Teaching Dharma - Why?

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10 years 11 months ago #2508 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
So then, he's disorganized....

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10 years 11 months ago #2509 by Mike LaTorra
Replied by Mike LaTorra on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?


So then, he's disorganized....

-cmarti


Yes, he is. I can vouch for that. I like Brad a lot. He's visited our Zen Center twice at my invitation and given public talks here. I am very grateful to him for doing that. However, I have to say that his email replies to my messages have been a bit scattered and late sometimes. And I can understand this, given the volume of email he must receive. I've had the same problem with my work email account, where I've sometimes missed important messages due to the overwhelming amount of listserv stuff (much of it from my colleagues at the university, who love to debate things to death).

Mike "Gozen"

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10 years 11 months ago #2510 by Dharma Comarade
Replied by Dharma Comarade on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
On Saturday I attended a day long vipassana style retreat in Modesto -- first time in a long time to do such a day with real, live people and a real "teacher."



Anyway, one of the things I had to work with throughout the day was a certain frustration I felt that the teacher might not realize just how "experienced" I actually was, that I wasn't just another innocent beginner. I don't like this about myself and luckily I was able to just keep my mouth shut the entire day and resisted any temptations to show off my wonderful knowledge -- I mostly just worked with those feelings as bare sensations to note and notice.



Okay, my point -- in spite of this I realized today how it would feel to me if a teacher or other students actually thought I did know something, if they actually thought I was advanced or particularly awake in some way. And what I realized is that that would be just horrible, awful -- very uncomfortable. And, I think this realization is going to help me to be a little more humble from now on (because it looks like I'm going to be doing more of these retreats and other activiities with groups of live people and teachers).

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10 years 11 months ago #2511 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Mike - that's a great story!!! I do think working in groups is particularly useful for just such feelings, and their opposites: I feel stupid compared to everyone else, I feel special compared to everyone else, I wish someone would notice how hard I'm working, I'm sweating blood here! Where's my gold star???

Practicing alone, we don't tend to run into those feelings quite as harshly as in a class or with a teacher. Been there.

When I was a kid we actually got literal gold stars stuck on our hands in
Kindergarten (if we hadn't been disobedient or gotten in a fight), to run home and show our mommies. Coming home without a star was devastating. Incredible how much that
sticks in the psyche.

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10 years 11 months ago #2512 by Dharma Comarade
Replied by Dharma Comarade on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Thanks, here is a more complete report on that day, which I've already sent to some people here and elsewhere:

All in all I have to say it was great.
I love meditating and for some reason I love to meditate with other people.
Plus, just the chance to have eight hours dedicated to practice is just going to create benefits, no matter what.
Now, the negatives, mostly just based upon the baggage I took to the day, rather than anything inherently wrong with the event:

Too much talking. I would've liked just a set bunch of periods of sitting and/or walking meditation, with just a little talking. You know, just the space provided for me to do my practice. But, she constantly entertained questions and would go on and on and on in her answers. It was almost entirely stuff I'd heard again and again and again over the past 30 years.
So, it was just so geared for beginners and I have this thing (that I'm going to have to learn to deal with if I continue this group practice endeavor) where I don't like the leader not knowing how experienced I am.
And, the leader was inconsistent in how she started and ended each period. Sometimes she used the bell/gong thing and sometimes she didn't. This made it hard to know when to transition.

But, still, it was mostly good. She set the thing up to be all about meditating on the body and all her readings were from those famous sutras on that subject (famous except that I can't remember the names but I sure recognized the words). Also, in her guided meditations, her readings and her talks she pointedly took us through each characteristic -- which was very effective.

By the end of the day, I'd definitely gotten some good continuity and momentum, faced a lot of aversion and conflict inside myself, and had a couple of what feels like significant insights.

So, I'm glad I did it.

