Teachers

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Teachers

Postby Annapurna » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:16 am

My teacher is someone who encourages reading the Ultimate Teacher, the Buddha, and discourages reading interpretations (of interpretations) of his teachings, with a very few exceptions.

He hauntingly described the dangers a mind poses that has just a tiny thing of the truth down the wrong way . How mistakes, unclarities and compromising with "modern times" will cause 'ripples' in lineages, schools and most of all, in our minds.

It made sense, and I'm following this instruction to this day.

If I read about the Dhamma, then I read sutthas, the Dhammapada, as close as it can get to the Buddha.

On my bookshelf you won't find hundreds and thousands of interpretations and explanations of the Dhamma- Itruly think that the Buddha was the best teacher anyhow, uncompared, and I don't need all those books.

Why do you? (if you do)

Where does this need come from -to read interpretations?

Are the original teachings really so hard to understand?`Or not enough?

Why are they worth your time and money?

Wouldn't it be better invested in charity?

Thoughts?


With metta,

Annapurna
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Re: Teachers

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:21 am

Annapurna wrote:Where does this need come from -to read interpretations?



For me it's about wanting to really understand what the words mean. And sometimes I read a sutta and just don't get it. :smile:
Sometimes I get confused by the wide range of interpretations out there - I have a sense they can't all be correct, but sometimes I don't have the depth of knowledge to judge. So I just keep practising and try to keep an open mind.

P
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: Teachers

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:25 am

Greetings Anna,

I agree - the Buddha's teachings are key, and as a teacher he is beyond compare.

If other works can help to illuminate the Dhamma, help show connections, help us put suttas into context etc. then that is good.

If other works send us on wild goose chases or put false words into the Buddha's mouth, then that is bad.

SN 20.7: Ani Sutta wrote:Staying at Savatthi. "Monks, there once was a time when the Dasarahas had a large drum called 'Summoner.' Whenever Summoner was split, the Dasarahas inserted another peg in it, until the time came when Summoner's original wooden body had disappeared and only a conglomeration of pegs remained.

"In the same way, in the course of the future there will be monks who won't listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. They won't lend ear, won't set their hearts on knowing them, won't regard these teachings as worth grasping or mastering. But they will listen when discourses that are literary works — the works of poets, elegant in sound, elegant in rhetoric, the work of outsiders, words of disciples — are recited. They will lend ear and set their hearts on knowing them. They will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.

"In this way the disappearance of the discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — will come about.

"Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. We will lend ear, will set our hearts on knowing them, will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.' That's how you should train yourselves."

Metta,
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Re: Teachers

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:07 am

Hi Anna,
Annapurna wrote:Thoughts?

If the Buddha-Dhamma is so easy to understand why do you have a teacher? :thinking:

For me it is not so easy to understand and teachers, in person, in print, or in recordings, have been absolutely crucial.

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Re: Teachers

Postby Claes » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:54 am

Hi Anna!

When I first found my way to Buddhism I really didnt understand the wording and metaphors in the suttas and the Dhammapada.
But as the years has gone by these writing has become more and more valuable to me and now I read the suttas on a daily basis.
I still read interpretations of the Dhamma by teachers I respect like Ven. Ajahn Chah and Ven. Ajahn Sumedho. I find that their insight and experiance helps me to greater understanding of the Dhamma.

Metta
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Re: Teachers

Postby bodom » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:15 pm

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Savatthi in the Eastern Monastery, the palace of Migara's mother, together with many well-known elder disciples — with Ven. Sariputta, Ven. Maha Moggallana, Ven. Maha Kassapa, Ven. Maha Kaccana, Ven. Maha Kotthita, Ven. Maha Kappina, Ven. Maha Cunda, Ven. Revata, Ven. Ananda, and other well-known elder disciples. On that occasion the elder monks were teaching & instructing. Some elder monks were teaching & instructing ten monks, some were teaching & instructing twenty monks, some were teaching & instructing thirty monks, some were teaching & instructing forty monks. The new monks, being taught & instructed by the elder monks, were discerning grand, successive distinctions.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

There were monks who needed teaching and instruction even during the time of the Buddha, how much more so do we need clarification of the practice 2500 years later?

