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The benefits of learning?

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

I was having a discussion on a Dutch language forum about how conditioning the mind influences one’s chances to become enlightened. Conditioning the mind comes through either learning the sutta’s, or through meditative practice, in very general terms.

Now in the time of the Buddha, not all followers would learn all that the Buddha had said, and often the Buddha adjusted his teachings according to the audience, his advice to one person might not be exactly the same as the advice to another. So is it necessary for enlightenment to have a wide knowledge of the sutra’s?

You might say that gathering lots of knowledge about the words of the Buddha leads you to construct a model in your mind of “the buddha’s path is like this”, which can influence your future expectations, which you can get attached to, which leads to pride that “I know” and various other things.

Is it therefore not better to absorb the minimum amount of knowledge you need, and to proceed to practice on that basis, and to rely on a teacher and the sangha in order to guide what you need to do next?

personAlex

Comments

  • techietechie Veteran India Veteran

    Learning can only get you so far. What you need is practice.

    Sitting down and meditating for twenty minutes is far better than reading or listening for hours. At some point, theory must give way to practice.

    But I agree that a sangha is important because, during practice, doubts may crop up or we may hit an impasse. We need other like-minded people to connect with, or the path shall be dark and gloomy. But this sangha should be something informal and friendly, without teachers and their rules/authority and all the rest.

    FoibleFullseeker242Alex
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited March 3

    I like the trial and error tempered with guidance approach myself.

    I do think experience trumps knowledge and so I think we can develope a kind of open ended knowing where we can understand the process without having to come to any final conclusions.

    lobsterKundoFosdick
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Well said @David

    In a sense you are talking of not-knowledge/beginner mind. Softer, more malleable, more open. We might say inconclusive.

    The mind rests.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    If you can find a quality teacher you can trust to lead you then knowledge of the path isn't so necessary. There is a story from the time of the Buddha of a monk so stupid he couldn't remember even one line of teaching. The Buddha led him by having him sweep while imagining he was cleaning his mind. Doing that the monk achieved Arhatship.

    It's useful to have enough knowledge to discern credible sources from others. If you don't have a quality teacher or sangha and are pretending to be a rhinoceros then a thorough knowledge of the path seems important.

    On a more mundane level, I remember taking a research questionnaire on what types of pleasure seeking people have. One of them was gaining pleasure from knowledge. I scored fairly high on that one, I find pleasure learning new things, essentializing ideas and using creativity to recombine them into new ideas. It probably acts more as a distraction than aiding my progress, but I think it is helpful in explaining things to others in a way they can understand.

    I'm a big believer in "live and let live" and "to each there own". So I apologize if I get too mental and cause others to feel like they need to swim in the same waters.

    lobsterKerome
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Acquiring knowledge on it's own without the practical skills, can be liken to collecting heaps of fire wood to last the long cold winter nights, but not knowing how/having the means to light it (AKA experiential understanding) to stay warm...

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    edited March 6

    Is it therefore not better to absorb the minimum amount of knowledge you need, and to proceed to practice on that basis, and to rely on a teacher and the sangha in order to guide what you need to do next?

    People, circumstance and experience are different.
    What is the minimum?
    https://wakeup-world.com/2013/12/09/9-ways-to-spot-a-fake-guru-or-spiritual-teacher/

    The assumption is that we are genuine seekers because we have a book pile, cushion collection, retreat history or other interest.

    Most of us do not need a Buddha, rigid perfect sangha, advanced Zenith, celebrity Lama. We just need a genuine friend to nudge us in the right direction. Towards practice, a zendo, another path sometimes, stability, a yidam with a sword etc ...

    More nudgers to the usual address ... B)

    Shoshinfederica
  • yoda_sodayoda_soda Explorer Dagobah Explorer
    edited March 10

    Is it therefore not better to absorb the minimum amount of knowledge you need, and to proceed to practice on that basis, and to rely on a teacher and the sangha in order to guide what you need to do next?

    The problem is measuring this minimum value. I've found that reading the suttas and studying widely in my tradition has helped me handle problems better and understand life better. You'd have to consider what this minimum if for. The right sangha and the right teacher help with this, and so does ritualistic study in a sense. It's hard to be your own guide.

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