Author Topic: The 4 ways of gathering disciples  (Read 16236 times)

KhedrubGyatso

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 185
    • Email
The 4 ways of gathering disciples
« on: February 04, 2012, 03:25:29 AM »


According to the Lamrim one can:

1. Give material gifts/things
2. Give encouragement and praise
3. Give benefits
4. Lead by example

Question:

a) Does the above always work from our own experiences ( in the context of
    bringing people to dharma )?

b) Can the above 4 ways be applied just as effectively to win friends?



« Last Edit: February 04, 2012, 06:25:35 PM by DSFriend »

Gypsy

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 64
Re: The 4 ways of gathering disciples
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2012, 09:26:40 AM »
I believe all 4 above mentioned are the keys to bring people into dharma. Every individuals carries different characters and different attachments, desire and expectations. Therefore with skillful means to attack one's weakness for example material, you use gifts as "bait" to attract this individual into dharma.

When a person comes to Dharma, they expect something. Be it for selfish reasons like praying for money, partners, smooth business etc worldly concerns; Or merely wants spirituality, by showing them your transformation, it's a good example for them to practice dharma well and eventually be a better person. This is lead by example.

After all, we should practice to be a giver not a taker. We give with a sincere heart and not expecting anything in return. This is the true virtue to be practiced.

Amitabha

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 85
    • Email
Re: The 4 ways of gathering disciples
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2012, 10:18:37 AM »
True mind free from motive. The four way is more towards developing your loving kindness and broadening of mind so as to avoid hindrances along the journey of practice and situational basis. for instance, people use to spend their friends for light refreshment on casual gathering etc. The idea is generosity and true sincerity. This is Buddha way. As when they have problem and need your attention, you then can skillfully share with them the innate Buddha loving kindness.

hope rainbow

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 947
Re: The 4 ways of gathering disciples
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2012, 02:51:32 PM »
1. Give material gifts/things

I receive a gift, I feel respected, I feel wanted, I feel friendship, I feel like I am welcome.

2. Give encouragement and praise

I feel rewarded, I feel that my actions are recognized, I feel flattered.

3. Give benefits

I improve from the relationship with this person, I can see real and tangible improvements.
I develop and secure the recognition that I benefit from the relationship.

4. Lead by example

I am inspired to follow the steps of the inspiring person. I want to achieve the same qualities.

a) Does the above always work from our own experiences ( in the context of bringing people to Dharma?)

It works indeed, I have seen it work.
Though sometimes it fails, but it is not the method that is faulty, it is the bias motivation one may have when engaging in a Dharma journey and/or the lack of merits from that person.
One can start a Dharma journey with merit and still fail to create more merits for lack of appropriate motivation or selctivness, even if that person "seem" to do Dharma work.

b) Can the above 4 ways be applied just as effectively to win friends?

This works in friendship too, but of course the benefit will be limited to what my friend can do, while there is no limit the the benefit received from a Buddha; and also the inspiring example of a friend may help us to better ourselves if that friend is better than us in something, but it is limited to the qualities of our friend, while the qualities of a Buddha are supreme.

Poonlarp

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 73
    • Email
Re: The 4 ways of gathering disciples
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2012, 05:48:52 PM »
Yes I agreed with all that mentioned, the 4 ways bring more people closer to Dharma.

But there are still exceptional cases. I have a friend who was a close student of a Rinpoche, he received lots of gifts, praises and have privilege to always meet with his Guru. After some times, he still thought very negatively about things in his life.

The gifts and praises, he took all that for granted. He thought he deserved to have all these and he should have more. He didn't get more, and his negative thoughts brought him away from the Guru as he was not happy with other students, and finally he left the Dharma center and never came back.

In this case, are gifts and praises becoming negative as they made him had more negative thoughts?

I was trying to answer myself by, if without all these gifts and praises, he will also leave the Guru and center, just they prolong his period to stay closer with Dharma to collect more merits.

Anyone has other explanation? 

DSFriend

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 955
Re: The 4 ways of gathering disciples
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2012, 07:06:26 PM »
Dear Poonlarp

Yes, perhaps this person thought he deserved it.
It is not the gifts, praise, etc which made this person have negative thoughts. We all have negative thoughts, arising from delusion/ignorance and reinforced by its two best friends which are anger and attachment. As we know, these are the three poisons which have kept us imprisoned in samsara.

So we are imprisoned to the point that even if we are given the teachings to liberate ourselves, we are not able to apply because we don't even know the right way to start LEARNING the Dharma. Thus, the compassionate masters such as H.H Pabongka Rinpoche taught us through the Lamrim how to learn the Dharma even before he gave actual teachings on the Dharma itself.

Your friend has the good merits to meet and be a close student to a Rinpoche. However, just like all of us, we fall into what is illustrated as the Three Pots :
1. The Upside - down pot
2. The smelly pot
3. The leaky pot


We may be near and study under a most qualified Guru, but unfortunately we got a POT PROBLEM. Example. our minds are closed, deluded and forgetful. How could our negative views be changed if our mind is similar to one of these pots.

This quote reminds me of the purpose of studying and learning :
Owing to your study, you understand Dharma;
Owing to your study, you stop sinning;
Owing to your study, you abandon the meaningless;
Owing to your study, you achieve nirvana.


- Sayings of the Buddha

The guru can use the 4 ways of gathering disciples and all the skillful methods of a mahasiddha, but it is still up to the student to stop sinning, to abandon the meaningless etc...

