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himanshu
14 Aug 11, 20:20
Hi,

I am from India, and I am looking for a teacher/school to learn from, and perhaps also volunteer for. Basically I am looking to spend a couple of months or more trying to further my understanding the mind and its training, while also contributing in whatever way I can to the establishment I go to, if possible. I am looking for possible recommendations/pointers from the folks here.

A brief background follows.
A mystical kind of experience I had a couple of years back set me on the path of spiritual seeking. After reading around and trying to refine/deepen my understanding, I found that I could connect most deeply with Buddhism, and its focus on the mind and suffering.

Some of the ideas/teachings completely make sense to me - like impermanence, dependent origination, interconnectedness, no-self, the origination of suffering in our minds, and hence its solution being in our minds too. However, there are others that I don't really understand yet - like what happens after death, and the doctrine about rebirth, and the importance of ending the cycle of birth and rebirth.

At a gross level, I feel that I am no longer prone to suffering, which means that whatever happens, I remain generally happy in life, and grateful for it, and that I can no longer get depressed whatever happens or bitter about the actions of someone. Yet, at a closer level, I find negative tendencies such as pride, envy, agitation, self-consciousness and greed still operating in their subtle forms. Even though I can totally see that there is nothing that I could call the self, yet I find myself associating my actions with pride or shame. I feel some of this is due to deeply ingrained habitual tendencies of wanting to please others and/or project a certain image of oneself, that have their roots in the past. But some of it is also due to presently existing impurities of the mind. I also have a bit of attention deficit disorder, which could either be the cause of, or the result of, an unstable mind, or perhaps both, to varying extents.

My self diagnosis, at the moment, consists of a gradual process of purification of the mind (the intent, motives, etc, ) and a training in concentration/one-pointedness/ attentional stability and vividness. I have being working on this two-pronged approach myself, and its going good, but I feel I have reached a plateau and that I could do better in the company of like minded people, and with a teacher for guidance.

A little "non spiritual" background:
I am 26, male, Indian. I have a background in Computer Science and IT. I worked for Microsoft in India for 2 years, and following a degree in the UK, for a couple of months in Bloomberg at London. Both of these were technical positions. I am fairly good at what I do. I mention this primarily because I wonder if my general ability with computers and programming might help me contribute to the establishment I go to (seeing as computers, websites, etc. are ubiquitous these days). Of course, I would be happy to do any other work as well, including unskilled work (anything, so long as I can meaningfully contribute). I have taken a break from working for now, so that I can devote some time to pursuing mind work/spiritual work full time. I am in no hurry to go back to full time employment.

Would you have any recommendations/pointers about how to go about doing this? I have read of people finding teachers/schools that they train under the guidance of, but I have never tried anything like this myself. Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Much love and thanks for your time,
Himanshu

Aloka
14 Aug 11, 20:53
Hi Himanshu,

It might be worthwhile you looking at Buddhanet's World Buddhist Directory for the area in India that you live in and then do a search for Buddhist centres/organisations from the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions as well as non-sectarian centres.
You could then select and investigate offline.

http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/country.php?country_id=42

Hope that helps.

With metta,

Aloka-D

himanshu
15 Aug 11, 12:37
Hi

Thanks for the link. It seems quite useful.
If any one has any personal recommendations of teachers/schools to offer as well, please do share.

Thanks a lot

Himanshu

Aloka
15 Aug 11, 13:23
Admin note

I've moved your query to the Buddhism for Beginners forum, Himanshu ;D

stuka
15 Aug 11, 20:17
HI, himanshu, and welcome :-)




Some of the ideas/teachings completely make sense to me - like impermanence, dependent origination, interconnectedness, no-self, the origination of suffering in our minds, and hence its solution being in our minds too.

That's great! These are the essence of the Buddha's teachings!



However, there are others that I don't really understand yet - like what happens after death, and the doctrine about rebirth, and the importance of ending the cycle of birth and rebirth.

That's great! These are not the essence of the Buddha's teachings; these are superstitions that preceded him and are unnecessary and irrelevant to the teachings that you find so clear.




At a gross level, I feel that I am no longer prone to suffering, which means that whatever happens, I remain generally happy in life, and grateful for it, and that I can no longer get depressed whatever happens or bitter about the actions of someone. Yet, at a closer level, I find negative tendencies such as pride, envy, agitation, self-consciousness and greed still operating in their subtle forms.

That is quite normal. Change takes time. Give yourself a break. Strive for progress rather than perfection. Instant perfection does not happen to anyone, ever.




Even though I can totally see that there is nothing that I could call the self, yet I find myself associating my actions with pride or shame. I feel some of this is due to deeply ingrained habitual tendencies of wanting to please others and/or project a certain image of oneself, that have their roots in the past.

Habits are hard to break. Recognize when these tendencies arise, Put them down when you do see them arise, rejoice that you have found ways to live more skillfully, and carry on.



But some of it is also due to presently existing impurities of the mind. I also have a bit of attention deficit disorder, which could either be the cause of, or the result of, an unstable mind, or perhaps both, to varying extents.


