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Having the world as a teacher

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran
edited January 15 in Buddhism Today

It occurred to me that it might be worth exploring the buddha’s last words, be a light unto yourself, in a bit more detail. I think this is advanced practice, beyond what most people find with gurus or spiritual friends. The question is really how you can let the entire world be your teacher?

You can learn from a cloud, a tree, a cat, an aboriginal man, a banker... all things and all people have things to teach. But how best to learn what they teach us? And can they teach you things about your mind and your no-mind?

howBunksShoshinlobsterDavidprimada

Comments

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    To the degree I can get myself out of the way, seems to be the same degree that teachers of the Dharma manifest everywhere.
    The only obfuscation of the Dharma turned out to be my ego/identity and a habituated maintenance of its dreamworld.

    BunksShoshinlobster
  • BunksBunks Veteran Australia Veteran

    Listen more, talk less.

    federicahowFoibleFullShoshin
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Bunks said:
    Listen more, talk less.

    Ditto.

    FoibleFullShoshin
  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Veteran Canada Veteran
    edited January 16

    WE are our own teacher. The Teacher only gives us the tools to use the dharma. By observing ourselves as we move through life/the world, we learn. Mindfulness developed through sitting meditation gradually becomes mindfulness while we move through our day, and that is what we learn from.

    Those things that bother us, especially, are our kindest of teachers because they show us where we are "stuck", attached, aversive, etc.

    BunksShoshinKeromeDavid
  • LionduckLionduck Veteran Veteran

    every thing and every one we encounter is a teacher, if we allow it. too often we get hung up on "finding a teacher" or "finding the right teacher" that we are blind to the reality, that we are blind to the true teachers we saunter past every minute of every day. We ask, "Where is my teacher? as a butterfly passes before our eyes or we pass a dandelion audaciously blossoming among the "real" flowers or the mother quietly comforting her child.
    When we open our eyes, we discover our teachers have always been with us, subtly sharing their beads of knowledge and (mundane) wisdom. It is what they share, not what they "are".

    Peac to all

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @FoibleFull said:
    Those things that bother us, especially, are our kindest of teachers because they show us where we are "stuck", attached, aversive, etc.

    Anything that evokes a strong reaction or emotion can be a teacher if you look deeply at where it comes from. That is the kind of teaching which tells you about yourself. But there are also elements of the real world which teach you aspects of that.

    ShoshinpersonFoibleFull
  • ZenshinZenshin Veteran East Midlands UK Veteran

    One thing I've learned is as others have said is that everything and anything can be your teacher, including the blandishments of the illusion of the abiding ego entity. Look with the right kind of eyes and you will see the teacher eveywhere, the whole world proclaims the Dharma body of the Buddha. I'm so pig headed that the fruit of my karma was truly extreme to teach me, drug addiction, insanity, homelessness and an NDE to name but a few but evrntually I truly saw and began to find true peace. As they say in Zen when the student is ready the teacher will appear in whatever form is necessary in the beginning it's not always obvious what the teacher is and what it's teaching though. Peace out. :).

    BunksKeromelobsterDavid
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    One thing that nature teaches us is that all things contain the patterns of their existence. If you look at the acorn of an oak tree, all of the behaviour that makes up the next generation of that oak tree already exists within.

    Another thing that nature teaches is that the path of least resistance is often the right one. Look at the way weeds or grass grows, or the way water flows. Things follow their nature, and within that follow the easy paths.

    Generally only when there is a surplus do animals expend their energy on the non-essential. Look at when bears play together, or when dolphins exhibit playfulness. Man often has a surplus, but then he doesn’t always play, and when he plays, it is not always for fun.

    Jeffrey
  • ZenshinZenshin Veteran East Midlands UK Veteran

    Sometimes it's very real and intense pain! to paraphrase that wily old Zen fox Jundo Cohen when I was studying with him sometimes it's a bucket of blood, sh*t and offal in the face if that's what you need to learn! It's not all blissed out smiles and rains of pretty lotus flowers under the Bodhi tree, but as AJahn Chah said sometimes the layman sees it before the monk becuse he truly lives in the world of Dukkha.

