Yes, you need a teacher.

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
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Malcolm
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Malcolm » Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:44 pm

Admin_PC wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 4:20 am
Maybe we should talk about the various nuances of the term “teacher”? Astus touched on it before with discussion of the term “kalyanamitra” vs “guru”. There seems like there may be different levels to the term.
The term used in my translation, virtuous mentor, is a translation of kalyāṇamitra. You can see from the sūtras I cited above, there is no question but that in Mahāyāna one is supposed to serve this person with respect commensurate with their kindness in teaching the Dharma. Examples of this can found in the PP Sūtras, where Sadaprarudita, despite having visions of Tathāgatas, still endeavors to find a human teacher, the bodhisattva Dharmodgata, who can teach him the perfection of wisdom.

In Hinayāna, novice bhikṣus are supposed to serve a senior teacher for ten years.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Astus
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Astus » Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:25 pm

Admin_PC wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 4:20 am
Maybe we should talk about the various nuances of the term “teacher”? Astus touched on it before with discussion of the term “kalyanamitra” vs “guru”. There seems like there may be different levels to the term.
If the monastic side of things is put aside, then there aren't really any clear cut definitions, even though there seem to be a few general ideas of what a teacher is. So, here's my first take on it:

Primarily, when there is a talk of a personal teacher, that sounds like having a therapist/coach who guides one's every step on the way to enlightenment. Naturally, such a teacher is assumed to be enlightened, who can tell whatever the disciple needs, hence no instruction or request is absurd enough. This vision of the awakened master - a fairly romantic notion - is the basis of guru worship gone wrong.

Secondly, there are the great teachers who one can listen to from the crowd, and their mere presence is a blessing, or at least that's how you can feel. They can talk like as if they were personally answering your deepest questions, and if you have the rare chance of asking, the reply is something that at the same time touches your heart and keeps you contemplating it even years later. These masters keep the system of teaching tours alive.

Thirdly, there are the rather ordinary looking local teachers, who regularly lead the weekly meditation sessions and perhaps give speeches too. There seems to be no reason to think much about them, since they themselves are devoted disciples of a great teacher (who may occasionally visit).

Fourthly, there are those not called teachers at all, but who are the long standing members of the group, and who help with event organisation and guiding the newcomers.

Finally, there can be someone, who is likely just a fellow practitioner, but with whom you can talk to about both mundane and supramundane topics, a person you can spend quality time with, and whom you may actually call a good friend.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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weitsicht
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by weitsicht » Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:05 pm

Dear all,

I am new to this forum and have not the capacity to read the entire thread; I hope for your lenience.

Few points I would like to make:

dharma is blending in. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Eckart Tolle, Jack Kernfield etc. Not that they keep silent about their sources, but they don't publish them too prominently. For the sake of science, secularism, attracting a larger target group, I don't know. So many people get in contact with Dharma without even knowing.

Then there are the people who like the taste of it. Inspiring devotion becomes desiring devotion. It is so precious to have so manys texts accessible. I am so happy about the valuable translators' work and also that these texts have been made public.

In this degenerate time, it is very difficult to find the qualified teacher. It is is too easy to encounter fake gurus. Both with the absence of a teacher or with the options to go with a teacher half-heartedly brings further challenges. In addition, this western culture bears the latent expectation to being held hands and being supported in literally all aspects in life. Longing, Impatience, self-denigration, many thoughts and emotions may come up.

Everyone, maybe even everything, one encounters can be a teacher. Pointing out instrucitons are for free everywhere, if one just is awake to the moment to hear them. Fascinating to see in particuliar which kind of wisdom can flow out of kids!
Also whatever emotion arises, look at the arising. Go deeper down to the source. How fast am I judging? How fast am I assuming to know the truth?

