Teachers?

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Teachers?

Postby nrose619 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:57 am

Did any of you look for a teacher of some sort? and is it required to have a teacher? can I practice without one? because I don't know of any Theravadan teachers around where I live.
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Re: Teachers?

Postby marc108 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:27 am

I did look for and find a teacher. I don't think a teacher is necessary at all times but I think we all get to a point eventually, specifically with our mediation, where it opens up and we need some individualized instruction. The nice thing about Theravada Dhamma is there is SO much teaching out there... Books, audio, video... That we can kind of have a teacher without having a teacher. There also are some teachers who are accessible via phone and email which makes having a teacher possible for those who aren't located near one.
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Re: Teachers?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:21 am

Greetings,

nrose619 wrote:Did any of you look for a teacher of some sort? and is it required to have a teacher? can I practice without one? because I don't know of any Theravadan teachers around where I live.

Personally I take the Buddha of the Sutta Pitaka as my teacher and regard others on a similar path who may be able to provide guidance and support as kalyana-mitta (spiritual friends) regardless of whether they are lay or ordained, and regardless of whether anyone else opts to regard them as a "teacher".

I am content with this approach.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Teachers?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:08 am

The Buddha pon a need for aacher:

As for the individual who has attained neither internal tranquillity of awareness nor insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, he should approach an individual who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment... and ask him, 'How should the mind be steadied? How should it be made to settle down? How should it be unified? How should it be concentrated? How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?' The other will answer in line with what he has seen & experienced: 'The mind should be steadied in this way. The mind should be made to settle down in this way. The mind should be unified in this way. The mind should be concentrated in this way. Fabrications should be regarded in this way. Fabrications should be investigated in this way. Fabrications should be seen in this way with insight.' Then eventually he [the first] will become one who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


A teacher is not an absolute necessity; however, a teacher can be of significant benefit in one's practice and can be an important safeguard against a toddle down the garden path of misunderstanding the Teachings and misinterpreting one's meditative experience. And if one does not have easy access to a good teacher, it is worthwhile doing retreats at a good center with good teachers from time to time.
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Re: Teachers?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:50 am

nrose619 wrote:Did any of you look for a teacher of some sort? and is it required to have a teacher? can I practice without one? because I don't know of any Theravadan teachers around where I live.

A teacher Admirable friends are Ideal, but it is possible to start of without.
I spent the first part of my practice without a teacher or guidance from anyone other than books and audio.
Unfortunately there are trolls around who can sew misinformation and the first group I was a member of had several. but it was the best I could find and use at the time. any face to face group was impossible to find here and it took me a couple of years to actually mean a teacher with the resources I had.

There are many of knowledgeable people here and a good member base to be able to get assistance with any questions.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Teachers?

Postby Alobha » Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:48 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

nrose619 wrote:Did any of you look for a teacher of some sort? and is it required to have a teacher? can I practice without one? because I don't know of any Theravadan teachers around where I live.

Personally I take the Buddha of the Sutta Pitaka as my teacher and regard others on a similar path who may be able to provide guidance and support as kalyana-mitta (spiritual friends) regardless of whether they are lay or ordained, and regardless of whether anyone else opts to regard them as a "teacher".

I am content with this approach.

Metta,
Retro. :)


+1
And just like it is with any spiritual-friend (kalyana-mitta), they can indeed offer a lot of inspiration and support your practice. However, if there aren't any around at your place, then just strive on for yourself and make use of the vast resources there are (like the suttas, an online-Sangha, online-kalyana-mittas etc.)

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Re: Teachers?

Postby Righteous path » Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:53 am

I see

what are some good books and audio/cd that we as newbies can read and listen to that will be our (surrogate) teacher so to speak?
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Re: Teachers?

