Getting back on track after a failing teacher

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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Jikan » Mon Sep 16, 2013 4:20 pm

Indrajala wrote:
I sincerely think focusing on the basics and foundations before proceeding to lofty goals of buddhahood is needed. It eliminates the widespread need for gurus,


This doesn't follow. Why? Because, if Dharma practitioners do focus on ground-floor Dharma, they necessarily advance to the goal of Buddhahood, which, in the context of Vajrayana, means you need a guru. Hence, for the purpose of this forum at least: more Dharma study & Dharma practice means more interactions with vajra masters, not fewer.

(Incidentally, I agree with at least one of your main assertions: I think Sutric Buddhism is good medicine! We'd all do well to increase our knowledge of it.)
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby MalaBeads » Mon Sep 16, 2013 4:34 pm

This is the most interesting discussion i have seen on this board in awhile. Interesting enough that i am posting in response to several comments.

Indrajala,

The Dharma is not an abstraction. If you think it is, then we simply disagree. The Dharma is always[i] manifest through some sort of [i]embodiment. Dogen Zenji went so far as to say that even the rocks and streams and mountains, etc expound the Dharma. So we have to look carefully at what he might saying there.

I think Malcolm is correct when he says that the real refuge is the Dharmakaya. But the Dharmakaya is (to say it another way) always embodied. Hence, you arrive at the viewpoint of Tibetan Buddhism, see your teacher as the Buddha.

The real question/problem (as I see it) is how to do this.

Someone mentioned that in Vajrayana you aren't even supposed to think critical thoughts about anyone. All I can say is good luck with that one. I mostly manage to control my negative speech but thoughts that arise?? Not even close. Magnus mentioned that its a big leap from being a student to being a disciple and I have to say thats where I am. This is a topic that I do not understand - ie seeing everything the gurus says or does as The Buddha. One thing that has become clear to me however is that no one is in charge. The Dharma is not owned by any one person.

Which pretty much just leaves me with "the Dharma is my Guru". That is somehow easier to understand than some human being whose flaws and faults I can see as well as I can see my own being the guru. Everyone has flaws and faults. It's ridiculous to think otherwise. And if somehow you come to think of yourself as without flaws or faults, you become arrogant and without humility. You become a very dangerous person. And that is not a guru. In my opinion.

Ok, I'm off my soapbox here.

Cheers.
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Indrajala » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:15 pm

Jikan wrote:This doesn't follow. Why? Because, if Dharma practitioners do focus on ground-floor Dharma, they necessarily advance to the goal of Buddhahood, which, in the context of Vajrayana, means you need a guru.



You can and probably should master the basics before proceeding to lofty goals and practices where you try to skilfully use afflictions.

I mean I know of Vajrayana practitioners who have longstanding problems with alcohol, and their skillful use of alcohol doesn't seem to make their situation any better. Simply implementing what Śākyamuni taught, a stoic and modest lifestyle, would probably be quite beneficial.

Really, too, is beyond the individual level I look at all the Vajrayana organizations. They claim to rapidly produce buddhas, yet they display the same human failings as any other longstanding Buddhist or non-Buddhist tradition. If you're going to make grand claims about your lineage and practices, then your community should, both at present and historically, reveal grand results. However, when we examine history and the present, we find a lot of unfulfilled expectations. Look at the bitter and often violent politics past and present amongst communities which claim to be achieving buddhahood rapidly - if you're honest, you might realistically have doubts about their claims.

In other words, the burden of proof is on the people making such enormous claims.
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Malcolm » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:37 pm

Indrajala wrote:In other words, the burden of proof is on the people making such enormous claims.


Yes, so when are you going to start attacking the Buddha? After all, he made the grandest unsubstantiated claim of all.
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Indrajala » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:54 pm

Malcolm wrote:Yes, so when are you going to start attacking the Buddha? After all, he made the grandest unsubstantiated claim of all.


The point is that if you make grand claims about advanced abilities and rapid spiritual development, then your tradition and members should readily display many good qualities and constant benevolent conduct.

The Buddha's behavior and teachings were in harmony, at least according to the known records.
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Malcolm » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:15 pm

Indrajala wrote:The point is that if you make grand claims about advanced abilities and rapid spiritual development, then your tradition and members should readily display many good qualities and constant benevolent conduct.


