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This is from the book I just posted a review on, Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate - http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art46929.asp:

"...you never get completely clear of your false desires. Even Buddha himself couldn't manage that trick. Those wonderful 'enlightened beings' who tell you they've achieved that rarified state are just con artists."

Do you agree or disagree? Do you feel there are a lot of Buddhist teachers making false claims out there? Do you think enlightenment is misrepresented?





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That's a great article, I liked that a lot!

I do agree that there are teachers who make false claims, I imagine that's true in every aspect of life. People get into career paths for all sorts of reasons, not all of them good. I think it's of value to research any teacher you take on, to get a sense of what they're about.

That being said, I think you can learn something from every person, so even a "not great teacher" can provide lessons for you to learn.


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Yes, I totally agree we can learn even from 'bad' teachers. What I like about this book is that he cuts through the idea that a teacher has to be a perfect being or 'spiritual superman' for us to learn from them. I have seen so many people give up on spirituality or religion when a teacher or preacher or priest, etc. displays a human frailty. But if we expect perfection, then we are basically separating our teachers from ourselves to such a degree that it is almost like we are saying we could never reach that state ourselves. Which in Buddhism especially is exactly NOT the point.

Of course it does depend on the 'frailty' and how the teacher or person set themselves up. If they claim to be 'perfected' or a superman, then the hypocrisy is a problem when they fall short of that.


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That brings up a very good question - what is a lesson we have learned from a "bad" teacher?

I'd have to give some thought as to which teacher I've had that I thought was a bad one ...


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I've been thinking about this one. I don't know as I have had any 'bad teachers', just teachers that at some point fell short of an expectation that I had, which probably says more about my projections than the teachers themselves. A big one that comes to mind is a karate teacher that I studied with for 15 years. At a certain point I came to feel he abused his power, denigrating people beyond what was necessary at times, in the name of 'correcting' them. But he was a phenomenal teacher nevertheless. And the point of the book that I started this thread with is really that someone does NOT have to be a perfect example of following all the precepts, etc. in order for us to learn from them. In fact, we may learn more from someone who struggles with things like this, and shares his or her process with us honestly, so that we don't constantly feel we ourselves are falling short.


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I had a teacher in middle school, an art teacher, who some of the girls felt was too "touchy feely" and in fact he got in trouble when some of the girls complained about him. So he always made me feel a bit uncomfortable. But I learned about the power of standing up for yourself with him, that if people spoke up they were heard. So I think that was a good lesson learned there.


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Originally Posted By: Lisa - Buddhism
This is from the book I just posted a review on, Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate - http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art46929.asp:

"...you never get completely clear of your false desires. Even Buddha himself couldn't manage that trick. Those wonderful 'enlightened beings' who tell you they've achieved that rarified state are just con artists."

Do you agree or disagree? Do you feel there are a lot of Buddhist teachers making false claims out there? Do you think enlightenment is misrepresented?


Yes, there are may con artists going around, but Buddha got rid of all desires.




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Hi Lisa...this is a really great question and what you said here.....

"And the point of the book that I started this thread with is really that someone does NOT have to be a perfect example of following all the precepts, etc. in order for us to learn from them. In fact, we may learn more from someone who struggles with things like this, and shares his or her process with us honestly, so that we don't constantly feel we ourselves are falling short."

I agree and I wonder if we excelled with any one thing to the point where we believed it was perfection, would we be halted by ego or enlightened and which would help others the most? I think you're right that many people give up too easily on some spiritual journeys because they simply don't feel worthy of the goal because of their shortcomings, which we all have. But how would any of us ever grow, if we don't take the leap.....excellent question Lisa, I read a great book a long time ago {If You Meet The Buddha on the Road, Kill Him} by Sheldon B. Kopp, Have you read it? It talks about your question, let me know if you have and what you think about it.

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cdmohatta - Yes, I agree. I think sometimes in the effort to make Buddhism more accessible, enlightenment gets watered down to the point where Buddha just sounds like a smart guy with a good heart, and it was/is quite a bit more than that! But it is a fine line to walk, with so many teachers out there.


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Sue - I have read If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, although it's been awhile, but I do think it covered this entire theme so well. We have to have some sense that there is a better way to live, a state we can 'attain' in order to practice at all, and yet we can get trapped in that idea, and just keep projecting some perfect state that we never attain, and thus deepen our sense of samskara and disappoinment.
I was just reading Chogyam Trungpa's Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, which I might write about next week, and it covers this theme so well too, especially in relation to spiritual teachers, and how we have a tendency to either project perfection on to them or rip them apart.


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