Posted by Tony (188.8.131.52) on April 20, 2000 at 10:34:02:
In Reply to: Re: In Defense of The Teacher-less "not really buddhists" Buddhists posted by Grace on April 20, 2000 at 01:49:39:
Wow, this is terrible! I can't believe anybody would be so ignorant as to tell anyone that they had to be physically taught by a lama or other member of the sangha, or participate in rituals etc before they could be a "proper buddhist" (whatever that is!).
Remember, the Dalai Lama said that he could sum up Buddhism in two words: "Be kind". Of course, those two words can have a very deep meaning, far removed from their superficial simplicity. But basically, that's what Buddhism is all about.
The importance in having a teacher, meeting sangha, having fellowship with other buddhists etc., is that achieving spiritual progress (and eventually, we hope, liberation) is really, really hard and we need all the help we can get!
So rather than reinvent the wheel, we can take advantage of the experience of others, and those who have preceded them, to help us on our way. Another advantage is that when we're slipping, finding it all too difficult, or just plain lazy, having other people around to support, guide and maybe just kick us in the pants can be very helpful (I speak from experience as far as the last is concerned!).
However, labels (as all Buddhists know) are just labels. What is important is the reality behind the labels. And what that is, is up to every one of us to discover for ourselves, because no-one else can do it for us.
I really respect Buddhists who press on without the support of other Buddhists around them, I was one of those once and I know how difficult it can be. But persevere, even forums like this can help and let you know there are many other people like you around; that's why it was set up... Essentially, we're all facing the same basic problems, and we're definitely in it together!
Best wishes in the Dharma,
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