The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
[N.B. This is the forum that was called ‘Exploring Buddhism’. The new name simply describes it better.]
Dharma Flower
Posts: 1035
Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:03 am
Contact:

The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Dharma Flower » Sat May 27, 2017 6:40 am

How concerned should we be over whether our teacher likes us or not? What if a teacher and a disciple don't like each other as people? Can it still be a beneficial relationship? Can a Dharma relationship transcend personal likes and dislikes? I appreciate your help. :thanks:

User avatar
Dechen Norbu
Posts: 2879
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Dechen Norbu » Sat May 27, 2017 10:25 pm

I have a hard time seeing that working, especially because people holding the title of Dharma teachers should above all be examples of compassion. From the part of the student, I think its hard to be inspired by someone he doesn't like, let alone feel any measure of devotion.
We may prefer one teacher over another because of this or that feature, but disliking one's own Dharms teacher? In Vajrayana that would be beyond bad. It would be dangerous. Better to stick with a teacher we like.

Dharma Flower
Posts: 1035
Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:03 am
Contact:

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Dharma Flower » Sun May 28, 2017 5:07 am

Thank you for your response. I think we also need to question our likes and dislikes, as to whether they are motivated by our misconceptions of the other person or by our own insecurities.

For example, we might get the wrong message from something if we don't try to look at the bigger picture. If someone doesn't answer an email, for example, that doesn't mean they don't appreciate you. It depends on their situation.

User avatar
cky
Posts: 62
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2016 3:00 pm

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by cky » Sun May 28, 2017 9:34 am

Dharma Flower wrote:If someone doesn't answer an email, for example, that doesn't mean they don't appreciate you. It depends on their situation.
Not sure what your specific situation is, but remaining silent sometimes can be a powerful tool in communication.

Dharma Flower
Posts: 1035
Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:03 am
Contact:

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Dharma Flower » Sun May 28, 2017 9:38 am

cky wrote:
Dharma Flower wrote:If someone doesn't answer an email, for example, that doesn't mean they don't appreciate you. It depends on their situation.
Not sure what your specific situation is, but remaining silent sometimes can be a powerful tool in communication.
For sure. It was by silently holding up a flower that the Buddha made Mahākāśyapa attain enlightenment:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower_Sermon

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 17380
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Grigoris » Sun May 28, 2017 10:05 am

Or it may just mean that the person is super busy.
"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

Dharma Flower
Posts: 1035
Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:03 am
Contact:

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Dharma Flower » Sun May 28, 2017 10:21 am

Grigoris wrote:Or it may just mean that the person is super busy.
Yes. Another way of reading too much into things is, for example, if the teacher looks at you a certain way, and one misinterprets it as disapproval.

If we put a teacher on too high of a pedestal, then we might see signs of disapproval that don't even really exist.

tingdzin
Posts: 1058
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2013 7:19 am

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by tingdzin » Sun May 28, 2017 2:55 pm

Some teachers are not too outgoing with any students until they know them well.

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 28057
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Malcolm » Sun May 28, 2017 3:21 pm

Dharma Flower wrote:How concerned should we be over whether our teacher likes us or not? What if a teacher and a disciple don't like each other as people? Can it still be a beneficial relationship? Can a Dharma relationship transcend personal likes and dislikes? I appreciate your help. :thanks:
Your teacher is not your friend. He or she is someone in whom you've placed your trust to guide you in the Dharma.
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

Arnoud
Posts: 650
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 7:19 pm

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Arnoud » Sun May 28, 2017 4:26 pm

Malcolm wrote: Your teacher is not your friend. He or she is someone in whom you've placed your trust to guide you in the Dharma.
Yes, but Dharma is connected to daily life. So, what if you disagree with their daily life choices or advice on your daily life? Is that guidance in the Dharma or just their opinion which is not related to Dharma?
If a teacher is truly realized, isn't it all Dharma? Or at least it should be, no? I think reconciling those--at times conflicting--views can be difficult.

User avatar
Virgo
Posts: 3272
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:47 am
Location: The Empire State

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Virgo » Sun May 28, 2017 7:52 pm

Arnoud wrote:
Malcolm wrote: Your teacher is not your friend. He or she is someone in whom you've placed your trust to guide you in the Dharma.
Yes, but Dharma is connected to daily life. So, what if you disagree with their daily life choices or advice on your daily life? Is that guidance in the Dharma or just their opinion which is not related to Dharma?
If a teacher is truly realized, isn't it all Dharma? Or at least it should be, no? I think reconciling those--at times conflicting--views can be difficult.
The function of the teacher is to be your guide. People do not have to ask the teacher for advice on how to govern their personal affairs - who to marry, who to associate with, where to live, what jobs to do, and so on. Nor do people have to be around the teacher all the time, or participate in every activity that the community puts on. We should govern our own lives, trust ourselves, and look to the teacher on matters of Dharma.

The teacher is only human, so do not judge. We are all humans with flaws.

Kevin
ངོ་རང་ཐོག་ཏུ་སྤྲད། །
ཐག་གཅིག་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅད། །
གདེང་གྲོལ་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅའ། །


http://caretoclick.com/clean-the-enviro ... -phone-use

User avatar
Dechen Norbu
Posts: 2879
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Dechen Norbu » Sun May 28, 2017 9:27 pm

I believe there's a saying about it that compares the teacher to a flame or something. Too close it will burn you. To far it won't warm you.