Then at the very best, I think Vajrayāna fairs quite well in that regard. At the very least, they are no worse than any other tradition within Buddhism.

You do realize, that if you continue in this vein, whether intentionally or not, you are lending credence to the perception that you have animosity and bias towards Tibetan Buddhism.
Last edited by Malcolm on Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby dzogchungpa » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:16 pm

Indrajala wrote:Strictly speaking, liberation from suffering is not the same as buddhahood. The point of Vajrayana is rapid progress to buddhahood.

What do you think the swiftest path to liberation from suffering is?
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Sherab » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:17 pm

Indrajala wrote:My point really is that it is perhaps wiser to achieve liberation from suffering (particularly neurosis of all types, including emotional reactions) first and then think about buddhahood. The former does not require unconditional faith in a guru, and if you have achieved such liberation, then you'll be in a ready state to truly discern who is and is not a qualified guru.
This may be true for some but it certainly is not true in my case, and I am sure for many others as well. I certainly have not achieved liberation but I did managed to find a qualified guru. More importantly, if I had not managed to find a qualified guru, I most likely would have given up on my practice. I think there is a very good reason for the plethora of approaches in Buddhism and that is because people are so different that you cannot have just one approach to fit all of them. Certainly, Theravadin's approach would not have been suitable for me.
Indrajala wrote:I say this out of concern because, frankly, I've met a lot of people who strongly advocate Vajrayana on one hand yet display instability in their lives, particularly with respect to their emotions, relationships and life decisions. The numerous charlatan gurus don't help much.
There are lots of people who strongly advocate Christianity and yet display behaviour contradictory to their words. But can we or should we advise them that they should cease and desist? There are many people out there selling all sorts of things and it is our individual responsibility to decide whether to buy or not. You certainly don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water.
Indrajala wrote:We frequently hear Vajrayana teachers speak of "suitable vessels". Well, if general conduct and stability are any guide to suitable vessels, I don't see a lot of practitioners displaying the requisite qualities.
Unless one is a buddha, I don't think anyone is in the position to judge whether someone is a suitable vessel or not. In a Mahayana sutra, Bodhisattva Manjushri deliberately taught a teaching to a group of monks whom he knew would be unable to accept what he taught as as a result gave rise to certain evil thoughts that sent them to be reborn in hell. When the Buddha was asked why Manjushri did what he did, the Buddha replied that it was a skilfull means of Manjushri to lead them by the quickest path to enlightenment.
Indrajala wrote:I also wonder where all these realized beings are in organizations that display strong nepotism and coverups of scandals.
Realized beings, like the Buddha are not omnipotent and more importantly, they may not be in the position where they can do something about it. But this does not mean that those involved cannot do anything about it. They still have the ability to make choices that accord with the Dharma.
Indrajala wrote:Sexual abuse in Tibetan monasteries is a real concern, so if the enlightenment machine really works so well, where are the bodhisattvas and realized yogis addressing or better yet preventing these problems?
I would certainly like to hear more from you regarding sexual abuse in Tibetan monasteries, how many monasteries are involved, how widespread it is in those monasteries, and how you come upon such information.
Indrajala wrote:I sincerely think focusing on the basics and foundations before proceeding to lofty goals of buddhahood is needed. It eliminates the widespread need for gurus, which would curtail a lot of the abuse in my estimation. If turbulent passions are placated as the Buddha taught, then a clear mind and firm foundations will ensure people can make good decisions with respect to their relationships with others.
Again, it is necessary to recognize that a one size fit all approach is not necessarily the most effective or even the most efficient.
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Indrajala » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:19 pm

Malcolm wrote:You do realize, that if you continue in this vein, whether intentionally or not, you are lending credence to the perception that you have animosity and bias towards Tibetan Buddhism.


I'm equally critical of any other form of Buddhism.
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Malcolm » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:19 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Indrajala wrote:Strictly speaking, liberation from suffering is not the same as buddhahood. The point of Vajrayana is rapid progress to buddhahood.

What do you think the swiftest path to liberation from suffering is?



Oh, its obvious by his choices. He thinks that being a renunciate is the fastest to achieve liberation from suffering, and all of his comments in this vein are stemming from his conviction in this perspective.
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Malcolm » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:19 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:You do realize, that if you continue in this vein, whether intentionally or not, you are lending credence to the perception that you have animosity and bias towards Tibetan Buddhism.