:anjali:
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: Teachers

Postby Annapurna » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:48 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Anna,
Annapurna wrote:Thoughts?

If the Buddha-Dhamma is so easy to understand why do you have a teacher? :thinking:

For me it is not so easy to understand and teachers, in person, in print, or in recordings, have been absolutely crucial.

Mike


Mike,

1. I didn't say it was "so easy to understand", I said he was probably the best Dhamma teacher, and we still have his words around.

I'm not questioning the importance of teachers, but the necessity of reading countless new interpretations of the Dhamma.

If the Buddha-Dhamma is so easy to understand why do you have a teacher?


Sorry, I still call him my teacher.

I don't have him anymore.

He is not a Buddhist teacher.... :smile:

But he gave me the Dhammapada...now it is me telling him more about the Buddha.
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Re: Teachers

Postby Annapurna » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:50 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Anna,

I agree - the Buddha's teachings are key, and as a teacher he is beyond compare.

If other works can help to illuminate the Dhamma, help show connections, help us put suttas into context etc. then that is good.

If other works send us on wild goose chases or put false words into the Buddha's mouth, then that is bad.


Thank you, Paul. :anjali:
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Re: Teachers

Postby Annapurna » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:54 pm

Claes wrote:Hi Anna!

When I first found my way to Buddhism I really didnt understand the wording and metaphors in the suttas and the Dhammapada.
But as the years has gone by these writing has become more and more valuable to me and now I read the suttas on a daily basis.
I still read interpretations of the Dhamma by teachers I respect like Ven. Ajahn Chah and Ven. Ajahn Sumedho. I find that their insight and experiance helps me to greater understanding of the Dhamma.

Metta
Claes


That is good. Thank you. :anjali:

A
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Re: Teachers

Postby Annapurna » Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:00 pm

bodom wrote:
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Savatthi in the Eastern Monastery, the palace of Migara's mother, together with many well-known elder disciples — with Ven. Sariputta, Ven. Maha Moggallana, Ven. Maha Kassapa, Ven. Maha Kaccana, Ven. Maha Kotthita, Ven. Maha Kappina, Ven. Maha Cunda, Ven. Revata, Ven. Ananda, and other well-known elder disciples. On that occasion the elder monks were teaching & instructing. Some elder monks were teaching & instructing ten monks, some were teaching & instructing twenty monks, some were teaching & instructing thirty monks, some were teaching & instructing forty monks. The new monks, being taught & instructed by the elder monks, were discerning grand, successive distinctions.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

There were monks who needed teaching and instruction even during the time of the Buddha, how much more so do we need clarification of the practice 2500 years later?

:anjali:


Thank you , Bodom, your reply is showing me that it is necessary to explain, that I am not dismissing the advice of the Elders, of the seniors in Buddhism when we have questions, -I am asking about books, when we already have the sutthas.

Don't you think that it is possible that a self-acclaimed teacher teaches Adhammma? And makes money this way?
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Postby altar » Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:07 pm

I consider it like reading any other book or discussing here for instance. The difference is that these are often the words of very wise or knowledgaeable people... just as if you wanted to go down a thorny path, and someone might say, over here there are thorns, over there it is slippery, and so on, warning you about dangers they had traversed themselves, these people are knowledgeable about the dangers. The dangers must be... overcome.
So... another reason is that what is to worry about... Reading them taints your mind? Are you kidding? Your mind is getting tainted anyway!!! Have you stepped outside? Have you had a conversation recently? People and things are crazy... they are massively deluded... How are you going to get through samsara if you don't read these people? They are a part of the samsara we live in, dreadful though it may be...
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Re: Teachers

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:45 pm

Hi Anna,
Annapurna wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Hi Anna,
Annapurna wrote:Thoughts?

If the Buddha-Dhamma is so easy to understand why do you have a teacher? :thinking:

For me it is not so easy to understand and teachers, in person, in print, or in recordings, have been absolutely crucial.

1. I didn't say it was "so easy to understand", I said he was probably the best Dhamma teacher, and we still have his words around.

You did say:
Annapurna wrote:Are the original teachings really so hard to understand?`Or not enough?

I think they are difficult. At least, to put into practise properly.