Yes, yes, and yes. No worries. It is better to know these things than not to know. Awareness is where refinement begins.



My self diagnosis, at the moment, consists of a gradual process of purification of the mind (the intent, motives, etc, ) and a training in concentration/one-pointedness/ attentional stability and vividness. I have being working on this two-pronged approach myself, and its going good, but I feel I have reached a plateau and that I could do better in the company of like minded people, and with a teacher for guidance.

Perhaps not a plateau. Perhaps it is just that major (you say gross) problems have been largely abated, and so it only looks to you like there is comparatively less progress going on, when in fact there is much still going on and to work with. That's what it seems like to me from what you say. Others may notice your calm outside while you see a teeming and unsettled inside.





Would you have any recommendations/pointers about how to go about doing this? I have read of people finding teachers/schools that they train under the guidance of, but I have never tried anything like this myself. Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Much love and thanks for your time,
Himanshu

If what makes sense to you is the Buddha's liberative teachings, I would look for teachers who teach these things and who do not bother with the superstitions and cultural accretions that do not appeal to you (and which the Buddha did not find necessary, either). These are not the majority of teachers, but they are to be found. Aloka-D might be able to tell you about Ajahn Sumedho, whom I am under the impression may fit in this category. Many of his writings are to be found online as well. You might investigate the online writings of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, Phra Prayudh (P.A.) Payutto, and Santikaro Bhikkhu, and Stephen Batchelor.

Not all of them serve as teachers now -- BD is deceased, for example -- but many teachers can actually be contacted through email and websites.

himanshu
16 Aug 11, 11:47
...when in fact there is much still going on and to work with.
I have no doubts there is still much to work with. But it seems that no progress is being made. Or that I am going in circles, if you know what I mean. Which was not the case earlier, and so I feel I could benefit from being around other like minded people and/or a teacher.


If what makes sense to you is the Buddha's liberative teachings, I would look for teachers who teach these things and who do not bother with the superstitions and cultural accretions that do not appeal to you (and which the Buddha did not find necessary, either). These are not the majority of teachers, but they are to be found. Aloka-D might be able to tell you about Ajahn Sumedho, whom I am under the impression may fit in this category. Many of his writings are to be found online as well. You might investigate the online writings of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, Phra Prayudh (P.A.) Payutto, and Santikaro Bhikkhu, and Stephen Batchelor.

Not all of them serve as teachers now -- BD is deceased, for example -- but many teachers can actually be contacted through email and websites.
Thanks. I have quickly googled for and found some of Ajahn Sumedho's writings, and they seem quite nice. The little I have read so far quite fits with how I understand things to be, and I am sure there would be things that I would not have considered deeply enough and might learn as I read further, which I will. However, as I said, right now I am looking to actually go someplace and be in closer contact with a teacher than just reading someone's writings. And at the moment, it can only be within India, due to financial constraints.
However, it would also be be a great start (and who knows may be all that I need) to be able to be in email communication with some teacher. Do you/anyone else know any such teachers who correspond with students on email, and if so, how I should go about contacting them? Also, any personal recommendations of teachers with whom I could I actually meet in person would be helpful.
At the moment I am thinking of going to Dharamshala, just to explore the place and seek out potential teachers.




However, there are others that I don't really understand yet - like what happens after death, and the doctrine about rebirth, and the importance of ending the cycle of birth and rebirth.
That's great! These are not the essence of the Buddha's teachings; these are superstitions that preceded him and are unnecessary and irrelevant to the teachings that you find so clear.
From my current understanding, I tend to agree. I also realize that Tibetan Buddhism seems to be one of the sections that more strongly emphasizes rebirth etc. Now, while I don't really believe in it (at least, as of now), I am sure that many of its leaders/followers are people who have a deep understanding of the nature of Reality. Given that they continue toteach the concept, I am tempted to leave open the room for either of these possibilities:
1) Rebirth actually takes place. The mind is distinct from matter. (unlikely, but not impossible given how complex reality is and how little we (can!) understand of it)
2) Rebirth is a metaphorical way of talking about giving up the false sense of self. But even beyond that, it makes sense to talk about it literally because it helps those who can't comprehend the subtle nature of truth by giving them a framework and a motivating reason. That said, to varying extents in different cases, it might detract from the actual task of a spiritual seeker, but the larger question is if it is more useful than it is harmful. About that I don't really know.

Just thought I'd express my thoughts/questions since you raised the point.

FBM
16 Aug 11, 14:03
"In this very fathom long body along with perceptions and thoughts, do I proclaim the world, the origin of the world, the end of the world and the path leading to the end of the world."

himanshu, most people need a teacher and/or school at some point. I wish I had some useful information to help point you in the right direction in India, but I don't. Instead, I would just like to point out that the eventual goal is to grow beyond the need for teachers, including the Buddha himself. No matter where you go and what you learn/practice, your liberation will only come from within your own fathom-long body, not from outside it. Best to you.

sukitlek
16 Aug 11, 14:42
I feel that I am no longer prone to suffering

Hi himansuh,

Sorry if I misunderstand your post. Because of my bad English.
There are 2 meaning of "Suffering (dukkhā)".

