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Does the source of wisdom matter to you?

karastikarasti BreathingMinnesota Veteran

This morning I ran across something I found valuable and shared it. I found myself in a bit of anxiety because I know I have friends (some of them very dear and close friends) who would scoff at the source of what I shared. To the point that no matter what it said or how helpful it could be, they would immediately consider all material from the source to be invalid and silly. To the point that I can imagine a couple of them would wonder what on earth is wrong with me, since they mostly consider me to be level-headed and would consider this source to be anything but.

We've talked here about both Trungpa and Sogyal Rinpoche in the same light, so I wanted to bring it up in a more general sense. Obviously I am not talking here about accepting a person as a guru/teacher and forming a trust-based relationship with them. That is a different thing requiring (I think) a much higher level of inspection because you are letting them into your life and into your mind. In this case I am only talking about the information that is imparted assuming no personal connection to the person/source at all.

If you read something and you find it to be true, does it matter where it came from as to whether you choose to adopt it as a view or a practice or whatever it might happen to be? For me, I find that I accept wisdom that speaks to me wherever it comes from. I have had times where I have written things that seemed to come out of no where. Things I normally wouldn't have discussed or said in a particular way. I couldn't tell you where it comes from, but it happens. And I find it useful in my life, as well as when others have those moments as well. It doesn't matter if it comes from their thinking brain, the deeper accesses of their consciousness, their Buddha nature, the cosmos, dead people or whatever.

How do you discern what you would label as wisdom? Do you narrow yourself to just one source that you trust and compare all else to it? Do you go based on your "intuition" or how something feels/resonates with you? Can you accept wisdom when it comes from a person who is less than trustworthy, like Trungpa or Sogyal (or others) as long as your investigation of it finds that that wisdom is a truth for you?

Comments

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    For me the source doesn't matter as long as it's slightly reputable... there are some websites that I would distrust and examine longer to discern their reasoning if they were going to come out with some supposed 'wisdom'.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Such as? Does all wisdom come down to reason? Things like peace, love, compassion can't always be reasoned, it seems. They aren't logical things that are easily (or at all) measured. They are words we attempt to use to explain a concept that is very difficult to define, nevermind measure. So with regards to topics like that, does it have to be measured or provable in some way? And how do you go about doing so? In this case, this was a lengthy article written shortly after 9/11 about the pain of terrorism and the fear associated with it and our choices to live lives of joy rather than lives of fear, and how best to put that out in a world that is so bent on fighting against things rather than living for them. For me, I would have found it useful whether it came from a highly Christian page, a Muslim page, a Buddhist page, or just someone's random thoughts in a blog. Heck if it was posted as an editorial on Fox News, it still would have resonated with me because Fox News is not a source, they are just a medium. The person who wrote it is the only source.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Well, let's take an alternative consciousness website like 5D or Waking Times. Sometimes they have an interesting take on things, and sometimes it's click bait which covers a catchy headline with some very thin thinking about thinking. And sometimes it's something that resonates and strikes a chord inside, and then you start looking at their sources and doing research.

    The thing is, yes, ultimately the source doesn't matter, but how you approach getting an understanding does change a bit according to where it comes from. You might be able to accept an explanation from a Buddhist teacher which you didn't fully understand, while getting something similar from a website you know to be slightly cooky might cause you to label it as gobbledegook.

  • yagryagr Veteran

    I have many thoughts on this but to address the original question, no the source of wisdom doesn't concern me. Wisdom is wisdom.

    However, your concerns that your friends would reject the source and hence reject the wisdom as well as possibly lessen your effectiveness of sharing future wisdom with them because they are questioning your sanity is worth taking a look at.