Annapurna wrote:I'm not questioning the importance of teachers, but the necessity of reading countless new interpretations of the Dhamma.

Well, yes it is probably pointless to read "countless" books. Mostly I would consult Sutta translations, commetarial works such as the Visuddhimagga, and books and recordings by teachers who clarify the particular approach I use.

As the Buddha taught:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"As for the individual who has attained neither internal tranquillity of awareness nor insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, he should approach an individual who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment... and ask him, 'How should the mind be steadied? How should it be made to settle down? How should it be unified? How should it be concentrated? How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?'

Mike
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Re: Teachers

Postby Ben » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:59 pm

I agree with Mike.
A teacher is absolutely crucial in assisting one with the practical application of the Dhamma - especially as a beginner. Likewise, a judicial selection of literature will support one's own cinta-maya-panna which is a basis for deepening one's own bhavana-maya-panna. My own teacher has a saying that pariyatti and patipatti should go 'hand in hand'.
My core Dhamma books include the suttas and the Vism. Some works by latter-day scholars such as Ledi Sayadaw and Venerable Analayo are also extremely important.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Teachers

Postby octathlon » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:00 am

Hi Annapurna,
Annapurna wrote:On my bookshelf you won't find hundreds and thousands of interpretations and explanations of the Dhamma- Itruly think that the Buddha was the best teacher anyhow, uncompared, and I don't need all those books.

Why do you? (if you do)

Where does this need come from -to read interpretations?

Are the original teachings really so hard to understand?`Or not enough?


Yes indeed, for me they are hard to understand. The statements of the Buddha are very straightforward and terse.

If I'm speaking to someone who speaks my language, and who is from the same culture as I am, then I can make a plain statement using one specific word for a concept and they will likely understand exactly what I mean, but even then they might misunderstand. And if they aren't from my same culture, they are more likely to misunderstand even though we speak the same language. And if they speak a different language and my one word has to be translated to a word or two of their language, much of the subtleties, nuances, and cultural context of my word is lost. Sometimes there isn't even a decent way to translate it at all. Then if they live in a time 2500 years later than my time..., well, I think you can see why I need some commentary and interpretation. :D
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Re: Teachers

Postby ground » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:16 am

Annapurna wrote:On my bookshelf you won't find hundreds and thousands of interpretations and explanations of the Dhamma- Itruly think that the Buddha was the best teacher anyhow, uncompared, and I don't need all those books.

Why do you? (if you do)

Where does this need come from -to read interpretations?

Are the original teachings really so hard to understand?`Or not enough?

Why are they worth your time and money?

Wouldn't it be better invested in charity?

Thoughts?


Take the example of a pyramid. Taking the bird's eye view on it there may appear a square. Taking the side view there may appear a triangle. Neither a square nor a triangle is a pyramid.
Or take the simile of the blind men investigating an elephant through touching its parts.

One may believe to have a "holistic view" while actually one has a very limited one.

Kind regards
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Re: Teachers

Postby Hoo » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:50 am

Hi Anna,

Those who have the availability of teachers and Buddhist communities are fortunate. Without that availability, reading is the only source of knowlege that I had to start with. I tried to learn from the diversity that was found on that big now-defunct-forum, but was often left wondering where the Buddha was in the rude and critical remarks that seemed to abound there. So I turned to books as a better source. I figured if people couldn't act as the Buddha taught, why listen to them?

So I've acquired books by a dozen authors on as many schools or traditions to learn what I could about the breadth of Buddhism. But I keep returning to the Suttas, Ajhan Chah and Thai Forest, and some of the Chan patriarchs to study and practice. But overall, I no longer acquire books on different traditions or interpretations, and try to spend no time at all on debates over what is "right" correct or "true." Sharing understandings with an accepting audience = valuable. Arguing who is right = waste of time that could be better spent in practice.

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Re: Teachers

Postby Reductor » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:28 am

Compared to many on this forum I'm completely ignorant. This stems from being a slow reader :tongue: Oh, if only it weren't so true!

When I restarted into the practice I was not too sure where to start, so I began with the stuff on accesstoinsight. Since Thanissaro is the principal translator, I ended up reading some of his material out of respect for him, but soon ventured to the little from his teacher, and then to reading his teacher's teacher (Ajahn Lee). Other than Than's "Wings to awakening" and Lees meditation books, I have read next to zero commentary either traditional or modern.

