Vajrayana Training: The Teacher-Student Relationship

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Teachers, Students, Masters & their Disciples; a history and philosophy of the Vajra Relationship in Tibetan Buddhism.

How do we understand issues of lineage, authority, power, and tradition in the era of disillusionment with authoritative abuses of power? What is the relationship between individual spiritual health and community life? How do spiritual intelligence, independence, personal empowerment and psychological health factor into to the path?

  1. How do we draw on tradition in a time when we have loss of faith in institutions? How can we engage Buddhist wisdom while remaining free from the dogma and fundamentalism that many people associate with religion?   What are Buddhist perspectives on these issues?  How does the modern context change these issues? What resources does Buddhism offer to grapple with abuses of power and ethical violations?

  2. How do we heal from spiritual traumas? What are ways to avoid pitfalls associated with the working a teacher and the complex mixture of spirituality, authority and power? What are possible ways to deal with breaches of truth and violation of ethics in the spiritual context?

  3. What are views of the teacher-student relationship in Vajrayana and how does this differ from other Asian religious traditions? from western traditions?

  4. Do you even need a teacher? If so how do you know you are ready? What does it mean to be a student and what should you expect from a teacher?

  5. What the different kinds of teacher-student relationships in Vajrayana history? How do you evaluate a teacher?

  6. What if the relationship breaks down? Is it possible to dissolve such relationships without breaking vows?

This is a self-paced module of the Vajrayana Training. It incorporates historical accounts of the teacher-student relationship and Buddhist debates on these matters along with important questions that emerge from the modern context. Along with lectures and dynamic discussions, Pema Khandro shares her heartfelt reflections about the student-teacher relationship from the perspective of both student and teacher in the post-modern age.