Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

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DNS
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Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by DNS »

Piya Tan has a good blog post today, which includes the following excerpts:
Buddhism may be said to be the fastest growing religion in the world: it certainly is in Australia. But then, we can question what is meant by “growth.” We can say that growth means that the Buddha Dhamma has taken root in our country and culture as it has done in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, and SE Asia generally.

Good as that may be, we can see today very few Sinhala monks actually keep to the Vinaya; some of their monks openly teach intolerance and violence against other religions, and many of them are gainfully employed as lecturers, own extensive properties etc. In Myanmar, too, we see some upheavals of religious intolerance, but all seems controlled for the moment. The Thai Buddhist sangha has been troubled by scandals of sex, drugs, violence and cults, and the monsters of these problems are just lurking and growing in the shadows.

....

Cult Buddhisms

We have great monks and nuns who are world-famous teachers of Buddhism here and there. In the 1950s-60s, a western priest, Sumangalo, did great work in Malaysia and Singapore. He was, however, not properly trained, joined a number of orders (Theravada, Shin and Mahayana), but never kept his nissaya (no basic training). When he died, his work died with him, too. This was always the pattern.

Today, we have great names like Thich Nhat Hanh, Brahmavamso and so on. They have millions of followers, who revere them first, then Buddhism. My point is that Thich is old and dying. Brahmavamso is reaching 70. When they die, it’s just a matter of time, when their followers will also fizzle away.

In that case, they are cult Buddhisms since they are person-centred. When the person dies, his Buddhism also dies with him. We should practise a Dhamma-centred teaching based on the suttas, which goes back to the Buddha and the early saints. That is why the Buddha advises us to follow the teaching not the teacher.

Teaching above teacher

However, when we train ourselves in the Buddha Dhamma itself, not promoting nor following the charisma of Teachers, then, we will become a world Buddhism (not the Teaching of this or that Guru) that can bring great human, social and spiritual changes to the world. Now, we are merely standing on the Buddha’s shoulders (or head) to reach up to the great teachers we admire, but not nurturing the Teaching that the Buddha has bequeathed to us.

This reflection is a simple reminder: the Teaching must come before the Teacher; the Dhamma before Cults; we should be cool ourself in Dhamma, not fan the Gurus.

We deserve the kind of Buddhism we get. We should work for the best Dhamma, that brings us closer to the path of awakening in this life itself.
I agree with Piya Tan. Many traditions of Buddhism tend to say "first find yourself a teacher." But what if the teacher you find is no good? Or what if he is involved in scandals and other inappropriate behavior? I was fortunate to find some good teachers, especially Ven. Punnaji, but not all are so lucky. That is why I think Dhamma is best, Dhamma is the best refuge. And for that we can read and study the Dhamma, the Suttas, the Pali Canon. And commentaries, if you have access and interest.
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by SarathW »

In my opinion, Dhamma alone will not do the trick.
For instance, I have no clue about re-birth, final Nibbana and Kamma / Vipaka etc.
If there was no Buddha only this Dhamma, I will not accept them.
We take many teaching on faith, not with our own experience.
So, first, we should have a teacher who we can trust that the teaching is true.
However, for a Buddhist, if you keep anyone other than Buddha as the teacher could be a disappointment.
Every person other than Buddha should be considered as your spiritual friend. (Kalyana Mitta)

Piya Tan is a great Kalyana Mitta.
But if any one kept him as a teacher would have been very dissaponted.
His view is a reflection of his own draw backs. ("I am a failed teacher, so don't follow me but follow my teaching. Don't even keep Buddha as your teacher")
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Post by sunnat »

Bhikku Khantipalo, in Wheel publication 83/84 "With Robes and Bowl" writes :


"The Triple Gem or the Three Precious Ones are the highest ideals of the Buddhadhamma. To the Lord Buddha, to the Holy Dhamma (Teaching) and to the Noble Sangha (Order of Monks) are given veneration by all Buddhists since they aspire to mould their lives according to the qualities represented by these three ideals."


The key words being the qualities of ideals. The quality of a Buddha (the teacher), the quality of the Dhamma (the teaching), the quality of the Sangha (the taught).



The Kalamas Sutta, gives further instruction to help determine quality.


Once one applies these simple guidelines (plus keeping in mind the one applying the guidelines as well as a person the guidelines are applied to is likely tainted by some degree of self grasping and thus handicapped by such tendencies as projecting the personal onto the other) it becomes easier to separate the person from the ideal qualities. Like many things time will tell. And what is wrong with that?
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

It seems Piya Tan [knowingly or unknowingly] distorted image of the Teachers, presenting from a filtered perspective, so as to exclude Sangha as one refuge, of the triple gems (even tho Sangha may be defined differently).

Here, above, David said: "Dhamma is the best refuge." I see no problem in that, because he is not a new-comer, imo.

For the beginners, it seems that approach would probably lead to "Dhamma is the only refuge." where Dhamma is defined and interpreted by his own insufficient understandings and ultimately leading to secularish-degraded-distorted-Buddha-Dhamma.


