Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

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rowyourboat
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Post by rowyourboat » Sun Jun 12, 2011 4:08 am

How do we know how good or developed in their practice, our students are. The answer is- it is very difficult to know (see below):
AN 4.192 PTS: A ii 187
Thana Sutta: Traits
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1997–2011
"Monks, these four traits may be known by means of four [other] traits. Which four?

"It's through living together that a person's virtue may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.

"It's through dealing with a person that his purity may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.

"It's through adversity that a person's endurance may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.

"It's through discussion that a person's discernment may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
However, this does not mean we give up all hope! But rather it is a good opportunity to give the responsibility of the practice to the student- let them know themselves. Let them be honest- with themselves, if not you.. and work towards improving themselves. Often, the important thing is to keep them engaged with a group of kalyanamittas (spiritual friends). This way, with good positive influences all around them, over the years, they will start changing. Your task then, is to create an atmosphere of work, of effort, of right understanding, of honesty, of handing responsibility of practice back to the student.

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:29 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Point 1)refers to the structure or lists, Theravada is famous for. These allow people to categorise and store the teaching (er..remember!) in an easy to recall way. This makes it easier to have a handle on different elements of the dhamma. It helps retention.
I wonder if it also means taking things slowly at a measured pace, so that people can really understand? And allowing plenty of time for discussion.

Spiny

PS useful thread, thanks

rowyourboat
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Post by rowyourboat » Mon Jun 13, 2011 8:10 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:Point 1)refers to the structure or lists, Theravada is famous for. These allow people to categorise and store the teaching (er..remember!) in an easy to recall way. This makes it easier to have a handle on different elements of the dhamma. It helps retention.
I wonder if it also means taking things slowly at a measured pace, so that people can really understand? And allowing plenty of time for discussion.

Spiny

PS useful thread, thanks
Hi Spiny

Hmm.. that makes sense too. I think the steps (most lists are in some kind of a meaningful order) do help to understand it better- or at least they should be used that way, rather than as a random list to memorize (not that simply memorizing is entirely a bad thing..). I think it is helpful to consider other meanings of things simply because the Buddha is not around to clarify what he really meant.

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

rowyourboat
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Post by rowyourboat » Mon Jun 13, 2011 8:36 pm

If he recites many teachings, but
— heedless man —
doesn't do what they say,
like a cowherd counting the cattle of
others,
he has no share in the contemplative life.

If he recites next to nothing
but follows the Dhamma
in line with the Dhamma;
abandoning passion,
aversion, delusion;
alert,
his mind well-released,
not clinging
either here or hereafter:
he has his share in the contemplative life.
:) , lifted off another thread- just fortunate..

Yes, no point teaching, if you aren't practicing; even more so when your teaching is having a detrimental effect (ego, craving, getting into arguments ..general suffering) on your practice. But what if you teach something which is beyond your current state of practice - and someone further along the path than you, benefits? :shrug: I think it is up to all of us to get the teachings from where we can. ..and share it when we can - it doesn't mean we have to be enlightened to teach or that we must have practiced everything that we teach.. it is ok to repeat another's teaching in hopes that it helps someone...I think. That includes facilitating sessions, organizing sessions, reading out the suttas etc.

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Post by Spiny O'Norman » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:57 am

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

rowyourboat
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Post by 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'.

With metta

Matheesha
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& Upekkha

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Post by 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... ;)

rowyourboat
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Post by 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:

with metta

Matheesha
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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Post by 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. ;-)

Spiny

rowyourboat
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Post by 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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Matheesha
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daverupa
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Post by 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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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Post by 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:

Spiny

rowyourboat
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Post by 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.

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Post by 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.

Spiny

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Aloka
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Re: Teachin the dhamma, and teachers

Post by 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,

Aloka

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