I'm equally critical of any other form of Buddhism.



No, you are not, not at all. You may feel you are, but I don't see you spending much time in the Chan/Zen and Pure Land Forums, or the Nicherin Forums criticizing them. Or the Theravada forums, for that matter.
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Sherab » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:25 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Yes, so when are you going to start attacking the Buddha? After all, he made the grandest unsubstantiated claim of all.


The point is that if you make grand claims about advanced abilities and rapid spiritual development, then your tradition and members should readily display many good qualities and constant benevolent conduct.

The Buddha's behavior and teachings were in harmony, at least according to the known records.

I believed the Buddha did claim in the suttas that by practising his teachings, it is possible to achieve liberation in a few days, or a few weeks or a few months or a few years. Therefore, the Buddha's tradition and members should readily display many good qualities and constant benevolent conduct.
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Indrajala » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:26 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Indrajala wrote:Strictly speaking, liberation from suffering is not the same as buddhahood. The point of Vajrayana is rapid progress to buddhahood.

What do you think the swiftest path to liberation from suffering is?


What the Buddha himself taught: śamatha, contemplation of impermanence and selflessness, a simple lifestyle, placating passions, a moral lifestyle, etc.

I'm no arhat, but I see the wisdom in abandoning the immediate causes for suffering and anxiety. The politics and alternative universes you see in various forms of Buddhism are causes for causes for anxiety.
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Indrajala » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:29 pm

Malcolm wrote:No, you are not, not at all. You may feel you are, but I don't see you spending much time in the Chan/Zen and Pure Land Forums, or the Nicherin Forums criticizing them. Or the Theravada forums, for that matter.


You clearly haven't monitored my activities sufficiently.
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby AilurusFulgens » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:31 pm

Forgive me for barging into the discussion, but can someone please list the qualities a genuine Guru in Vajrayana should have as well as the ways on how to choose a qualified, authentic Vajrayana guru?

Can you also provide exact scriptural sources for this?

Thank you

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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Malcolm » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:34 pm

Indrajala wrote:I'm no arhat, but I see the wisdom in abandoning the immediate causes for suffering and anxiety. The politics and alternative universes you see in various forms of Buddhism are causes for causes for anxiety.


The immediate cause for suffering and anxiety is the three afflictions. There are three ways to deal with these: renunciation, transformation or self-liberation.

The latter two require instruction by a qualified guru. The former does not. In my estimation, the latter two are more effective in this day and age, as we have already discussed elsewhere.

The most neurotic Buddhists I have ever met were monks and nuns.
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby dzogchungpa » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:40 pm

Indrajala wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:What do you think the swiftest path to liberation from suffering is?

What the Buddha himself taught: śamatha, contemplation of impermanence and selflessness, a simple lifestyle, placating passions, a moral lifestyle, etc.

So you have reason to believe that that approach has produced liberation from suffering more swiftly than other approaches, in recent times?
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Indrajala » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:44 pm

Sherab wrote:I believed the Buddha did claim in the suttas that by practising his teachings, it is possible to achieve liberation in a few days, or a few weeks or a few months or a few years. Therefore, the Buddha's tradition and members should readily display many good qualities and constant benevolent conduct.


The original timetable for liberation is up in the air. Early Buddhism seems to have largely believed liberation was only realistic for a small minority, whereas everyone else could work for a higher rebirth. Early Buddhism was less interested in having successive lineages of fully realized masters.

In any case, the early sangha in the first few centuries displayed power games and dodgy decisions. All the sectarian squabbling is evidence of this. But then these schools were less inclined to extravagant claims. Arhatship is possible in a lifetime, sure, but that just means an end to involuntary rebirth and suffering.

Triumphant claims of grandeur (as in, "we are the unexcelled and best form of Buddhadharma") also need to be sized up against reality.
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Indrajala » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:47 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:So you have reason to believe that that approach has produced liberation from suffering more swiftly than other approaches, in recent times?


Sure, and it isn't just Buddhists who have such ideas. The Stoics, Jains, Confucians and other schools of thought often taught very similar ideas and practices.
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Re: Getting back on track after a failing teacher

Postby Indrajala » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:48 pm

Malcolm wrote:The most neurotic Buddhists I have ever met were monks and nuns.


Yeah, me too. :cheers:
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