TheDhamma wrote:For those of you who believe in the supremacy of having a teacher, what would you do in the following situation:
You follow Theravada, from the Mahavihara classical position or just Theravada, if you prefer that term by itself, and your teacher tells you not to pay attention to the Abhidhamma. The teacher tells you jhanas are unnecessary and not important. The teacher tells you reading and study is also not important, you just need to sit and follow your breath and do no other practice. And you are not a beginner and know that there are other practices and doctrines of Theravada which could help your practice. What do you do?
There's a few things here.
1] You say this is my teacher. If this person is my teacher then I chose them to be my teacher. I must have had a reason and that will factor in to what I do in this situation.
2] If my teacher says X is unnecessary and I think X should be part of my practice then I can conclude that it would be fruitless to ask his teacher about X. A teacher is not a boss, they are someone I can ask questions and get guidance. If a teacher isn't into a particular practice then I would not go to him for guidance on that practice. But just because they don't do a particular practice does not mean that I can't.
Now in your hypothetical they have also said that particular practice is unnecessary or shouldn't be done. On this point I would want to know why they feel that way. Now this is a hypothetical so we can only go so far with this... but in my experience when a teacher says this it is because they themselves don't do that practice and therefore feel no one needs to. That is a common, though unfortunate, occurrence. But again, that doesn't have to have any bearing on what I do. If this is a practice I have found to be useful then I would continue with it. Which leads us to...
3] If it was a practice I haven't yet tried but was considering trying, or if it wasn't even something I had heard of due to my own lack of study, then I would just follow my teacher's advice. After all, what difference does it make? If I think my teacher has something worthwhile to teach me, then what is the harm in trying out his preferred practice rather than some other practice? To take your example, there is really no harm in NOT reading Abhidhamma, NOT worrying about jhanas, and just watching the breath. It seems to me that is a good practice that with proper guidance can take one far on the Path.
The above is a hypothetical example, but not unrealistic and I have seen some teachers take such a position. Do you just ignore those teachings? Find another teacher?
It depends. Neither would be unreasonable depending on where you're at in your practice.
Otherwise, you might just blindly follow a bad teacher and yes, there are some out there.
Firstly, following the breath is a good practice. I would not so quickly call a teacher who teaches in this way a "bad teacher". Secondly, one could follow a bad teacher and one could follow a bad self. At least a teacher is more likely to have the support of his teachers and fellows in the holy life. All you've got is you.