First is "The 5 groups of existence connected with clinging are suffering".
Second is "Mentally disagreeable feeling (cetasikā dukkhā-vedanā = domanassa)".

The first one is the nature of mind that clinging to 5 groups of existence. It is dukkha even though feeling sukkha.
:hands:

himanshu
16 Aug 11, 16:19
"In this very fathom long body along with perceptions and thoughts, do I proclaim the world, the origin of the world, the end of the world and the path leading to the end of the world."

himanshu, most people need a teacher and/or school at some point. I wish I had some useful information to help point you in the right direction in India, but I don't. Instead, I would just like to point out that the eventual goal is to grow beyond the need for teachers, including the Buddha himself. No matter where you go and what you learn/practice, your liberation will only come from within your own fathom-long body, not from outside it. Best to you.

Thanks. And I completely agree with you. As you say, everyone might need a teacher at some point, and I just feel that I could do with one at this point. But I truly understand that there is no liberation beyond understanding that liberation was always the case. In that sense, I am not looking for "liberation" or "enlightenment" really. I just feel there are some issues of the mind to be worked out, and to do that, it might be helpful to communicate with a teacher. Not a matter of life or death, nor a matter or enlightenment or not. I don't think corresponding with a teacher would liberate me or anything. I know I might be sounding contradictory. (Apologies if this goes against someone's views, but its just that it depends on how a word like enlightenment/liberation is used. For me, "enlightenment" and "person-hood" are opposite ideas. There is no "person", just constantly changing experience, so what is it that could be liberated? At the same time, given the natural continuity of life, whereby things arise from previous moments, an apparent "person/self" does also exist in a way. To that extent, the person can try and improve things, about himself and the world (even though there is no "doer" entity doing things, nor an "experiencer" entity holding the cumulative experience of a person's life). But in the end, there is no such thing as an "enlightened person" constantly manifesting/experiencing something called enlightenment. But that can also be contradicted depending on what one is trying to express :) Anyways, this is to clarify the reason I started this thread, and what I hope to get (and what I don't) by looking for a teacher.


Hi himansuh,


I feel that I am no longer prone to suffering
Sorry if I misunderstand your post. Because of my bad English.
There are 2 meaning of "Suffering (dukkhā)".

First is "The 5 groups of existence connected with clinging are suffering".
Second is "Mentally disagreeable feeling (cetasikā dukkhā-vedanā = domanassa)".

The first one is the nature of mind that clinging to 5 groups of existence. It is dukkha even though feeling sukkha.
:hands:
Firstly, I would want to clarify the complete sentence that I wrote was:

At a gross level, I feel that I am no longer prone to suffering.
Later on, in my original post I did also mention how the mind is still prone to unwholesome behavior (which you could call suffering)

So if the purpose of your post was to let me know that I could still be prone to "suffering", I already know that :) Which is why I am looking to be able to communicate with a teacher, to work out some of the finer dysfunctional patterns I find existing in my mind.

EDIT: Additionally, I have recently become interested in Shamatha meditation, as a means of refining one's attentional abilities, and if by any chance, anyone knows anything about such teachers/groups in India, please do post here (probably unlikely, but thought I'd ask anyway).

FBM
16 Aug 11, 16:54
himanshu, whatever you've been doing, keep doing it. :up2:

Aloka
16 Aug 11, 16:59
Which is why I am looking to be able to communicate with a teacher, to work out some of the finer dysfunctional patterns I find existing in my mind.

Personally I think the only satisfactory was to communicate with a teacher is to do it face to face. There are some dodgey people on the interent who set themselves up as enlightened teachers and they might be all too happy to 'teach' you by e-mail !

The best thing to do, Himanshi is to use that search facility link I offered you and find some centres or monasteries that you can visit offline yourself. Don't be in too much of a hurry to take anyone as your teacher either, take your time investigating. Not all teachers are willing to just take anyone as a student either, sometimes a probationary period is necessary.

I don't think any of our active members here have long-term experience of current teachers in India , but I might be wrong of course.

.

stuka
17 Aug 11, 05:46
Hi, himanishi,

As Aloka has noted, I don't know any teachers in India and thus cannot recommend any.

I do know that Santikaro runs the "Buddhadasa" group on Yahoo and his own liberationpark.org website and can be easily contacted by email, and is very approachable.

Aloka
17 Aug 11, 05:53
Hi, himanishi,

I do know that Santikaro runs the "Buddhadasa" group on Yahoo and his own liberationpark.org website and can be easily contacted by email, and is very approachable.

Hi Stuka, I'm not sure if that's possible at the moment because the last I knew, Santikaro was recovering from 6 months of exhausting chemotherapy treatment for cancer.

himanshu
17 Aug 11, 22:30
Is the best way to contact Santikaro one of the contacts listed here http://liberationpark.org/contact/addresses.htm ?

Aloka
17 Aug 11, 22:42
As far as I know he's still quite weak and slowly recovering from the treatment.

I think the info(at)liberationpark.org address would the best for an inquiry, Himanshu.