Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

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mfad
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Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by mfad » Thu May 26, 2016 7:49 am

I will be going on a six month to one year retreat for meditation and was wondering if there was a way to get a meditation teacher? I have never been to a formal retreat, but I know that a portion of it is dedicated to speaking with a guide that can help you along your journey.

Is it something that is required or makes progress easier? Anyone have any incites they can share?

Tiago Simões
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by Tiago Simões » Thu May 26, 2016 11:14 am

mfad wrote:I will be going on a six month to one year retreat for meditation and was wondering if there was a way to get a meditation teacher? I have never been to a formal retreat, but I know that a portion of it is dedicated to speaking with a guide that can help you along your journey.

Is it something that is required or makes progress easier? Anyone have any incites they can share?
A teacher is indispensable for any real progress in dharma.
Then, the Licchavi Vimalakīrti spoke to the elder Śāriputra and the great disciples: “Reverends, eat of the food of the Tathāgata! It is ambrosia perfumed by the great compassion. But do not fix your minds in narrow-minded attitudes, lest you be unable to receive its gift.”

- Chapter 9, The Feast Brought by the Emanated Incarnation
The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Teaching of Vimalakīrti”

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Grigoris
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by Grigoris » Thu May 26, 2016 1:06 pm

mfad wrote:I will be going on a six month to one year retreat for meditation and was wondering if there was a way to get a meditation teacher? I have never been to a formal retreat, but I know that a portion of it is dedicated to speaking with a guide that can help you along your journey.

Is it something that is required or makes progress easier? Anyone have any incites they can share?
U iz trollin'?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

mfad
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by mfad » Thu May 26, 2016 8:25 pm

haha sorry that post did lacked some content and my reasoning behind what I am doing. Honestly though, I find it hard to put those reasons into words. At this time, I am about to turn 23, am not tied down to any particular location and thought it would be a perfect time to investigate where this experience might take me. I will be staying at my apartment for the first few months, then family for another one or two before heading to a campsite in California from September to April. All baring on the fact that progress can be made and it is still the right decision for me.

Earlier this year, I became curious about meditation and decided to dive right into it. I spent around four hours a day for a little over a month and was able to reach the first Jhana, understand quite a few aspects of my life, and experience after images that would arise in my vision immediately taking me to Jhana or Access Concentration. I believe that more time and tad more isolation is necessary to adequately explore all avenues.

I ask this question because I have read quite extensively the literature, videos, and articles on the progression of meditation. The most crucial factor that seems to be expressed in each book is developing your ability to concentrate. With this - all else follows. But, I have not spoken to a teacher that has experience and can shed light on how to develop as others have, nor would I know where to find one.

Hopefully, this fills in some of the missing gaps. Thank you!

Tiago Simões
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by Tiago Simões » Thu May 26, 2016 8:54 pm

If you want to find a teacher, just say were you are from, and someone might be able to point you to one close to you.
You can't do it alone.
Then, the Licchavi Vimalakīrti spoke to the elder Śāriputra and the great disciples: “Reverends, eat of the food of the Tathāgata! It is ambrosia perfumed by the great compassion. But do not fix your minds in narrow-minded attitudes, lest you be unable to receive its gift.”

- Chapter 9, The Feast Brought by the Emanated Incarnation
The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Teaching of Vimalakīrti”

zengen
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by zengen » Thu May 26, 2016 8:56 pm

You shouldn't do a retreat by yourself... Don't you need a teacher for that?
There is no meaning to cyclic existence.

mfad
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by mfad » Thu May 26, 2016 9:31 pm

I would prefer to do a retreat with other people, but unfortunately the cost of about 1 month is equivalent of doing six months or one year alone at a campsite.

SeeLion
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by SeeLion » Thu May 26, 2016 10:11 pm

From my personal experience (I've followed an online course teaching Vipassana meditation), a teacher's help is needed for many reasons, one being learning to balance certain factors of the mind: confidence, effort, mindfulness, concentration, wisdom.

Especially at certain stages in your practice, a teacher would highlight what is important to cultivate at a time or another. Talking about wisdom, there have been moments, where I would not know without guidance which direction is "progress" and which is the opposite direction.

Besides balance, another important skill is non-clinging, non-attachment to what we experience at a moment or another (which is related to objectivity).

Another aspect is purifying the mind, and I especially talk about inner conflicts. If you have those (and most of us have layers upon layers - without being aware of many them), they might escalate. From what I hear, some people go through very difficult / troublesome / horrifying experiences during meditation, which are difficult to cope with without assistance.

