who can you trust?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

who can you trust?

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Jan 19, 2009 7:06 am

i was thinking about some of the disagreements on here. how some people dont trust some teachers who are well within mainstream theravada
that leaves one in a sort of mess. who do you trust?
i already know someone will say, the buddha, or yourself. but many people do that and land far off track so i'm not looking for that answer.

there are certain teachers i dig, Buddhadasa, Brahm, Chah, Sujato. i trust what they say. but yet i read from some that person a is wrong abotu topic B and person C is just wrong all the time.. whatever.

where does that leave us?
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: who can you trust?

Postby Element » Mon Jan 19, 2009 8:02 am

For me, we must trust our own insight. For example, the Buddhist religion of full of various teachings about dependent origination. If we absolutely see dependent origination is how suffering arises and how it ceases, then we are in accord with the intention of the Buddha of ending dukkha. The Buddha often said: "There is nothing further to do in this world".

For me, it is crucial we learn how to end dukkha. For example, when we doubt, is not self-view there?

Buddhadasa & Chah lived in Thailand & taught similarly. Brahm & Sugato live in Australia & teach similarly. They teach different than Sumedho & Amaro. Their audience is different & their benefactors are different. This influences the way one teaches.

Plus if we have met them, we can decide. I heard Buddhadasa teach about fifty times in person. I have met his monks. For example, the current Abbot of Suan Mokkh is exceptionally learned & a highly accomplished meditator. I have listened to Ajahn Chah talk in the video The Mindful Way, which accords most with how I personally sum up the Dhamma. It accords with my experience.

In short, we must trust our own practise & insight.
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Re: who can you trust?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jan 19, 2009 8:12 am

I wouldn't worry about it too much. Some will quibble about some details of the teachings of some of those monks, but my impression from meeting several of Ajahn Chah's students (Including Ajahn Brahm and Arjan Tiradhammo - I did a workshop with the former and a 3-day retreat with the latter) is extremely positive. And I've found Ajahn Buddhadasa's books very interesting.

Misinterpretation of their teachings by others can be a bigger problem...

However, if I want to study details of Suttas I go for Bhikkhu Bodhi.

Metta
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Re: who can you trust?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jan 19, 2009 8:49 am

I wouldn't put the Buddha in the list I would only go as far as saying yourself!
and trust yourself to decide which teacher/s are trustworthy (Buddha included)
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: who can you trust?

Postby Element » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:31 am

Noble Wealth

Yassa saddhā tathāgate
Acalā supatiṭṭhitā,
Sīlañca yassa kalyāṇaṃ
Ariya-kantaṃ pasaṃsitaṃ


One whose conviction in the Tathagata
Is unshakable, well-established,
Whose virtue is admirable,
Praised, cherished by the Noble Ones,

Saṅghe pasādo yassatthi
Ujubhūtañca dassanaṃ
Adaḷiddoti taṃ āhu
Amoghan-tassa jīvitaṃ


Who has faith in the Noble Sangha, straightforwardness, vision:
"He is not poor," they say. His life has not been in vain.

Tasmā saddhañca sīlañca
Pasādaṃ dhamma-dassanaṃ
Anuyuñjetha medhāvī
Saraṃ buddhāna-sāsananti


So conviction & virtue, faith, & dhamma-vision
Should be cultivated by the wise,
Remembering the Buddhas' teachings.
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Re: who can you trust?

Postby halwilson » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:34 am

Hi Jcsuperstar,

You might find the Vimamsaka Sutta ( MN 47) helpful in answering your question. Bhikkhu Bodhi, in his lectures on this sutta, says: "...we could use some of these principles taught in this sutta as a standard for judging the qualifications of contemporary Buddhist teachers, though we shouldn't apply to them quite the same standards that the Buddha himself would fulfill...." (quoted from Bhikkhu Bodhi's lecture series on MN 47 in Exploring the Word of the Buddha: A Systematic Study of the Majjhima Nikaya).

Cheers, Hal
"We had the experience, but missed the meaning" T. S. Eliot
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Re: who can you trust?

Postby bodom » Mon Jan 19, 2009 1:35 pm

Whenever i have doubts such as these i like to reflect on this passage from Ajahn Chah

http://www.buddhanet.net/bodhiny2.htm

Questions & Answers with Ajahn Chah

Q: What can I do about doubts? Some days I'm plagued with doubts about the practice or my own progress, or the teacher.

