Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

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Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:12 am

We have some people like the Dalai Lama who could be considered world leaders in Buddhism.

What are the qualities a truly international, broadly appealing, Theravadin teacher posses? Would he/she have to be ordained? .involved in politics? ..not involved in controversies.. etc etc.

Please share your thoughts.

:anjali:

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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby kirk5a » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:32 pm

I'd say it's a sliding scale and the more like the Buddha, the better. Nobody is going to quite get there, of course. But working towards the depth and breadth of his qualities would be something any teacher should strive for, I think.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:02 pm

Wow, good point Kirk. How can anyone match his qualities? I wonder how ..whats the word.. 'human' (for lack of a better term) he was in real life- I think its difficult to grasp his human qualities when we hear all of his extra-special qualities/abilities. Hmm.. I wonder in this day and age,the more human qualities are valued more than displaying miracles etc. What do you think?

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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby kirk5a » Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:20 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Wow, good point Kirk. How can anyone match his qualities? I wonder how ..whats the word.. 'human' (for lack of a better term) he was in real life- I think its difficult to grasp his human qualities when we hear all of his extra-special qualities/abilities. Hmm.. I wonder in this day and age,the more human qualities are valued more than displaying miracles etc. What do you think?

I tend to think a public display of "miraculous" power these days would have millions of people falling over themselves to worship that person. Probably not a good idea, if what you're trying to communicate doesn't have anything fundamentally to do with special powers. We probably get an "inside view" of those things due to all that was recorded in the suttas, which probably doesn't represent very well how he would have appeared to someone approaching him in person at the time.

One thing I notice is the skill in knowing how to best teach each person or group that he was speaking with. It was not a one-teaching-fits-all approach.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby Viscid » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:26 pm

Those who make Buddhism accessible must be approachable, warm and sociable: someone who would make an excellent wise, compassionate grandfather or a true friend. They must speak with conviction; those that listen to a good leader should become inspired with faith. They must have impeccable morality as to not stir up controversy, and they must not be afraid to admit they could be wrong, lest they be proven so.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby ground » Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:23 am

Viscid wrote:Those who make Buddhism accessible must be approachable, warm and sociable: someone who would make an excellent wise, compassionate grandfather or a true friend. They must speak with conviction; those that listen to a good leader should become inspired with faith. They must have impeccable morality as to not stir up controversy, and they must not be afraid to admit they could be wrong, lest they be proven so.


In the context of faith you may be right. But I think good teachers also have to be bright intellectuals to access those who are inclined to reasoning and who's destined "entrance into dhamma" is wisdom.

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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby IanAnd » Thu Jun 16, 2011 4:50 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Wow, good point Kirk.

How can anyone match his qualities? I wonder how ..whats the word.. 'human' (for lack of a better term) he was in real life - I think its difficult to grasp his human qualities when we hear all of his extra-special qualities/abilities. Hmm.. I wonder in this day and age,the more human qualities are valued more than displaying miracles etc. What do you think?

I would be interested to learn just what "extra-special qualities/abilities" that you have in mind? (Meaning, since no one today was alive when Gotama was extant and is therefore unable to testify with any reliable first-hand certainty just what qualities he had or didn't have, it would be intriguing to hear what you have in mind and just what speculative thought you have accepted as being true.)
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Jun 16, 2011 7:44 pm

I think somebody who has created an opportunity for practise, and a following, that wasn't there before.

Ajahn Sumedho is a good example of this.

As is Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield.

As is Goenka.
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"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:36 pm

Would you want him/her to be involved in inter-religious discussions/not?

Do you ...wait for it.... have gender preferences?

Does (s)he have to be ordained/not?

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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby ground » Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:33 am

rowyourboat wrote:Would you want him/her to be involved in inter-religious discussions/not?

I don't care.

rowyourboat wrote:Do you ...wait for it.... have gender preferences?

If the teacher is ordained then this is no issue.

rowyourboat wrote:Does (s)he have to be ordained/not?

No "must" but from my perpective an ordained teacher is to be preferred and appears more reliable. A lack of ordained teachers in some regions may be reason to "walk alone" and rely on worldly teachers only occasionally.

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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Jun 19, 2011 9:03 am

rowyourboat wrote:We have some people like the Dalai Lama who could be considered world leaders in Buddhism.

What are the qualities a truly international, broadly appealing, Theravadin teacher posses? Would he/she have to be ordained? .involved in politics? ..not involved in controversies.. etc etc.

Please share your thoughts.

:anjali:

with metta

Matheesha

Perhaps the Buddha Dhamma if the real thing will never have broad appeal.
It might influence interior decor for a while.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby chownah » Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:16 pm

TMingyur wrote:No "must" but from my perpective an ordained teacher is to be preferred and appears more reliable. A lack of ordained teachers in some regions may be reason to "walk alone" and rely on worldly teachers only occasionally.

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TMingyur,
Maybe this is just a problem of definition of "worldly"....but in my view many ordained people are very worldly....in fact in Thailand some people think that generally speaking most monks are too worldly. Maybe for "wordly" you are meaning "lay" as in "layperson" or "lay teacher"....just wanting to understand your meaning.
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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby ground » Sun Jun 19, 2011 5:50 pm

chownah wrote: Maybe for "wordly" you are meaning "lay" as in "layperson" or "lay teacher"....