Yet I think the teacher is necessary for two things:
  • to express the unexpressable, that hinge of that ultimate truth. The source is paradox and beyong common logic. I think that requires some personal , maybe metaphysical, transmission. and
  • an experienced eye that challenges you further or shows your limits. That sees in you what you cannot see yourself and shows the way. That reacts intuitively and personally to the student and his karmic predisposition.
A text doesn't allow that interaction.
I'd say that without a teacher one cannot loosen ego's manifold graspings and disguises because one has to do that whilst also having infinite compassion for that self. If not, one falls into craziness. :rolleye:

Just my two cents.
Last edited by weitsicht on Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ho! All the possible appearances and existences of samsara and nirvana have the same source, yet two paths and two results arise as the magical display of awareness and unawareness.
HO NANG SRI KHOR DAE THAMCHE KUN ZHI CHIG LAM NYI DRAE BU NYI RIG DANG MA RIG CHOM THRUL TE

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conebeckham
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by conebeckham » Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:07 pm

Astus wrote:

If the monastic side of things is put aside, then there aren't really any clear cut definitions, even though there seem to be a few general ideas of what a teacher is. So, here's my first take on it:

Primarily, when there is a talk of a personal teacher, that sounds like having a therapist/coach who guides one's every step on the way to enlightenment. Naturally, such a teacher is assumed to be enlightened, who can tell whatever the disciple needs, hence no instruction or request is absurd enough. This vision of the awakened master - a fairly romantic notion - is the basis of guru worship gone wrong.
There are also personal teachers who have ongoing relationships with students, and who can guide students gradually based on that relationship.
The sort of personal communication that exists in such relationships is the basis by which students are guided. This was frankly the norm in Vajrayana in Tibet, for those who were committed to practice, whether in retreat or not.
Astus wrote:Secondly, there are the great teachers who one can listen to from the crowd, and their mere presence is a blessing, or at least that's how you can feel. They can talk like as if they were personally answering your deepest questions, and if you have the rare chance of asking, the reply is something that at the same time touches your heart and keeps you contemplating it even years later. These masters keep the system of teaching tours alive.
And empowerments as well, in Vajrayana context. But hard to rely on these sorts of teachers for detailed instruction as one progresses along the path.....not impossible, but hard.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

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Malcolm
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Malcolm » Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:18 pm

Astus wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:25 pm
Admin_PC wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 4:20 am
Maybe we should talk about the various nuances of the term “teacher”? Astus touched on it before with discussion of the term “kalyanamitra” vs “guru”. There seems like there may be different levels to the term.
If the monastic side of things is put aside, then there aren't really any clear cut definitions
Of course there are. There are reams of passages that define the qualities of a kayānamitra. The terms guru and kalayānamitra are intimately connected in Mahāyāna Sūtras.

For example, the Ratnānanta Sūtra says of the virtuous mentor:

One must have strong devotion for the virtuous mentor. They are never satisfied in seeking the Dharma. They have much hearing, and are diligent. They pure investigation into the treatises. They train in discernment. They train in discerning philosophical positions. They are expert in rites. One should be devoted to the guru. One must never deny the guru. One must never violate the word of the guru.


The Akṣayamati-nirdeśa states:

Those virtuous mentors are without pride, and they should be held as dear as gurus, they should be held as dear as the teacher.

The Bodhisattva-piṭaka Sūtra states:

Since I pleased a master,
I have attained freedom and endowments.
Since I relinquished evil companions,
I have found a virtuous mentor.
In order to attain awakening,
I have disregarded my body and my life.
In order to attain the awakening of a buddha,
with thoughts of faith
for the master, the guru, the object of offering,
I always behaved with respect.


And:

One should circumambulate all gurus
thereby, merit is strengthened and one's brilliance increases.


The Buddha-saṅgīti Sūtra states:

Bodhisattvas on the second bodhisattva bhumi think of eight Dharmas in their minds. If it is asked what are the eight, they are as follows: 1) they have pure discipline, 2) they are grateful and thoughtful, 3) they dwell in power of patience, 4) they are joyful and they bow, 5) they never abandon all sentient beings, 6) they are unconfused about great compassion, 7) they are devoted to the guru and consider them the Teacher (i.e. Buddha), and 8) they are diligent in the perfections.

