Yes, you need a teacher.

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DGA
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Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by DGA » Sat Nov 25, 2017 2:27 am

It's common: someone comes to DW with some ideas about Dharma practice, a lot of questions, maybe some aspirations. And someone with a little experience says Hey that's great but you need a teacher if you want to pursue this path. It happens a lot. Here are a few examples.

viewtopic.php?t=12693

viewtopic.php?t=10330

viewtopic.php?t=26489

viewtopic.php?t=21334

viewtopic.php?t=26504

viewtopic.php?t=19989


I propose this thread as a catch-all venue for arguments explaining 1. the problems that ensue when you attempt to practice Dharma on the principle that you can do it yourself by the inspiration of one's superior reasoning or the inner light of an imagined Buddha within or whatever, and 2. the ways in which practicing under the direction of a competent teacher is indispensable to a well-balanced Dharma diet.

(what is meant by "competent" will surely be worthwhile too)

This will save us some keystrokes. Instead of having to explain to someone why you need to find a capable teacher, you can just say so and copy a link to this discussion.

I invite contributions here. I will include my own shortly. but first:

Maybe you disagree? Good! Say so, but with the understanding that your objections will be rebutted. Disagree with those rebuttals? Good! We can go on like this. The truth is that Debate is Good. If Buddhist history teaches us anything, it is that Debate is Good, and not to be avoided or complained about. But that's a topic for a separate thread.

Motova
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Motova » Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:03 am

It's extremely easy to fool ourselves and justify bad behaviour. Someone needs to provide an example of how to integrate life into the Dharma (even if their circumstances are vastly different then ours), and if necessary call us on our BS if we're too far down the rabbit hole. Moreover, Dharma is extremely complicated and there are pitfalls at every turn, we need someone who has already made the journey to show us the path so we don't harm ourselves and others.
Malcolm wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2014 3:58 pm
The four means of converting beings to the Dharma are generosity (which itself as four aspects: giving material gifts, conferring fearlessness, loving kindness and teaching Dharma), pleasant speech, conduct and setting an example.

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Losal Samten
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Losal Samten » Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:13 am

http://read.84000.co/#UT22084-071-014/title

Ārya­kalyāṇa­mitra­sevana­sūtra

Homage to all buddhas and bodhisattvas.

Thus did I hear at one time. The Bhagavān was dwelling in the Grove of Twin Sāl-Trees in the vicinity of the Malla town of Kuśinagara, together with a retinue of śrāvakas. Then, when the Bhagavān was about to pass into parinirvāṇa, he addressed the bhikṣus, “Bhikṣus, you should train in this way. Bhikṣus, you should train thinking, ‘One should live with a virtuous spiritual friend, a virtuous companion, a virtuous support. One should not, however, live with a non-virtuous spiritual friend, a non-virtuous companion, a non-virtuous support.’ ”

Then, the venerable Ānanda spoke to the Bhagavān, “Honorable One, having come here alone to a secluded place, I had gone into meditative retreat when the following thought arose in my mind: ‘A virtuous spiritual friend, a virtuous companion, a virtuous support is half the holy life. A non-virtuous spiritual friend, a non-virtuous companion, a non-virtuous support, however, is not.’ ”

The Bhagavān replied, “Ānanda, do not say that a virtuous spiritual friend, a virtuous companion, a virtuous support is half the holy life, but that a non-virtuous spiritual friend, a non-virtuous companion, a non-virtuous support is not.
“Why? Ānanda, the point is that a virtuous spiritual friend, a virtuous companion, a virtuous support is the whole, the unadulterated, the complete, the pure, the totally purified holy life, but a non-virtuous spiritual friend, a non-virtuous companion, a non-virtuous support is not.

“Why is that? Ānanda, it is because, by relying on me as their spiritual friend, sentient beings subject to birth will be completely released from being subject to birth, and sentient beings subject to aging, sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, suffering, distress, and agitation will be completely released from being subject to aging, sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, suffering, distress, and agitation.

“Therefore, Ānanda, you should understand this in the following way alone. A virtuous spiritual friend, a virtuous companion, a virtuous support is the whole, the unadulterated, the complete, the pure, the totally purified holy life, but a non-virtuous spiritual friend, a non-virtuous companion, a non-virtuous support is not. Ānanda, you should train thinking in this way.”