Answer: Doubting is natural. Everyone starts out with doubts. You can learn a great deal from them. What is important is that you don't identify with your doubts: that is, don't get caught up in them. This will spin your mind in endless circles. Instead, watch the whole process of doubting, of wondering. See who it is that doubts. See how doubts come and go. Then you will no longer be victimized by your doubts. You will step outside of them and your mind will be quiet. You can see how all things come and go. Just let go of what you are attached to. Let go of your doubts and simply watch. This is how to end doubting.

Q: What about other methods of practice? These days there seem to be so many teachers and so many different systems of meditation that it is confusing.

Answer: It is like going into town. One can approach from the north,from the southeast, from many roads. Often these systems just differ outwardly. Whether you walk one way or another, fast or slow, if you are mindful, it is all the same. There is one essential point that all good practice must eventually come to--not clinging. In the end, all meditation systems must be let go of. Neither can one cling to the teacher. If a system leads to relinquishment, to not clinging, then it is correct practice. You may wish to travel, to visit other teachers and try other systems.Some of you have already done so. This is a natural desire. You will find out that a thousand questions asked and knowledge of many systems will not bring you to the truth. Eventually you will get bored. You will see that only by stopping and examining your own mind can you find our what the Buddha talked about. No need to go searching outside yourself. Eventually you must return to face your own true nature. Here is where you can understand the Dhamma.


:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: who can you trust?

Postby Individual » Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:07 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:i was thinking about some of the disagreements on here. how some people dont trust some teachers who are well within mainstream theravada
that leaves one in a sort of mess. who do you trust?
i already know someone will say, the buddha, or yourself. but many people do that and land far off track so i'm not looking for that answer.

there are certain teachers i dig, Buddhadasa, Brahm, Chah, Sujato. i trust what they say. but yet i read from some that person a is wrong abotu topic B and person C is just wrong all the time.. whatever.

where does that leave us?

I think that trust is based on experience.

In the absence of coming to know a bit about a teacher, having a preconceived trust or distrust is unjustified -- best to be ambivalent. Once they've demonstrated themselves to be trustworthy or untrustworthy, through providing useful teachings and being moral, then they should be judged accordingly.

I think, though, that if you're looking for a saintly teacher who is 100% right about everything, never commits any wrongdoing, you might end up missing some very good teachers.

Above all, I think you can trust yourself, so long as that trust isn't betrayed. That is, above all, you should trust yourself to not lie to yourself, to always expose these lies when they seem apparent, and yet to not let that stop you from trusting yourself again. Saddha (faith) doesn't simply mean an outward expression of belief in the suttas and the Buddha, but an inner feeling of self-confidence and self-esteem.

Cunda Sutta

...each of you should remain with your self as an island, your self as your refuge, without anything else as a refuge. Remain with the Dhamma as an island, the Dhamma as your refuge, without anything else as a refuge. And how does a monk remain with his self as an island, his self as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge? How does he remain with the Dhamma as an island, the Dhamma as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings... mind... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. This is how a monk remains with his self as an island, his self as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge, with the Dhamma as an island, the Dhamma as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge.


This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
-Shakespeare's Hamlet


With metta :heart:,
Individual
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
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Re: who can you trust?

Postby genkaku » Mon Jan 19, 2009 5:46 pm

I wonder: Maybe it is better to trust absolutely no one. Just trust everyone.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is no substitute for investigating and finding out (assuming you're interested in the first place). We may be told that it's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and it may look like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and we may praise the virtues of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but until we take a bite, how can we really trust or distrust anything with credible certainty?
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Re: who can you trust?

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Jan 19, 2009 6:24 pm

Distrusting such that we don't practice is no good.
Trusting such that we practice blindly is no good.

In my opinion...

It's hard work but we can't stop paying attention. We can't just put our practice on auto-pilot. We pick whatever teacher we like, we listen to what he or she has to teach, we strive to put those teachings into practice to the best of our ability, and we pay close attention to see what sort of results we are getting so we can make minute adjustments to our practice if it's going a little off track, or so we can talk to the teacher if it's going quite a bit off track, or so we can find a new teacher if it's going completely off track.

I would love it if I could find a teacher who would tell me some simple instructions and I could implement them mechanically and never have to think about it again. But I know that's unrealistic.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: who can you trust?

Postby Jechbi » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:06 pm

Trust without expectations.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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