Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
nathan
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Post by nathan » Sun Jul 19, 2009 11:47 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings SamKR,

I think your approach is a good one, although Peter has done well to point out some of the "unintended influences" that may come through from such an approach, despite your best efforts. I think the best tool you can have to complement this approach is to be completely honest with yourself, otherwise you might let your own prejudices colour your perception.

Metta,
Retro. :)
That's a very good point. Your thinking and your feeling don't even belong to you. That's the way I look at it, those are just chains that I have to drag around for now. At least with that gear I more or less pass for just another guy in the crowd. No one needs to know that I'm not buying my own story.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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kc2dpt
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Post by kc2dpt » Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:31 am

SamKR wrote:I do not want to stick to any particular tradition or teacher for whole life
Nothing in Buddhism says you have to. If someone does tell you that you have to commit to them for life then I think you are right to be wary of that person.

I think there is a wide gap between on the one hand committing to a teacher for one's whole life and on the other hand being willing to learn what a teacher has to teach for a few months or a few years to get into it in depth and see where it leads and on the third hand refusing to commit to anything but your own guidance. This last choice is basically handing the reins over to one's ego, exactly what we should be trying to avoid.
There are many traditions and teachers who claim they are teaching what the Buddha really taught (as you said). It's overwhelming.
Perhaps it is overwhelming if you believe only one of them can be right, or only one of them can be useful.
Exactly, that's why I started this thread. I want to know if my decision sounds to be unwholesome.
I don't know you, I don't know your mind, but when someone says to me "I do not want to learn what people have studied and taught and practiced for hundreds of years; I want to go back to the source texts and figure it out on my own" and this person does not already have decades of experience studying and practicing then yes this decision seems to me more likely based in unwholesome qualities.
I do not want to be committed to only one tradition or teacher (like we have to be in Goenkaji's tradition--that we must follow specific instructions in meditation--which I believe is a little bit different from Pali Tipitaka).
If you feel a teacher does not teach Buddhadhamma then that is a good reason to find another teacher. But to get benefit from any teacher it is best to commit to a serious effort at what they have to teach. To flit around, a little here a little there, as you feel inclined is not a good thing; it is handing the reins to the ego. There is absolutely nothing wrong with spending some time with a teacher, giving it an honest effort, and then deciding to move on. If you don't approve of Goenka then find another teacher. But it sounds like your experience with this one tradition has soured you on all teachers and traditions. This is fear and aversion.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

SamKR
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Post by SamKR » Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:13 am

Peter wrote:Perhaps it is overwhelming if you believe only one of them can be right, or only one of them can be useful.
I have not said that only one of them can be right or useful.
I don't know you, I don't know your mind, but when someone says to me "I do not want to learn what people have studied and taught and practiced for hundreds of years; I want to go back to the source texts and figure it out on my own" and this person does not already have decades of experience studying and practicing then yes this decision seems to me more likely based in unwholesome qualities.
That's the answer I was seeking.
Peter, I think you are right. I realize that we need guidance of experienced living teacher (at least for meditation practice). So, I am willing to have any experienced living teacher(s) who teach(es) based on the suttas.
If you feel a teacher does not teach Buddhadhamma then that is a good reason to find another teacher. But to get benefit from any teacher it is best to commit to a serious effort at what they have to teach. To flit around, a little here a little there, as you feel inclined is not a good thing; it is handing the reins to the ego. There is absolutely nothing wrong with spending some time with a teacher, giving it an honest effort, and then deciding to move on. If you don't approve of Goenka then find another teacher. But it sounds like your experience with this one tradition has soured you on all teachers and traditions. This is fear and aversion.
Just to be clear, I actually liked Goenkaji's style very much. But when I compared it to the Sutta, I found that the meditation instructions were somewhat different (my perception). Same thing is true for other Vipassana traditions. But I think Goenka's method is very good because I have seen many people who have had benefits following him.
Last edited by SamKR on Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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mikenz66
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:15 am

SamKR wrote: Just to be clear, I actually liked Goenkaji's style very much. But when I compared it to the Sutta, I found that the meditation instructions were somewhat different. Same thing is true for other Vipassana traditions.
Not wanting to support or defend anything in particular, but most of these "vipassana" instructions are based on the Satipatthana Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .soma.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Goenka's anapanasati is just standard mindfulness of breathing, and the body scanning just emphasises particular aspects of mindfulness of body and mindfulness of feeling. Other teachers may emphasise walking meditation, and bring in mind states and mind objects sooner than Goenka does. There are numerous exercises there, so any one teacher teaches a small subset.

