Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

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Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby SamKR » Sun Jul 19, 2009 6:04 pm

Hi Everybody,

Do you think it is a good idea to consider the Buddha as my only teacher and try to follow exactly according to his words (Pali Tipitaka, especially Sutta Pitaka) and nothing else.

I was born in a Hindu family, so I still have to be involved in Hindu culture. But for almost 10 years I have been "trying" to follow the Buddha's teachings. I have been introduced to the Buddha's life and basic teachings since childhood but I came to recognize the profundity of the teaching only after taking a ten day Vipassana course in Goenkaji's tradition.

Recently I have decided not to follow any specific tradition, technique, or modern teacher but to follow exactly according to what the Buddha said (recorded in Pali Tipitaka). I am not against any teacher, tradition or technique but I felt why should I follow others when the instructions of the supreme Buddha himself is available. Maybe I will need someone's help only when I need to interpret some part of Pali teachings correctly, or when I have some unique meditative experience which I want to be explained. Only in such cases I would like to consult not one but many teachers, traditions or scholars, but still I would not be committed to any single teacher or tradition except the Buddha and his original words.

Is my decision wholesome? I would like to read your comments and suggestions.
Thanks.
Last edited by SamKR on Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Jul 19, 2009 7:49 pm

Which Buddha's words? The Pali scriptures? The Chinese scriptures? The Tibetan scriptures? Pick one and you've already chosen a tradition.

Which translator? Pick one you've chosen that translator's tradition.

Going to do the translation yourself? Who's dictionary are you going to use?

The truth is you do not have access to the Buddha as your only teacher. The Buddha is long dead and his teachings have passed through the hands of many people since.
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jul 19, 2009 7:54 pm

Which Buddha's words? The Pali scriptures? The Chinese scriptures? The Tibetan scriptures? Pick one and you've already chosen a tradition.



This isnt exactly accurate, just because one takes the Pali scriptures as a source doesnt mean they adhere to Theravada





The truth is you do not have access to the Buddha as your only teacher. The Buddha is long dead and his teachings have passed through the hands of many people since.



How can Buddha die? A skillful teaching i hear sometimes is that the Buddha is always here, in the practice and understandings of Dhamma


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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:05 pm

My last post is part 1. Here's part 2.

Every teacher and every tradition believes they are teaching what the Buddha really taught. Many hundreds of years and many thousands of minds went into what you have before you. For what reason do you reject all this effort? For what reason do you believe you can do a better job, thousands of years later and with no experience or insight? I think it pays to examine this wish in case there is unwholesome qualities underlying it, like ego or pride or stubbornness.
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby nathan » Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:40 pm

SamKR wrote:Hi Everybody,

Do you think...?

I would like to read your comments and suggestions.
Thanks.
hi SamKR

I can't ever really understand why people approach things this way, so perhaps, in exchange for a quick suggestion on my part you could answer a question of mine. No matter which teacher you choose, or which teaching, or to a considerable extent even what philosophy and or religion, you will be directed to look into yourself, into your own body and mind.

So my suggestion is just - do that.

What I would like to understand is why most people begin by asking all kinds of questions of other people of all kinds, read all kinds of books and put their faith in this or that or draw this or that conclusion, and then they actually try to look, after already completely making up their minds about what they are going to find within their own minds and bodies.

Why not cut to the chase and just look first? Is it really that terrifying to consider that all the answers are right there under your own nose? Is that a powerful enough motivation to do anything to put off the moment of truth? I ask, because that is how it seems to me. If so, well, I understand, I sympathize, and I would simply say, there is nothing in there to be particularly afraid of, more or less, than what one already knows about oneself. In fact to actually look all the way into it comes as a complete relief and is a huge time saver. Then you don't really need a teacher or a book or anything except for something to do on a Sunday afternoon.
:anjali:
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby SamKR » Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:08 pm

I think I could not really explain clearly what I wanted to ask.

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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby cooran » Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:45 pm

Hello SamKR,

I was like you for many years, practising on my own, and using the internet and books. I know it must be difficult when your famiy follow another religious faith - but the Buddha taught respect for all religions. My family are Christian and some of them barely tolerate my devotion to the Buddha.