When the Bhagavān had spoken these words, the bhikṣus rejoiced and highly praised what the Blessed One had taught.
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong. - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔
ཨོཾ་ཧ་ནུ་པྷ་ཤ་བྷ་ར་ཧེ་ཡེ་སྭཱ་ཧཱ།།
ཨཱོཾ་མ་ཏྲི་མུ་ཡེ་སལེ་འདུ།།

markatex
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by markatex » Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:11 am

In general, I would agree, though I don't follow Zen or Tibetan Buddhism, both of which place a far greater emphasis on it than the Nichiren tradition. There's this tendency to turn Buddhism into a completely solitary practice where one just reads books and visits Internet forums and then people end up more or less making things up as they go along and never really challenging themselves. We don't have anything like gurus in Nichiren Buddhism, and lay people don't enter formal student-disciple relationships, so I don't want to overstate the case. There's no "special transmission outside the scriptures." But without some kind of guidance, there's a tendency to just confirm your own prejudices in a solitary practice and you never really get anywhere.

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Astus
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Astus » Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:38 pm

You need a teacher for what? If it is information, they are all found in books. If realisation, how can anyone make you realise anything?

As far as the Nikayas go, it is not a teacher (acariya) one needs, but good friendship (kalyanamittata).

"And what is good friendship? Here, in whatever village or town a clansman lives, he associates with householders or their sons—whether young but of mature virtue, or old and of mature virtue—who are accomplished in faith, virtuous behavior, generosity, and wisdom; he converses with them and engages in discussions with them. Insofar as they are accomplished in faith, he emulates them with respect to their accomplishment in faith; insofar as they are accomplished in virtuous behavior, he emulates them with respect to their accomplishment in virtuous behavior; insofar as they are accomplished in generosity, he emulates them with respect to their accomplishment in generosity; insofar as they are accomplished in wisdom, he emulates them with respect to their accomplishment in wisdom. This is called good friendship."
(AN 8.54, tr Bhikkhu Bodhi, tr Narada Thera; see also: Association with the Wise)

As for the Mahayana:

"Bodhisattvas on the beginning level, intent on practising prajna
To seek unsurpassed bodhi, get close to good and wise friends.
How to obtain great wisdom and merit? Should be from prajnaparamita.
That is how all buddhadharma and merit are attained from good friends."

(Ratnagunasamcayagatha 15.1-2, tr from T229p680a28-b2)

"The mind not being intimidated and such,
Those who teach the lack of nature and so on,
And abandoning the antagonistic factors of these
Means being mentored in every way."

(Abhisamayalamkara 1.36, tr Brunnhölzl)

Both the Astasahasrika (PP8K) and the AA commentaries explain that the good friend is the one who teaches prajnaparamita, in particular that all appearances are empty, while the bad friends are those who teach hinayana. See: PP8K 1.2, 15.1, 22.1, 30.1; and Gone Beyond, vol 1, p 282-283; Groundless Paths, p 123-124, 422.

The Diamond Sutra gives the following summary of who teaches what:

"The dharmas spoken by the Tathagata cannot be grasped and cannot be spoken. They are neither dharmas nor no dharmas. And why? Unconditioned dharmas distinguish worthy sages."
and
"all Buddhas and all Buddhas’ Dharma of Anuttarasamyaksambodhi come forth from this Sutra. Subhuti, the Buddhadharmas spoken are no Buddhadharmas."
(ch 7 and 8, in Diamond Sutra, p 102, 106)

Huineng explains that like this:

"Good friends, if you wish to enter into the profound dharmadhatu and the samadhi of prajna, you must cultivate the practice of prajna and recite the Diamond Sutra. Thus will you attain seeing the nature. You should realize that the merits of this sutra are immeasurable and unlimited. They are clearly praised within the sutra; I cannot explain them fully here. This teaching is the Supreme Vehicle: it is preached for those of great wisdom, it is preached for those of superior capacities. Those of small capacities and small wisdom who hear it will generate doubt."
(Platform Sutra, ch 2, BDK ed, p 31)