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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by SteRo »

If you can't make sense of the teachings don't expect a teacher to make sense for you. Just go elsewhere. Either one is a vessel for the teachings or one isn't.
Exhaling अ and inhaling धीः amounts to བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by Caodemarte »

I doubt that sincere followers of Thich Nhst Hahn will fade away after his death or that he is leading a cult of personality. He is rock solid in his sophisticated understanding of Buddhism, something often misunderstood because of the gentle and simple language he uses.
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by mikenz66 »

I don't see why it has to be a choice between the two extremes of "guru worship" vs. "just read the texts".

People are obviously different, but I find it hard to imagine making much progress without some interactions with actual teachers. And I don't buy this idea that there are only a few real teachers who understand the Dhamma. That's just another "guru worship" attitude.

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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by Dan74 »

These teachers have created and nourished flourishing monasteries and centres. Once they go, thousands of practitioners will carry on sincere Dhamma practice thanks to their inspiration and teaching.

For a few, it may be about personalities and charisma, but for many who were deeply touched by the wisdom they've shared, it is about much more than that.

I think Piya Tan sees only the surface. Charisma and a high profile do not have to be about the ego. They are a means to the end - to help bring people to the Dhamma. I don't think people like the ones she mentioned, cultivate their high profiles for the sake of gratifying their egos. It is a giving, a sacrifice sometimes, and I've read about a number of very high profile teachers who gratefully disappeared into obscurity when they could. Rather than project our vanity onto the Dhamma teachers, it's good to fill our hearts with gratitude for the tireless work that they do.

And as for having teachers, well, they've been solo practitioners and they will continue to be some. Good luck to them. From my experience, there are too many pitfalls and wayward paths to negotiate on one's own. In the absence of a wise kalyana-mitta, the deluded self-seeking almost inevitably finds a way to guide us towards the garden path. We remain stuck with the grasping habits, or cling to some insight or experience and build an even subtler self around them.
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

mikenz66 wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 5:35 am I don't see why it has to be a choice between the two extremes of "guru worship" vs. "just read the texts".

People are obviously different, but I find it hard to imagine making much progress without some interactions with actual teachers. And I don't buy this idea that there are only a few real teachers who understand the Dhamma. That's just another "guru worship" attitude.

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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,
Piya Tan wrote:we should be cool ourself in Dhamma
😎👌

Good post.

The best Buddhist teachers teach the Buddha's Dhamma rather than a custom Buddhism, technique or ideology. If these accretions fall away after the death of their originator, then this no bad thing.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by SarathW »

retrofuturist wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 7:02 am Greetings,
Piya Tan wrote:we should be cool ourself in Dhamma
😎👌

Good post.

The best Buddhist teachers teach the Buddha's Dhamma rather than a custom Buddhism, technique or ideology. If these accretions fall away after the death of their originator, then this no bad thing.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Perhaps I mis-undertood the OP.
So does he consider Buddha as the teacher?
or
Is he referring to Kalyanamitta as the teacher?
Actually what teacher he is talking about?


Who is the Buddha in Three refuges?

https://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.p ... 007&hilit=
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

Teacher for the teachings:


A key (by Piya Tan):
The single most helpful thing:
  • ... The single most helpful thing to understand the suttas is a good teacher. As it says in the Boat Sutta (Snp 2.8): ...
    https://suttacentral.net/start
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by samseva »

Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:32 am It seems Piya Tan [knowingly or unknowingly] distorted image of the Teachers, presenting from a filtered perspective, so as to exclude Sangha as one refuge, of the triple gems (even tho Sangha may be defined differently).

Here, above, David said: "Dhamma is the best refuge." I see no problem in that, because he is not a new-comer, imo.

For the beginners, it seems that approach would probably lead to "Dhamma is the only refuge." where Dhamma is defined and interpreted by his own insufficient understandings and ultimately leading to secularish-degraded-distorted-Buddha-Dhamma.
Piya Tan didn't distort anything. The Sangha should be seen as our equals and friends—either less or more advanced, as well as monastics—of which we can help out, or get guidance from, to progress on our own path.
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by samseva »

mikenz66 wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 5:35 am I don't see why it has to be a choice between the two extremes of "guru worship" vs. "just read the texts".
I think it's that a lot of followers, especially in more secular circles, almost entirely base their practice on a teacher. When the teacher dies, their practice takes a hit, and usually also fades away...
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

samseva wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 12:03 pm ... Piya Tan didn't distort anything. The Sangha should be seen as our equals and friends—either less or more advanced, ...
...

If not distorted, then good :thumbsup:


According to following both definitions, Sangha is way up above me, let alone being equal or less advanced:
  • Sangha. Community. This word has two levels of meaning:

    (1) on the ideal (arya) level, it denotes all of the Buddha’s followers, lay or ordained, who have at least attained the level of srotāpanna;

    (2) on the conventional (saṃvṛti) level, it denotes the orders of the Bhikṣus and Bhikṣunis.
    ...
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sangha#Definitions
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