Authentic lineage?

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Daniel J Scharpenburg, modified 8 Years ago at 8/21/13 5:34 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 8/21/13 5:34 PM

Authentic lineage?

Posts: 3 Join Date: 7/30/13 Recent Posts
Do you think there is really an authentic lineage that can trace itself back to the Buddha?

I made the argument that there isn't in this article:

Authentic Lineage?

What do you think?
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Bailey , modified 8 Years ago at 8/21/13 9:37 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 8/21/13 9:37 PM

RE: Authentic lineage?

Posts: 267 Join Date: 7/14/11 Recent Posts
If there are no lineages that date back to the buddha then how do we have current meditation techniques?
Adam , modified 8 Years ago at 8/21/13 10:00 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 8/21/13 10:00 PM

RE: Authentic lineage?

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
Even if someone gives you totally solid evidence that they teacher's teacher's teacher's teacher was the Buddha your not "safe." You could just turn your doubts toward whether the buddha was actually enlightened.

You can't even be safe in looking at your own experiences. "That enlightenment experience you had last month? Well, that was just this delusion and you are still trapped in some way." Your mind can always just say that. "This experience you are having now? Are you sure it is enlightenment? Did you really get it? Maybe you are missing something. You think you are free of suffering right now but it is probably just an illusion."

Can the conceptual mind ever be free of doubt? Nope! That's why you have to just not believe what it tells you. Let it chatter away just don't give it any interest or importance or value.

Sorry, this doesn't really answer your question. But I question whether this very line of inquiry is not just a way to avoid letting go.
An Eternal Now, modified 8 Years ago at 8/22/13 4:00 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 8/22/13 12:32 AM

RE: Authentic lineage?

Posts: 638 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
I think any stories that tries to trace its lineage to Buddha is just making up stories to make the school/sect look legitimate. It is just a skillful means to instill faith and without the light of modern scholarship lots of faithful do believe in such claims and it does give some breath of credibility to the teachings of those traditions. We find such claims in all sorts of traditions whether in Theravada Mahayana or Vajrayana.

Buddha made it clear he did not want any sort of successor (or any sort of pope figure) and even the immediate de facto head of the sangha after Buddha, i.e. Mahakasyapa is not in fact a patriarch or successor of any kind being appointed by the Buddha, and also he is not the object of refuge in place of Buddha, etc.

IMO: always judge the person/teacher by the standards of Buddha's Dharma and by that person's realization/experience/practice/qualities/etc, not by the label of his/her sect/school/claimed legitimacy based on ancient lineage, tradition and so on (kalama sutta may be relevant). "Lineage" can be deceiving.

https://sites.google.com/site/dharmadepository/writings/inequality-in-buddhism


Let us consider two relevant quotes as follows.


Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge. (DN 16)

Here is the famous statement where the Buddha instructs us to rely on ourselves with the Dharma/Dhamma as our refuge. He does not instruct Ānanda to rely on lineage or authority. We also have the Buddha explicitly stating he will appoint no successor.


"“Is there, Master Ananda, any single bhikkhu who was appointed by Master Gotama thus: ‘He will be your refuge when I am gone,’ and whom you now have recourse to?”


“There is no single bhikkhu, brahmin, who was appointed by the Blessed One who knows and sees, accomplished and fully enlightened, thus: ‘He will be your refuge when I am gone,’ and whom we now have recourse to.”


“But is there, Master Ananda, any single bhikkhu who has been chosen by the Sangha and appointed by a number of elder bhikkhus thus: ‘He will be our refuge after the Blessed One has gone,’ and whom you now have recourse to?”


“There is no single bhikkhu, brahmin, who has been chosen by the Sangha and appointed by a number of elder bhikkhus thus: ‘He will be our refuge after the Blessed One has gone,’ and whom we now have recourse to.”


“But if you have no refuge, Master Ananda, what is the cause for your concord?”


“We are not without a refuge, brahmin. We have a refuge; we have the Dhamma as our refuge.”

(MN 108)"
An Eternal Now, modified 8 Years ago at 8/22/13 12:53 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 8/22/13 12:35 AM

RE: Authentic lineage?

Posts: 638 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Blue .:
If there are no lineages that date back to the buddha then how do we have current meditation techniques?
People may make up their meditation techniques, either based on how things work out on their own part/experimentation, and also may teach meditation techniques based on what the Buddha said in the scriptures or other late commentaries, and sometimes/usually it is a mix of both.
An Eternal Now, modified 8 Years ago at 8/22/13 2:03 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 8/22/13 12:48 AM

RE: Authentic lineage?

Posts: 638 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Daniel J Scharpenburg:
Do you think there is really an authentic lineage that can trace itself back to the Buddha?

I made the argument that there isn't in this article:

Authentic Lineage?