He also says,

"You should each contemplate your minds and each see the fundamental nature. If you do not become enlightened by yourself, then you must seek a great spiritual compatriot, someone who understands the Dharma of the Supreme Vehicle, to indicate directly the correct path for you. This spiritual compatriot will have a great background and will, so to speak, lead you to the attainment of seeing the nature. This is because the spiritual compatriot is able to manifest the causes of all the good dharmas. All the buddhas of the three periods of time and the twelve divisions of the canon are fundamentally and naturally immanent within the natures of people, but if you cannot become enlightened yourself, you must seek a spiritual compatriot’s instructions in order to see [the nature].
If you can become enlightened yourself, don’t rely on external seeking — don’t think I’m saying you can only attain emancipation through [the help of] a spiritual compatriot other than yourself. This is not the case! Why? Within your own minds there is a spiritual compatriot [who will help you] become enlightened by yourself! If you activate the false and deluded, you will become all mixed up with false thoughts. Although some external spiritual compatriots may be teachers, they cannot save you. If you activate the correct and true and contemplate with prajna, in a single instant [all your] false thoughts will be completely eradicated. If you recognize the self-nature, with a single [experience of] enlightenment you will attain the stage of buddhahood."

(Platform Sutra, ch 2, BDK ed, p 33)

There are people who believe that a teacher is needed to point to the nature of mind and transmit the Dharma. However, the nature of mind cannot be shown, nor is there a Dharma that could be transmitted.

"In my view there is no Buddha, no sentient beings, no past, no present. Anything attained was already attained—no time is needed. There is nothing to practice, nothing to realize, nothing to gain, nothing to lose. Throughout all time there is no other dharma than this. ‘If one claims there’s a dharma surpassing this, I say that it’s like a dream, like a phantasm.’ This is all I have to teach."
(Record of Linji, p 12-13, tr Sasaki)

What do teachers give then?

Yaoshan hadn't been to the lecture hall for a long time.
The temple supervisor said, "We've all been looking forward to your giving us a lecture."
Yasohan said, "Ring the bell."
As soon as the monks had gathered for the lecture, Yaoshan got up from his seat and went back to the abbot's quarters. The supervisor followed and asked why he didn't say anything, since he had agreed to speak to the monks.
Yaoshan said, "They have teachers to teach them sutras and they have teachers to teach Abidhamma, so what is there left for me to do?"

(Record of Yaoshan, in Soto Zen Ancestors in China, p 63)

So Yunmen made it clear:

Having entered the Dharma Hall for a formal instruction, the Master said:
“All of you who come and go for no reason: What are you looking for in [this monastery] here? I only know h ow to eat and drink and shit. What else would I be good for?
“You’re making pilgrimages all over the place, studying Chan and asking about the Dao. Let me ask you: What have you managed to learn in all those places? Try presenting that!”
Again, he said: “In the meantime, you cheat the Master in your own house. Is that all right? When you manage to find a little slime on my ass, you lick it off, take it to be your own self, and say: ‘I understand Chan, I understand the Dao!’ Even if you manage to read the whole Buddhist canon— so what?!”

(Record of Yunmen, p 154, tr App)

And Huanglong explained further:

Huanglong addressed the monks, saying, “Before I came up here to speak there was nothing in my mind. But now that I’ve come up here there are a lot of questions. I dare to ask you whether the great vehicle of our school is found in such questions and answers. If it were to be found in such speech, then doesn’t the scriptural canon have questions and answers? Yet it is said that [the way of Zen] is transmitted outside of the scriptural teachings. It is transmitted to individuals who are great Dharma vessels. If it can’t be found in words, then even if you ask all sorts of excellent questions, what, after all, is the point of doing so? ... If you want to talk about it, then you can say that it can’t be realized through mystical perception or self-perfection. Nor may it be said to be a result of some all-encompassing understanding. The buddhas of the three worlds have only said you must know yourself. In the entire canon of scripture this can’t be explained. ... Those who leave home must have heroic resolve, cut off the two heads, and practice in seclusion in the house of the self. Afterward they must throw open the door, get rid of the possessions of that self, and then receive and meet whatever comes, giving aid to any in need. In this way the deep compassion of Buddha can be in some small measure repaid. Aside from acting in this manner, there is nothing else.”
Huanglong then struck the meditation platform with his whisk and left the hall.