    Your insights are lucid, you have a brilliant mind, and are a light on my journey. I can only assume that many others also think of you this way. If sharing a single truth causes a person or group of people to put up barriers to future truths you might share, then I would consider it wrong speech. Is it true, beneficial, desired and timely? It seems that this 'speech' is not desired because of the source. I would try to find another source and failing to do so, I would try to make the idea my own and share the thought this way as I would expect that they would be more likely to see the truth of what you shared if it came from you instead of a suspect source.

    karastiKerome
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Thank you much for your insight @yagr, and your complements. :blush: That is actually a really good point, and interesting because I have sort of been working on that exact thing but it never dawned on me to write my own little "book report" on the topic. I have a lot of information I find valuable enough that I'd like to share it with others. People who are open to the information but not so sure (or absolutely against, lol) the sources that I find intriguing. For whatever reason, I have friends who seem to find me intriguing enough and it would mean more to them to have that come from my point of view rather than sharing someone else's. It's actually basic information for me but stuff I often struggle to put into appropriate words. I enjoy sometimes when others do that work for me, so I share it when it matches my thoughts. But perhaps I shouldn't be so lazy and make it easy on me if my goal is to share it to more people. I most certainly could have written it up in a way that the same general information came from my spin on things. I need to spend more time developing the ability to say what is important to me instead of "sharing" the stuff others have written that is important to them.

    I truly appreciate you. <3 I hope today is a better day for you than others.

    yagrKerome
  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    Useful information is far from Wisdom as I see it. If there is no difference between Wisdom and useful information then what? This old boy is if lucky a step beyond stupid. Still several kalpa's away from wisdom.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited April 28

    I guess that would be up to the receiver to determine what it is for them. Somethings are indeed just useful bits of information. I think for the most part at least wisdom has to come from within. I don't think we truly get wisdom from other people because it requires touching base with something deeper in ourselves and an experience on our part. It's just pointing the way. But I do think there is a difference between wise words and simply useful/functional words.

    Edited to add: I do think that it is possible to read something and as a result experience wisdom from it. It just doesn't come from the other person, it comes from you relating your world to it.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Does the source of wisdom matter to you?

    Yes....

    "Therefore, did we say, Kalamas, what was said thus, 'Come Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, "The monk is our teacher." Kalamas, when you yourselves know: "These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness," enter on and abide in them."

    ~The Kalama Sutta~

    lobsterDhammaDragon
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    Does the source of wisdom matter to you?

    It shouldn't, but sometimes it does....

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Shoshin one should always investigate. But if you determine the information is truthful and valid, does the source matter? Would you denounce something that felt good and true and correct to you after investigating solely based on whose mouth it came out of?

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @karasti said:
    @Shoshin one should always investigate. But if you determine the information is truthful and valid, does the source matter? Would you denounce something that felt good and true and correct to you after investigating solely based on whose mouth it came out of?

    No...not really...for example regardless of the scandals surrounding both Trungpa & Sogyal Rinpoche, when reading/listening to them, I have found their teachings most insightful and helpful, and what other might think of them is their view point...

    Tis Different strokes for different folks

    The Dharma's the Dharma...and only through experiential understanding/knowledge will truth prevail ...

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @karasti said:
    If you read something and you find it to be true, does it matter where it came from as to whether you choose to adopt it as a view or a practice or whatever it might happen to be? For me, I find that I accept wisdom that speaks to me wherever it comes from. I have had times where I have written things that seemed to come out of no where. Things I normally wouldn't have discussed or said in a particular way. I couldn't tell you where it comes from, but it happens.

