feel comfortable closely associating with the group. The community has been my spiritual home for almost 5 years and it is a scary thought to be without it but I really don't think I have a choice. Fortunately one friend of mine that I've made in my time with the group feels the same and has agreed to undertake weekly meditation and sutta study. So, at least I'm not totally going it alone. Anyway, has anyone else dealt with these issues before? If so, how did it turn out? Did you find your practice strengthened? If anyone needs further details for my decision I'd be happy to discuss them via PM because the last thing I would want to do is tarnish the reputation of a teacher who has done so much good for me and continues to do so for others. Metta.

Mike
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Ben
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Re: Leaving a Teacher

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 31, 2009 11:36 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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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: Leaving a Teacher

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sat Oct 31, 2009 11:53 am

Ben,

Thank you for your kind words. Having the support of the community here certainly makes it much easier to make this decision. May you be well and thank you again.

Mike
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:
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catmoon
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Re: Leaving a Teacher

Postby catmoon » Sat Oct 31, 2009 12:33 pm

Besides, you'll be in good company. Look at all those Zen masters who wandered from monastery to monastery. Or Buddha himself, in his early days. There's lots of precedent for changing teachers.

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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: Leaving a Teacher

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sat Oct 31, 2009 2:05 pm

Catmoon,

Thanks for your reply but, at present, I'm aeons away from being a Buddha or enlightened master. I guess I just worry because I realize how easy it is to go astray without guidance and I know that simply relying on what "feels right" is rarely a good indication of the right thing to do. Thank you again for your compassionate reply. Be well.
:anjali:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:
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BlackBird
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Re: Leaving a Teacher

Postby BlackBird » Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:48 pm

For what it's worth, you've appeared fairly johnny on the Dhamma to me Mr. Bodhi. A lot of the members here at Dhamma wheel, including myself don't have regular access to a teacher who can answer our questions, but there are a few people here who really know their stuff and have many years of practice under their belt, so perhaps (due to the medium) not an ideal substitute to your teacher, but pretty good in the mean time.

It's good to seek out the true Dhamma :twothumbsup:

Keep ya chin up my friend
:group:

Metta
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." -

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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: Leaving a Teacher

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:53 pm

Thanks Jack. May you be well. :anjali:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:
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IanAnd
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Location: the deserts of Arizona

Re: Leaving a Teacher

Postby IanAnd » Sat Oct 31, 2009 11:41 pm

"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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Ben
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Re: Leaving a Teacher

Postby Ben » Sun Nov 01, 2009 12:59 am

Thank you IanAnd for sharing your very inspiring story.
metta

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

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Khalil Bodhi
Posts: 2206
Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:32 pm
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Re: Leaving a Teacher

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:48 am

Yes, thank you very much indeed IanAnd. Your story is definitely inspiring and helps to reframe my own situation and give me some perspective. If I may ask, do you currently practice in a community or do you continue to practice alone? :anjali:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:
My Practice Blog:

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IanAnd
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Location: the deserts of Arizona

Re: Leaving a Teacher

Postby IanAnd » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:16 pm

"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: Leaving a Teacher

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:20 am

Thank you IanAnd. May you be well.

Metta,

Mike
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:
My Practice Blog:

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Dugu
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Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 4:39 am

Re: Leaving a Teacher

Postby Dugu » Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:42 am

Good for you Khalil. :smile:


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