Degree for Dharma teaching

Echosquad, modified 4 Years ago.

Degree for Dharma teaching

Posts: 3 Join Date: 3/19/17 Recent Posts
Hi there

I am looking for some advice about studying.

I have been meditating for many years and also studied dharma for many years. I hope one day to become a dharma teacher. I have a skilled job that I can always do but it does not inspire me very much.In recent months I have been thinking about taking a break from working and go to college to get a degree as I enjoy studying.

Instead of doing a degree in the field in which I am skilled I thought I would like to do something that would be maybe Dharma related and be of help in the future when I wished to teach dharma/meditation. Through researching the subject I have decided that my two choices seem to be something in the Arts such as Religion/Sanskrit/Pali/Buddhism or perhaps a more science based track with Psychology and then maybe go on to study further to Phd level. 

I have noticed there are many Psychologists in the pragmatic dharma field and many do not seem very enthused by science's attempts to understand meditation. I would however feel that it is more legitimate of way of study than just having a degree in Buddhist studies. I take a very science/pragmatic approach to the dharma and so taking a science approach feels more right with me. Maybe I understand incorrectly but in my mind I have the impression that somebody who was a Psychologist would had studied meditation be taken more seriously /more legitimately when talking about meditation than someone who came from a relgious studies background. Maybe I am wrong and that Psychology is completley useless in regards to dharma/meditation teaching career.

I don't really know and so I thought I would ask for opinions!

Thankyou
neko, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Degree for Dharma teaching

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
Some questions that might help.

Are you a Buddhist? If you are not, then doing Buddhist studies might not make sense.

Are you good at languages? You might learn Sanskrit and/or Pali on your own, or with an online course.

What are the legalities to become a practicing psychologist in your jurisdiction? In many places, it takes an MA plus some kind of specialisation. That's a lot of money. How old will you be when you are done with it?

Have you ever done a longish retreat? I mean a few months at least. That might be more conducive to becoming a good teacher than a degree. Perhaps one year in a monastery is more useful than three years in a uni.
Echosquad, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Degree for Dharma teaching

Posts: 3 Join Date: 3/19/17 Recent Posts
neko:
Some questions that might help.

Are you a Buddhist? If you are not, then doing Buddhist studies might not make sense.

Are you good at languages? You might learn Sanskrit and/or Pali on your own, or with an online course.

What are the legalities to become a practicing psychologist in your jurisdiction? In many places, it takes an MA plus some kind of specialisation. That's a lot of money. How old will you be when you are done with it?

Have you ever done a longish retreat? I mean a few months at least. That might be more conducive to becoming a good teacher than a degree. Perhaps one year in a monastery is more useful than three years in a uni.

I consider myself Buddhist I guess and done quite a number of retreats. Although I don't believe in some things that other Buddhists might. 

I have studied languages quite a bit and also over the years studied some Sanskrit and Pali but not to advanced levels.

Whether I go the psychology route or the Arts route via Languages/Religion - I would like to both to the fullest level I could, possibly Phd level and am prepared to use the time and money to do so.

I have this kind of idea in my mind that is probably crazy, that in 10-15 years maybe science will begin to understand this whole Path thing and there will be ways of studying it, scientific research into frameworks/models etc - that is what draws me to the science idea. Some people seem to think that it can never happen and that it will always be a religion thing.. I wondered whether any people who work as Psychologist/ similar areas of research would be able to say 'don't do it!' etc. I have heard some Dharma/meditation teachers be quite criticial of the direction 'mindfulness studies' is taking so I was curious on the matter
neko, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Degree for Dharma teaching

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
Echosquad:

I consider myself Buddhist I guess and done quite a number of retreats. Although I don't believe in some things that other Buddhists might. 

I have studied languages quite a bit and also over the years studied some Sanskrit and Pali but not to advanced levels.


That's cool, you are already in a good position then!

Echosquad:

Whether I go the psychology route or the Arts route via Languages/Religion - I would like to both to the fullest level I could, possibly Phd level and am prepared to use the time and money to do so.

I have this kind of idea in my mind that is probably crazy, that in 10-15 years maybe science will begin to understand this whole Path thing and there will be ways of studying it, scientific research into frameworks/models etc - that is what draws me to the science idea.


If that's your bet, depending on what exactly you think will happen in that time frame, and you like the field, neuroscience might be an even better bet / fit, then. Have you excluded it for any specific reason?
Echosquad, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Degree for Dharma teaching

Posts: 3 Join Date: 3/19/17 Recent Posts
neko:
Echosquad:

I consider myself Buddhist I guess and done quite a number of retreats. Although I don't believe in some things that other Buddhists might. 

I have studied languages quite a bit and also over the years studied some Sanskrit and Pali but not to advanced levels.


That's cool, you are already in a good position then!

Echosquad:

Whether I go the psychology route or the Arts route via Languages/Religion - I would like to both to the fullest level I could, possibly Phd level and am prepared to use the time and money to do so.

I have this kind of idea in my mind that is probably crazy, that in 10-15 years maybe science will begin to understand this whole Path thing and there will be ways of studying it, scientific research into frameworks/models etc - that is what draws me to the science idea.