Yes. That's the intended meaning.

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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:44 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:Perhaps the Buddha Dhamma if the real thing will never have broad appeal.
It might influence interior decor for a while.


Hi Sanghamitta

hmm never considered that - thank you. But there is a current thread here on DW saying how the dhamma is a gradual process. Could we not consider the more 'lighter' versions of the dhamma to be the first steps of a deeper perhaps more intense dhamma? :smile:

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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:47 pm

TMingyur

I reacted differently to 'worldly' - I thought you were talking of internationally renowned teachers. I wonder if people would prefer a local more accessible teacher, to an internationally renowned one? Maybe if there was a 'dhamma continuum' (as is the case with Goenka and his assistant teachers) it would be much more acceptable (rather than just relying on books/talks/Cds).

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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby ground » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:46 am

rowyourboat wrote:TMingyur

I reacted differently to 'worldly' - I thought you were talking of internationally renowned teachers. I wonder if people would prefer a local more accessible teacher, to an internationally renowned one? Maybe if there was a 'dhamma continuum' (as is the case with Goenka and his assistant teachers) it would be much more acceptable (rather than just relying on books/talks/Cds).

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Matheesha


Well "internationally renowned" may be a characteristic of both, lay persons and ordained persons.
For some a large following of a teacher may support their having faith in these persons (kind of "herd instinct"). But as to a teacher I think "the larger the following the greater the allurement of Mara" and that this holds true for both lay and ordained teachers.
Nevertheless the fact that someone did ordain and stayed ordained for me is sort of an indicator of "competence" (provided that ethical conduct corresponds).
But all this is really very much dependent on one's view as to monasticism which I think is dependent on one's view on the relation between "the worldly sphere" and "the dhamma".
E.g. There may be people who are unable to rely on monastics but can only rely on lay people.

'dhamma continuum' sounds like "lineage" which is the seed of "tradition".There certainly is nothing wrong with this but on the other hand it may be a further trap causing one to "settle down" at the wrong time and in the wrong place.
I think that if one has received some benefit from a teacher one should consider to "leave" her/him and not stay around and wait for "more" or "something better". In this way one may experience if one really has received some benefit or if one has deluded oneself into projecting "benefit" onto what is just another instance of clinging.

But the Theravada concept of "spiritual friend" is maybe not compliant with the concept of "teacher" anyway. A "spiritual friend" may be one who one asks from time to time, i.e. occasionally, while attending to one's own "business" during the rest of the time, right?


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Re: Dalai lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Jun 21, 2011 6:35 pm

Hi TMingyur,

Thank you. You have given me much to think about.

1) Monasticsm- yes, I guess it would make sense for the leader to make sure his monastics teach straight down the line dhamma from the suttas (yes, it would be a particularly 'middle of the road' interpretation). Also I see that there is no harm in letting lay people teach the same interpretation, especially where monastics are in short supply (or even concommitantly). There is the assumption that monastics are 'professionals' in the matter and lay people are part-timers, which may or may not be true of course. Also the Buddha instructed us to learn from those who have attained to a higher state than a lower state- there is more of a chance of this being a monastic (on average).

2) sticking to 'lineages' is a problem. I guess practitioners must be encouraged to learn how to differentiate true dhamma and true dhamma teachers. The Buddha simply said to follow practices which will reduce craving, aversion and delusion, whatever the source was. Those foundations will be helpful when the leader is no more and the dispensation is in free fall.

3) by 'dhamma continuum' I meant standardising what is taught. This will ensure the true dhamma is taught. People can check with centralised sources whether the interpretation of the local teacher (lay or monastic) is up to scratch and in line with the suttas. Within that framework, the instructors would be free to expand, elaborate, give personal opinions as they please. It is important for a dhamma teacher to be able to speak from the heart and their own experience. I guess if they are taught to evaluate meditation methods using basics of mental cultivation, they could even comment on meditation methods of other teachers, outside this framework. :shrug:

4) Large gatherings are suspect. I agree. They appeal to the masses. The Buddha had the lay/monastic split to perhaps denote serious practice with the less serious. He did teach each group slightly different 'strengths' of dhamma. I guess the challenge for this leader would be to make monasticism more accessible - make it seem less of an exotic unattainable form of practice. Maybe shorter term, say 2 week, 'ordination' may be helpful in making monasticism less alien/foreign. There maybe other ways I haven't thought of..In ancient India it was common for the youngest in the family to leave home and seek nibbana, apparently. Why not make it accessible?

5) The Buddha said he was a kalyanamitta to everyone. He also encouraged seeking a teacher for whom you felt affection and a strong sense of moral shame/dread for. These qualities are crucial when difficult bits of the vipassana nanas are unfolding inside of practitioners. I think the 'pot-puri' approach to the dhamma is a modern invention (and not a bad one under the circumstances). I think it would be best to tap into the mass acceptance phenomenon to recreate this within an international audience. But it will still be difficult..

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