Buddha - Teacher of Gods and Men

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Buddha - Teacher of Gods and Men

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:01 am

Greetings all,

I would like to open up discussion on the Buddha as a teacher.

With the Buddha's passing some 2500 or so years ago, the Earth lost the greatest Buddhist teacher that civilization has known. Whilst we do not have the opportunity to see him in the flesh, monks who valued the teachings of the Buddha did their best to preserve his teachings in the scriptures of the Pali Canon, so that they and others could benefit from his wisdom. Through the Pali Canon we can come to gain an idea of the kind of the teacher the Buddha was - his approach, his methods, his attitude and his style.

Being a SammaSamBuddha (fully enlightened Buddha) the Buddha knew the best mode of communication to use with individuals that would lead to their understanding, be they ordained followers or householders, and he could tailor the Dhamma to the accommodate an individual's circumstances and capacity to learn.

He also, as recorded in the Pali Canon, specified the salient qualities that make someone a good teacher of the Dhamma. In A Constitution for Living by P.A. Payutto, we find a section on The Educator (A teacher, mentor or preacher) in which Payutto collects sutta extracts from the Pali Canon relating to one in the role of teacher, mentor or preacher and presents us with the following...

One whose duty it is to teach and provide others with learning, especially a teacher, should possess the qualities and observe the principles of conduct outlined below:

A. He is a good friend: [a teacher] should be endowed with the seven qualities of the good friend (kalyanamitta-dhamma), as follows:

Piyo: endearing; he is endowed with kindness and compassion, taking an interest in his students and their well-being; he has rapport; he creates a familiar and casual atmosphere, encouraging students to approach him with queries and doubts.

Garu: worthy of respect; he is firm, adhering to principle; he has conduct that befits his position, inspiring feelings of reassurance, refuge and safety.
Bhavaniyo: inspiring; he is truly learned and wise, and is one who constantly trains and improves himself; he is praiseworthy and exemplary, so that his students speak and think of him appreciatively, confidently and proudly.

Vatta: capable of speaking effectively; he knows how to explain things clearly, and knows when to speak what and how; he gives counsel and caution and is an able advisor.

Vacanakkhamo: patient with words; he willingly listens to questions and queries, no matter how petty, and can bear even improprieties, admonishments and criticisms without becoming dejected or offended.

Gambhiranca katham katta: capable of expounding on the profound; he can explain difficult and profound subjects clearly and can teach his students even profounder subjects.

No catthane niyojaye: not leading in wrongful ways; he does not lead his students in ways that are detrimental or in matters that are worthless or improper.
(A.IV.31)

B. He is dedicated to giving knowledge by establishing himself in the five qualities of one who gives teachings, known as the dhammadesaka-dhamma:

Anupubbikatha: teaching step-by-step, in proper sequence; he teaches the principles or subject matter in order, from easy to abstruse, shallow to profound, in logical progression.

Pariyayadassavi: expanding on and clarifying the main points; he explains; he brings forth reasons to clarify the meaning of each aspect and point; he varies his explanations to enable his listeners to clearly see his points in the light of reason.

Anudayata: teaching with a heart of goodwill; he teaches with a mind imbued with goodwill and a sincere desire for his listeners' benefit.

Anamisantara: aiming not for material gain; he does not teach out of a desire for any material reward, payment or personal benefit.

Anupahacca: speaking impartially and unabrasively; he teaches according to the principles, according to the content, with the intention of revealing the truth and the meaning, neither exalting himself nor satirizing or belittling others.
(A.III.184)

C. He maintains the fourfold grace of a teacher: a capable teacher has the following techniques of teaching:

Sandassana: making clear; no matter what he teaches, he explains the reasons behind it and analyzes it so that his listeners understand it clearly, as if leading them by the hand to see it for themselves.

Samadapana: inviting practice; he teaches in such a way that [his listeners] see the importance of doing what needs to be done, appreciate its value, become convinced, accept it and are motivated to implement it or put it into practice.

Samuttejana: arousing courage; he rouses his listeners to zeal, interest, fortitude and firm resolve to consummate the practice, to fear no difficulty or hardship.

Sampahamsana: inspiring joy; he creates an atmosphere of fun, cheerfulness, joyousness and delight; he inspires his listeners with hope and vision of a good result and the way to success.

In brief, this can be summarized as: teaching to clarify, motivate, rouse and delight. (As in D.I.126)

D. He uses the three gauges: briefly speaking, a teacher may examine himself with the three kinds of manner that characterized how the Buddha taught:

1. He teaches with true knowledge: having first himself acquired true knowledge and accomplished his goal, he teaches others.

2. He teaches logically, so that his listeners can clearly see the meaning with their own wisdom.

3. He teaches pragmatically, accomplishing the objective of the teaching by, for example, guiding his listeners to truly understand, to see the truth, to actualize the practice and to attain the results of the practice.
(A.I.276)

E. He performs the duties of a teacher to a student: he conducts himself toward his students by helping them according to the teachings compared to the "right direction," as follows:

* He trains them to be good.
* He guides them to thorough understanding.
* He teaches the subject in full.
* He encourages and praises his students' goodness and abilities and allows their full expression.
* He provides a protection for all directions; that is, teaching and training them so that they can actually use their learning to make a living and know how to conduct themselves well, having a guarantee for smoothly leading a good life and attaining happiness and prosperity.
(D.III.189)


Does anyone else have any references they wish to share with the rest of us about the Buddha in his capacity of a "teacher of gods and men" so that we may all come to better know our Teacher in whom we take refuge?

Examples in particular of how others viewed the Buddha in his capacity as a teacher, or how the Buddha instructed his monks and bhikkunis to teach would be greatly appreciated.

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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Re: Buddha - Teacher of Gods and Men

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:14 am

According to the Anguttara Nikaya V.159: Udayi Sutta, the Buddha taught this way:

1. Thought
2. Logical exposition (correct sequence of thoughts)
3. Compassion
4. Selflessness
5. Respect for the others

1. The Dharma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak step-by-step.'
2. "The Dharma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak explaining the sequence [of cause & effect].'
3. "The Dharma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak out of compassion.'
4. "The Dharma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak not for the purpose of material reward.'
5. "The Dharma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak without disparaging myself or others.'
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