What do you think?
Just read your article... well written and sorry for repeating whatever you just said haha

I personally think lineage or sectarianism of any kind is problematic if it closes us from learning from a wider spectrum of teachings, and also as you said it can be used wrongly, like putting teachers (who are imperfect beings) on the pedestal. (e.g. I'm not fond of the idea of "crazy wisdom" and I think it is usually just an excuse to make their teacher into an idol of a "perfect being" whose actions are unquestionable rather than very human flaws that can be improved. This is very silly imo.) On the other hand it is useful to 'keep the purity of the teachings of the lineage' - however how 'pure' or how much in accord with Buddha's dharma is that so called lineage teachings to begin with? That is another question. Futhermore, even lineages within themselves are subject to evolution over time. And as we know, no lineages can be traced back to Buddha, so it is more accurate to call it "the lineage of X patriarch's interpretations of Buddha Dharma" rather than falsely claiming that it is Buddha's lineage. Some of these patriarches and the lineages that follow may indeed be very insightful and the tradition (backed by hundreds/thousands of years of experienced yogis with valuable practical advises/experience/literature etc) may itself be a very good and valuable resource of teachings, and may well deserve to be 'preserved' in a working tradition and it can be beneficial to a lot of people.

However other unhealthy sides to lineage and authority - i.e. putting teachers on pedestal etc, may not be such a good thing, the lineage thing may be misleading because it can give 'teachers' the image of being 'the authority of dharma' (when in actuality there is no real 'authority' of dharma that is being appointed by Buddha - instead we should really judge that person based on qualities/practice/insight/etc based on the Dharma, that I mentioned rather than 'lineage'), on the other hand it is also partly due to unhealthy projections of teachers by the teachers and students themselves (the idea that dharma teachers imply perfected beings or fully enlightened etc - also what does full enlightenment mean? do they mean ten fetter model of enlightenment or..?), and we should all strive towards having a better view of the role and our relationship with teachers. What are we trying to get out of the teachers? It is one thing to attain certain insight into the nature of reality and another thing to expect that the teacher have perfected their practices and are free from of all afflictions/fetters/immoral behaviors and so on, there is almost always room for improvement in one's practice.. It is highly unlikely that one will find a teacher that is a perfect role model of the Buddha's teachings in all aspects of shila/samadhi/prajna so one should be have a more realistic expectation of what one wants to learn from this particular teacher. One could also learn from a number of teachers on different areas of expertise. This is in fact Buddha's advise sometimes - for example he would advise those who have samadhi but no insight/lack insight to look for insight masters, those who mastered insight without/lacking samadhi to look for samadhi masters, those who lack both to look for those who mastered both, etc. In any case one should have a very clear understanding of 1) what the teacher is good at, what we can learn from him/her (may have nothing to do with whether the said teacher has 'lineage authority'), 2) what we really want/can/need or should achieve at this point of development, 3) have a realistic idea/relationship/expectation of the teacher and not put him/her on pedestals, etc. Having a clearer and more pragmatic relationship with a teacher is better than having a mythic-magic idea about teachers (like my mother who thinks her guru is sort of a perfect Buddha-like being). As for the teachers themselves, they should not let their 'lineage' and 'teacher' position blind them from further progress and learning, as ego is often involved/developed in that position (there are some rare exceptions that I have seen though such as an Australian zen teacher at a zen center I've been visiting from time to time and I am inspired by him). Teachers should also not fuel unhealthy ideas about themselves and provide clearer information about what their students can expect to learn from him/her.

This also brings me to another point regarding lineage/sect etc. There is an argument that it is unhealthy to look into too many schools and instead one should just choose a focus in one's practice. Although having a focus in one's practice at any given point in one's practice may be pragmatically useful and necessary (e.g. you can't possibly divide a 30 minute session of meditation into a mixture of ten different techniques, or rather it may not be very practical to do so), in my experience my focus of practice develops as my practice and insight develops, and I find that being overfly focused on one particular teaching/practice/tradition/etc is in fact usually highly limiting and prevents one's progress in various aspects/fronts practice, insight, etc. There also comes a time when I do feel that there are not much I can learn any further from many established lineages and teachings/teachers on certain fronts like insight (and I reflect upon this years ago with some sense of disappointment/sadness rather than pride, like, "if only Buddha were around"... later a dream of clarity arose where I saw that everything is in fact the face of my teacher - everyone and everything whether perfect/imperfect in life, is in fact my teacher! even in the dream I realized its meaning and this cleared away my misguided notion that a teacher has to be a perfect being in everything, there are things we can learn from everyone, and we can learn even from the flaws of others).

In any case, I don't really like to be caged in any particular tradition, I prefer to pick and choose the teachings that work out for me - Rather than setting up cages and boundaries out of lineages, I prefer to follow the example that some Tibetan teachers give - be like a bee collecting nectar from all the flowers. Rather than limiting oneself to a certain teacher/teaching/etc. This does not mean setting yourself up in a prideful position like, "I do not need any lineage/teachers at all" or "I'm above all these silly lineage stuff" but rather, from a humble perspective seeing everyone/everything/the universe as teacher, there is no need to be limited or confined in any way at all, including by identification to lineage. There is no need to give overdue significance to "lineage". We just learn what we can from what we find.

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