Searching for a Teacher

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Terma
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Re: Searching for a Teacher

Post by Terma » Sun Sep 30, 2018 6:32 pm

And I might add that a realized Master will teach you according to your own personal needs and situation. Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, one of the teachers that the OP has mentioned, has said that the role of the guru is to "assassinate the ego". And I think often times it won't be done in the way you would like it to be done.

Be careful what you wish for...


I think that it would be best to find a master who demonstrates great bodhicitta, and who touches the hearts of other's by teaching the sublime dharma. The rest will be up to you.

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justsit
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Re: Searching for a Teacher

Post by justsit » Sun Sep 30, 2018 6:35 pm

PeterC wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 12:10 pm
To paraphrase Garrison Keillor, sometimes good fortune consists not of getting what you want but getting what you need, and having the good sense to realize that this is what you would have wanted at the outset if you had known more about yourself.
^This. :thumbsup:
To OP:
If you go looking for a teacher who fits your profile and makes you feel comfortable, that's what you'll get. Comfort.
If you're looking for a teacher who will show you how to see clearly, you may need to look beyond your comfort zone.

Sometimes way beyond. My teacher knocked me off my cushion in ways I never dreamed of.

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Sonam Wangchug
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Re: Searching for a Teacher

Post by Sonam Wangchug » Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:54 pm

justsit wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 6:35 pm
PeterC wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 12:10 pm
To paraphrase Garrison Keillor, sometimes good fortune consists not of getting what you want but getting what you need, and having the good sense to realize that this is what you would have wanted at the outset if you had known more about yourself.
^This. :thumbsup:
To OP:
If you go looking for a teacher who fits your profile and makes you feel comfortable, that's what you'll get. Comfort.
If you're looking for a teacher who will show you how to see clearly, you may need to look beyond your comfort zone.

Sometimes way beyond. My teacher knocked me off my cushion in ways I never dreamed of.
:good:

Crazywisdom
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Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 5:48 pm

Re: Searching for a Teacher

Post by Crazywisdom » Mon Oct 01, 2018 1:27 pm

sunandmoon wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 3:29 am
fckw wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:50 am
Most people are not really ready for "crazy wisdom" style teaching. A crazy wisdom teacher whom you approach in the belief that he'll do sex, drugs and rock'n roll with you might actually give you the prajnaparamita to learn by heart before doing anything else. Or have you do anything unbearably boring and repetitive. There are some quite wild teachers out there, but they are typically not the ones walking around with a big plate saying: "Wild thing". In fact, any teacher doing that is most probably not worth approaching. Most really wild teachers with some level of realization will probably look pretty conservative and boring at the outside. Their inner realization does not necessarily show in outrageous acts, which more often than not is simply a sign of a silly or perhaps narcissistic person acting out. So, if someone's looking for a teaching including alcohol, firearms and cigarettes (why not include sex, by the way?) then the question to be raised is rather: why? We all know that cigarettes cause cancer, firearms can be harmful, and alcohol is not the healthiest diet. So, why explicitly ask for these things? Who's preventing you from drinking, smoking and, well, shooting? A tantric teacher will not suddenly allow you to act out your own unfulfilled desires, you'll actually have to deal with them yourself.
You raise a lot of good points and questions - I don't really have much experience with "crazy wisdom" teachers, so I can't really comment much on there being a significant different outward/inward appearance and display. Although that's an interesting point - I usually looked at the outer appearance as somewhat of an indicator, all-be-it imperfect, of what the teacher will be like privately. As you said, that assumption could be quite incorrect. Will have to look at this a little bit more. Thanks for raising an interesting question.

About the whole firearms thing, I think you're maybe reading too literally into what I'm saying. What I was trying to say was I was looking for a teacher who was on the wild side and not so stuck in what I see as rigid dualistic morality, based on all the reasons, which are quite good and you mentioned, why these things are usually avoided by most "good" people - alcohol leads to heddlesness and is harmful to health, weapons are instruments of violence, and smoking is indulgent and harmful to health as well. What I'd say these people sometimes don't see is the unwholesomeness of their rigidly dualistic view of these activities and their beliefs - ie, heedlesness really is bad, harming your health really is bad, violence really is bad, etc. I'm attracted to this style of teaching and practice because these actions give expression to a philosophical perspective/view which I resonate deeply with.

Some of my background, I'd been a pretty hardcore, black-and-white Buddhist (8 precepts since 19, and then 227 as a Theravadan Bhikkhu from 22 to 27). For some reasons I'd rather not get into, I started to distance myself from the traditional Theravadan philosophy and practice and be more drawn towards the "wild" side which tangibly expresses the non-dual nature of reality by engaging in things which are typically seen as unwholesome - firearms, smoking, and alcohol being just a few examples of these things. Other wild behavior could easily be included, like dressing in drag or sitting down in an elevator. So when I said that I was interested in more "wild" teachers, it was because that's where my own view is at present. Not saying it's absolutely right, just my present opinion. And it seems the most sensible for me to search for someone who has similar views to my own. For example, I'm looking for a teacher in the Tibetan Tradition, not a Christian hermit, or even training under my former Theravadan teacher - although I respect my former teacher immensely and feel much gratitude for all that he's given me. My take seems pretty sensible IMHO. I am biased, however. Hahaha.