One "insight" --
At one point I my brain sort of apprehended how to stay more in synch with moment to moment mental and physical activities -- open and ready. And, I think I saw that doing that is something that an entity is ALWAYS wanting to do somewhere inside (maybe deep down under layers of stuff most of the time) and there is a lot of suffering/disatisfaction involved in NOT being more in synch.
When I got that sense in the environment of the sitting (near the end) I was able to kind of cultivate it and explore it. After the talk I had to walk about a mile and a half up the road -- I was going to the gym to work out and be eventually picked up by Bec when she got off work. Anyway, the entire walk was an exercise in the moment to moment open awareness and it was pleasant and fascinating -- not blissful and ecstatic, just clam and peaceful -- and ready. I could really see how having a personal agenda for how myself or other people will or should behave and how different things will turn out is such a threat to this peace. Since then, I've kind of walked with the question of how to live moments without an agenda --- it certainly is a practice.

Another:
During the dharma talk Lori talked about how practicioners can have a lot of great experiences, such as experiencing a bright light. She warned us to "not get caught up in the light" -- but to just, simply keep investigating, to move on. She expanded on that quite well and it has been very helpful for me and possibly began the end of some bad habits I've developed.

And, more on just the idea of "practice."
I certainly was there for practice. That's it. I wanted to use every second of the time I was there to be practicing. I was really very sincere (almost innocent in a way I think) about this and I can see know how effective that attitude was. It was tempting to get caught up in how I was looking to the teacher and to the other students, or to try and connect socially with other people, or to be concerned about all the stuff going on with Bec and Lily and Drew that day outside of the room. If any of those things came up, I treated them as just something else to look at with bare awareness. Nice. I hope as I do more of these day or even longer retreats I can keep that same attitude.

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10 years 11 months ago #2513 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
"I could really see how having a personal agenda for how myself or other
people will or should behave and how different things will turn out is
such a threat to this peace."

This jumped out at me, Mike. What's disappointing about this moment if I don't have some idea of how it should be rather than how it really is? What's annoying about a person if I don't have some expectation about how they should be behaving? Can there only be "this peace" if the world fits itself neatly into the agenda I have made for it? (We know how well that doesn't work). Love it.

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10 years 11 months ago #2514 by Dharma Comarade
Replied by Dharma Comarade on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Right, and the thing is, it is possible to practice in some moments of our lives in which we are actually open to something new and unexpected, even to prefer to not know what is coming.

I noticed that later that night my wife told me about her horrible day at work. It was truly awful and she was upset and just ... sad. This was not what I wanted to hear, you know? I wanted to tell her all about MY fascinating day and have her be her usual open, happy nuturing self. So, in the face of this, how could I keep my post retreat in synch openness?

Well, at first at least I didn't because as soon as I saw her, before she even talked, my automatic expectations kicked in faster than my openness opened (did that make ANY sense?). So, what I did felt like a sort of emptying out of my brain, or maybe an expansion?

Practice.

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10 years 11 months ago #2515 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Right. Like catching those expectations as they surge up and saying "oh, but what if I don't grab onto those expectations right now? what if I just let things go, and sit here with what's actually happening?" Of course what's actually happening includes that bubbling tide of expectations, too!

Practice all day long! :P

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10 years 11 months ago #2516 by Dharma Comarade
Replied by Dharma Comarade on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
hear with your eyes see with your ears

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1 week 6 days ago - 1 week 5 days ago #116815 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
I'm resurrecting this topic for modern consideration  :D

Actually, I think it's an interesting conversation and it makes me remember how teaching the dharma is both the easiest and hardest thing one can attempt to do. When I got to a certain point in my practice teaching seemed to be the way to go. There were then, and are now, so many dharma teachers to choose from, and they are the supernovas of the online meditation universe. They shine brightly, develop a following, have a cache and an outward certainty about them in regard to their message and "brand."

If you read through the topic before commenting you will see the original participants were some of our current participants. I paid especially close attention this morning to the remarks by Kate.

Have a go!
Last edit: 1 week 5 days ago by Chris Marti.

