Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Jun 14, 2011 12:00 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:But what if you teach something which is beyond your current state of practice - and someone further along the path than you, benefits? :shrug:


Good point. I'm sometimes surprised by the connections that people make. Though trying to communicate Dharma both accurately and at an appropriate level can sometimes feel like a real challenge. :juggling: :smile:

Spiny


I think you just got to try your best, and 'let karma take care of the rest'.

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:39 pm

rowyourboat wrote:I think you just got to try your best, and 'let karma take care of the rest'.



I'm secretly hoping that somebody better qualified will turn up and take over... ;)
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:06 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:I think you just got to try your best, and 'let karma take care of the rest'.



I'm secretly hoping that somebody better qualified will turn up and take over... ;)


:jumping: I think we run the risk of trying to almost do their meditation for them. :smile:

This only leads (over the long term) to meditators not wanting to take responsibility for their own practice and blaming you when their meditation isn't working. Wonderful.
:console:

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:53 pm

rowyourboat wrote: :jumping: I think we run the risk of trying to almost do their meditation for them. :smile:



Some of the new people who come along have had a bit of experience with those guided meditations where somebody yaks on soothingly and you don't really have to do much yourself. So for some of them 20 minutes mindfulness of breathing probably seems too much like hard work.

Things aren't what they used to be. ;-)

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Jun 16, 2011 10:52 pm

I heard Ven Premasiri (one of Sri Lankas senior forest monks) saying that standards have slipped because they meditated only 10 hours a day, at the local Mahasi centre. :) which leads me to talk about role models/learning by observing the teacher. I guess the teacher by guiding meditations or discussing (or showing) how he would approach things, guides the students to learn by modelling themselves after the teacher. Ven Dhammajiva used to say if you were a half baked potato your students would be as well :broke: .

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby daverupa » Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:30 am

rowyourboat wrote:I heard Ven Premasiri (one of Sri Lankas senior forest monks) saying that standards have slipped because they meditated only 10 hours a day


:heart: :heart: :heart:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sat Jun 18, 2011 9:00 am

rowyourboat wrote: I guess the teacher by guiding meditations or discussing (or showing) how he would approach things, guides the students to learn by modelling themselves after the teacher.


Yes, that makes sense. Maybe it's partly about personal preference. When working with beginners I tend to keep things simple, and to just do some basic "guidance" at the beginning of a meditation session, pointing people in the right direction. But I'm always learning. :smile:

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:45 am

Hi Spiny,

With beginners, as you say, keep it simple! Considering we should teach them step by step, showing the connections, I introduce the Sila, Samadhi, Panna 'pyramid', showing how each one serves as a foundation for the latter -panna being at the top of the pyramid. This is a nice simple format, but detailed enough not to leave key bits out (vs 'just be mindful, that is) but not too complex for a beginner. Once they are well on their way to practicing those components (except perhaps vipassana, but generally doing samatha), I introduce the Noble Eightfold Path. This would include them going away and reading up on the N8FP if not the Maha catarisaka sutta (the latter tells you how to 'convert' any other path into the N8FP). So I would have them looking and evaluating their world view against mundane or supramundane right view. Leading on from that, what kind of intentions that gives rise to- intentions about how they keep their precepts, becoming a better person, becoming mindful, developing concentration, insight and release.

That in itself should keep them busy for most of their lives! I make it a point to encourage them to explore the suttas, review their own practice, be honest with themselves about their morality, mindfulness, concentration etc in comparison to the suttas (and with me, when they discuss their 'achievements'!). It's important not to let anyone feel they are lagging behind -I tend to remind them that it is not a competition (except perhaps, with themselves)and we all start where we start (you will develop your own style of doing this, I think). I even get them to read up a topic/sutta at home, ask them to ponder over it, have a think about how they can put it into practice and having done so, feedback to the class how they found the particular sutta/topic useful for their practice. Sri Lankan students have a tendency to faithfully listen to their teachers (without even asking a single question sometimes!) and then forget about it all once they leave the building :). So I have been emphasizing the need to not just listen to dhamma talks (that is, not just use them for 'spiritual entertainment'!) but rather listen to them as someone giving instructions for practice - that is actively ponder while listening to the talk how this can be 'converted' unto something that can be practiced. I cant say I have had perfect 'results' but at the end of the day everyone comes with their mixed bag of implements and people are more/less capable in different areas of practice. In any case what we need to do is to make sure they have 1) the right attitude towards the practice 2) the right intentions 3) adequate instruction on the practice techniques 4) some method/format to review their own practice 5) provide the theoretical framework, so that they are following a clear plan of practice (nyayapatipanno)/other helpful bits of dhamma knowledge 6) be available when they need one to one time.

This is how I run the classes that I do - oh and be responsive to the needs of the group - so you may vary what you teach.