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    So when a Buddhist looks deeply at the world he sees the dharma? Does that mean that the dharma is all that there is to be seen?

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    The Dhamma is all there is. Everything is applicable to the Dhamma. The Dhammapada is evidence of this.

    ZenshinlobsterFosdick
  • ZenshinZenshin Veteran East Midlands UK Veteran
    edited January 18

    @Kerome, the whole world is tainted by the 3 marks of existence, if that doesn't state the teachings what does? :).

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    So when a Buddhist looks deeply at the world he sees the dharma? Does that mean that the dharma is all that there is to be seen?

    Most of us dharma queens think the world is not-Christ, our guru is goddy two shoes, the world has nothing to teach us, Allah does not know best ... or similar ignorance ...

    Then we get kicked in the goulash by the understanding that:

    • We can learn from a tree, trump or stump
    • We are Sangha, Buddha and Dharma + the crown jewels
    • Nibbana is a peeled banana

    Hope that is helpless

    Zenshin
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Having the world as a teacher

    Really finding genuine insights in peoples questions and answers of late ...

    For example this is the whole of the path:

    WE are our own teacher. The Teacher only gives us the tools to use the dharma. By observing ourselves as we move through life/the world, we learn. Mindfulness developed through sitting meditation gradually becomes mindfulness while we move through our day, and that is what we learn from.

    and this is the advanced advancement according to my experience:

    Those things that bother us, especially, are our kindest of teachers because they show us where we are "stuck", attached, aversive, etc.

    Well done us. We are stream entering ... yay!
    💗💗💗 We are doing good. 💗💗💗

    Kerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Lionduck said:
    every thing and every one we encounter is a teacher, if we allow it.

    There are some good answers in this thread...

    Yes, every thing can be a teacher, but we have to learn to see the teaching. A butterfly can teach us about lightness and dancing on the wind, reading the nature of the Tao in its movements and how it sees where each gust will take it. For those familiar with the Tao this lesson is not difficult to see.

    More often though one is faced with a certain blankness. You look at a patch of grass next to the sidewalk and wonder what it has to teach you. It is a certain untangling of the principles that are embodied by the things we meet...

    Its something you can learn to do, to see teachings in everything you encounter.

    Davidlobster
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    More often though one is faced with a certain blankness. You look at a patch of grass next to the sidewalk and wonder what it has to teach you. It is a certain untangling of the principles that are embodied by the things we meet...

    Its something you can learn to do, to see teachings in everything you encounter.

    Even when we're not sure at first what to take from it. Like one drop in a hundred, hitting the window and running down.

    Sometimes, the path of least resistance can be tedious.

    What does it go through to return to cloud?

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    I think, with a modicum of attention, the Buddhist teachers of "no-thing" can be uncovered everywhere. When in doubt, search for their "no-thing".

    Like...where

    "no-thing" stays permanently,
    "no-thing" specific exists of us except a very temporary conglomeration of aggregates,
    "no-thing" but a manifestation of craving, aversion or ignoring will cause us suffering,
    "no-thing" within can be found of an eternal soul or spirit,
    "no-thing" inside essentially separates us from a "no-thing" outside, but our ignorance.

    Anybody else have a favorite "no-thing" hiding spot disguising another Buddhist teacher?

    Shoshin
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    tee hee @how

    something for nothing
    and emptiness for free

    No-thing in Nothing is to advanced for me ...
    give me some thing ...

    and now back to the whirled emptiness of form ...

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @how said:
    I think, with a modicum of attention, the Buddhist teachers of "no-thing" can be uncovered everywhere. When in doubt, search for their "no-thing".

    Like...where

    "no-thing" stays permanently,
    "no-thing" specific exists of us except a very temporary conglomeration of aggregates,
    "no-thing" but a manifestation of craving, aversion or ignoring will cause us suffering,
    "no-thing" within can be found of an eternal soul or spirit,
    "no-thing" inside essentially separates us from a "no-thing" outside, but our ignorance.