But I came to realise that the Buddha was right when he stated that you cannot do this practice alone - that having admirable friends (those more advanced on the Path) is the whole of the holy life. Even if you are only able to go to a respected teacher for a retreat once a year, you should plan for this.

Upaddha Sutta: Half (of the Holy Life)
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was living among the Sakyans. Now there is a Sakyan town named Sakkara. There Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, "This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie."1
"Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path.
"And how does a monk who has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, develop & pursue the noble eightfold path? There is the case where a monk develops right view dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. He develops right resolve ... right speech ... right action ... right livelihood ... right effort ... right mindfulness ... right concentration dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. This is how a monk who has admirable people as friends, companions, & colleagues, develops & pursues the noble eightfold path.
"And through this line of reasoning one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life: It is in dependence on me as an admirable friend that beings subject to birth have gained release from birth, that beings subject to aging have gained release from aging, that beings subject to death have gained release from death, that beings subject to sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair have gained release from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. It is through this line of reasoning that one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life."
Notes
1. As AN 8.54 points out, this means not only associating with good people, but also learning from them and emulating their good qualities.
See also: MN 95; AN 4.192; AN 8.54; AN 9.1; Ud 4.1; Iti 17.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby SamKR » Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:57 pm

But I came to realise that the Buddha was right when he stated that you cannot do this practice alone - that having admirable friends (those more advanced on the Path) is the whole of the holy life. Even if you are only able to go to a respected teacher for a retreat once a year, you should plan for this.


I completely agree, and I have not denied that.
Thank you Chris for your reply.

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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby SamKR » Sun Jul 19, 2009 10:12 pm

Peter wrote:Which Buddha's words? The Pali scriptures? The Chinese scriptures? The Tibetan scriptures? Pick one and you've already chosen a tradition.

Which translator? Pick one you've chosen that translator's tradition.

Going to do the translation yourself? Who's dictionary are you going to use?

The truth is you do not have access to the Buddha as your only teacher. The Buddha is long dead and his teachings have passed through the hands of many people since.


I think ultimately every decision is based on conscience or sometimes even on random choice. My conscience told me to believe Pali scriptures as the main source of the Buddha's teachings, as I have faith on its authenticity (although it may not represent exactly 100 percent of what Buddha taught).

I am not denying importance of any teacher or tradition.
But what I wanted to say is just one thing: I do not want to be committed to only one tradition or teacher (like we have to be in Goenkaji's tradition--that we must follow specific instructions in meditation--which I believe is a little bit different from Pali Tipitaka). I just want to be committed to Pali Tipitaka. But of course, I might seek help and advice from others too, or have good companionship of other dhamma followers who have had higher mental development and insights.

What I wanted to ask is just one thing: do you think this decision of mine is okay or is there something inherently wrong?

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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby Ben » Sun Jul 19, 2009 10:21 pm

Hi SamKR
My advice is to continue practicing as you've been taught by Sri Goenka but supplement your meditative practice with pariyatti (study). I have been his student since 1985 and this whayt I do. For suttas I recommend, Bhikkhu Bodhi's 'In the Buddha's Words' or the 'Majjhima Nikaya' which you can study along with a set of audio file lectures at www.bodhimonastery,com
That will get you started.
Metta

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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby SamKR » Sun Jul 19, 2009 10:26 pm

Peter wrote:My last post is part 1. Here's part 2.

Every teacher and every tradition believes they are teaching what the Buddha really taught. Many hundreds of years and many thousands of minds went into what you have before you. For what reason do you reject all this effort? For what reason do you believe you can do a better job, thousands of years later and with no experience or insight? I think it pays to examine this wish in case there is unwholesome qualities underlying it, like ego or pride or stubbornness.


I have not mentioned anywhere that I reject all those effort. And I do not believe that I can do a better job. I do not know what is wrong or right, and I cannot do a better job, so I want to follow Pali Tipitaka.
There are many traditions and teachers who claim they are teaching what the Buddha really taught (as you said). It's overwhelming. So when I have to choose among different traditions and techniques, I want to give priority to Pali Tipitaka (especially Sutta Pitaka), and I do not want to stick to any particular tradition or teacher for whole life (except for the Buddha and Tipitaka).