    Discernment in the process of receiving wisdom is as you say key. A child for example may come up with profound truths/wisdom but also insist that they are a 'pink unicorn’. :3 So the source has to be assessed. B)

    Some sources are more trustworthy. Some are not worth providing attention to expecting consistency or even intelligibility. We have to get ourselves to a position of being able to trust our reasoned/intuitive/wise self as quickly as possble.
    That is the purpose of Buddhist training. We all knew - right? ;)

    When awake to this inner filter we know:

    • What is wisdom.
    • Who is wise.
    • What to say/pass on, when and how. :chuffed:

    "I take refuge in the Buddha, wishing for all sentient beings to understand the great Way profoundly and make the greatest resolve. I take refuge in the Dharma, wishing for all sentient beings to delve deeply into Satori (enlightenment), causing their wisdom to be as broad as the sea. I take refuge in the Sangha, wishing all sentient beings to lead the congregation in harmony, entirely without obstruction."
    http://www.zen-buddhism.net/buddhist-principles/three-jewels.html

    karastiDhammaDragon
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    The Dharma's the Dharma...and only through experiential understanding/knowledge will truth prevail ...

    100% :+1:

    HozanlobsterShoshin
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    I never was a Tibetan Buddhist, but I count -- based on a less-than-30-second encounter -- Trungpa Rinpoche, booze and all, as one of my no-fooling-around, sword-through-the-heart teachers. It honestly doesn't matter to me whether anyone agrees or not and I certainly wouldn't try to convince someone else: Bingo is bingo ...

    karasti
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @genkaku I agree. One of his former students is moving here to my tiny town for a year to teach (it's crazy to me!). I look forward to attending his teachings. I have been on a couple of short retreats where he taught and his no-nonsense way of cutting to the chase and understanding Western people. It reminds me of what I imagined Trungpa to be like when he was at his best. Not quite that level of course, just similarities. There is no pussyfooting about the point he is trying to make, that's for sure. I personally got a lot out of studying Trungpa's works. I don't excuse his behaviors. But I don't think they erase the wisdom he taught, either or make it invalid. Nor Sogyal Rinpoche whose book was one of the first I ever read and changed my view of life and dying completely.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Tee Hee.

    I have mentioned many times that one of my greatest teachers was a street light. A trigger means the student is receptive.
    The source could be a pink unicorn or a semi legendary long dead prince-yogi...

    T.W. Rhys Davids:
    "Then the Blessed One addressed the brethren, and said, 'behold now, brethren, I exhort you, saying, "Decay is inherent in all component things! Work out your salvation with diligence!"'. This was the last word of the Tathāgata.

    Maurice Walsh:
    Then the Lord said to the Monks: Now, monks, I declare to you: all conditions things are of a nature to decay - strive on untiringly. These were the Tathāgata's last words.

    Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
    Then the Blessed One addressed the monks, "Now, then, monks, I exhort you: All fabrications are subject to decay. Bring about completion by being heedful." Those were the Tathagata's last words.

    Sister Vajira & Francis Story:
    And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!

    http://www.jayarava.org/buddhas-last-words.html

  • paulysopaulyso usa New

    food for thought--about american street lights.orange lights means to slow down or pause.a wink to buddhism?monks do wear orange robe.cars symbol of racing mind.the street lights is dharma directing the way.thanks lobster for that food for thought about street light.

  • paulysopaulyso usa New

    thinking outloud about the wisdom of buddha-dharma.what i like about it is practical aspect of living life wisely.i remember what buddha said,paraphrasing,if it agree with your good sense,then live it.that spoke to me as i get older in trying to navigate this modern life.hmm good sense,such as the five precept,and experience helps us gain more intuitive insight to this essence we called wisdom.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @lobster said:
    Tee Hee.
    Sister Vajira & Francis Story:
    And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!

    I wonder what the Dudist version would be? :p

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    @karasti -- I certainly wish your instructor and you well.

    I once saw a map that indicated places in the US where there were Buddhist centers. It was very informative, not least in the fact that teachers tended to congregate where the money was -- along the coasts, in the big cities, with a couple of exceptions inland. Teachers need to eat too ... d'oh. Some need to be rich and powerful ... double d'oh. It probably makes life easier in Buddhist studies to admit up front we like a little glitz and glamor and mysssssstery in our learning experiences. It's OK ... as long as the dribbling drool any of us might expend on a 'true' and 'authentic' and possibly 'sexy' teacher is accompanied by some down-home practice. The cushion tells the truth that teachers cannot hope to match, however good or well-dressed or slick they are. They may help and be good friends but....

