I've just read MN 8 again and would like to share with you some new understanding about effacement and our teacher for effacement.
MN 8. Sallekha sutta [http://www.palicanon.org/en/sutta-pitaka/transcribed-suttas/majjhima-nikaya/129-mn-8-sallekha-sutta-effacement.html]
1) Know what to efface (efface all the unwholesome states/qualities), and what to cultivate (all the wholesome states/qualities)
2) Incline the mind towards the wholesome
3) Practice the effacement by (with non-cruelty as foundation):
a. Abstaining from the ten unwholesome deeds (wash away the “gross sand”)
b. Cultivating the ten wholesome factors of the path (wash away the “fine sand”)
i. Effacing the five hindrances
ii. Effacing the various defilements
4) The way to lead upwards (by the wholesome): cultivate the wholesome
5) The way of extinguishing (defilements):
"Cunda, that one who is himself sinking in the mud should pull out another who is sinking in the mud is impossible; that one who is not himself sinking in the mud should pull out another
who is sinking in the mud is possible. That one who is himself untamed, undisciplined, [with defilements] unextinguished, should tame another, discipline him, and help extinguish [his
defilements] is impossible; that one who is himself tamed, disciplined, [with defilements] extinguished, should tame another, discipline him, and help extinguish [his defilements] is
possible. So too: (1) A person given to cruelty has non-cruelty by which to extinguish it. …
To my understanding, the Buddha taught us here to use the wholesome (Dhamma) to extinguish the unwholesome, instead of relying on unliberated teachers. Only arahants, not any unliberated ones such as stream winners, can truly teach others to efface defilements. While helping others, an unliberated one should always point his students to the Dhamma as their ultimate teacher (instead of himself) and let them realize that what he taught might be wrong. We as students should always remember to rely on the Dhamma as our ultimate teacher and refuge, since we can’t judge if someone is fully enlightened or not.
The same principle was taught in AN 3.65 Kalama Sutta:
So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These teachings are unwholesome; these teachings are blameworthy; these teachings criticized by the wise; these teachings, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' ...
Now, Kalamas, ... When you know for yourselves that, 'These teachings are wholesome; these teachings are blameless; these teachings are praised by the wise; these teachings, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should adopt & carry them out. [Of course the highest teachings that can lead to the supreme happiness, nibbana, is the Buddha's teaching, the Dhamma.]
Happy Chinese New Year to all Chinese friends!
Metta to all,