Metta
Mike

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kc2dpt
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Post by kc2dpt » Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:29 pm

SamKR wrote:
Peter wrote:Perhaps it is overwhelming if you believe only one of them can be right, or only one of them can be useful.
I have not said that only one of them can be right or useful.
No, you haven't. That was my guess as to why you feel overwhelmed. Could you explain why you feel overwhelmed?
I don't know you, I don't know your mind, but when someone says to me "I do not want to learn what people have studied and taught and practiced for hundreds of years; I want to go back to the source texts and figure it out on my own" and this person does not already have decades of experience studying and practicing then yes this decision seems to me more likely based in unwholesome qualities.
That's the answer I was seeking.
Peter, I think you are right. I realize that we need guidance of experienced living teacher (at least for meditation practice). So, I am willing to have any experienced living teacher(s) who teach(es) based on the suttas.[/quote]
That's good. The suttas do not contain detailed meditation instructions. They contain very very brief instructions, a high level overview. More than any other aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path, I feel one needs a living teacher for detailed meditation instructions.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

mindfullmom
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Post by mindfullmom » Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:42 pm

Dear SamKR,

I totally understand what you are saying, I think. You want your direct experience of the Dhamma to be pure,to be your direct experience not based on someone else's perception or their direct experience then translated for you. Is that right?
I sometimes think the same thing and I am very mindful of how other's ideas effect my own, but then I came to realize that my ideas are not really my own anyway.

So here is my advise:

Recieve all teachings with an open heart, attach to none.

:namaste:

SamKR
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Post by SamKR » Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:40 am

Peter wrote:Could you explain why you feel overwhelmed?
Simply because different teachers have different approaches/methods, and interpretations of the same suttas/teaching.

But as I said earlier, I have come to realize that I need guidance of experienced living teacher(s). How fast this mind changes...!
Last edited by SamKR on Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

SamKR
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Post by SamKR » Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:43 am

mindfullmom wrote:Recieve all teachings with an open heart, attach to none.
Right

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kc2dpt
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Post by kc2dpt » Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:48 pm

I too have found it overwhelming. The dhamma isn't simple. It has many intertwined parts. But I think it does come together eventually. :reading: And even if it hasn't all come together, there are still things one can do to develop small parts of the path.

Just my opinion. I don't think it's anything to stress about. Bit by bit we can chip away at the defilements.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

Mothra
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Post by Mothra » Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:05 am

This is a very helpful and interesting thread. I too am struggling with trying to distinguish what teaching is "authentic" and what is misguided. So far I've gone the route of trying to study the Tipitaka on my own but I would probably benefit a lot by studying with an experienced teacher. There is a Vispassana retreat offered where I live but it is too expensive for me.

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Dan74
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Re: Buddha/Pali Tipitaka as the only Teacher?

Post by Dan74 » Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:29 am

From my skewed vantage point as a Zen (Son) Buddhist practitioner, it seems unwise to practice on one's own without direct guidance of a living teacher. Not because the Pali Canon is missing something but because it is very easy to misunderstand and misapply the teachings.

In meditation it is very easy to reinforce the self or a subtler version of it, rather that see into the whole charade. In study it is very easy to convert the suttas and their knowledge to just another "feather in the cap", spiritual materialism or what have you, instead of using the pointers therein to see into delusion and deconstruct habitual attitudes and ways of seeing, thinking and acting. In life, it is too easy to misuse the teachings and distance yourself from the pain and unpleasant stimuli under the pretext of equanimity, become aloof and indifferent, instead of clear-headed and compassionate.

In short, the defilement are many, their roots run deep. To cut the defiled mind with defiled mind is risky business indeed. The Dhamma is a sharp sword but who is wielding it?

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