(Zen's Chinese Heritage, p 403-404)

The story of Dongshan is a good example:

Once, when Yün-yen was making some straw sandals, Tung-shan approached him and said, "I would like to have the Master's eyes."
Yün-yen said, "Where have yours gone?"
"Liang-chieh has never had them," replied Tung-shan.
Yün-yen said, "Supposing you did have them, where would you put them?"
Tung-shan said nothing. Yün-yen said, "Isn't it the eye that desires eyes?"
"It is not my eye," replied Tung-shan.
"Get out!" thundered Yün-yen.

(Record of Dongshan, p 26-27, tr Powell)

And later when asked about Yunyan:

Because the Master was conducting a memorial feast for Yün-yen, a monk asked, "What teaching did you receive while you were at Yün-yen's place?"
The Master said, "Although I was there, I didn't receive any teaching."
"Since you didn't actually receive any teaching, why are you conducting this memorial?" asked the monk.
"Why should I turn my back on him?" replied the Master.
"If you began by meeting Nan-ch'üan, why do you now conduct a memorial feast for Yün-yen?" asked the monk.
"It is not my former master's virtue or Buddha Dharma that I esteem, only that he did not make exhaustive explanations for me," replied the Master.

(p 28)
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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Malcolm
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Malcolm » Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:01 pm

Astus wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:38 pm
You need a teacher for what?
For hearing the Dharma. One cannot get Dharma from black marks on white paper.
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 » Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:19 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:01 pm
One cannot get Dharma from black marks on white paper.
I think a good number of sutras disagree with that.
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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PuerAzaelis
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by PuerAzaelis » Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:26 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:01 pm
Astus wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:38 pm
You need a teacher for what?
For hearing the Dharma. One cannot get Dharma from black marks on white paper.
Kind of odd to hear from someone who is so into proliferating them then.
Generally, enjoyment of speech is the gateway to poor [results]. So it becomes the foundation for generating all negative emotional states. Jampel Pawo, The Certainty of the Diamond Mind

For posts from this user, see Karma Dondrup Tashi account.

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Malcolm
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Malcolm » Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:31 pm

Astus wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:19 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:01 pm
One cannot get Dharma from black marks on white paper.
I think a good number of sutras disagree with that.
No they don't.
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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Dan74
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Dan74 » Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:31 pm

I think it is more time efficient to cut-and-paste old posts...

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Astus
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Astus » Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:18 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:31 pm
No they don't.
"Those who grasp at emptiness slander the Sutras by maintaining that written words have no use. Since they maintain they have no need of written words, they should not speak either, because written words are merely the marks of spoken language. They also maintain that the direct way cannot be established by written words, and yet these two words, ‘not established’ are themselves written."
(Platform Sutra, ch 10,, p 383-384, tr BTTS)

"Wherever this sutra is taught, read, recited, copied, or wherever it is to be found, one should build a seven-jeweled stupa of great height and width and richly ornamented. There is no need to put a relic inside. Why is this? Because the Tathāgata is already in it."
...
"The bodhisattvas are exactly like this. If they have not yet heard, understood, or been able to practice this Lotus Sutra, they should be known as people who are still far away from highest, complete enlightenment. If they hear, understand, contemplate, and are able to practice it, they realize that they are certainly nearing highest, complete enlightenment. Why is this? Because the highest, complete enlightenment of all the bodhisattvas is within this sutra. This sutra opens the gate of skillful means and reveals the marks of the truth."

(Lotus Sutra, ch 10, BDK ed, p 161, 162)

Mañjuśrī said: “In the ocean I always expounded only the Lotus Sutra.”
Then Prajñākūṭa questioned Mañjuśrī, saying: “This sutra is profound and subtle. It is a jewel among sutras and rare in the world. If sentient beings diligently strive to practice this sutra, will they immediately become buddhas or not?”
Mañjuśrī answered: “Yes, they will.”