Another point, the more wild, playful, rebellious type is also more of my personality. I've been this way since I was a young child, and thus find that teachers who have this streak I connect with and communicate with much more easily.
You’ve done a lot. So trust your gut. The unconventional lamas are soon no more. But maybe you will find some yogis who haunt power places. I’ll repeat. This is not necessary. What’s important is you receive empowerment, transmissions and clear explanations of tantra. The wild and unconventional will come from your practice in foreign lands.
I got my Chili Chilaya.

Simon E.
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Re: Searching for a Teacher

Post by Simon E. » Mon Oct 01, 2018 1:56 pm

Sonam Wangchug wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:54 pm
justsit wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 6:35 pm
PeterC wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 12:10 pm
To paraphrase Garrison Keillor, sometimes good fortune consists not of getting what you want but getting what you need, and having the good sense to realize that this is what you would have wanted at the outset if you had known more about yourself.
^This. :thumbsup:
To OP:
If you go looking for a teacher who fits your profile and makes you feel comfortable, that's what you'll get. Comfort.
If you're looking for a teacher who will show you how to see clearly, you may need to look beyond your comfort zone.

Sometimes way beyond. My teacher knocked me off my cushion in ways I never dreamed of.
:good:
Not forgetting that your comfort zone might be hanging out with unconventional teachers and that what you might actually need is a teacher that is deeply traditional.
Unconventional teachers might be needed in a traditional society like old Tibet and might be the opposite of what is needed in a chaotic culture.
Back to fishin' folks... :namaste:

sunandmoon
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2018 12:20 am

Re: Searching for a Teacher

Post by sunandmoon » Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:25 pm

PeterC wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 12:10 pm
There’s a lot of good suggestions here. Also a lot of discussion by the OP about what kind of lama he/she *wants*.

To paraphrase Garrison Keillor, sometimes good fortune consists not of getting what you want but getting what you need, and having the good sense to realize that this is what you would have wanted at the outset if you had known more about yourself.
Those are really excellent points. My experience was a little like that with my last teacher, who I was with for 5 years. I wasn't really expecting anything - just a friend of mine had tipped me off about this small place in Thailand when I was looking for teachers in the Thai forest tradition. I just went there without much thought, but was quite enchanted with the place and had an immediate and strong connection with the teacher. I had like 10 other places lined up to "check-out" and I ended up going to none of them. The first place turned-out to be just what I was looking for, or, as you wisely discerned, needed. It wasn't really an intellectual decision, there was just a strong sense of "rightness" about all of it.
But after some time, the honey-moon period passed and I ended up losing that sense of certainty, to some extent. There were things that I grew to dislike about him, despite how much respect and faith I had (and still have) in him. There was even a period of a few months when we didn't say anything to each other, which is a little strange if you see someone several times a day usually. Still, I respected immensely his realization and wisdom, despite some of the things which he did which I disagreed with or didn't like, and kind of pushed through it. Afterwards, I got better at not getting so caught-up in the ornaments of his personality and focusing more on the qualities which are so abundant in his heart: deep peace, wisdom, and love. I was able to side-line the things, without simply dismissing them, and serve and live happily with him, but eventually I felt like I was moving in a different direction and it didn't make much sense to continue training with him.

At present, I still feel an incredible sense of gratitude for him and all that he taught me. We talk occasionally, I visit him sometimes (his monastery is about 4 hours from where I live), and I help him with some of his projects when I have time. But, looking back, I still can't say that he was exactly what I needed - I think to say that feels a little too closed for me, as if at present I really know who I am and what I need now. In many ways, my own practice has drawn me in the opposite direction - that the end-goal, if we want to use those words, is not coming to a state of complete certainty of the teachings - something which I'm skeptical of, but more a sense of openness and uncertainty - a lived recognition that there's no solid view, be it what a teacher should be, what the dharma is, who we are, what we want, what's right, what's wrong, what's real, what's false, etc., which we can hold onto, and from which we can survey the world and make such bold pronouncements as "this is exactly what I needed" - my wording, not yours, I'd add.

And all that said, I think one of the reasons that the primary qualities of a teacher are not being mentioned (I did mention them in the original post, but in passing) is that it seems a little redundant. I'm obviously looking for a teacher who has a deep realization and all of the qualities that accompany that - I'm not looking for someone to entertain me and make me feel good or special, but someone to help me to recognize my true nature and take me beyond suffering. But I felt like it's a little unnecessary (perhaps a mistake on my behalf) to mention these things. I envisioned myself being mocked saying:

"Yes, I'm looking for a teacher. He should be a Tenth-Bhumi Bodhisattva. He should be accomplished in Sila, Samadhi, and Panna. He should be in full possession of the 6 Paramis. He should have been trained by some of the greatest masters. He should have an abundance of metta, karuna, mudita, upekkha. He should have strong psychic powers which he can use to help his disciples. He should have much experience teaching and various skillful means to help his students recognize their true nature. He should have an intimate understanding of the non-dual state, and his life should be a living expression of the non-dual nature of reality."