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1 week 5 days ago - 1 week 5 days ago #116833 by Shargrol
Replied by Shargrol on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
There are only students, no teachers.

(I'm not 100% sure I know what I mean by this... but I think I mean it. But I'm drunk posting, which apparently only takes a glass of wine....)
Last edit: 1 week 5 days ago by Shargrol.

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1 week 5 days ago #116835 by Dusko
Replied by Dusko on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Red wine? White wine gives me headache. 
I think it’s ok to drink’n’post as long you respect the speed limit! :D 

Im glad there are teachers to suit everyone’s personality and needs. 
At times forums helped me and at time s teacher helped me.
At times a glass of red wine seems to help. 

Some folks need a more “religious” teacher to even lend an ear. Someone who has a robe and sings Buddhists chants. 

Others just need a dry focus on th technique itself and feel motivated by their trainer (teacher). 

Some folks like that soft hypnotic voice of Ken McLeod while some don’t. Some prefer the more direct natural voice of Kenneth Folk. 
Some prefer a female teacher others a male one. 

Some might prefer the grandiose teacher to be motivated to practice well etc … 

All this is fine with me. Even the money charging. All good and part of karma unfolding. Happy days that there are those who teach. 

And why teach? When you realise that all humanity is crazed and don’t know they are crazed and delusional causing lots of issues for themselves and others then it’s only natural to offer that which you stumbled upon and offer a way (many ways) “to be a light into yourself”. 

Issue only starts when there is an abuse between teacher and student. 
Friendly and respectful attitude is a must. Sense of being “above” a student is dangerous and can create all sorts of problems. 

For all parties involved “be the light onto yourself” … and , only I’m right and everyone else is wrong, of course :D :D :D :P (just kidding) 

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1 week 5 days ago #116837 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?

There are only students, no teachers.

Shargrol, what does this mean, please?

In one way this makes sense, since we're all still struggling and learning. But in another way, some are helping/guiding others along the path.

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1 week 5 days ago #116839 by Kacchapa
Replied by Kacchapa on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?

Dusko wrote: Red wine? White wine gives me headache. 
I think it’s ok to drink’n’post as long you respect the speed limit! :D 

Im glad there are teachers to suit everyone’s personality and needs. 
At times forums helped me and at time s teacher helped me.
At times a glass of red wine seems to help. 

Some folks need a more “religious” teacher to even lend an ear. Someone who has a robe and sings Buddhists chants. 

Others just need a dry focus on th technique itself and feel motivated by their trainer (teacher). 

Some folks like that soft hypnotic voice of Ken McLeod while some don’t. Some prefer the more direct natural voice of Kenneth Folk. 
Some prefer a female teacher others a male one. 

Some might prefer the grandiose teacher to be motivated to practice well etc … 

All this is fine with me. Even the money charging. All good and part of karma unfolding. Happy days that there are those who teach. 

And why teach? When you realise that all humanity is crazed and don’t know they are crazed and delusional causing lots of issues for themselves and others then it’s only natural to offer that which you stumbled upon and offer a way (many ways) “to be a light into yourself”. 

Issue only starts when there is an abuse between teacher and student. 
Friendly and respectful attitude is a must. Sense of being “above” a student is dangerous and can create all sorts of problems. 

For all parties involved “be the light onto yourself” … and , only I’m right and everyone else is wrong, of course :D :D :D :P (just kidding) 


Well spoken! 

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1 week 2 days ago #116891 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
What about the teaching (which I've seen in Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Benedict as well as Shantideva) that all beings are your teachers? Your brothers in the community are the chisel and hammer that God uses to sculpt you. 

At the moment my thoughts on teaching tend to be rather 'eh' - I am wary of people who seem to think themselves clever enough to teach; but I also listen to the 'teaching' that comes from daily life interactions, be it my husband, my mother, my doctor, or the next complaining taxi driver. 

