Impersonal Teachers

Causes & Conditions, modified 5 Years ago at 9/30/16 6:54 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 9/30/16 6:24 PM

Impersonal Teachers

Posts: 48 Join Date: 2/27/15 Recent Posts
Has anyone ever noticed that certain really experienced meditators, particularly monks, can sometimes come across as kind of blank or impersonal. It's like talking to a robot or a zombie or something. Like they don't smile or seem to have facial expressions at all. They're looking at you, but you might as well be a rock or cucumber or anything. 

I just had this experience with a meditation teacher, but I've noticed it before. I was wondering if anyone else has ever noticed this, and if it ever made you feel disconcerted. It makes me feel very weirded out. Of course, the reason is probably my own to desire to be "important" or "special." That being said, I don't know if I'd ever want to apsire to be so blank.

One of the reasons that I have always liked Daniel's work is that he seems very much to still be a unique person, who's aware of the people around him. 
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Noah D, modified 5 Years ago at 10/1/16 2:16 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/1/16 2:16 AM

RE: Impersonal Teachers

Posts: 1198 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WiM-w5qqmE - "Bouncy" Zen vs "Paint By Numbers" Vipassana

Shinzen talks about this in that certain traditions produce embodied integration more than others.  They all do the "deconditioning" component, but have different types of "reconditioning."
Causes & Conditions, modified 5 Years ago at 10/1/16 5:41 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/1/16 5:41 PM

RE: Impersonal Teachers

Posts: 48 Join Date: 2/27/15 Recent Posts
That's an interesting point. Vipassana does seem to stress equanimity, and perhaps it could lead to a certain coldness. But Daniel is a Vipassana dude as is Shinzen(at least to some extent) and they don't come off that way. It's interesting.

The two teachers I've met who embodied this aloofness weren't both Vipassana guys. One was and one was a Jhana first guy.
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Dream Walker, modified 5 Years ago at 10/1/16 6:33 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/1/16 6:33 PM

RE: Impersonal Teachers

Posts: 1452 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Causes & Conditions:
Has anyone ever noticed that certain really experienced meditators, particularly monks, can sometimes come across as kind of blank or impersonal. It's like talking to a robot or a zombie or something. Like they don't smile or seem to have facial expressions at all. They're looking at you, but you might as well be a rock or cucumber or anything. 

I just had this experience with a meditation teacher, but I've noticed it before. I was wondering if anyone else has ever noticed this, and if it ever made you feel disconcerted. It makes me feel very weirded out. Of course, the reason is probably my own to desire to be "important" or "special." That being said, I don't know if I'd ever want to apsire to be so blank.

One of the reasons that I have always liked Daniel's work is that he seems very much to still be a unique person, who's aware of the people around him. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kDso5ElFRg

How to be Ultra Spiritual (funny) - with JP Sears
Causes & Conditions, modified 5 Years ago at 10/1/16 7:33 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/1/16 7:33 PM

RE: Impersonal Teachers

Posts: 48 Join Date: 2/27/15 Recent Posts
Lol
Marty G, modified 5 Years ago at 10/2/16 4:05 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/2/16 4:05 PM

RE: Impersonal Teachers

Posts: 95 Join Date: 9/3/16 Recent Posts
Yes a lot of lay teachers and monk teachers come across as bland, unfeeling, physically unhealthy (poor diet, no exercise), humorless, no charisma, no-pazaz, no shakti (spirit force) no-personality, the main lesson is not to end up this way yourself, that is a good and useful observation : Stay emotionaly warm, energetic,healthy, humorous, deeply human and sympathetic to the suffering state of beings, dont let any one 'teach' you otherwise.
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Dream Walker, modified 5 Years ago at 10/3/16 1:53 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/3/16 1:53 AM

RE: Impersonal Teachers

Posts: 1452 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Causes & Conditions:
Has anyone ever noticed that certain really experienced meditators, particularly monks, can sometimes come across as kind of blank or impersonal. It's like talking to a robot or a zombie or something. Like they don't smile or seem to have facial expressions at all. They're looking at you, but you might as well be a rock or cucumber or anything.
I've been reading from a particularly scathing account of a former western monk criticizing  Theravada institutions.
http://www.buddhistische-gesellschaft-berlin.de/downloads/brokenbuddhanew.pdf

