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Aloka
11 Oct 14, 10:00
This is a post from the blog of a Tibetan Buddhist monk called Karma Yeshe Rabgye and I wondered if anyone had any comments:




Teachers – for learning or leaning

I strongly believe that if we want to follow Gautama Buddha’s teachings we need to find ourselves a good teacher. Someone who not only has experience of what he or she is teaching, but also does the practice. In other words, they should practice what they preach.

But what do we need the teacher for? I think we need them to guide, mentor and support us along our chosen path. They should pass on their knowledge and understanding, and be there for us when we run into obstacles. Gautama Buddha placed great emphasis on personal experience, so I see the teachers role as a ‘helping hand’ along the way, and someone who helps us make sense of our own experiences and not tell us what we should be experiencing.

The key to a good teacher/student relationship is that we learn from them, but not get attached to them. A lot of teachers want exclusive rights over their students, but I personally think It is fine to have more than one teacher at a time, and it is also fine to move on once we have learnt what we can from them – we can always go back and get advice if we hit an obstacle.

If we see the teacher as a guide, mentor or spiritual friend, we are not going to get into problems of attachment or let ourselves be abused by them. However, if we see the teacher as a higher being, a precious one or some kind of guru figure, we are leaving ourselves open to all sorts of manipulation. When we see the teacher in that way we are not there to learn from them, but to lean on them. We are using them as a mental crutch and abdicating our responsibilities. Wisdom and compassion, the two wings of Buddhism, cannot be found in this way.

Some people think their teacher has all the answers, they can see and hear everything and they have special powers whereby they can magically tell the future, walk through walls or fly in the air. These are all projections and not based on any kind of reality.

If you see your teacher in that way you should ask yourself these questions, ‘What do I need a Teacher for?’ ‘Is it to learn from them or lean on them?’ ‘Am I looking for a way to reduce my suffering or just some sort of magical trip?’

The most important aspect of Buddhism, I believe, is that it is an inner journey. A journey of discovery about what makes us who we are, why we act in a certain way and how we can reduce the suffering in our life. For me it is not about mythical figures or realms, I see those as the outside world. It is about trying to make myself the best possible person I can in this life, and that is why I need a teacher, or teachers, to help me explore my inner world. I don’t want to lean on them, I have my friends for that, I want to learn from them.

What do you need a teacher for? Are you a learner or a leaner?

http://buddhismguide.org/teachers-for-learning-or-leaning/




:hands:

Ngagpa
11 Oct 14, 21:59
Hi Aloka,
I'm not sure what I make of it really. Seems a little strange coming from a Kagyupa. Considering that his preliminary practices would probably have been completed with Guru Yoga and we know how the Kagyus emphasise that and transmission lineage. But then it depends on his target audience. I believe he brought out a secular Book on lord Buddha's teachings as well. Maybe if he is targeting the new to Buddhism audience from a secular Buddhist perspective. I can't see him saying most of that from a Kagyupa or even Vajrayana perspective. Unless it is one of the watered down western varieties. He is a westerner himself (I just checked) off the point somewhat he looks remarkably like a monk I met at Bodhgaya about 15 years ago. I knew him as David...I will have to go and check. If it is him he is a nice guy.:hands:

Aloka
16 Oct 14, 07:37
If we see the teacher as a guide, mentor or spiritual friend, we are not going to get into problems of attachment or let ourselves be abused by them. However, if we see the teacher as a higher being, a precious one or some kind of guru figure, we are leaving ourselves open to all sorts of manipulation. When we see the teacher in that way we are not there to learn from them, but to lean on them. We are using them as a mental crutch and abdicating our responsibilities. Wisdom and compassion, the two wings of Buddhism, cannot be found in this way.

Some people think their teacher has all the answers, they can see and hear everything and they have special powers whereby they can magically tell the future, walk through walls or fly in the air. These are all projections and not based on any kind of reality.

Regarding the article, I agree that its not beneficial to use a teacher as a mental crutch, or to elevate him/her to superhuman status, otherwise there's a danger that the interactions might become little more than guru worship. I think most of us are probably aware of the modern day scandals about teachers taking advantage of being elevated to that kind of level.

:hands:

Ngagpa
19 Oct 14, 02:52
Elevation of the teacher is implicit in Vajrayana. In fact the Tantrayana is just about defunct without it. Especially Guru Yoga.
The scandals in Mahayana are as many as are there are car crashes for car drivers. The speed of travel has explicit dangers. Do you cease to use your car or do you try and make sure all safeguards are adhered to?

As for whether or not it is beneficial we can only talk of our personal experiences and of course those anecdotes we trust the veracity of. Obviously some individuals are not compatible with the rigours of the Vajrayana/ Tantrayana Guru relationship. Others are.

:hands:

Aloka
19 Oct 14, 15:25
On another blog page, Karma Yeshe Rabgye says :


Some people think to show respect to their spiritual teacher they have to bow down to them, treat them as higher beings, shower them with gifts and blindly follow every word they say. I do not think this sycophantic way of acting is giving respect. If you truly want to respect your spiritual teacher then listen to their teachings, ask questions to clear up any doubt, meditate on the teaching and then, finally, put what they have taught into practice. Now what better way to respect anyone?

If your spiritual teacher has a title or calls himself a higher beings, I would suggest you check him out very carefully. In the Anguttara Nikaya Gautama Buddha stated five qualities to look for in a spiritual teacher:

“The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, ‘I will speak step-by-step’… ‘I will speak explaining the sequence’… ‘I will speak out of compassion’… ‘I will speak not for the purpose of material reward’…’I will speak without disparaging myself or others.’

Does your spiritual teacher have these five qualities? It is up to you to check. Does his actions match his words? Does his students actions match his teachings?

There are some wonderful spiritual teachers out there, but you have to look very carefully to find them.

http://buddhismguide.org/respect/