Thus, naturally, some of the more subtler details (which I myself am not particularly hung-up on) have been the focus. But that said, my experience with other teachers has shown me that the statement, "Oh, he should just be enlightened - he's just a personality display" or whatever seems a little bit of an oversimplification.

All of these teachers have distinct personalities and emphases. Some are much more philosophical, some more artistic, some more gentle, some more wrathful, etc. Whilst I would say that realized beings exhibit greater fluidity between these characteristics, it's not an absolute fluidity, and it seems rather sensible to me to stay with a teacher with whom one also shares a lot in common, as it aids in the process of communication and opening. As many posters have shared, I should be quite careful to seek comfort and familiarity over liberation, but I would also say that if I'm working with a realized being for the purpose of liberation, discomfort should be expected - and welcomed, as best as our ignorance allows. I still have ego, and that ego still needs a good kick-in-the-ass. Even if he's wild with a bit of a philosophical side, which I'd enjoy, I would want him to also not simply feed my wishes, but help me see and move beyond them. As with my own teacher, who was usually quite kind and gentle, he would sometimes be quite harsh with me at the most unexpected of moments. But we had some things in common on a more mundane level which made communication easier - we both had a natural openness and friendliness and were quite playful, among other things. But there were things which we butted heads about as well. Thus, I wouldn't dismiss personality or the ornaments as being totally irrelevant, although they certainly are of a much lower priority.

And, further, when I look at a majority of the teachers, they tend to attract like-minded students. The hard-core, meditate-your-ass-off yogis tend to practice with those kind of teachers. The more wild but a little lazy ones tend to practice with those kind of teachers. The more philosophical ones with an intellectual bent, those kind of teachers. So-on and so-forth. I see similar patterns emerge in most relationships - friendships, lovers, etc. I think there's some natural wisdom there, but that it should be joined with caution by both parties - don't lose liberation for comfort. It's a good base, but every relationship needs to move beyond that and try to sustain itself by moving beyond like and dislike, and that requires breaking through those boundaries and/or dropping them altogether.

sunandmoon
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2018 12:20 am

Re: Searching for a Teacher

Post by sunandmoon » Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:41 pm

I'd like to just add to what others have said and ask a question which seems to be underpinning a lot of the comments which seem to take issue with my "preferences:"

What should one look for in a teacher?

Is it a "preference" that someone's teacher be "enlightened" or "have sharp wisdom" and "helps one realize liberation"? Is it a preference that one's teacher "push one out of one's comfort zone"? In which case, on what basis does one look for a teacher outside of one's preferences?

Imagine if I posted asking, "I'm looking for a very traditional, conservative teacher because I believe that the old way of practicing which had been developed over thousands of years in Tibet is the proper form of the Dhamma - these teachers adapting it for modern use are diluting the precious gem of traditional Vajryana by attempting to accommodate to Western ignorance." One could easily object, "Well, now you're just going in with your preferences, maybe a "crazy wisdom" teacher is much better for you - if you find a traditional, old-school Tibetan lama you'll just end up staying in your comfortable views - you should find a more modern, wild lama that will shake you up.

Perhaps I should clarify that my main focus is actually on the qualities of the heart, rather than the accidents of personality. But that doesn't mean that I'm going to ignore the latter - it will factor into the decision, but it'll be weighed much less heavily than all the other conditions which go into the judgment.

I think one common side-step of this whole discussion is intuition - just trust your heart, but in my opinion, which I have many :rolling:, it seems to be setting up an unwarranted duality between reason and intuition, the head and the heart. Sometimes, it is true, that intuition and reason are in conflict, but in a majority of cases, I find that the two mutually support and enrich each other. I could go about this whole quest intuitively, but why walk with one leg when I have two?

Crazywisdom
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Re: Searching for a Teacher

Post by Crazywisdom » Mon Oct 01, 2018 4:11 pm

Well, in the case of Vajrayana there are specific qualifications a guru must have, an important one is mantra power. That means he or she can use mantras spontaneously to perform the four Buddha Activities. That usually would mean he or she had practiced enough to internalize the method and wisdom.
I got my Chili Chilaya.

sunandmoon
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2018 12:20 am

Re: Searching for a Teacher

Post by sunandmoon » Fri Oct 05, 2018 2:38 am

Well, it seems like things are drying up on this thread. This being the case, just want to thank everyone who's contributed - doesn't matter so much if you gave me a name or not - even the alternative views I found helpful to clarify my own. All of the replies have been extremely civil and helpful. A good example of right speech on the internet - an unfortunately rare thing to encounter these days, and one for which I'm grateful for being a part of.

May you all flourish in your practice!

:namaste: :heart:

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