(ch 12, p 183)

"if there are sentient beings who hear this sutra and who devoutly understand, accept and maintain, and read and recite it, they will definitely attain this Dharma, and will not doubt it. How much more so if they cultivate according to its explanation!"
...
"This sutra extensively explains the inconceivable anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi of the buddhas of the past, present, and future. Therefore, heavenly emperor, if good men and women accept and maintain, read and recite, and make offerings to this sutra, that is tantamount to making offerings to the buddhas of the past, present, and future."

(Vimalakirti Sutra, ch 13, BDK ed, p 171-172)

"Sutras of this type should, during the final period after my nirvana, be circulated extensively throughout Jambudvīpa by you and others with your numinous power, so [the Dharma] is not cut off."
...
“If in the future there are good men and women who seek the Mahayana, I will make certain that they get hold of such sutras. Using their power of mindfulness, I will cause them to receive and maintain, read and recite, and extensively explain them for others.
“World-honored One, if in the latter age there are those able to receive, maintain, read, recite, and explain them for others, one should understand that these will all be established by Maitreya’s numinous power.”

(ch 14, p 177, 178)

"Those who study this scripture will gain an opening into the true dharma, becoming excellent physicians themselves. You should understand, however, that those who never study it will be blind, lacking eyes of wisdom, their sight clouded by ignorance."
(Nirvana Sutra, ch 3, BDK ed, p 105)

"To his disciples the Tathagata teaches in succession the ninefold canon of scriptures so that they may become thoroughly familiar with that dharma. It is only after this that he teaches the hidden treasury that is the tathiigatagarbha. expounding the Tathagata' s permanence for his disciples. The Tathagata expounds the Mahayana scripture, the Great Nirvana Sutra in this way for those who have already made their resolution for awakening as well as for those who have not, thereby creating a karmic cause for bodhi in both, with exception of the icchantikas. Thus, good man, this Mahayana scripture, the Great Nirvana Sutra. is immeasurably, innumerably, and inconceivably rare. You should understand it to be the most skilled of all skilled physicians, foremost and superior, the king among sutras."
(p 294)

"If one hears this sutra or retains even one four-line verse of it, that person will then access the stage of the Buddha’s knowledge; one will be able to proselyte sentient beings with appropriate expedients and become the great spiritual mentor (kalyanamitra) of all living things."
(Vajrasamadhi Sutra, ch 1, p 58, tr Buswell)

"If there is a sentient being who keeps this sutra, then in all other sutras he will have nothing more to seek. The dharma of this scripture encodes all dharmas and includes the essentials of all sutras. It is the unifying thread of the dharmas of all these sutras."
(p 302)
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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Malcolm
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Malcolm » Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:47 pm

Your citations do not support your point.
Astus wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:18 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:31 pm
No they don't.
"Those who grasp at emptiness slander the Sutras by maintaining that written words have no use. Since they maintain they have no need of written words, they should not speak either, because written words are merely the marks of spoken language. They also maintain that the direct way cannot be established by written words, and yet these two words, ‘not established’ are themselves written."
(Platform Sutra, ch 10,, p 383-384, tr BTTS)

"Wherever this sutra is taught, read, recited, copied, or wherever it is to be found, one should build a seven-jeweled stupa of great height and width and richly ornamented. There is no need to put a relic inside. Why is this? Because the Tathāgata is already in it."
...
"The bodhisattvas are exactly like this. If they have not yet heard, understood, or been able to practice this Lotus Sutra, they should be known as people who are still far away from highest, complete enlightenment. If they hear, understand, contemplate, and are able to practice it, they realize that they are certainly nearing highest, complete enlightenment. Why is this? Because the highest, complete enlightenment of all the bodhisattvas is within this sutra. This sutra opens the gate of skillful means and reveals the marks of the truth."

(Lotus Sutra, ch 10, BDK ed, p 161, 162)

Mañjuśrī said: “In the ocean I always expounded only the Lotus Sutra.”
Then Prajñākūṭa questioned Mañjuśrī, saying: “This sutra is profound and subtle. It is a jewel among sutras and rare in the world. If sentient beings diligently strive to practice this sutra, will they immediately become buddhas or not?”
Mañjuśrī answered: “Yes, they will.”

