Choosing a teacher

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
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Nadi
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Choosing a teacher

Postby Nadi » Mon Mar 23, 2009 11:06 pm

I'm not sure if this subject has been discussed before. If so, pls point me to that tread.

Well, my problem is, I've been going to retreats and stuff with this teacher for more than 4 years now. I've never actually considered them to be THE teacher, as there has always been a subtle barrier because of our traditions (I'm theravada and they are not). But I've learned a lot from this teacher, specially about meditation.

But in the last retreat, things that seemed to be minor previously, didn't seem so minor after all. For example, if someone has been a monastic for decades and has practiced intensely, you would expect their ego to have subsided a bit right? And someone who's teaching the Buddha's path could be expected to practice right speech most of the time. What if your teacher, the person who is teaching you how to tread the path to enlightenment, does not seem to follow it themselves?

I know I see these faults because of my own defilements. And I know it's pretty difficult to find a teacher whose basically an arahant. But I have sort of lost respect and was pretty disillusioned.

What is your advice regarding this? To consider the teacher to be human, and take only what's good (as my friend suggests)? Or just consider the Dhamma to be your teacher as the Buddha suggested? I've actually been doing the latter anyway, but it does help to have an actual teacher around. :-)

Anyway, hope I can get everyone's opinion on this.. Thanks...
With Metta,
Nadi

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Cittasanto
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Re: Choosing a teacher

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:08 am

here is a link about the guidelines for teachers, all the info seams to be here that I have seen around but if you look on Access to insight at the Vinaya allot of this info is there and in other places which is here.
http://www.buddhistelibrary.org/claroli ... BTEACHERS1

I would suggest you follow your heart, I have met some who claim, but fall short of the discipline or moral code they claim to practice, so I think it is best to find someone who (even if they are not enlightened) practice what they preach consistently.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."

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retrofuturist
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Re: Choosing a teacher

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:06 pm

Greetings,

My teacher is the Buddha.

I also learn from others who communicate his Dhamma and elucidate on what the Buddha said.

If you're under the impression that you need to have a single teacher, why not go with the Buddha?

:buddha1:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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zavk
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Re: Choosing a teacher

Postby zavk » Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:43 pm

Hi Nadi,

I don't have a teacher, well, S.N. Goenka would be considered my teacher, but I don't have a teacher that I interact with face to face.

In any case, I was reminded of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche (aka the film director Khyentse Norbu) in pink_trike's post and that in turn reminded me of the documentary about him, 'Words of My Perfect Teacher', where he was asked the same question of how one should choose a teacher.

He was very careful with his reply. But he more or less said the teacher-student relationship (and I believe he was referring to the Tibetan Buddhism context) is a complex one that varies according to the needs of the student. For that reason, teachers might sometimes act in ways that throw students off, as he did with his students. He did warn against co-dependent relationships between that a teacher and student, whereby one projects one's needs onto the other (I suppose it's like any other co-dependent couple relationship). He also suggested that an indication of a healthy, skillful teacher is someone who displays very little self-interest. That seems to me to be a good advice.

Hope this helps.

Metta,
zavk
With metta,
zavk

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kc2dpt
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Re: Choosing a teacher

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:19 am

Nadi wrote:For example, if someone has been a monastic for decades and has practiced intensely, you would expect their ego to have subsided a bit right? And someone who's teaching the Buddha's path could be expected to practice right speech most of the time. What if your teacher, the person who is teaching you how to tread the path to enlightenment, does not seem to follow it themselves?

I would look for another teacher. I have not found it hard to meet a number of monastics who did not display ego and did not resort to wrong speech. These monastics have been humble, soft spoken, even tempered, and altogether admirable. It is this admirableness, more than their knowledge of Buddhadhamma, that inspires me and keeps me committed to the Path.

Case in point, Bhikkhu Bodhi may be a world-class scholar but he is also an admirable, inspiring human being in how he talks, how he walks, how he eats, and how he lives. Even if I were deaf and illiterate I would still benefit from being in his presence and seeing the effects of a lifelong commitment to the Path. Some of the Venerables here, too, not only give knowledgeable answers but in those answers they display patience, evenness of tone, equanimity, and other admirable qualities.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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Re: Choosing a teacher

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:10 am

you said this teacher is not theravada are they zen? if so some times "harsh" speech is par for the course....
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Nadi
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Re: Choosing a teacher

Postby Nadi » Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:16 pm

Thanks everyone. This really helps.
With Metta,
Nadi

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salmon
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Re: Choosing a teacher

Postby salmon » Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:35 am

Hello Nadi,

does the "Brahm movement" not extend to Melbourne?

metta.
~ swimming upstream is tough work! ~


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