    Anybody else have a favorite "no-thing" hiding spot disguising another Buddhist teacher?

    As it happens...
    Yes.
    Our assured long-term tenancy has turned out to be nothing of the kind.
    Our Landlords have decided they wish to return from NZ permanently, and they want the house back.
    It turns out that they knew this when they made their annual inspection visit in June.

    It only came to light about a week ago, when we were advised by the Agents that the renewal contract was ready to be signed. (Case of 'left hand, right hand, here....) and we sought to make it year-long instead of 6 months... 'Yes, no problem, we're sure'... came back the reply...only to get an email a day later from the Agency manager, advising us of notice to quit.
    She had known this since just before Christmas, but had decided to not ruin our festive celebrations. (Christmas was bloody awful anyway, so that would have been the proverbial icing...!)

    So there we have it. Home we thought would be home for at least another 15 years (so we were told!) turns out to be a stepping-stone to the next impermanent solution...

    Isn't everything?

    howlobsterFosdick
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited January 22

    No-thing is definitely visible in many places @how

    But do you think that the only things we divine from the Whole World’s teachings is instances of other teachings which we already know about? It’s true that whatever we see in the world will remind us of those things we already have in the mind.

    Is there such a thing as an original teaching by the world? Or is it too difficult for our brains to come up with teachings that we can put into words from what the world really shows us. After all, if all we see are Buddhist teachings, can we still say that the world is our teacher rather than the Buddha?

    For example, in the world there is competition, which serves to weed out those who are less fit for survival. Competition for food, competition for mating rights. What does that teach us?

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @how said:
    I think, with a modicum of attention, the Buddhist teachers of "no-thing" can be uncovered everywhere. When in doubt, search for their "no-thing".

    Like...where

    "no-thing" stays permanently,
    "no-thing" specific exists of us except a very temporary conglomeration of aggregates,
    "no-thing" but a manifestation of craving, aversion or ignoring will cause us suffering,
    "no-thing" within can be found of an eternal soul or spirit,
    "no-thing" inside essentially separates us from a "no-thing" outside, but our ignorance.

    Anybody else have a favorite "no-thing" hiding spot disguising another Buddhist teacher?

    I'm not sure but I am sure I am echoing others by saying that we are everything by identifying with no thing in particular.

    howlobster
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    No-thing is definitely visible in many places @how

    But do you think that the only things we divine from the Whole World’s teachings is instances of other teachings which we already know about? It’s true that whatever we see in the world will remind us of those things we already have in the mind.

    Those things we already have in mind have been flavoured also by our mind. Nobody has ever seen these things from your own unique perspective and so you will have your own insights even if they concur with the insights of others.

    Is there such a thing as an original teaching by the world? Or is it too difficult for our brains to come up with teachings that we can put into words from what the world really shows us. After all, if all we see are Buddhist teachings, can we still say that the world is our teacher rather than the Buddha?

    There is no true distinction between Buddha and the world. Those who see the dharma see the Buddha and everything is the dharma.

    For example, in the world there is competition, which serves to weed out those who are less fit for survival. Competition for food, competition for mating rights. What does that teach us?

    If we take away the subjective experience, it seems to me we would only have cooperation.

    I think duality is a mighty tool but us and "them" is the worst disease we have ever inflicted on ourselves.

    howlobsterKerome
  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    The Buddha only concerned himself with teachings that pointed a way along a path heading towards suffering's cessation, not to the endless other path variants offered by the whole worlds dreamscape. A spiritual awakening is simply discerning the difference between those two. An wide and open mind/heart is capable of seeing a reflection of that truth in almost anything.

    Perhaps a more interesting question to ponder here is to ask oneself just how tired do we actually need to become of our own suffering, to end up prioritizing a direction for ourselves down a relatively difficult Buddhist path over a plethora of other worldly, more dream friendly path options.

