Attainment as Qualification to Teach?

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Re: Attainment as Qualification to Teach?

Post by DNS » Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:07 am

AdvaitaJ wrote: I would almost certainly be skeptical of anyone who publicly claimed any level of attainment so I can't imagine ever "knowing" about a teacher.
:thumbsup:
The issue for me is that I now know the opposite. This means that despite years and years of practice and having been ordained in SE Asia, this particular teacher may have missed something along the way and could unintentionally cause my practice to likewise not progress as it might.
Maybe he (I assume 'he' since you mentioned ordained in Thailand :tongue: ) was a scholar monk? Scholar monks do great merit, but often don't have the time to spend on their own practice. Two great examples:

Buddhaghosa, author of Visuddhimagga and other commentaries only hoped to be reborn to a heavenly realm and later learn from the next Buddha, Metteyya. It was because he had spent so much time writing the commentaries and analyzing the Dhamma.

Bhikkhu Bodhi mentioned in an interview, years ago, that he had not advanced much in his own practice due to the time he had spent over the years translating texts and other writings.

Obviously the above two monks gained great merit with their works and were / are very proficient in the Tipitaka / Dhamma.

Stream entry is difficult to attain, even though listed as a 'first stage' of enlightenment. Perhaps a better question might be: has this teacher helped you and have you benefited from his teachings and guidance?
I am not elderly, but none of us has time to waste!
:thumbsup: Mindfulness of death and our mortality is a good practice so it is good to realize the seriousness of practice.
It's probably a poor analogy, but would you want to take pilot lessons from someone who hasn't got their own pilot license?
Perhaps a better analogy is: Is it okay to have a sports coach training you in a sport who never won a championship as a player? And based on numerous examples, including Vince Lombardi, John Madden, and others in the U.S., the answer appears to be; yes.

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Re: Attainment as Qualification to Teach?

Post by cooran » Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:00 am

Hello David,
David said: Buddhaghosa, author of Visuddhimagga and other commentaries only hoped to be reborn to a heavenly realm and later learn from the next Buddha, Metteyya. It was because he had spent so much time writing the commentaries and analyzing the Dhamma.

Bhikkhu Bodhi mentioned in an interview, years ago, that he had not advanced much in his own practice due to the time he had spent over the years translating texts and other writings.
My understanding from Bhikkhu Bodhi is that he had a problem with crippling headaches which interfered with meditation. I know a friend of mine took him to an acupuncturist in Hong Kong for assistance. Could you link to a reference about he had not advanced much in his own practice due to the time he had spent over the years translating texts and other writings - as well as to the statement about Buddhaghosa?

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Attainment as Qualification to Teach?

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:22 am

Hi Chris,

Here's the interview you're thinking of, I think.
http://es-es.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=140960493146" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
What sort of training have you had in meditation practice?

During my early years in Sri Lanka I did very little intensive meditation. This was not my ordination teacher’s mode of practice; he integrated regular periods of meditation into his day-to-day life. When I later practiced intensive retreats on my own, I used anapana-sati [mindfulness of breathing] as my sole meditation subject. But after some time, I found my mind became dry and rigid, and I felt the need to soften and enrich it with other types of meditation. Thus, at different times and under different circumstances, I learned the practices that constitute the “four protective meditations”: recollection of the Buddha, the meditation on loving kindness, the contemplation of the repugnant nature of the body, and the recollection of death. Throughout my life as a monk I have made extensive use of these four meditation subjects. I have also done occasional extended retreats at hermitages in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. Regretfully, though, because of my poor merits and the debilitating headache condition, I have not reached any attainments worthy of a true practitioner.
Personally, I would not want to make judgements about the attainments of Venerables Bhodhi and Buddhagosa.
Or my teachers. I don't want to fall into the "my teacher has more attainments than your teacher" thinking.

Metta
Mike

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Re: Attainment as Qualification to Teach?

Post by catmoon » Fri Nov 20, 2009 8:13 am

Attainments are not a problem - unless you surpass your teacher!

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Re: Attainment as Qualification to Teach?

