Finding a Teacher

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Finding a Teacher

Postby Olia » Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:49 pm

Hello,

I am very interested in finding a teacher/mentor in the Theravada tradition. I am not able to travel, and I do not drive, so attending gatherings is not an option for me. I follow teachings (text and video) of Ajahn Noah Yuttadhammo and Ajahn Thanasanti Bhikkhuni on their websites, but I am curious to know if it is possible (or advisable) to develop a more personal teacher/student relationship online.

I understand that teachers cannot be expected to pour out their energies to individual students long distance, but has anyone ever known of this happening? And if so... would it be of benefit? How important is it to have a teacher?

Thank you,

Olia
:namaste:
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Re: Finding a Teacher

Postby Maarten » Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:28 pm

Hi Olia  ,

Ajahn Yuttadhammo has a forum of his own at http://my.sirimangalo.org/
I understand he also gives online retreats via skype. Some other Bhikkhus also do this. You could try this and see if it helps you.

Olia wrote:How important is it to have a teacher?


The Budha said having admirable friends (teachers) is the whole of the holy life, so it is important. Today this is not entirely true anymore. In the Buddha's time you could only learn the Dhamma by word of mouth because nothing was written down yet, so if you did not have access to someone who knew the dhamma, you could never learn it. Today you can read one of the Buddhas teachings whenever you like! So I think there is hope for those without access to a teacher. :)

Good luck!
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Re: Finding a Teacher

Postby Olia » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:22 pm

Thank you for replying, Maarten!

I am actually a member on the Sirimangalo site and I do find it helpful. :)
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Re: Finding a Teacher

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:04 pm

You can also call Thannisarro Bhikkhu - he accepts phone calls at certain times during the day.

Are there any temples near you?
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Finding a Teacher

Postby Alobha » Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:09 pm

Olia wrote:I understand that teachers cannot be expected to pour out their energies to individual students long distance, but has anyone ever known of this happening?


What Maarten is refering to -> Half (of the Holy Life)
The best companionship, the best friend and the best teacher can be found in the Buddha himself. There are vast resources to get to know the Buddha ;)
I don't know of any teacher who is putting much energy into a more personal, individual layperson-teacher relationship in the theravada setting.

Olia wrote:And if so... would it be of benefit? How important is it to have a teacher?

It basically depends on both the teacher and the "pupil". Everyone benefits from learning to take their spiritual life, their practice into their own hand and to take full responsibilty for themselves. Some people like to just follow some other person and give this responsibilty to them. Then they're incredible devastated when the teacher is not perfect in conduct or gives other reason for disappointment. Then there is also the chance that a teacher intentionally or unintentionally misleads people and it gets worse when people just follow blindly (Hence, there is a good chance that the "teacher" is not awakened, so this can happen of course.). Real Spiritual Companionship can also be seen from the point that there is a person who can help us find some answers, who can give us advice and another perspective on how to approach something, who offers company and advice like a friend with good intentions, not like someone who gives out directions and orders like a superior and watches every breath we take.

And remember what the Buddha once said:
"Whatever Dhamma and Vinaya I have pointed out and formulated for you, that will be your Teacher when I am gone."
Mahaaparinibbaana Sutta, [D.16].


So at least from my point of view, one is best advised in watching closely why it seems so important for one to have a strong relationship to a teacher, or why to search for a teacher at all.

Best wishes,
Alobha
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Re: Finding a Teacher

Postby Dan74 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:14 pm

I would write to the two Ajahns that you've mentioned and ask for their advice/guidance.
_/|\_
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Re: Finding a Teacher

Postby Hanzze » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:00 am

Olia wrote:How important is it to have a teacher?


Dear Olia,

Admirable friendship is one of the prerequistie on the path of awakening.

'What, friend, are the prerequisites for the development of the wings to self-awakening?' you should answer, 'There is the case where a monk has admirable friends, admirable companions, admirable comrades. This is the first prerequisite for the development of the wings to self-awakening.


But I guess it is important to see it a little different as what we normaly seek as a teacher. We easily can depend on something that is often declared as needed love to the teacher, so it is good to see Buddha (its qualities and teachings) as a proper place to put this love into and it would be secure of falling into personal confusions between the need for a admirable friend and ditthi in all its forms.

As far as you wrote, you have already two teacher and the situation that you do not corespond personaly, does not mean that they are not already what might be an admirably friends. For direct advices, the above hints to just write them are for sure good ones, as well as you would get more expression of how they are and act.

Two good essays in regard of teachers are:

Think Like a Thief
The Power of Judgment

You even might meet some when walking much and spend not to much time with the try to get in touch with one.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Finding a Teacher

Postby Hanzze » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:04 am

Just saw a beautiful sutta, which might transport something needed here on DW: Seeing the Dhamma
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Finding a Teacher

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:33 pm

If you don't have a teacher I hope you will read the vast amount of information on Buddhist practice that sites like www.accesstoinsight.org has. I hope you listen to talks by Ajhan Brahm as well. You may already know that vast numbers of practicing Buddhists practice in this way, and there is no absolute requirement to have one particular teacher.

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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