MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dhamma?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby binocular » Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:57 pm

pulga wrote:I find it intriguing that some teachers give the impression that they have a correct understanding of the Dhamma,

Yes, I find that intriguing too.
For example, one can hear them say things like "No, that's not what the Buddha meant" or "By this, the Buddha meant ..."

If they wouldn't propose to be Buddhists, I would think that the objectivist, authority-assuming style is simply a matter of following the communication maxim that one ought to always appear certain. (Many people assess that qualifying one's statements with "I think", "In my understanding so far", "It seems", and such is signaling that the speaker isn't sure of what he is saying and is thus, by being assertive, actually perceived as undermining his own credibility.)
But now, I'm not sure what significance their objectivist, authority-assuming style is supposed to convey.

e.g. Ven. Thanissaro, Ven. Ñanananda, and Ven. Ñanavira while a monk like Ven. Bodhi inspires through his familiarity with the Suttas in their original Pali all the while presenting himself as a puthujjana with the willingness to consider multiple interpretations.

On principle, there is an aggressive, combative, "I dare anyone to prove me wrong" approach possible to talking about spirituality/religion. You can see it sometimes in the Pali Canon when a person, claiming total certainty about something, comes to challenge the Buddha; those stories often end with that challenger being defeated by the Buddha and then taking refuge in him.
I know that some people use that aggressive approach in order to be able to find someone who can defeat them, that is, someone who knows better than them, who is more able than them. So it's not necessarily a bad approach. (Although it certainly isn't particularly nice.)


Taking the idea of a parato ghosa - a voice from beyond - to heart, is it worth making a leap of faith? Or is it better to resign ourselves to an eclectic muddle?

I suggest you start a new thread, this topic deserves more attention.
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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby starter » Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:06 pm

If I found that a teacher teaches/taught just his own teaching or his teacher's teaching or his own/others' interpretation of the Buddha's teaching, in which I couldn't even find "Four Noble Truths" or "Noble Eight-fold Path", or the correct interpretation of these two, I'd not consider learning the Dhamma from him.

If a teacher told me to put the suttas away and only read/listen to his own or his teacher's teaching, or only practice/meditate without reading (the suttas), I'd also not consider learning the Dhamma from him.

Such teachers don't seem to have grasped some most important teaching of the Buddha, or don't seem to have entered the path to stream entry (if they haven't even found THE Teacher). They should probably better learn more about the Dhamma and teach themselves first, before misleading others. I've to admit so far I doubt I've had the fortune to encounter, in whichever way, a modern teacher who is/was truly enlightened and have gotten the five qualities needed to teach the Dhamma (plase the discussion on AN 5.159: Udayi Sutta for these five qualities see viewtopic.php?f=13&t=16183&hilit=+teacher+of+effacement), based upon my limited understanding of the Dhamma. But fortunately I found THE Teacher shortly after I started my Dhamma practice, thanks to the help from various monastics and lay Kalyāṇa-mitta who pointed me to the suttas and helped me with understanding the suttas and the path. This forum has been very helpful which I consider my "home".

Thanks to all your help and Metta to all!
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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby binocular » Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:24 am

pulga wrote:I find it intriguing that some teachers give the impression that they have a correct understanding of the Dhamma, e.g. Ven. Thanissaro, Ven. Ñanananda, and Ven. Ñanavira while a monk like Ven. Bodhi inspires through his familiarity with the Suttas in their original Pali all the while presenting himself as a puthujjana with the willingness to consider multiple interpretations.


To be fair, Venerable Thanissaro does say in the preface of his works, for example:


Any errors that remain in the manuscript, of course, are my own.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... /udana.pdf


I, of course, remain responsible for any errors it may still contain.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... o/bmc1.pdf
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Re: MN 70 the steps of the practice passage: what's THE Dham

Postby starter » Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:25 am

Greetings!

Just to add the following important teaching, in which the Buddha clearly defined the Dhamma as HIS teaching and instructed all his followers to rely on THE Dhamma and themselves instead of any others:

DN 16: [http://suttacentral.net/dn16/en]
"I, Ānanda, at present, am old, elderly, of great age, far gone, advanced in years, I am eighty years old. It is like, Ānanda, an old cart, which only keeps going when shored up with bamboo, just so, Ānanda, I think the Realised One’s body only keeps going when shored up with bamboo.

When the Realised One doesn’t pay attention, Ānanda, to any of the signs, when all feelings have ceased, he lives having established the signless mind-concentration, and at that time, Ānanda, the Realised One’s body is most comfortable.

Therefore, Ānanda, live with yourself as an island, yourself as a refuge, with no other refuge, with the Teaching as an island, the Teaching as a refuge, with no other refuge. And how, Ānanda, does a monk live with himself as an island, himself as a refuge, with no other refuge, with the Teaching as an island, the Teaching as a refuge, with no other refuge?

Here, Ānanda, a monk dwells contemplating the nature of the body in the body, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world; he dwells contemplating the nature of feelings in feelings, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world; he dwells contemplating the nature of the mind in the mind, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world; he dwells contemplating the nature of things in various things, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world.

Thus, Ānanda, a monk lives with himself as an island, himself as a refuge, with no other refuge, with the Teaching as an island, the Teaching as a refuge, with no other refuge. For whoever, Ānanda, whether at present or after my passing, lives with himself as an island, himself as a refuge, with no other refuge, with the Teaching as an island, the Teaching as a refuge, with no other refuge, those monks of mine, Ānanda, will go from darkness to the highest—whoever likes the training.”

Metta to all!
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