Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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DNS
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by DNS »

Here is the paragraph preceding the quote I made above:

31. And the Blessed One recovered from that illness; and soon after his recovery he came out from his dwelling place and sat down in the shade of the building, on a seat prepared for him. Then the Venerable Ananda approached the Blessed One, respectfully greeted him, and sitting down at one side, he spoke to the Blessed One, saying: "Fortunate it is for me, O Lord, to see the Blessed One at ease again! Fortunate it is for me, O Lord, to see the Blessed One recovered! For truly, Lord, when I saw the Blessed One's sickness it was as though my own body became weak as a creeper, every thing around became dim to me, and my senses failed me. Yet, Lord, I still had some little comfort in the thought that the Blessed One would not come to his final passing away until he had given some last instructions respecting the community of bhikkhus."
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DooDoot
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by DooDoot »

Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:32 am 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.
Actually, it appears to be the opposite of whatever you are trying to say. Since most monks follow tradition about how to teach laypeople, the teaching generally heard from monks will be "secularised", i.e., for laypeople.
Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 11:41 am Teacher for the teachings:


A key (by Piya Tan):
Since the above refers to "our" ignorance & craving; that "we" are like prisoners; obviously there appears no understanding of anatta.
Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:32 amThe 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
The above remains chicken vs egg therefore not really relevant.
Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 2:37 pm
  • Phenomena are not "real refuge".

  • Reality is not "real refuge".
even if they happen to have the name dhammas/dhamma.
:|
Talking nonsense, when cultivated, developed, and practiced, leads to hell, the animal realm or the ghost realm.

Samphappalāpo, bhikkhave, āsevito bhāvito bahulīkato nirayasaṃvattaniko tiracchānayonisaṃvattaniko pettivisayasaṃvattaniko.

The minimum result it leads to for a human being is that no-one takes what you say seriously.

Yo sabbalahuso samphappalāpassa vipāko, manussabhūtassa anādeyyavācāsaṃvattaniko hoti.

https://suttacentral.net/an8.40/en/sujato#7.1
:alien:
Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 2:37 pm I'll stop the conversation here.
Please do. Thank you.
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mikenz66
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by mikenz66 »

SarathW wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 12:17 am My question is what is the meaning of the teacher?
For instance, if I by-heart all Sutta and preach, am I qualified to be called the (a) teacher?
A teacher or the teacher?
No.
:tongue:
SarathW
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by SarathW »

mikenz66 wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 4:02 am
SarathW wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 12:17 am My question is what is the meaning of the teacher?
For instance, if I by-heart all Sutta and preach, am I qualified to be called the (a) teacher?
A teacher or the teacher?
No.
:tongue:
Now you made me very dissaponted.

:jedi:
So what do I have to become a teacher?
“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 »

DNS wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 11:17 pm ...
no teacher is much better than having a very bad one.
...


:goodpost:
.


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mikenz66
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by mikenz66 »

I guess it's a question of how "good" a teacher or spiritual friend has to be to be helpful. Clearly if you seek perfection you'll be looking for a very long time. However, my observation is that it can be problematical to not have some teachers/friends who know you well enough to call you out on your misunderstandings from time to time. Of course, this goes for any field of study or practice...

:heart:
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Mahabrahma
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by Mahabrahma »

Dilligently get as many Spiritual Friends and Teachers as possible, we're all heading towards Enlightenment together :group: . However, rely on the Buddha-Nature within yourself and your own mind to understand Shakyamuni's Teachings, become as powerful as possible Spiritually, so that you will not be shaken, and fearless, full of compassion like the Buddha. :buddha1:
Dan74
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by Dan74 »

DNS wrote: Sat Oct 10, 2020 11:23 pm I have visited Deer Park, a TNH monastery near San Diego and found it a very nice place. One sort of "cultish" thing I found regarding guru-worship is that their library and bookstore contained hundreds of books -- all by TNH. There were no other authors, no Tripitaka.

However, it seems very well established and I think one of the senior nuns or monks will be able to take over after TNH's passing.

Ajahn Brahm is a very popular monk, but I think he is well established within the Theravada tradition and succession will also take a similar route when he passes; to a senior monastic.
I also find this somewhat unsettling, David.

On the other hand, I seriously doubt TNH had any hand in this. Did he actually write any of the books? I suspect (but I don't know for sure) that like so many other teachers, he gave talks that were recorded and then edited into books. Senior students sometimes create the "cult" around a teacher, while all the teacher is doing is giving as much as he or she can.
_/|\_
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by Caodemarte »

I would not worry about it. Many books are and have historically been written down by students from lectures. There is certainly no trace of cultishness or even sectarianism in TNH. TNH, coming from the specific Vietnamese Zen tradition, is highly educated in the Buddhist traditions, which he explicates wonderfully. It makes sense for a TNH center to sell his books for fundraising purposes and have a library of his works. Presumably people who go there do so because they have a strong interest in that. Hopefully, they will be moved to actual practice.
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Re: Piya Tan's Teaching above Teacher

Post by Bhikkhu_Jayasara »

People have preferences and proclivities, and they connect with people, not abstract ideas as it were.

It is no surprise that in the early texts the Buddha was good looking and had qualities that attracted people to him, at least long enough until the Dhamma could take precedence and lead to insight for the person(or not). The Buddha as a person, as a being, attracts people to this day, even in statue form in modern day.

If you understand the mind and human psychology, it is not a surprise that people are , at least initially, attracted by the messenger of the Dhamma(how they look, how well they talk and can convey messages etc). And in many spiritual traditions, in Buddhism and otherwise, this initial phase is never transcended, as the Guru is your key to liberation.

I have only been sharing Dhamma with people for four years, and I have already had to deal with people who call me their teacher and the like. During one retreat, my preceptor Bhante Gunaratana, stated that he was not the teacher, the Buddha was the teacher. He stated that he could be a kalyana mitta to people. I agree and follow this for myself as well, I have no wish to be someones guru or teacher, the Buddha is the teacher, and the Nikayas are his teaching, as best as we can have thousands of years later.

It is true I never saw Bhante G say " this is my student/disciple", but on the other hand he didn't actively discourage it like I try to, but then again I also realize its a losing battle, maybe he does as well after half a century of dealing with it :).

There is a wonderful scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian where Brian is becoming popular and has followers and he doesn't want any, he is trying to tell them " you don't have to follow me, you don't have to follow anyone".... and they blindly repeat him, then the more he is trying to talk to them about their own agency they larger his following grows and the more people follow him! this isn't even a parody or comedy, this is reality, but we still laugh at it as comedy because we realize how absurd we can be.


As for the famous monks empire after they die, well as far as I can tell the majority of them dissipate, unless one of the strong well liked disciples takes over, OR, if the teacher has setup the community as the system that survives, not the teacher. This is what the Buddha did in telling everyone that the Dhamma will be the teaching.

Ajahn Chah did something similar, he had all his monastics train in understanding how to run things, and setup a system that essentially didn't need him to be around to thrive and grow. Instead of keeping lots of disciples around him, when they were senior enough he kicked them back to their own countries or somewhere else and said " ok now start your own place". This, imo, is the wise way of dealing with things.
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