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Good question @how
    I would suggest that is right concentration in Dharma.
    I have heard what you describe as ‘world weary’. In other words fed up with the non-answers ...

    Here and now we learn what we need and take to the cessation realm. How do we embrace dukkha good/bad and empty ...

    As usual I have a personal list:

    • Be kind of kind
    • Career Buddhists and new wagers are not sangha, they are skangha. Sangha are those or that which leads us out of temptation dukkha
    • Stay calm (Don't Panic - as Douglas Adams suggested)
    • Look after the Body/bodhi it is the temple of the Mind
    • Reflect on distortions that echo our present
    • No humour in Buddha? Laughable.
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @how said:
    The Buddha only concerned himself with teachings that pointed a way along a path heading towards suffering's cessation, not to the endless other path variants offered by the whole worlds dreamscape

    Some alternative path variants...

    https://www.purposefairy.com/68155/26-powerful-lessons-to-learn-from-nature/

    Perhaps a more interesting question to ponder here is to ask oneself just how tired do we actually need to become of our own suffering, to end up prioritizing a direction for ourselves down a relatively difficult Buddhist path over a plethora of other worldly, more dream friendly path options.

    Tiredness generally does not spur me to action, it leads me to take my rest.
    It is more a weariness of suffering, but most suffering that can be avoided is in the mind.
    Some suffering like pain just is what it is.
    In general the world contains as much pleasure as suffering.
    It is better to just learn to let go, and live in a constant state of let go.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    New age psychology has it's purpose...but I think
    the alternative path variants on purpose fairy are essentially emotional pleasure lessons.

    That old story of thinking that the grabbing of the tail of a snake, instead of its head, is probably safe because you didn't immediately get bit, comes to mind.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @how said:

    New age psychology has it's purpose...but I think
    the alternative path variants on purpose fairy are essentially emotional pleasure lessons.

    That old story of thinking that the grabbing of the tail of a snake, instead of its head, is probably safe because you didn't immediately get bit, comes to mind.

    Good evening, pedantic and irritating Moderator here. Actually, grabbing a snake by the tail isn't all that bad an idea, providing you can keep the head off the ground...

    Ok, I'm done.

    how
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @how said:
    New age psychology has it's purpose...but I think
    the alternative path variants on purpose fairy are essentially emotional pleasure lessons.

    There are some distinctly Buddhist lessons on purposefairy as well... one of them was the classic if you look at the sky and you see the clouds, remember all is impermanent and the blue sky and the shining sun are always beyond the clouds.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited January 24

    @federica

    Good evening, pedantic and irritating Moderator here. Actually, grabbing a snake by the tail isn't all that bad an idea, providing you can keep the head off the ground...

    I'll see your pedant and raise you one more

    Perhaps the advise applying to garder snakes in the london area
    differs somewhat from those in India with their typical cobras.

    Even experienced snake handlers (not trying to entertain on camera) seldom try grabbing poisonous snakes by the tail and just rely on just lifting the snake off the ground for their personal safety. They'll also employ a snake stick to stop many snake breeds from climbing back up their own bodies to bite the hand holding them.

    Now back to some 2600 year old back up advise.

    The Discourse on the Snake Simile
    Alagaddupama Sutta (MN 22)
    translated from the Pali, with an Introduction and Notes by
    Nyanaponika Thera
    © 2006
    "Suppose a man wants a snake. He sees a snake, and when he grasps its tail, the snake bites him. Because of that, he suffers death or pain, and why, because of his wrong grasp of the snake.

    "But suppose a man wants a snake, sees a snake, and with a forked stick holds it firmly down. Having done so, he catches it firmly by the neck. Similarly, there are some here who, having learned, examine wisely the purpose of the teachings. To them, these teachings will bring welfare and happiness.

    Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Catch a Snake
    THICH NHAT HANH
    “Bhikshus, an intelligent student of the Dharma is like a man who uses a forked stick to catch a snake. When he sees a poisonous snake in the wild, he places the stick right below the head of the snake and grabs the snake’s neck with his hand. Even if the snake winds itself around the man’s hand, leg, or another part of his body, it will not bite him. This is the better way to catch a snake, and it will not lead to pain or exhaustion.

