christopher::: wrote:A good teacher is an absolute blessing, I don't doubt that. Those fortunate enough to have found a teacher they can work with in 3D are very lucky. But the 3 jewels are Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, not Buddha, Dharma, Teacher....
In the triple gem, the Buddha is the teacher. Today we have his teaching (the Dhamma) and those that preserve his teachings (the monastic Sangha). There might even still be those that have penetrated and realized those teachings for themselves (the Noble Sangha).
What was Buddha's view about the importance of having a teacher to work with one-on-one, vs the support of a sangha?
For a layperson practitioner, is the support of a sangha more important then having a teacher, are they equally important or is a relationship with a teacher more essential?
They are the same thing. Having a teacher is
the support of the sangha.
What you seem to be asking is a one-on-one teacher vs a group discussion situation. On the one hand, one can learn Buddhism from a group or from a lone teacher so there is no difference. On the other hand, a group discussion tends to be more unfocused and free-ranging whereas a one-on-one discussion tends to be more focused and goes deeper. In addition, establishing a long term relationship with a teacher allows you to get to know each other and this helps any teaching situation. Compare this to a group of strangers, especially on the internet. Furthermore, if the group can't even agree on what Buddhism teaches, as is common on internet forums, then you're even worse off. One teacher who is actually part of the sangha who knows and respects Buddhism, dedicates his life to preserving and embodying those teachings, is a way different thing than a group of strangers all coming up with their own half-baked interpretations and debating them.
I think everything and everyone can be your teacher.
That depends what one hopes to learn. If one hopes to learn baking, then a baker is a better teacher than "everything and everyone". If one hopes to learn Buddhism, then one who studies, preserves, and practices those teachings is the better than "everything and everyone". One who has penetrated and realized those teachings for themselves is the best teacher of all.
If one is not so much interested in learning Buddhism but is interested in gathering up random life experiences in the hopes of chancing upon something useful or profound... then perhaps everything and anyone is the way to go.