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Mon Jun 20, 2011 8:55 am

rowyourboat wrote:This is how I run the classes that I do - oh and be responsive to the needs of the group - so you may vary what you teach.



Thanks, some useful ideas here.

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby Aloka » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:41 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Hi bosom,......



Er... I know that's often the first place men look when they meet a woman, but isn't 'bodom' a man ? :D


with kind wishes,

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:58 pm

Perhaps he was navel-gazing but got waylaid.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:33 pm

Aloka wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:Hi bosom,......



Er... I know that's often the first place men look when they meet a woman,

with kind wishes,

Aloka


Hi Spiny,

Here is an interesting case example - what can you say about Aloka's state of mind from this comment? What dhamma does (s)he need to hear? :rofl:

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby Aloka » Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:17 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:Perhaps he was navel-gazing but got waylaid.


Good point, Sanghamitta ! :twothumbsup:

.....Oh - and I'm a 'she,' Matheesha !....and its more to do with often observing that men's eyes don't always reach one's face at first, rather than my general state of mind .

Sorry - back to topic again.


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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:00 pm

Hi Aloka

No problem. Sanghamitta can be quite funny at times.

:focus:

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:23 am

Aloka wrote:and its more to do with often observing that men's eyes don't always reach one's face at first,


I thought men looking down was a mark of subservience.... :jumping:

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:11 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Aloka wrote:and its more to do with often observing that men's eyes don't always reach one's face at first,


I thought men looking down was a mark of subservience.... :jumping:

Spiny


Hmm maybe that rule needs to be revised - nowadays maybe all they see when they do that, is cleavage. :tongue:

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Jun 23, 2011 11:07 pm

The Buddha was not averse to stating what was painful to hear. He was asked if he ever used harsh speech - he said he did- if it meant that kusala (the wholesome) would arise in the person he addressed in that manner, as a result. This is of course sometimes required, with difficult students. Once again though, we must be careful of the motives behind this type of speech- it might be based on craving or ego, rather than metta or equanimity (easier with the latter).

Interestingly, one of the harshest punishments you could get as a monk was what was called 'brahmadanda' : other monks were asked not to speak with the offending monk! This happened to Ven Channa who was too conceited to listen to any instruction he was given. I suppose harshest punishment was to be thrown out of the monkhood.

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Jun 24, 2011 8:31 am

rowyourboat wrote:The Buddha was not averse to stating what was painful to hear. He was asked if he ever used harsh speech - he said he did- if it meant that kusala (the wholesome) would arise in the person he addressed in that manner, as a result. This is of course sometimes required, with difficult students. Once again though, we must be careful of the motives behind this type of speech- it might be based on craving or ego, rather than metta or equanimity (easier with the latter).


Yes, and unless we know somebody really well it's difficult to judge what effect our words will have.

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:50 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:The Buddha was not averse to stating what was painful to hear. He was asked if he ever used harsh speech - he said he did- if it meant that kusala (the wholesome) would arise in the person he addressed in that manner, as a result. This is of course sometimes required, with difficult students. Once again though, we must be careful of the motives behind this type of speech- it might be based on craving or ego, rather than metta or equanimity (easier with the latter).


Yes, and unless we know somebody really well it's difficult to judge what effect our words will have.

Spiny


True - we must be mindful when we speak I guess - are we doing it because of unwholesome intentions, or do we really want the good of the other.. we need to focus in on our minds, if we are to engage in the use of harsher speech.

"Mahanama, inasmuch as a lay follower is possessed of faith himself, and rouses others to possess faith; is possessed of virtue himself, and rouses others to possess virtue; is possessed of liberality himself, and rouses others to possess liberality; is himself desirous of meeting with monks, and rouses others to meet with monks; is himself desirous of hearing the true Dhamma, and rouses others to hear the true Dhamma; is himself habitually mindful of the Dhamma that is heard, and rouses others to be mindful of the Dhamma; is himself ascertained of the meaning/benefit of the Dhamma that is heard, and rouses others to ascertain the meaning/benefit; having known the meaning/benefit, having known the Dhamma, is himself committed to the practice according to the Dhamma, and rouses others to be committed to the practice according to the Dhamma; in that way, Mahanama, a lay follower is engaged in his own welfare and in others' welfare."

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

The above sutta has a nice framework of the kinds of teaching we must do with others. It is not only stating dhamma facts, but so much more, as can be seen. This whole framework of how one goes about practicing the dhamma must be taught, as a skills set.

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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:38 am

rowyourboat wrote:The above sutta has a nice framework of the kinds of teaching we must do with others. It is not only stating dhamma facts, but so much more, as can be seen. This whole framework of how one goes about practicing the dhamma must be taught, as a skills set.


Yes, I think it's about leading by example - that can be a good practice in itself. So it's walking the walk, not just talking the talk... ;-)

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