In my own experience (in nearly any aspect of life, including spiritual practice) I have often wanted validation, support, suggestions or other input when I am anxious, afraid, confused or uncertain. It makes most sense at these times to seek that from someone who appears to have what I think I am looking for.

When I've been in places of more confidence, peace, et cetera, I probably make better choices about who to relate to. The doctor is a great example of this: I went and did some exams today at the request of a new doctor who wanted fresh baselines to refer to, and that's something I've rarely done, because I didn't want to hear about any problems, if there were any. Similarly, if/when I believed that my spiritual life obliged a certain kind of practice that fit the preconceptions I had of what a spiritual life was like, I sought contexts where that was supported.

The qualities I've admired have changed over time, and that guides who I appreciate when I want to bounce ideas off someone. I was in the past (in all sectors of life) particularly admiring of people who seemed rebellious, fierce, confident, and clever, for instance. I imitated them by swaggering, taking minor but admirable risks and telling them about it, swearing a lot, and thinking I was cool. I admire more, now, people who will be there for you: drive 6 hours from wherever to sit and listen, or show up to help when you have an injury, or go fetch you in the pouring rain even if it's an hour out of the way, call to make sure you're doing okay after a crisis, or other acts of generosity and kindness. At the moment I'd like to be that kind of person, too. 
 

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1 week 2 days ago #116897 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Ona, we've talked about this before, but I think age and experience benefit us all a lot more in our progress through life than is generally acknowledged in spiritual circles. Everything you just said has that air about it. Your understanding and needs have matured if you're anything like me.

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1 week 2 days ago - 1 week 2 days ago #116901 by Shargrol
Replied by Shargrol on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?

Chris Marti wrote:

There are only students, no teachers.

Shargrol, what does this mean, please?

In one way this makes sense, since we're all still struggling and learning. But in another way, some are helping/guiding others along the path.


Sure, I can attempt to explain...

Basically, I was thinking about how the road to hell is paved with the intention to "be" a teacher. It's a very clever way the ego gets to be egotistical while pretending to be altruistic. Wannabe teachers are mostly thinking about themselves, what skills they have, their ability to teach/transmit, their patience, their experience, their, their, their, their...   It's really egotistical, basically.

As an aside... I remember taking a martial arts training thing and the whole thing was about leading and misdirecting the opponent (so that you would have a chance against someone bigger/stronger than you). It all hinged on getting the person to commit and then changing what you were doing after they were committed. (The art of being the target, basically.) There were a lot of us that were really bad at it and the teacher summed it up: you guys are more worried about what you are going to do than what they are actually doing. 99% of your attention needs to be on THEM. The fight is about THEM not you. The teacher was hilarious because he would make people fall all over themselves by changing his footwork right after someone committed to a step. You would get all tripped up and he hadn't even started raining down the punches yet (!)

So back to no teachers, only students.... A lot of teachers are only interested in the student in so far that it's about their teaching that's getting into the student. They're actually not so interested in the student except as someone they are "greater than". And so they wind up being really bad/destructive teachers because for them it's all about THE TEACHING and not the student.

So forget teaching, there are only STUDENTS. What do they actually want/need? Maybe they don't really want/need what you're trying to sell. 99% they just need someone to listen and say "keep going". There is not "The Path" there is only "the student's path". The more you "teach" the less the student will actually "know", so all of your teaching might be making them worse off. Maybe the best "teaching" is letting the student be a student and you doing nothing. No teacher is in many ways the best teaching. There are no teachers, only students.

Heh, so that's what I was poetically trying to say. :)
Last edit: 1 week 2 days ago by Shargrol.

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1 week 2 days ago - 1 week 2 days ago #116902 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
And well said!