What I did do was dig into the Nikaya's, which I found difficult at first. I believe this difficulty that people express in regard to the canon stems mainly from a few things: a) the canon is large, so the details are scattered, b) there are indeed a lot of details, c) there is a belief that one has to master all those details before they can practice properly and, d) people are impatient.

Modern writers shake the details out of the canon, organize them and then tell you which are the most important (in their view). The format is short and to the point, so the reader can get to practice quickly. The only sacrifice is that if the writer is wrong, the reader is wrong also. Not a big problem, so long as the reader doesn't neglect to studying the canon on their own, as a check against their other sources of information.

And now I stamp this post with a big ol' IMHO.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

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To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Teachers

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:39 am

Hi thereductor,
thereductor wrote:Modern writers shake the details out of the canon, organize them and then tell you which are the most important (in their view). The format is short and to the point, so the reader can get to practice quickly. The only sacrifice is that if the writer is wrong, the reader is wrong also. Not a big problem, so long as the reader doesn't neglect to studying the canon on their own, as a check against their other sources of information.

Thanks, that's a good summary. And some of these reasons is why I really appreciate the Sutta translations, and the anthology "In the Buddha's Words", by Bhikkhu Bodhi. He always seems quite clear which comments he includes in his introductory material and footnotes are from the Commentaries, which are from other modern writers, and which are his own opinion.

Of course, unless one reads Pali fluently and has made an intensive study of the Suttas, one is always at the mercy of the translator in determining the meaning of some passages... It's not just a matter of language, it's interpreting what is being referred to in particular contexts. And in many threads here we can see quite startling variations between translations. Particularly in verse, such as in the Dhammapada...

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Re:

Postby Annapurna » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:44 am

altar wrote:I consider it like reading any other book or discussing here for instance. The difference is that these are often the words of very wise or knowledgaeable people... just as if you wanted to go down a thorny path, and someone might say, over here there are thorns, over there it is slippery, and so on, warning you about dangers they had traversed themselves, these people are knowledgeable about the dangers. The dangers must be... overcome.
So... another reason is that what is to worry about... Reading them taints your mind? Are you kidding? Your mind is getting tainted anyway!!! Have you stepped outside? Have you had a conversation recently? People and things are crazy... they are massively deluded... How are you going to get through samsara if you don't read these people? They are a part of the samsara we live in, dreadful though it may be...


Have you stepped outside? Have you had a conversation recently?


Are you asking me? Or generally asking?
As for me, as a tutor, plus working in the gastronomy, you can imagine that I speak with several people a day.


And this week, I am dealing with people like this:

People and things are crazy... they are massively deluded...How are you going to get through samsara if you don't read these people? They are a part of the samsara we live in, dreadful though it may be...


Only one detail: Leaving windows open when heavy thunderstorms are announced, so flats and carpets get flooded....everything else is just as stupid, sorry to say. Absolutely asleep with eyes wide open, I often feel like herding small children. Returning at night so noisily they wake up everybody else in the house....inconsiderate and selfish...

Anyhow...

consider it like reading any other book or discussing here for instance. The difference is that these are often the words of very wise or knowledgaeable people... just as if you wanted to go down a thorny path, and someone might say, over here there are thorns, over there it is slippery, and so on, warning you about dangers they had traversed themselves, these people are knowledgeable about the dangers.


Cool... :anjali:
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Re: Teachers

Postby Annapurna » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:53 am

mikenz66 wrote:I think they are difficult. At least, to put into practise properly.



Yes, theory and practice are like the 2 hands of a person, sometimes the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing....sure.

Or, like the heart and the mind of a person.

What the mind has understood, intellectually, as important, may not show in his behaviour/heart yet.

But you are right, some aspects of the Dhamma are hard to understand, depending on the individual.

As the Buddha taught:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"As for the individual who has attained neither internal tranquillity of awareness nor insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, he should approach an individual who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment... and ask him, 'How should the mind be steadied? How should it be made to settle down? How should it be unified? How should it be concentrated? How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?'
Mike


Ty,

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