(ch 12, p 183)

"if there are sentient beings who hear this sutra and who devoutly understand, accept and maintain, and read and recite it, they will definitely attain this Dharma, and will not doubt it. How much more so if they cultivate according to its explanation!"
...
"This sutra extensively explains the inconceivable anuttarā samyaksaṃbodhi of the buddhas of the past, present, and future. Therefore, heavenly emperor, if good men and women accept and maintain, read and recite, and make offerings to this sutra, that is tantamount to making offerings to the buddhas of the past, present, and future."

(Vimalakirti Sutra, ch 13, BDK ed, p 171-172)

"Sutras of this type should, during the final period after my nirvana, be circulated extensively throughout Jambudvīpa by you and others with your numinous power, so [the Dharma] is not cut off."
...
“If in the future there are good men and women who seek the Mahayana, I will make certain that they get hold of such sutras. Using their power of mindfulness, I will cause them to receive and maintain, read and recite, and extensively explain them for others.
“World-honored One, if in the latter age there are those able to receive, maintain, read, recite, and explain them for others, one should understand that these will all be established by Maitreya’s numinous power.”

(ch 14, p 177, 178)

"Those who study this scripture will gain an opening into the true dharma, becoming excellent physicians themselves. You should understand, however, that those who never study it will be blind, lacking eyes of wisdom, their sight clouded by ignorance."
(Nirvana Sutra, ch 3, BDK ed, p 105)

"To his disciples the Tathagata teaches in succession the ninefold canon of scriptures so that they may become thoroughly familiar with that dharma. It is only after this that he teaches the hidden treasury that is the tathiigatagarbha. expounding the Tathagata' s permanence for his disciples. The Tathagata expounds the Mahayana scripture, the Great Nirvana Sutra in this way for those who have already made their resolution for awakening as well as for those who have not, thereby creating a karmic cause for bodhi in both, with exception of the icchantikas. Thus, good man, this Mahayana scripture, the Great Nirvana Sutra. is immeasurably, innumerably, and inconceivably rare. You should understand it to be the most skilled of all skilled physicians, foremost and superior, the king among sutras."
(p 294)

"If one hears this sutra or retains even one four-line verse of it, that person will then access the stage of the Buddha’s knowledge; one will be able to proselyte sentient beings with appropriate expedients and become the great spiritual mentor (kalyanamitra) of all living things."
(Vajrasamadhi Sutra, ch 1, p 58, tr Buswell)

"If there is a sentient being who keeps this sutra, then in all other sutras he will have nothing more to seek. The dharma of this scripture encodes all dharmas and includes the essentials of all sutras. It is the unifying thread of the dharmas of all these sutras."
(p 302)
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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Vasana
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Vasana » Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:08 pm

Where do hearing and reading overlap?

If you read some dharma and really get the message of a particular aspect of the teaching , how is that different from hearing it other than the absence of sound waves?

Granted some things must really be heard in real time since the dharma is dialogic but if all humans had to attend real-time dharma teachings on every topic before seeing any genuine progress in addressing samsara, afflictions and suffering etc, many people wouldn't get past that first hurdle.

Maybe for the purpose of this thread it would be useful to explore which dharma tenets can be approached from books and videos effectively and which topics when approached without a teacher are ineffective.
And then supposing someone establishes a formal or informal student/ teacher relationship, How much exposure to that spiritual freind is considered a minimum requirements for books and non-living explanations of dharma to then 'become' useful?
Last edited by Vasana on Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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Mantrik
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Mantrik » Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:18 pm

Vasana wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:08 pm
Where do hearing and reading overlap?

If you read some dharma and really get the message of a particular aspect of the teaching , how is that different from hearing it other than the absence of sound waves?

Granted some things must really be heard in real time since the dharma is dialogic but if all humans had to attend real-time dharma teachings on every topic before seeing any genuine progress in addressing samsara, afflictions and suffering etc, many people wouldn't get past that first hurdle.

Perhaps it is the difference between understanding Scripture and understanding Dharma.

I can read and understand how to drive a car, but it can't match having the instructor giving me directions.
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Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe
Suvarna Pakshaya Dheemahe
Thanno Garuda Prachodayath

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ (मिच्छामि दुक्कडम्)

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Vasana
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Vasana » Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:21 pm

Mantrik wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:18 pm
Vasana wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:08 pm
Where do hearing and reading overlap?