Yes, concentration is important but a teacher will emphasize "right concentration".

I would prefer to do a retreat with other people, but unfortunately the cost of about 1 month is equivalent of doing six months or one year alone at a campsite.
I would give another thought to the quality versus quantity argument.

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Grigoris
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by Grigoris » Thu May 26, 2016 10:14 pm

mfad wrote:I would prefer to do a retreat with other people, but unfortunately the cost of about 1 month is equivalent of doing six months or one year alone at a campsite.
You know what, my dear mfad, I too had little money and opportunity to practice with a teacher or group when I first started. And depending on the technique you are doing, initially, a teacher is not 100% necessary. But I can guarantee you that you will soon start running into obstacles.

For example: you will have experiences that you cannot understand nor explain and hunting through reams of books to try and find an explanation is not always an option.

You will have questions questions about how to progress further in your practice and deal with various issues that will arise during practice.

Now, obviously, the internet makes access to information a lot simpler, but there is nothing like going to a teacher, telling them your problem and getting a solution.

Again, at the beginning (and depending on your practice) this will not be necessary, but as you progress...

Another option is to talk to retreat centers, tell them about your economic problems, and ask if you can pay in type (eg volunteer). Most decent centers will allow for this type of deal. Vipassana retreats, for example, are payment by donation set ups.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

AlexMcLeod
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by AlexMcLeod » Fri May 27, 2016 12:48 am

There are also possible physical or mental health issues that may arise from becoming advanced at meditation with poor posture. This is something hard to catch before you are good at it, unless a teacher shows you, for instance, that your head is tilted too far back. A better use of the six months is in finding the correct teacher for you, and getting into contact with them or their organization.
Relax! Smile From The Heart!
There is a difference between the Mundane and the Transcendental. If you purposefully confuse them, I will ignore you, you nihilist.
There is no Emotion, there is Peace. There is no Ignorance, there is Knowledge. There is no Passion, there is Serenity. There is no Death, there is the Force.

Simon E.
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by Simon E. » Fri May 27, 2016 9:09 am

AlexMcLeod wrote:There are also possible physical or mental health issues that may arise from becoming advanced at meditation with poor posture. This is something hard to catch before you are good at it, unless a teacher shows you, for instance, that your head is tilted too far back. A better use of the six months is in finding the correct teacher for you, and getting into contact with them or their organization.
So important.

Once in a shine session a teacher adjusted my posture very subtly and it made a huge difference.
I had been meditating for some years at that point. My practice was transformed.

Impossible without hands-on intervention.
“ When the demon is at your door, in the morning it won’t be there no more
Any major dude will tell you”.

mfad
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by mfad » Sun May 29, 2016 9:53 am

Here are some questions - hopefully someone will be able to answer some of them. Any help is greatly appreciated. Also, I am from the California area, but will most likely be located in Arizona near the Mexican border for the retreat. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

1) How does meditation outside effect the Jhana and Access Concentration? Is Jhana possible in the hot sun or wind? If you do achieve it - is it technically a harder Jhana because I would presume difficulty is impacted?

2) Walking Meditation and Jhana. Can you enter the first Jhana while doing walking meditation? How about with eyes open? How about with eyes closed? How about with eyes partly closed?

3) What are the differences between the after image(outline) created when staring at an object for a duration of time and then closing your eyes? Versus the after image that arises natural within the mind - fractal geometry and almost seemingly random objects that will suddenly materialize when you have your eyes closed? These objects seem to instantly drop you into access concentration... or are a result of Jhana and access concentration - not sure yet...

4) Necessary information - I have an extremely hard time experiencing both pleasure and happiness(emotional) - so the below might just be a personality trait.

The first jhana - has anyone experienced these variations of it? Sometimes I will experience total bliss, another time I have experienced no body sensation, but did drop in the first jhana, another time I swear I dropped into Jhana, but experienced pain, another time I experienced a very dull sensation - almost like a bliss sensation that was incomplete.

These are the only things that come to my mind at the moment, but I am sure I have plenty of other questions.

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Grigoris
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by Grigoris » Sun May 29, 2016 1:02 pm

mfad wrote:Here are some questions - hopefully someone will be able to answer some of them. Any help is greatly appreciated. Also, I am from the California area, but will most likely be located in Arizona near the Mexican border for the retreat. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

1) How does meditation outside effect the Jhana and Access Concentration? Is Jhana possible in the hot sun or wind? If you do achieve it - is it technically a harder Jhana because I would presume difficulty is impacted?

