Kim OHara wrote: binocular wrote:
I think the Hare Krishnas introduce an interesting concept that may be worth considering (and may in fact already exist in Asian Buddhism, it's just that we in the West aren't seeing it?), namely, that of the "triple check" guru-sadhu-sastra
. That is, essentially, that a person should follow only instructions that the three sources (ie. one's teacher, saintly people, and scriptures) agree on. This approach has its double binds too, to be sure, but it's not rocket science either.
Surely this is simply the Triple Gem - Buddha, Dharma and Sangha? And "taking refuge" in it is depending on it?
No. In Dhamma terms, it's about how a particular, actual person can know what is true Dhamma and what isn't.
For example, someone could go around claiming that the Buddha taught (to borrow a fake Buddha quote from Fake Buddha Quotes
“To force oneself to believe and to accept a thing without understanding is political, and not spiritual or intellectual.”
Now, how do we know whether this is actually the teaching of the Buddha, whether it is actually the Dhamma?
We can (and do) tend to help ourselves with basically these three sources:
1. a person whose opinion we highly value and can inquire from (ie. guru),
2. other people whom we deem knowledgeable and whose texts we can read (and maybe even communicate with them) (ie. sadhus),
3. scriptures we deem authoritative (ie. sastra).
And then we check: if these three all agree that “To force oneself to believe and to accept a thing without understanding is political, and not spiritual or intellectual” is true and has been taught by the Buddha, we'll be inclined to also believe so; otherwise, we won't.
But any of the three sources per se doesn't seem enough:
Scriptures may simply be too large or too complex for a single person to study on one's own in whole and in detail in any foreseeable time, leaving one with doubt and uncertainty if one relies solely on scriptures to get answers to pressing questions.
Even saintly people sometime disagree (so how do we make sense of it?) or don't address a particular issue we have a problem with (or we cannot find it addressed in their body of work).
Relying just on the teacher seems too much like hero worship.
So to avoid the problems connected to relying on just one of the three sources, we rely to some extent on all of them. It's faster, more efficient.
Many people generally seem to apply that triple check anyway, but I've only seen it conveniently formulated like this by the Hare Krishnas so far.
All on one's own, how could one possibly have any idea what is the Triple Gem? If we look at Buddhism, there are many different schools, with many lineages in them, and many famous teachers too, and each of them has a somewhat different understanding of what the Triple Gem exactly is and what it means to take refuge in it.
Before one can take refuge in the Triple Gem, one has to somehow have an idea of what that is. How does one get that idea? Probably by some combination of input from a teacher(-figure), saintly people, and scriptures.
I think a bag in West's cultural baggage is the conviction that one decides about all these things on one's own, decide without the input from a teacher(-figure), saintly people, or scriptures what is Dhamma and what isn't, as if one could unilaterally declare membership in a religion.
Not every Westerner carries that bag, but some certainly do.