    These early Buddhist snake similes are usually used to explain why somethings that are considered to be ultimately unhelpful to the practice, can be mistaken for good by the pleasant feelings they initially engender. These are some of the dharma options for getting bit immediately as opposed to getting bit a bit later as opposed to just leaving the darn snake alone.

    respectfully
    H

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Even experienced snake handlers (not trying to entertain on camera) seldom try grabbing poisonous snakes by the tail and just rely on just lifting the snake off the ground for their personal safety. They'll also employ a snake stick to stop many snake breeds from climbing back up their own bodies to bite the hand holding them.

    Hmm speaking of snakes, it reminds me of the snake man I use to go see in La Perouse Sydney back in the early 1970s...He had a concrete snake pit and every weekend he would be there educating locals on snakes...


    The snake man I saw back then would have been his son....

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    hmmm. I'm not sure if a method of handling snakes that has had you bitten 400 times in 20 years better describes a masochist's idea of a good time or of plain & simple insanity?

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Talking of snakes, snacks and kundalini ...

    I was for many years on a kundalini forum. Not that I believe in it ... I go by personal experience, from the world of people, things and the deluded (myself included).

    The serpent power is a hard wisdom, easy to be taken into the wrong side of a forked tongue. It is why calm, discernment and right focus concentration is so important. Otherwise we are bedazzled ...

    https://yinyana.tumblr.com/day/2013/02/27

    ... eh, what was the question again?

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @how said:
    hmmm. I'm not sure if a method of handling snakes that has had you bitten 400 times in 20 years better describes a masochist's idea of a good time or of plain & simple insanity?

    Inclined to agree...

    Snakes have had a bad press ever since Eve accepted the Granny Smith and took a munch... Snakes have been depicted as the harbingers of doom, bad luck and simple pure evil, but they are a much-maligned animal and entirely undeserving of the reputation the ignorant heap upon their poor heads.
    I am in email contact with a woman in Oz called Julia Baker, also known as the Snake Boss. We email/messenger chat regularly, and I have owned a good few snakes in my time.
    Best pets in the world.

    how
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    be a light unto yourself

    Who considers themself able to shine into their own ignorance? In the Buddhist sensibility, ignorance is not about information, intelligence or education but more akin to right understanding/discernment/clarity.

    Listening to our expression, makes us aware that delusion is the nature of lizard brain/headless chicken thinking/monkey/pig being.

    How to negate these forces and become a functional balancing act?

    The usuals:

    • calm amidst our nature
    • focus on the real
    • compassion for ignorance
    • detachment from our tendencies

    Yay for the 3 jewels

    Kerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    It’s interesting, the dharma keeps coming back in. You think of the world as your teacher, and looking to see what you can see in the world. Then you notice the patterns of what you already think of as wisdom becoming visible, and you see that you have gone back to the dharma, the wisdom you learnt earlier.

    So is looking for original wisdom in the rest of the world a futile affair? Are we prisoners in our own mind, unable to think for ourselves with true wisdom? I feel we can learn to see the wisely-spiritual in the world, but it takes practice, it is a dialogue between our heart and what we see in the world in order to formulate for ourselves what something means.

    You know the feeling when you have written something that was both true and beautiful and somehow touched something within you? That should be the feeling you get when you reflect over a spiritual teaching you receive from the natural world.

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Well said @Kerome

    Attuning/dharma stream entrance is about knowing wisdom/truth and aligning/recognizing its nature. From our personal experience the transitory and passing of our trivial pursuits is ignorance/attachment to worthless ends.

    Presently I am in a condition of praise/joy towards the spirit/Buddha. When others encourage or inspire that reverence they are spiritual friends. It is this moving towards the inward unfolding that we call The Path.

    In this sense revelation through all things is reinforced by walking inward in mindfulness ...

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