The Suvikrāntacinta-devaputra-paripṛcchā states:

Devaputra, if a bodhisattva is endowed with four Dharmas they will be a master for all. What are these four? Absence of pride, devotion to the guru, conscientiousness, and strong aspiration.

The Śatasāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā states:

Rely upon, attend, serve, and regard those virtuous mentors as gurus.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Astus
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Astus » Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:21 pm

conebeckham wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:07 pm
There are also personal teachers who have ongoing relationships with students, and who can guide students gradually based on that relationship.
The sort of personal communication that exists in such relationships is the basis by which students are guided. This was frankly the norm in Vajrayana in Tibet, for those who were committed to practice, whether in retreat or not.
Is that not the local teacher?
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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conebeckham
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by conebeckham » Thu Nov 30, 2017 11:25 pm

Astus wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:21 pm
conebeckham wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:07 pm
There are also personal teachers who have ongoing relationships with students, and who can guide students gradually based on that relationship.
The sort of personal communication that exists in such relationships is the basis by which students are guided. This was frankly the norm in Vajrayana in Tibet, for those who were committed to practice, whether in retreat or not.
Is that not the local teacher?
Well, not according to your definition, where you say "There is not much to say about them," and you identify them as leading meditations and occasionally making speeches.

These personal teachers are much more than that.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

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Astus
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Astus » Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:00 am

conebeckham wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 11:25 pm
not according to your definition...
These personal teachers are much more than that.
It can be extended, or call it another type, etc. I was mostly referring to the requirement of availability for such a personal teacher you mentioned.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Astus » Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:04 am

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:18 pm
Of course there are. There are reams of passages that define the qualities of a kayānamitra. The terms guru and kalayānamitra are intimately connected in Mahāyāna Sūtras.
The reason I mentioned the exclusion of the monastic side is because it seems most of the kalyanamitras are within a renounced environment. Also, what types of good friends would you list?

"Great enlightening beings have ten kinds of spiritual friends. What are they? Spiritual friends who cause them to persist in the determination for enlightenment; spiritual friends who cause them to generate roots of goodness; spiritual friends who cause them to practice the ways of transcendence; spiritual friends who enable them to analyze and explain all truths; spiritual friends who enable them to develop all sentient beings; spiritual friends who enable them to attain definitive analytic and expository powers; spiritual friends who cause them not to be attached to any world; spiritual friends who cause them to cultivate practice tirelessly in all ages; spiritual friends who establish them in the practice of Universal Good; spiritual friends who introduce them to the reaches of knowledge of all buddhas. These are the ten."
(Flower Ornament Scripture, p 1027)

"Now, one who has resolved to begin practice and who desires to cultivate calming-and-insight must first fulfill five conditions related to outward circumstances. The first is the requirement that one maintain purity in practice of the moral precepts [as a bhikshu/ni].
...
The fifth [of the five prerequisite conditions] requires that one draw near to good spiritual friends. Good spiritual friends are of three types:
1)
[Externally-Protective Good Spiritual Friends]
The first is the “externally-protective” good spiritual friend who provides necessary provisions, makes offerings, and is well able to take care of the practitioner’s needs, doing so in a fashion which precludes any mutual disturbance.
2)
[Identical-Practice Good Spiritual Friends]
The second is the “identical-practice” good spiritual friend together with whom one cultivates a single path. Each provides the other with encouragement and inspiration while refraining from mutual bother or disturbance.
3)
[Instructive Good Spiritual Friends]
The third is the “instructive” good spiritual friend who instructs and delights the practitioner with teachings about the internal and external skillful means associated with the Dharma entryway of dhyāna absorption. This is the conclusion of the summary clarification of the five kinds of necessary prerequisites."