2) Walking Meditation and Jhana. Can you enter the first Jhana while doing walking meditation? How about with eyes open? How about with eyes closed? How about with eyes partly closed?

3) What are the differences between the after image(outline) created when staring at an object for a duration of time and then closing your eyes? Versus the after image that arises natural within the mind - fractal geometry and almost seemingly random objects that will suddenly materialize when you have your eyes closed? These objects seem to instantly drop you into access concentration... or are a result of Jhana and access concentration - not sure yet...

4) Necessary information - I have an extremely hard time experiencing both pleasure and happiness(emotional) - so the below might just be a personality trait.

The first jhana - has anyone experienced these variations of it? Sometimes I will experience total bliss, another time I have experienced no body sensation, but did drop in the first jhana, another time I swear I dropped into Jhana, but experienced pain, another time I experienced a very dull sensation - almost like a bliss sensation that was incomplete.

These are the only things that come to my mind at the moment, but I am sure I have plenty of other questions.
Do you know how many qualified and respectable teachers there are in the California area? WTF are you doing asking complete strangers on the internet these sort of questions? Now I am sure you are trolling!
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by DGA » Sun May 29, 2016 3:50 pm

mfad wrote: I am from the California area
California is a big place. Would you mind being a bit more specific about where in the Golden State you reside these days?

From your questions, I can see that you have done a bit of reading, and you are preoccupied with seated meditation. But it's not at all clear that seated meditation is the best practice for you now. It may be; it might not be. I strongly encourage you to find yourself a capable teacher (this board can help you find one--see my question above) BEFORE setting out for any kind of self-directed retreat. Here's the order of operation:

1. Hear the teachings. In person, from a lineage-holding master.

2. Contemplate the teachings with great care, to ensure you understand.

3. Practice what you have been taught to the best of your ability.

This is the most efficient way to go about it. Trying to direct your own retreat is, at best, a good way to waste your precious time. At worst, you could have serious problems.

Really, help us help you find yourself a teacher to learn from. Set aside all the questions about the jhanas for now, and make this your focus.

mfad
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by mfad » Sun May 29, 2016 6:21 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:Do you know how many qualified and respectable teachers there are in the California area? WTF are you doing asking complete strangers on the internet these sort of questions? Now I am sure you are trolling!
Sorry, I am definitely not trollin - Is it considered disrespectful to ask these sorts of questions? You have me slightly confused why I might not ask these questions on a board dedicated to meditation? Sorry, you'll have to excuse my ignorance :).



I am currently in San Luis Obispo California for the next few weeks. I will then be going to Los Angeles area - Costa Mesa particularly from June 20 - July 2nd. From, July 2- 20th I will be visiting family in Seattle and then Missouri - St. Louis. After, that I am unsure exactly where I will be, but from September 15th - April 15th I will be in Arizona @ Imperial Dam - Squaw Lake.

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Grigoris
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by Grigoris » Sun May 29, 2016 6:38 pm

mfad wrote:Sorry, I am definitely not trollin - Is it considered disrespectful to ask these sorts of questions? You have me slightly confused why I might not ask these questions on a board dedicated to meditation? Sorry, you'll have to excuse my ignorance :).
No my friend, it is not disrespectful, but it is illogical to ask these types of questions to complete strangers whose qualifications you cannot know when you could be asking a qualified and respected teacher live.

Realistically, nobody even knows what practices you are doing and in which tradition yet you expect them to answers questions in regards to your practice?

Spend some time doing some web searches and tracking down some teachers in the places you will be visiting.

In closing, this is a board dedicated to Buddhism, not to meditation per se. It is dedicated to Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism.

Of course some people may try and answer your questions, but how can you trust their answers?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

mfad
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by mfad » Sun May 29, 2016 7:11 pm

I definitely agree with you on those points. There are a few forums on the internet and any person that you contact on the internet will place you into a similar issue. I find that the number of reputable locations to go for information is quite limited.

I will contact a few of the monasteries and see if they can recommend someone.

zengen
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Re: Online Teachers - Possible or Necessary?

Post by zengen » Mon May 30, 2016 6:40 am

Dear mfad, I hope you're practicing for the sole aim of ending samsara (cycle of birth and death), which is what the Buddha's teaching intended. From your posts, it seems you are very attracted to the experience of Jhana. Please do not development curiosity or attachment to the experience, as it will side-track you from the path to Nibbana.
There is no meaning to cyclic existence.

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