If that's your bet, depending on what exactly you think will happen in that time frame, and you like the field, neuroscience might be an even better bet / fit, then. Have you excluded it for any specific reason?

Neuroscience is something I would possibly be interested in.

Maybe I am wrong but I think the thing that is possibly important from Psychology for teaching is understanding mental conditions so that it is possible to see the differences between when something is a symptom of the practice and when it is a symptom of some kind of mental issue. An understanding of both would seem to me to be a good help in knowing when someone needs to just keep going or whether they need some other kind of help. 
Warrior Monk, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Degree for Dharma teaching

Posts: 28 Join Date: 12/22/16 Recent Posts
Sory mate, I didn't read your second post as well as I should have before replying. I'm a psychologist and while I'm not a professional researcher at the moment, I have published scientific research before. 

If you're prepared to go all the way, I really think that we need more people in this space who understand both meditation AND science to a high degree. It's definitely improving, but there's definitely a paucity of individuals who are able to walk in both worlds. In my humble opinion, you have a bigger chance of making a tangible difference if you take the science route. In the society we live in, people give it more weight. I'm not just saying that we need people because science gives credibility, but also because of the nature of the scientific method: it allows us to correct for our own bias and accumulate reproducible knowledge over time.

Your point about distingushing between symptoms of practice and psychiatric issues is an important one. Even as a working professional, albeit still being new to the field, I find aspects of this challenging. Just look at Daniel's post on the progress of insight. However, there's definitely things that can be made to make differential diagnoses, e.g. perceptual shifts, cycling, experiencing the nanas and kundalini experiences, to name a few. I definitely do think we need people who understand both in this area too.

I'm considering going into research myself. I'm usure to go the neuroscience route or another one. Yet, I know it's more important, in a way, to stick to my own practice diligently. 
neko, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Degree for Dharma teaching

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
More reasons to go the science or psychology route:

1) it gives you a certificate that legally allows you to practice a profession.

2) easier to teach yourself Pali / Sanskrit or Buddhist Studies than science. Also, you already know some Buddhist Studies (I was gonna shorten it to BS then I thought better of it).

3) It is unlikely that we have much to add to the science of awakening by going the traditional route. Three millennia of accumulated technologies, you really think you can best Gotama, Buddhaghosa, Gampopa, and Tashi Namgyal using their methods?
J C, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Degree for Dharma teaching

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Yes, I think we can. Mahasi did with the noting innovation, and the pragmatic dharma movement has been doing exactly that for the last 10 or so years, developing better techniques and faster ways to enlightenment.

I also think the scientific study of enlightenment is important and if you're interested I'd recommending contacting some researchers who work in the area and see what they'd recommend. There's been a research paper about fruitions in a brain scan machine, and Daniel has a friend who has measuredhis brain while in jhana and found some measurement that correlates to the jhana.
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bernd the broter, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Degree for Dharma teaching

Posts: 376 Join Date: 6/13/12 Recent Posts
J C:
Yes, I think we can. Mahasi did with the noting innovation,
A bit of nitpicking: Mahasi didn't invent noting himself, he actually learned the method from his teacher U Narada.
and the pragmatic dharma movement has been doing exactly that for the last 10 or so years, developing better techniques and faster ways to enlightenment.
Pragmatic dharma has been trying to do that, but I'm not convinced that anything like that has actually been created in the process.
neko, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Degree for Dharma teaching

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
To clarify: I do believe something has been created. There are lots of innovation at work now: talking openly about maps and attainments, comparing traditions and techniques freely, and so on. But I am not so sure that, moving forward, this approach will still give a lot of momentum to practice, without quite a bit of science behind it.
Warrior Monk, modified 4 Years ago.

RE: Degree for Dharma teaching

Posts: 28 Join Date: 12/22/16 Recent Posts
It's  very long path to be a psychologist. I don't know about where you live, but certainly where I live it's extremely competetive: most people with that goal don't end up having it as their career. In Australia it's something like 7% of psychology udnergraduates who go on to be qualified psychologists. It's such a long and arduous journey, that I don't know that doing it to look more reputable would really make it a worthwhile goal.

That's not to say you can't study psychology at the undergraduate level. However, I think with where you interests lie, you would be disappointed by a lot of what you would find in courses. A lot of people don't realise how scientific modern psychology is (though, I can hear that's not where you're coming from!). A fair chunk of the degree with be taken up with learning about the scientific method, research and statistics. If you want to research meditation, however, it will be fantastic training. If you're just studying out of interest though, then go for it! Just make sure that if you pick psych then you choose some electives that you find interesting and valuable. 

In terms of being a dharma teacher, there are others here who's word would be worth more than mine. I would say say I think your own practice will be just as important -- in fact, more so -- than anything you can learn in a university. Practice consistently. Practice with a sangha. Go on reterats. Explore different traditions.

On a personal level, I would ask: why do you want to be a dharma teacher? What is it that attracts you to it? What values are underlying it? Is it about helping others, or something else? When you die, what do you want people to say at your funeral? Is there a way you can meet those needs without becoming a dharma teacher? It sounds like you feel something is missing you your life, particularly your work life. 

In any case, you said you've been meditating for many years, studying dharma for many years and have a skilled job -- so, trust yourself, too!

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