Here is a quote from it - The writer obviously has strong opinions
Page 54
Some time ago I stayed with an eminent meditation teacher in Burma. On my arrival I went to his suite to pay my respects and found him sitting on a gilt teak throne surrounded by a large retinue of devotees, mainly rich matrons. It was a little like entering the court of a petty monarch. We had some connection to each other and I was interested to talk to him about it but he was uncommunicative and hardly acknowledged my presence. After my polite inquiries about his health etc met with no more than a few grunts I lapsed into an awkward silence and was eventually led out by an attendant who showed me to my room. Towards dusk I happened to see the teacher in the garden and decided to go and try to make contact again. He greeted warmly, asked me what I had been doing of late and we had an interesting exchange on the matter I had wanted to discuss with him. Why this apparent change? Because in front of the public he, like all sincere Theravadin monks, must present the facade of the arahat-like individual – controlled, unsmiling and indifferent – otherwise he would simply not be taken seriously. It is only when he is ‘off duty’ as it were, that he can relax and be himself. The naïve psychology of Theravada equates detachment with having a blank stare, never a smile. It is not relaxed self-confidence which is indicative of virtue but being inflexible about minor rules. Proof of meditational progress is not a heightened sensitivity and openness but sour withdrawal. This is what Theravadins believe an arahat to be like and so this is what they try to become, or at least to appear to be in front of their devotees. This control and suppression combined with the strain of continually pretending to be what they are not, robs Theravadin monks of the humanness and warmth that makes Tibetan monks so attractive. An American I know who practiced vipassana for years before becoming a Tibetan Buddhist once said to me, ‘Being with a rimpoche is like sitting on a comfortable rug beside a warm fire. Being with a Theravadin meditation master is like sitting in a refrigerator with a tight corset on.’ This is not always true but the point is well taken.
It has been an interesting read so far, but he obviously has an agenda to paint Tibetan/Mahayana as a better alternative to Theravada.
I am non sectarian and think there is plenty of things everywhere when you look closely and start turning over rocks.
~D
Causes & Conditions, modified 5 Years ago at 10/3/16 2:09 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/3/16 2:09 PM

RE: Impersonal Teachers

Posts: 48 Join Date: 2/27/15 Recent Posts
Really interesting. I have to read that book! Thanks for sharing. Sectarianism is super lame, though it does make me wonder if people acting like mindful robots was one of the reasons compassion got elevated in Mahayana.

I remember a dharma talk I heard once where this Theravada monk was saying had thought monks were supposed be stern and harsh and that he only stopped acting like that when he realized how scared people where of him. He said that he never understood the importance of Metta, before that.

I'll try to find it.
Causes & Conditions, modified 5 Years ago at 10/3/16 2:11 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/3/16 2:11 PM

RE: Impersonal Teachers

Posts: 48 Join Date: 2/27/15 Recent Posts
I always wonder if it was the practice that made them that way, or they just think that's how "enlightened beings" act.
Banned For waht?, modified 5 Years ago at 10/4/16 6:10 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/4/16 6:10 AM

RE: Impersonal Teachers

Posts: 500 Join Date: 7/14/13 Recent Posts
I think they are blank so that not to give you any wrong ideas. But you still failed.
Banned For waht?, modified 5 Years ago at 10/4/16 6:33 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/4/16 6:33 AM

RE: Impersonal Teachers

Posts: 500 Join Date: 7/14/13 Recent Posts
deleted post,wrong thread.
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Andrew K, modified 5 Years ago at 10/21/16 8:06 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 10/21/16 8:06 AM

RE: Impersonal Teachers

Posts: 54 Join Date: 4/14/12 Recent Posts
Quite an interesting article; I've just read a few bits and bobs out of it. I love what I know of the Theravada tradition, so its certainly good to see the failings in how it is being practiced. The rejection of beauty or art has always seemed like a broken view to me. Look at the beautiful Zen or Vajrayana art. The Theravadins sure do produce beautiful temples though.

Every person practices to their own ability. Not making excuses for them, we are all drenched in our karma. Interesting read for sure.




Here's some happy theravadins to show us how its done and inspire our practice.

Look at these serious theravadins!


SN Goenka



Elaichi Devi Goenka






Ajahn Payutto



Ajahn Brahm


Stop smiling, cold-hearted fool! (referring to myself, not the monk...)



Ayya Khema





Ayya Thataaloka




Adhimutta Bhikkuni 






Ajan Chah



Ajahn Suphan 

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