Anyway, it's better if you like your teacher. However, it helps a lot if you approach him in a healthy way, knowing what is his role and what isn't.

Sometimes there are people who tend to act in a very disturbing childish way when near their teacher. They seek attention and validation constantly, feel jealous of others closer to him, are always eager for a glimpse, a word, or any crumb of his attention and simply can't act in an adult, straightforward, no bs way with the teacher. It's a real shame when this happens.

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 28057
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Malcolm » Sun May 28, 2017 10:49 pm

Arnoud wrote:
Malcolm wrote: Your teacher is not your friend. He or she is someone in whom you've placed your trust to guide you in the Dharma.
Yes, but Dharma is connected to daily life. So, what if you disagree with their daily life choices or advice on your daily life? Is that guidance in the Dharma or just their opinion which is not related to Dharma?
If a teacher is truly realized, isn't it all Dharma? Or at least it should be, no? I think reconciling those--at times conflicting--views can be difficult.
One must use one's own wisdom too, when evaluating a teacher. Since they are not your friend, you can be more dispassionate in your analysis. Also, you are not practicing Dharma to please anyone.
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

User avatar
Nicholas Weeks
Posts: 3129
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:21 am
Location: California

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Sun May 28, 2017 11:04 pm

There are traditional ways giving qualities needed in the guru and disciple. Here is Je Tsongkhapa on a qualified disciple:
Aryadeva states in his Four Hundred Stanzas:

It is said that one who is nonpartisan, intelligent, and diligent
Is a vessel for listening to the teachings.
The good qualities of the instructor do not appear otherwise
Nor do those of fellow listeners.

Aryadeva says that one who is endowed with the three qualities is
suitable to listen to the teachings. He also says that if you have all
these qualities, the good qualities of one who instructs you in the
teachings will appear as good qualities, not as faults. In addition,
he says that to such a fully qualified person the good qualities of
fellow listeners will also appear as good qualities and not as faults.
And now the qualities of good guru:
The following is a description of a teacher who
instructs you in the stages on the paths of the three persons of different
capacities and guides you to the Mahayana, which is the path
to buddhahood. With respect to this, Maitreya says in his Ornament
for the Mahayana Sutras
:

Rely on a Mahayana teacher who is disciplined, serene, thoroughly
pacified;
Has good qualities surpassing those of the students; is energetic;
has a wealth of scriptural knowledge;
Possesses loving concern; has thorough knowledge of reality
and skill in instructing disciples;
And has abandoned dispiritedness.

Thus Maitreya says that a student must rely on a teacher who has
these ten qualities.
Glorious one, creator of all goodness, Mañjuśrī, his glorious eminence!
Manjushri-namasamgiti

Dharma Flower
Posts: 1035
Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:03 am
Contact:

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Dharma Flower » Mon May 29, 2017 12:05 am

Before converting to Buddhism, I had negative experiences with religious leaders in other religious organizations. I've never really wanted to get too closely involved with a Buddhist priest because of it. Just non-toxic relationship is enough, and I think we have that.

Dharma Flower
Posts: 1035
Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:03 am
Contact:

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Dharma Flower » Mon May 29, 2017 6:18 am

At the end of the year, my priest is moving back to his home country, as to inherit his father's temple. Maybe I should now learn non-attachment to him, rather than worrying if he likes me or not.

Dharma Flower
Posts: 1035
Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:03 am
Contact:

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Dharma Flower » Mon May 29, 2017 8:27 am

I have been attending services at the same temple for two years without tithing membership. I need to come to grips with the fact that the priest doesn't owe me anything, and he will be moving away soon anyway.

It might be time to move on to a different temple or Buddhist center, as to avoid being too attached to a priest who is moving away soon anyway, and who has more important things in his life than me, who has never been an official, dues-paying temple member.

May you be happy and well. :namaste:

muni
Posts: 4530
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:59 am

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by muni » Mon May 29, 2017 11:03 am

Can a Dharma relationship transcend personal likes and dislikes?
It is supposed to transcend these, I should say yes.

I think this depends as well from how the teacher is seen, whether as a human or a spiritual friend or a bodhisattva or buddha.
In our confusion and the wish to be freed of it, there is hope to have a nice relationship and the wish to seek protection by the Master and that is normal, I guess? To see there is such protection has its' function, if not trust is not easy. But it can be a very hard nut to bite ( due to own clinging to intrinsic existences), since a relationship with a Teacher is actually to make nature, how it appears-how it is, clear. And these so experienced hard nuts ( due to own confusion ) asks genuine faith in the guidance.

I saw once in a big assembly a man standing up from his chair and walking out when the teacher acted very wrathful for a short moment. Even the Teacher was not attacking "any one" at all, he couldn't bear that.
“ Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek. ”
H H Dalai Lama

"Relax." nirvana-samsara do not stray from spaciousness.

Arnoud
Posts: 650
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 7:19 pm

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Arnoud » Mon May 29, 2017 11:45 am

Thanks Virgo and Malcolm.

Dharma Flower
Posts: 1035
Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:03 am
Contact:

Re: The Teacher-Disciple Relationship

Post by Dharma Flower » Tue May 30, 2017 6:17 am

Is it possible to leave one Buddhist teacher for another or one tradition of Buddhism for another, without feeling guilt or bitter feelings about it afterward?

Post Reply

Return to “Dharma in Everyday Life”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 49 guests