I think it pays to examine this wish in case there is unwholesome qualities underlying it, like ego or pride or stubbornness.

Exactly, that's why I started this thread. I want to know if my decision sounds to be unwholesome. Being at the very basic level of the Buddha's teachings, I have certainly ego and pride. But everyone has to choose teachings when he is at the basic level, not after being an Arhant.

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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby SamKR » Sun Jul 19, 2009 11:02 pm

What I would like to understand is why most people begin by asking all kinds of questions of other people of all kinds, read all kinds of books and put their faith in this or that or draw this or that conclusion, and then they actually try to look, after already completely making up their minds about what they are going to find within their own minds and bodies.

Perhaps for some people that's how it works (maybe partly because of past conditionings).

Why not cut to the chase and just look first? Is it really that terrifying to consider that all the answers are right there under your own nose? Is that a powerful enough motivation to do anything to put off the moment of truth?

Well, there are overwhelmingly many ways of that "just looking" and I don't believe that all are equivalent -- there are so many major and subtle differences. Which is the most correct one? I believe the method of "just looking" as described in the Sutta is the most authentic. (But of course, all other methods (within Buddhism) also should lead you to the same goal--sooner or later, because all of them have the same core teachings of the Buddha. And there are some people in almost every tradition who have attained the very high levels)

nathan, thanks for your suggestion.
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby nathan » Sun Jul 19, 2009 11:08 pm

hi SamKR

Friend, I have absolutely unshakeable confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. There is not a word of the Tipitaka that I can find fault with. I am entirely sure that following the Buddha's teachings in whole or in part will be for your lasting benefit and welfare and the benefit and welfare of everyone you ever know.

It is a very wise choice and you can be entirely private about it. You do not need any statues or trinkets of any kind to practice all of the teachings fully at all times, only your heart and mind, and your growing joy and peace.
:anjali:
upekkha
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby nathan » Sun Jul 19, 2009 11:11 pm

SamKR wrote:Well, there are overwhelmingly many ways of that "just looking" and I don't believe that all are equivalent -- there are so many major and subtle differences. Which is the correct one? I believe the method of "just looking" as described in the Sutta is the most authentic.

nathan, thanks for your suggestion.
I am sure that it is. Back when I was young I had no idea the Tipitaka even existed. So I had no choice but to look. Where to look? Everywhere. Look at all of you inside and out. Then look at the teachings, then look at you, the teachings, you... you will see.
:anjali:
all the best
take care
nathan
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jul 19, 2009 11:36 pm

Greetings SamKR,

I think your approach is a good one, although Peter has done well to point out some of the "unintended influences" that may come through from such an approach, despite your best efforts. I think the best tool you can have to complement this approach is to be completely honest with yourself, otherwise you might let your own prejudices colour your perception.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby nathan » Sun Jul 19, 2009 11:47 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings SamKR,

I think your approach is a good one, although Peter has done well to point out some of the "unintended influences" that may come through from such an approach, despite your best efforts. I think the best tool you can have to complement this approach is to be completely honest with yourself, otherwise you might let your own prejudices colour your perception.

Metta,
Retro. :)
That's a very good point. Your thinking and your feeling don't even belong to you. That's the way I look at it, those are just chains that I have to drag around for now. At least with that gear I more or less pass for just another guy in the crowd. No one needs to know that I'm not buying my own story.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:31 am

SamKR wrote:I do not want to stick to any particular tradition or teacher for whole life

Nothing in Buddhism says you have to. If someone does tell you that you have to commit to them for life then I think you are right to be wary of that person.

I think there is a wide gap between on the one hand committing to a teacher for one's whole life and on the other hand being willing to learn what a teacher has to teach for a few months or a few years to get into it in depth and see where it leads and on the third hand refusing to commit to anything but your own guidance. This last choice is basically handing the reins over to one's ego, exactly what we should be trying to avoid.

There are many traditions and teachers who claim they are teaching what the Buddha really taught (as you said). It's overwhelming.

Perhaps it is overwhelming if you believe only one of them can be right, or only one of them can be useful.