Post by DNS » Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:42 pm

Chris wrote: My understanding from Bhikkhu Bodhi is that he had a problem with crippling headaches which interfered with meditation. I know a friend of mine took him to an acupuncturist in Hong Kong for assistance. Could you link to a reference about he had not advanced much in his own practice due to the time he had spent over the years translating texts and other writings - as well as to the statement about Buddhaghosa?
Hi Chris,

The interview linked by Mike from facebook was posted this year, but is actually a much older interview:

http://www.dharma.org/ij/archives/2002b ... _bodhi.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I think there was another interview with him saying the same things in Tricycle several years ago. Since that time, I am sure he has much more chance for practice. In any event, as I mention in my post, he is clearly highly proficient in the Dhamma.

Buddhaghosa apparently mentions his desire for a heavenly realm in the epilogue to the Visudhimagga:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhaghosa#Critics" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Attainment as Qualification to Teach?

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:36 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
Chris wrote: Buddhaghosa apparently mentions his desire for a heavenly realm in the epilogue to the Visudhimagga:
Yes, I'm aware that some people have negative views about Buddhagosa and the ancient commentaries but I don't see the relevance to the question of how to choose a teacher.

Metta
Mike

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Re: Attainment as Qualification to Teach?

Post by DNS » Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:48 pm

mikenz66 wrote: Yes, I'm aware that some people have negative views about Buddhagosa and the ancient commentaries but I don't see the relevance to the question of how to choose a teacher.
Hi Mike,

I mentioned how some monks are scholar monks and may not have had much time for practice, but were still very proficient in the Dhamma and attained much merit. Chris asked for a reference for Buddhaghosa wishing only for a heavenly realm and I provided that link-reference.

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Re: Attainment as Qualification to Teach?

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Nov 20, 2009 8:02 pm

David N. Snyder wrote: I mentioned how some monks are scholar monks and may not have had much time for practice, but were still very proficient in the Dhamma and attained much merit.
Yes, but presumably those monks don't usually put themselves forward as meditation teachers. Bhikkhu Bohdi doesn't "sell" himself as a meditation instructor, as far as I recall.

To return to the topic: The teachers that I have had personal interaction with who I find particularly helpful are monastics who prepared with years of meditation practise. They have obviously experienced anything I have so far come up against, and so can provide excellent guidance. To me, that's the key, rather than exactly what their attainments are.

Metta
Mike

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Re: Attainment as Qualification to Teach?

Post by Dhammanando » Sat Nov 21, 2009 4:39 am

Hi David,
David N. Snyder wrote:Buddhaghosa apparently mentions his desire for a heavenly realm in the epilogue to the Visudhimagga:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhaghosa#Critics" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
It is Buddhaghosa's editor who expresses a wish to be reborn in heaven and later meet the Buddha Metteyya. Dhammika, like Nyanavira before him, confuses the scribe's colophon with that of Buddhaghosa himself.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando

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Re: Attainment as Qualification to Teach?

Post by DNS » Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:18 am

Dhammanando wrote: It is Buddhaghosa's editor who expresses a wish to be reborn in heaven and later meet the Buddha Metteyya. Dhammika, like Nyanavira before him, confuses the scribe's colophon with that of Buddhaghosa himself.

Hi Bhante,

Okay, thanks! I hope you are around to stay regularly to clear up some of these issues / mistakes! As you can see, you have been missed around here.

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Re: Attainment as Qualification to Teach?

Post by Laurens » Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:21 pm

I heard Ajahn Jayasaro mention that even being an arahant does not necessarily make one a good teacher, if you aren't the kind of person that can teach people anyway, realising the Dhamma doesn't mean that you would suddenly have the ability to be a great teacher.

I guess this means a good teacher is a good teacher, regardless of where they are on the path.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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Re: Attainment as Qualification to Teach?

Post by Cittasanto » Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:36 pm

Laurens wrote:I heard Ajahn Jayasaro mention that even being an arahant does not necessarily make one a good teacher, if you aren't the kind of person that can teach people anyway, realising the Dhamma doesn't mean that you would suddenly have the ability to be a great teacher.

I guess this means a good teacher is a good teacher, regardless of where they are on the path.
Ajahn Chah talks about this in one of the books of his talks also,

It seams to me that there are 3 kinds of Buddha, and all three can be called Arahants.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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