    Practice, practice, practice....

    lobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Indeed, that is one of the reasons I am so surprised he is doing a residency here. He is from the US but has lived full time in Nepal for a long time. And will be spending 1-2 years in a northern Minnesota town with 3,000 people 250 miles from the nearest real urban area. It will be interesting to see how locals respond to a monk around the town! It's a pretty conservative place but we get around 50 regulars for our sangha meetings, especially when a teacher is here.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:

    And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!

    I wonder what the Dudist version would be? :p

    Even though I am an ordained Priest, I dunno ... whatever ...
    http://dudeism.com

  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    @lobster said:
    T.W. Rhys Davids:
    "Then the Blessed One addressed the brethren, and said, 'behold now, brethren, I exhort you, saying, "Decay is inherent in all component things! Work out your salvation with diligence!"'. This was the last word of the Tathāgata.

    I have the 1910 edition of T.W. Rhys-Davids "Buddhism."

    I love oldies goldies translations...
    P.L. Narasu translated this quote as:

    "Decay is inherent in all compound things.
    Seek wisdom and work out your salvation with diligence"

    And my beloved F.L. Woodward:

    "Subject to decay are all compounded things.
    Do ye abide in heedfulness"

    I know: I'm an old fossil...

    HozanShoshinkarasti
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @lobster said:

    @SpinyNorman said:

    And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!

    I wonder what the Dudist version would be? :p

    Even though I am an ordained Priest, I dunno ... whatever ...
    http://dudeism.com

    "Stroll on and chill?" :p

    lobsterHozankarasti
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran
    edited May 4

    As to the question of the thread, @karasti, no, I don't mind the source of wisdom.

    I am extremely fond of Chögyam Trungpa's writing and am in constant awe at the wisdom he has bequeathed as I re-read his books.
    I also like Sogyal Rinpoche and, to bring in someone into the court who is controversial but not Buddhist, I have learned a lot from many books by Osho.

    Deep inside, I wish people's lives did match up their words, but being an imperfect human being myself, I do understand where they come from.
    If only it were easier to live up to the knowledge/wisdom we possess...

    Keromekarasti
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    If only it were easier to live up to the knowledge/wisdom we possess...

    Tee Hee!
    In the YinYana non--traditional dharma that I was thrown out of, teachers don't exist. After all if you reach Nirvana you know what to do and how to do it. Being flawed is not part of the transmission. Gurus who teach wise words but embody rubbish behavior are available in every bar, every gin joint, every dharma center.

    What is needed is a higher form of practitioner.

    Or an Ox . . .

    DhammaDragon
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I think @lobster that that is why debate is held as such a high art form in many Tibetan monasteries. It is a way of sharpening ones knowledge in conversation with others while 'scoring points' and proving who is the more knowledgeable or insightful. It is kind of a peer-teaching arrangement.

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Indeed @Kerome friendly debate as opposed to abusive or self centered egotism feels and has very different effects.

    The issue for me with certain alleged teachers is the relative shallow nature of their insights. What is impressive is how people kindly take the useful (remember rogue teacher sometimes have access to useful sources) and make use of it.

    The genuine teacher is accountable and becomes redundant as quickly as possible. With the bogus there is always a dependency on the gullibility or lack of experience and knowledge of the student.

    This ability to find the useful and genuinely freeing is our responsibility. My Guru is a cushion and the only person who ever lies is the one who sits on it ... Did you guess - it is me :3

  • HozanHozan Veteran

    @lobster said:

    @SpinyNorman said:

    And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!

    I wonder what the Dudist version would be? :p

    Even though I am an ordained Priest, I dunno ... whatever ...
    http://dudeism.com

    Just got ordained as a priest of the church of the latter day dude

    lobster
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