Postby alan... » Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:39 am

i have looked and looked and looked. there are none around me. i have made great progress alone using the suttas as my base, modern authors and some ancient ones as outposts and my intellect to tell which ones are appropriate and match up with the suttas.

i imagine having a teacher would be nice. with a really good teacher you would be fine. but with a bad one you might be lead astray. if for example your teacher is deluded and tells you to only practice mindfulness of air on mondays and do no other practices whatsoever and you believe them and do this then you will make zero progress. this is a silly example made to be extreme to make it clear what i'm talking about. in reality if a teacher is deluded it would be much harder to tell if they were leading you in the right direction. there is less risk of this as long as one does not become lazy. once a teacher is found one should still read the suttas and study the dhamma, that way one can do the same as someone working alone and always have a base to compare to. if the teacher is teaching in a way that will hinder progress or is downright wrong, you will know.

alone it has been a long and extremely difficult road. i have had to piece things together through a great deal of effort, constantly refining, reducing, combining, until i made a cohesive practice.

this is because the pali canon is arranged by length, not topic or order of practice. so to find out a progression and proper practices and not do redundant stuff takes a lot of work! looking to the visuddhimagga and other commentary traditions helped. however i don't agree with a lot of commentary stuff but there is a ton of great stuff to be found within it as long as you know the canon well enough and can decide what fits in with it and what does not.

if you want i could recommend some books.

also have you checked online? usually there is a temple somewhere nearby. buddhanet has a temple locator thing.
Last edited by alan... on Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Teachers?

Postby marc108 » Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:12 pm

Righteous path wrote:I see

what are some good books and audio/cd that we as newbies can read and listen to that will be our (surrogate) teacher so to speak?


for books i would suggest Bhante G's, as they are IMO the clearest english explanations available:

for meditation theory & practice: Mindfulness in Plain English
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe.html
http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/mindfuln ... nglish.pdf

for an overview of the Noble Eightfold Path: Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness
http://www.amazon.com/Eight-Mindful-Ste ... dful+steps


for audio:

Bhikkhu Bodhi's series 'The Buddhas Teaching As It Is'
http://bodhimonastery.org/the-buddhas-t ... it-is.html

Gil Fronsdals series' 'Noble Eightfold Path'
http://audiodharma.org/series/1/talk/3840/

& his recommended talks:
http://audiodharma.org/recommended_talks/
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Re: Teachers?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:45 am

nrose619 wrote:Did any of you look for a teacher of some sort? and is it required to have a teacher? can I practice without one? because I don't know of any Theravadan teachers around where I live.

My experience is that for making progress having real-life teachers to point out where I am going wrong is almost essential. And I find doing at least some residential retreats is also essential. But it doesn't have to be continuous, or the same teacher (we've had a number of different teachers at my local Wat, and I've had short retreats with a number of others). And they don't have to be famous, or part of some particular group --- the number of good teachers out there vastly exceeds the number of famous teachers. Of course, you want to be sure of the teacher's qualities, as in MN 95 Canki Sutta. But that's a matter of observation, not a matter of relying on reputation, or erudite presentation.

If there are no teachers in your area, you could consider going on a residential retreat, which can be relatively inexpensive in many cases. I know many members here only see teachers on retreats.

:anjali:
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Re: Teachers?

Postby manas » Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:04 am

Studying and practising on one's own, and/or with the assistance of kalyanamittas, one could make progress, but imo, from time to time we might need to check our understanding, in a face-to-face situation, with a highly advanced teacher whom we trust; because there can be little things we are blind to about ourselves, that the teacher will not be afraid to point out, whether we like to hear it or not. The suttas were compiled thousands of years ago; even if we claim to be relying just on the suttas alone, unless we are accomplished pali scholars, what we are actually relying upon are the translations of those suttas, for guidance.
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Re: Teachers?

Postby alan... » Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:20 am

manas wrote:Studying and practising on one's own, and/or with the assistance of kalyanamittas, one could make progress, but imo, from time to time we might need to check our understanding, in a face-to-face situation, with a highly advanced teacher whom we trust; because there can be little things we are blind to about ourselves, that the teacher will not be afraid to point out, whether we like to hear it or not. The suttas were compiled thousands of years ago; even if we claim to be relying just on the suttas alone, unless we are accomplished pali scholars, what we are actually relying upon are the translations of those suttas, for guidance.


however if you read and compare multiple translations of each sutta that you find important, commentaries both modern and ancient, and learn at least some of the key pali words you should be in pretty good shape!

i'm learning satipatthana, i've read three books on it, the ancient commentary, and i'm learning the specific meanings behind many of the pali words. if i had only read it in one translation without any commentary or knowledge of pali i wouldn't have gotten much out of it but as it is i'm learning it forwards and backwards!

this isn't to say you shouldn't have a teacher, only that if you really put in the effort you can learn a LOT from the suttas alone! so if you can't find a teacher you can get pretty far by swimming in the suttas, diving deep into their meaning and practice until you know them inside and out.
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