Exactly, that's why I started this thread. I want to know if my decision sounds to be unwholesome.

I don't know you, I don't know your mind, but when someone says to me "I do not want to learn what people have studied and taught and practiced for hundreds of years; I want to go back to the source texts and figure it out on my own" and this person does not already have decades of experience studying and practicing then yes this decision seems to me more likely based in unwholesome qualities.

I do not want to be committed to only one tradition or teacher (like we have to be in Goenkaji's tradition--that we must follow specific instructions in meditation--which I believe is a little bit different from Pali Tipitaka).

If you feel a teacher does not teach Buddhadhamma then that is a good reason to find another teacher. But to get benefit from any teacher it is best to commit to a serious effort at what they have to teach. To flit around, a little here a little there, as you feel inclined is not a good thing; it is handing the reins to the ego. There is absolutely nothing wrong with spending some time with a teacher, giving it an honest effort, and then deciding to move on. If you don't approve of Goenka then find another teacher. But it sounds like your experience with this one tradition has soured you on all teachers and traditions. This is fear and aversion.
- Peter

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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby SamKR » Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:13 am

Peter wrote:Perhaps it is overwhelming if you believe only one of them can be right, or only one of them can be useful.

I have not said that only one of them can be right or useful.

I don't know you, I don't know your mind, but when someone says to me "I do not want to learn what people have studied and taught and practiced for hundreds of years; I want to go back to the source texts and figure it out on my own" and this person does not already have decades of experience studying and practicing then yes this decision seems to me more likely based in unwholesome qualities.

That's the answer I was seeking.
Peter, I think you are right. I realize that we need guidance of experienced living teacher (at least for meditation practice). So, I am willing to have any experienced living teacher(s) who teach(es) based on the suttas.

If you feel a teacher does not teach Buddhadhamma then that is a good reason to find another teacher. But to get benefit from any teacher it is best to commit to a serious effort at what they have to teach. To flit around, a little here a little there, as you feel inclined is not a good thing; it is handing the reins to the ego. There is absolutely nothing wrong with spending some time with a teacher, giving it an honest effort, and then deciding to move on. If you don't approve of Goenka then find another teacher. But it sounds like your experience with this one tradition has soured you on all teachers and traditions. This is fear and aversion.

Just to be clear, I actually liked Goenkaji's style very much. But when I compared it to the Sutta, I found that the meditation instructions were somewhat different (my perception). Same thing is true for other Vipassana traditions. But I think Goenka's method is very good because I have seen many people who have had benefits following him.
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:15 am

SamKR wrote:Just to be clear, I actually liked Goenkaji's style very much. But when I compared it to the Sutta, I found that the meditation instructions were somewhat different. Same thing is true for other Vipassana traditions.

Not wanting to support or defend anything in particular, but most of these "vipassana" instructions are based on the Satipatthana Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .soma.html
Goenka's anapanasati is just standard mindfulness of breathing, and the body scanning just emphasises particular aspects of mindfulness of body and mindfulness of feeling. Other teachers may emphasise walking meditation, and bring in mind states and mind objects sooner than Goenka does. There are numerous exercises there, so any one teacher teaches a small subset.

Metta
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:29 pm

SamKR wrote:
Peter wrote:Perhaps it is overwhelming if you believe only one of them can be right, or only one of them can be useful.
I have not said that only one of them can be right or useful.

No, you haven't. That was my guess as to why you feel overwhelmed. Could you explain why you feel overwhelmed?

I don't know you, I don't know your mind, but when someone says to me "I do not want to learn what people have studied and taught and practiced for hundreds of years; I want to go back to the source texts and figure it out on my own" and this person does not already have decades of experience studying and practicing then yes this decision seems to me more likely based in unwholesome qualities.
That's the answer I was seeking.
Peter, I think you are right. I realize that we need guidance of experienced living teacher (at least for meditation practice). So, I am willing to have any experienced living teacher(s) who teach(es) based on the suttas.[/quote]
That's good. The suttas do not contain detailed meditation instructions. They contain very very brief instructions, a high level overview. More than any other aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path, I feel one needs a living teacher for detailed meditation instructions.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.


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