(Zhiyi: Xiaiozhiguan, in Essentials of Buddhist Meditation, p 39, 51)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Anonymous X » Fri Dec 01, 2017 5:40 am

PuerAzaelis wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:33 pm
Anonymous X wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:27 am
Why was it that the first time ''a light was turned on in me", was after reading J.Krishnamurti, who was not a Buddhist and did not talk about Buddhism?
If ultimately his books didn't reflect the four dharma seals what kind of light was it then, in retrospect?
The question was rhetorical. Of course, a Buddhist will see it their own way. I'm not really interested in these kinds of explanations which seem to reinforce existing belief structures.

Simon E.
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Simon E. » Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:29 am

Which raises the obvious question.
Why are you posting about the need for a teacher on a thread about teachers in the Mahayana, and which is on a forum clearly marked for the 'discussion of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism'? :shrug:

I have never looked, but I strongly suspect that there are lots of forums dedicated to Krishnamurti.
'We have a physical body with its various needs. Each day we have to eat, sleep, rest and so on.
This is our reality and we can't ignore it'

Chogyal Namkhai Norbu.

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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Grigoris » Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:14 am

Anonymous X wrote:
Fri Dec 01, 2017 5:40 am
PuerAzaelis wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:33 pm
Anonymous X wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:27 am
Why was it that the first time ''a light was turned on in me", was after reading J.Krishnamurti, who was not a Buddhist and did not talk about Buddhism?
If ultimately his books didn't reflect the four dharma seals what kind of light was it then, in retrospect?
The question was rhetorical. Of course, a Buddhist will see it their own way. I'm not really interested in these kinds of explanations which seem to reinforce existing belief structures.
If you do not recognise the validity of the Four Dharma Seals in defining what is, or is not, Dharma then what are you doing here on DW?
"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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Malcolm
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Malcolm » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:14 pm

Astus wrote:
Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:04 am
Malcolm wrote:
Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:18 pm
Of course there are. There are reams of passages that define the qualities of a kayānamitra. The terms guru and kalayānamitra are intimately connected in Mahāyāna Sūtras.
The reason I mentioned the exclusion of the monastic side is because it seems most of the kalyanamitras are within a renounced environment. Also, what types of good friends would you list?
Utterly besides the point.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

Yuren
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Yuren » Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:16 pm

You need teachers for pretty much everything, why would this be any different?
But I disagree if someone wants to make an absolutist statement and say: "it's impossible to make any progress without a personal teacher"
There are always rare exceptions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mushi-dokugo

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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Grigoris » Mon Dec 04, 2017 2:41 pm

Yuren wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:16 pm
You need teachers for pretty much everything, why would this be any different?
But I disagree if someone wants to make an absolutist statement and say: "it's impossible to make any progress without a personal teacher"
There are always rare exceptions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mushi-dokugo
Let's stick to rules and not exceptions, shall we? ;)
"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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Astus
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Astus » Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:11 pm

Yuren wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:16 pm
But I disagree if someone wants to make an absolutist statement and say: "it's impossible to make any progress without a personal teacher"
There are always rare exceptions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mushi-dokugo
That is not the appropriate example, because the need of a teacher discussed here is about starting on the path and not about qualifying as a teacher. And while there were some notable teachers (e.g. Hanshan Deqing, Zibo Zhenke, Hakuin Ekaku, Gyeongheo Seong-U) in the history of Zen who never received certification from another, they were all monks. Although it is another question if a general training could qualify people to master specific methods, as those Zen teachers actually did. Nevertheless, the bigger question at this point is whether it is possible for someone to learn Buddhism only from books (also perhaps audio/video materials) and that way gain correct understanding.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by WontonCarter » Mon Dec 04, 2017 5:16 pm