I can vouch for the accuracy of that. I suffered the same drive to teach but also was able, somehow, to escape it before too much harm was done. I suspect it was because I was too busy raising a family and working. God knows it wasn't because I recognized my inadequacies at that point in my life.  I think the mind has a natural affinity (duh) for the accomplishments and badges we can collect. So, like a lot of what we cling to, it's hard to see the urge to teach as egoistic. If you read/listen to what a lot of would-be teachers say it would be about their skill, and will, surrounding the thought of being a teacher.
Last edit: 1 week 2 days ago by Chris Marti.

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1 week 2 days ago #116903 by Dusko
Replied by Dusko on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
When I grow up I want to be just like Kenneth Folk. Or just like the Buddha. Or maybe more like Jesus. And to teach Mahasi Noting. Like “all the way”. But I dont want to be like Mahasi. 
I think i need to water the tomatoes. Look! A butterfly! :D 

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1 week 2 days ago #116906 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Re: maturity and immaturity, I think both are irritating to the other to some degree (parents! kids!), and everyone's going to wander along to whatever degree of maturity works out for them, much of which I suspect is out of our control. 

I have had my large share of bad decisions and unpleasant experiences in life. I am not proud of them, nor do they crush me, nor would I recommend them, and I'm not sure I would have listened better to older and wiser folk at those times (I'm sure I didn't bother to ask any of them for advice!!). And I'm pretty well convinced that those around me who make me cringe in anticipation of their next mishap wouldn't take my advice even if I shouted at them.  And I don't really like the feeling that I know enough about their life and needs and path in life to tell them what they should do. They really need to work that out. Perhaps this week's bad decision will be the best thing that ever happened to them, you know? Sometimes dumb mistakes are life changing in a good way. Not that you want someone to get knocked flat by a bus or dumped by a girlfriend or whatever, but it's often in the moments of being shaken up that we re-evaluate our way of seeing and grow in maturity and wisdom. Of course, sometimes we just go right back to the same old, too. 

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1 week 2 days ago #116907 by Dusko
Replied by Dusko on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Shargrol reminded me of the Life of Brian :D and this my favorite part! :D (laughing is healty) 

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1 week 2 days ago #116908 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Ona, yes, that’s my point - you would not have been able to post your last comment without having a lot of life experience behind you.

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1 week 2 days ago #116909 by Shargrol
Replied by Shargrol on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?

Ona Kiser wrote: Not that you want someone to get knocked flat by a bus or dumped by a girlfriend or whatever, but it's often in the moments of being shaken up that we re-evaluate our way of seeing and grow in maturity and wisdom.


I really dislike the patronizing use of the expression "a teachable moment"... but the basic truth of the idea ---- that sometimes you need to get hit by a bus or dumped by a girlfriend before you consider other options besides trying to get your way with the bus/girlfriend ---- is pretty similar to what I'm saying, too. :)  

 

Of course, sometimes we just go right back to the same old, too. 

This too! :D

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1 week 2 days ago #116912 by Dusko
Replied by Dusko on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Interesting what you say Shargrol! 

I don't see the "teachable moment" in a patronizing way at all. Actually never thought of it that way before. I do see it as indeed needed for some sort of seeking/lending of the ear to happen. If I'm feeling great I'm not going to listen to you telling me how I can improve my life :D So this "teachable moment" sure has something to do with experiencing suffering and even more important "I've had enough of it!" and as such I'm ready to lend my ear and hear what needs to be heard.

Unless there are people out there embarking on this journey without the push of Dukkha and they are but simply curious about the mind, the universe, and all. 
In this case, the "teachable moment" is anytime. 

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1 week 2 days ago #116916 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Teaching Dharma - Why?
Another thought to do with maturity and immaturity - it's been my experience here in Brazil that the healthiest church groups are those that include people of all ages. The presence of kids, teens and young adults provides energy, joyfulness, big ideas, and so on; the presence of older men and women (including the elderly) provides stability, common sense, and reliability. A group with insufficient older people will never have a good coffee hour and too much hyper-stimulation (rock bands at Mass, etc.)!! And a group with insufficient young people turns into a low-energy group of complainers. 

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