If you read some dharma and really get the message of a particular aspect of the teaching , how is that different from hearing it other than the absence of sound waves?

Granted some things must really be heard in real time since the dharma is dialogic but if all humans had to attend real-time dharma teachings on every topic before seeing any genuine progress in addressing samsara, afflictions and suffering etc, many people wouldn't get past that first hurdle.

Perhaps it is the difference between understanding Scripture and understanding Dharma.

I can read and understand how to drive a car, but it can't match having the instructor giving me directions.
Would you say that applies to all teachings with absolutely no exception? What about when a person is still in an early introductory phase of their exploration of the dharma? Will absolutely all books/recordings have no value until a face to face encounter can occur?

I expanded my orignal reply above;

Maybe for the purpose of this thread it would be useful to explore which dharma tenets can be approached from books and videos effectively and to what degree and which topics when approached without a teacher are ineffective or potentially hindering and why.
And then supposing someone establishes a formal or informal student/ teacher relationship, How much exposure to that spiritual freind is considered a minimum requirement for books and non-living explanations of dharma to then 'become' useful?
Last edited by Vasana on Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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Malcolm
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Malcolm » Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:26 pm

Vasana wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:21 pm
Mantrik wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:18 pm
Vasana wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:08 pm
Where do hearing and reading overlap?

If you read some dharma and really get the message of a particular aspect of the teaching , how is that different from hearing it other than the absence of sound waves?

Granted some things must really be heard in real time since the dharma is dialogic but if all humans had to attend real-time dharma teachings on every topic before seeing any genuine progress in addressing samsara, afflictions and suffering etc, many people wouldn't get past that first hurdle.

Perhaps it is the difference between understanding Scripture and understanding Dharma.

I can read and understand how to drive a car, but it can't match having the instructor giving me directions.
Would you say that applies to all teachings with absolutely no exception? What about when a person is still in an early introductory phase of their exploration of the dharma? Will absolutely all books/recordings have no value until a face to face encounter can occur?

I expanded my orignal reply above;

Maybe for the purpose of this thread it would be useful to explore which dharma tenets can be approached from books and videos effectively and which topics when approached without a teacher are ineffective.
And then supposing someone establishes a formal or informal student/ teacher relationship, How much exposure to that spiritual freind is considered a minimum requiremen for books and non-living explanations of dharma to then 'become' useful?
Without hearing the Dharma from a qualified teacher, one will not understand what one is reading. We see evidence of this here on Dharmawheel every day.
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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PuerAzaelis
Posts: 958
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 1:37 pm

Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by PuerAzaelis » Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:32 pm

Then every dharma book should be restricted to those outside of the magisterium.
Generally, enjoyment of speech is the gateway to poor [results]. So it becomes the foundation for generating all negative emotional states. Jampel Pawo, The Certainty of the Diamond Mind

For posts from this user, see Karma Dondrup Tashi account.

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Vasana
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Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Vasana » Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:40 pm

Isn't that a generalization, Malcolm?

Like many people, my first exposure to the dharma was reading a book by HH Dalai Lama. Was my experience of reading that book not useful since I hadn't heard those teachings from him in person? I've not received live teachings on many topics (as I imagine is the same for many of us ) yet I have also found practical and dharmic value in my own exploration of them ( as I imagine is the same for many of us ).

I mantain that there are some topics that newcomers can explore without a teacher to varying degrees of benefit and that good teachers are capable of writing books that are tantamount to receiving those teachings from them in person, minus the extra Q&A and the many other benefits that can only be found with a living relation.
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

Simon E.
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Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by Simon E. » Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:53 pm

But it's not just data.
Taking advantage of a temporary situation. Back for a short time only folks.

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PuerAzaelis
Posts: 958
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 1:37 pm

Re: Yes, you need a teacher.

Post by PuerAzaelis » Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:54 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 8:53 pm
But it's not just data.
Then every dharma book should be restricted to those outside of the magisterium.
Generally, enjoyment of speech is the gateway to poor [results]. So it becomes the foundation for generating all negative emotional states. Jampel Pawo, The Certainty of the Diamond Mind

For posts from this user, see Karma Dondrup Tashi account.

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