Astus wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:11 pm
Nevertheless, the bigger question at this point is whether it is possible for someone to learn Buddhism only from books (also perhaps audio/video materials) and that way gain correct understanding.
How I've done it so far is to not only read the works of many teachers of many traditions, but also work a lot with admirable friends, compare understandings, read the posts here and at DhammaWheel, as well as other forums, and listen to Dharma talks and lectures from highly-reputable teachers of both Mahayana and Theravada. I've also been in contact/have friendships with monks and nuns, exchanged letters, had conversations, etc. I spend a lot of time studying the Pali Canon and Mahayana sutras as well, and reading commentaries. Most importantly, I practice in line with these teachings and scriptures.

I'm a loner, honestly. I don't have a teacher. Most I've done is checked out a local Shambhala Center (pretty decent) and a local Zen center (pretty bad). My schedule nor my transportation options currently allow for visiting other centers, but I intend to visit some more, associated with Dharma Drum and Fo Guang Shan.

In the end, my answer to the question is honestly no. Admirable friendship with people far more experienced is 1000x better, and they recommend the good books too :)

EDIT: I'd like to note that books really can't be the end-all be-all partly because what books should we even read? When I first started off, all I had was two Thich Nhat Hanh books. I still reread one of them every few months for fun, but if I hadn't met my first admirable friends a month or so later, where would I have gone? Likely in circles. Admirable friendship is irreplaceable. "The whole of the holy life" as the Buddha said. Does any Buddhist friend count as an admirable friend? No. They must be on the right path. My first friends had already achieved some unmistakable results in line with the scriptures.
Last edited by WontonCarter on Mon Dec 04, 2017 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Malcolm
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Malcolm » Mon Dec 04, 2017 5:21 pm

WontonCarter wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 5:16 pm
Astus wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:11 pm
Nevertheless, the bigger question at this point is whether it is possible for someone to learn Buddhism only from books (also perhaps audio/video materials) and that way gain correct understanding.
How I've done it so far is to not only read the works of many teachers of many traditions, but also work a lot with admirable friends, compare understandings, read the posts here and at DhammaWheel, as well as other forums, and listen to Dharma talks and lectures from highly-reputable teachers of both Mahayana and Theravada. I've also been in contact/have friendships with monks and nuns, exchanged letters, had conversations, etc. I spend a lot of time studying the Pali Canon and Mahayana sutras as well, and reading commentaries. Most importantly, I practice in line with these teachings and scriptures.
This is called training in the three wisdoms: hearing, reflection, and cultivation.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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SunWuKong
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by SunWuKong » Mon Dec 04, 2017 6:16 pm

I hate being the party-pooper, but are we all venting our opinions on a topic without a specific person asking the question? "Need" is defined here by what you "need' to do. If you want to meditate, improve your life, burn some incense, eat tofu; NO you don't need a teacher. If you are wanting to become the Next Patriarch and require Authentic Dharma Transmission, YES, you will need a teacher. In between are lots of shades of grey, lots of cultural baggage, lots of circumstantial permutations. If the question is "do you want to receive Mind-to-Mind Transmission of the Dharma" YES you need a teacher. If you only want to become Enlightened, no you only need to do whats required, and have the will to do it. There's my 2 cents worth. :yinyang:
"Cast off body and mind" (身心脱落 shēn xīn tuō luò)

Yuren
Posts: 132
Joined: Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:39 am

Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Yuren » Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:51 am

Astus wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:11 pm
whether it is possible for someone to learn Buddhism only from books (also perhaps audio/video materials) and that way gain correct understanding.
And the answer is yes. If you think it's impossible, you have to contradict the Lotus Sutra.
Yes, there's a high chance a person will misunderstand the Sutra without a teacher explaining it to him.
But it's not a priori impossible that someone would gain a total and correct understanding of Mahayana by simply reading a Sutra.
And by "reading" I mean really reading and understanding in depth: existentially, too, not just academically - with his body, heart and mind.

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