The Great Pabongka Rinpoche taught in the Lamrim as follows :
While the Dharma student listen, six things should be present:
 - the right time
 - deference
 - respect
 - lack of anger
 - the intention to put the teaching into practice later
 - an absence of arguing with the teaching


The explanation then for what happened to your friend is though he had the opportunity to be close to a Guru, the 6 things were NOT present in him as a student. Perhaps what was present were the 8 worldly concerns and a grand party organized by the Snakes, Roosters and Pigs.

May Protector help us always so that we do not experience such negative fate and fall of the path to ultimate liberation. 

hope rainbow

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 947
Re: The 4 ways of gathering disciples
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2012, 04:02:00 AM »
The lamrim is skillfully organized and teaches how to listen to the Dharma in great details before explaining the Dharma per se.

The way we listen is extremely important as DS Friend explained very clearly.
What do we wish to achieve when listening to Dharma?
What do we want when we go closer to a Holy Guru?
What brought us there in the first place will make us leave or will make us stay, depending of what was our motivation in the first place.

Most of us, if not all of us have a deluded, closed and forgetful mind when we come to the Dharma, to various degrees of course.
It would be naive to think of myself as being free of the 3 pots.
And it would also be naive to tell myself "I am not perfect", so I will not go closer to the Guru, because I am all 3 pots at the same time.
Both are naive thoughts.

Why can we still go to the Dharma when we are not free from the three poisons and have the 3 pots behavior?
2 reasons:

1. It is because we are not perfect that we need the Dharma.
The Dharma is the medicine, how can we say, I am sick, so I'll wait until I am healthy before I go to the doctor and get medicine. Illogical.
The upside-down pot here (closed mind) would be to think that I am not sick when I am. If I think like that, I would never go to the doctor, and even if a doctor comes to me, I'll think that he doesn't know what he is talking about, or he is trying to get something from me by telling me that I am sick when I am not.

2. Because the way we are is not permanent and we can change our train of thoughts, we can adjust our motivation and improve it always.
Thus, first, we may get gifts and flattery because that is what is suited for our mind, then when we have made more progress and have learned to improve our motivation (for lack of improving ourselves yet), then we may get different types of teachings from our Guru that require us to have abandoned the 3 pots if not totally, at least enough to continue further on our spiritual journey.

pgdharma

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1055
Re: The 4 ways of gathering disciples
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2012, 06:48:29 AM »
1. Give material gifts/things: It is better to give than to receive. Giving material gifts/things is a way for us to practice generosity. Sometimes it may not only be material gifts/things. We can also give our support, time and help. It is also to acknowledge that we have accepted them as our friends and this is one way of welcoming them.

2. Give encouragement and praise: For new people who are new in dharma, when we give them praise and encouragement it is to show them that we recognize their efforts and it will make them feel more motivated to learn more.

3. Give benefits: When they receive gifts and encouragement from us, they will want to be our friend and from there we can then skilfully guide them in their spiritual path.

4. Lead by example: We should care for others, work for others, be committed and do our work well so that we can inspire and bring others into the dharma.

a) Does the above always work from our own experiences ( in the context of bringing people to dharma )?: Sometimes it works and sometimes not.Sometimes it may not works as every individual being has their own characteristics and behaviour. Also it depends whether that person has the merits to receive it. Some of them took things for granted and thought  they deserve it as their motivations were wrong when they come to the dharma.

b) Can the above 4 ways be applied just as effectively to win friends?: Yes this can be applied to win friends. However, it will be more beneficial if we win friends and help them in their spiritual path than on a secular basis.


Midakpa

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 624
Re: The 4 ways of gathering disciples
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2012, 12:43:47 PM »
The four ways of gathering disciples are methods used by Bodhisattvas to gather disciples.  Human beings love to receive gifts so this is one way to attract them. They also like praise but in this case, it is through teaching them the Dharma and leading them to liberation. The spiritual guides benefit disciples by helping them in their Dharma practice and show them a good example by practising what is taught.

In my case, these methods have worked and I've also seen how effective they are for many people that I know. These are proven methods and all gurus use them.

As for whether the methods are equally effective for winning friends, I think they are but the objective and motivation are different. For the guru, the objective is to help the disciples to become enlightened, thus the motivation is one of bodhicitta. For ordinary people, the objective is friendship and the motivation may be worldly, for example, to get something from the friend.

Big Uncle

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1995
Re: The 4 ways of gathering disciples
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2012, 04:00:20 PM »


According to the Lamrim one can:

1. Give material gifts/things
2. Give encouragement and praise
3. Give benefits
4. Lead by example

Question:

a) Does the above always work from our own experiences ( in the context of
    bringing people to dharma )?

b) Can the above 4 ways be applied just as effectively to win friends?

The above methods by theory definitely brings people to the Dharma but by experience, I think just narrowing any one of these methods down, I would not be able to bring anybody to the Dharma when I only employ only a single method.

However, I think the most effective way to bring people to the Dharma is really through example. Through what I have observed, one could perform all 3 of the above methods except exuding a good example, one would not be able to bring others to the Dharma. That is definitely very clear and by just being a good example of a Dharma practitioner alone,  one can bring many to the Dharma.

As for winning friends, all 4 methods are excellent ways to gain real friends and if we are a good example, we will attract the best type of friends who would be beneficial towards us. So, it works both ways, one can attract good friends and one can also bring them to the Dharma as well. This is especially true if we are sincere and with little or no mind games.

hope rainbow

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 947
Re: The 4 ways of gathering disciples
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2012, 04:30:38 PM »
However, I think the most effective way to bring people to the Dharma is really through example.
Through what I have observed, one could perform all 3 of the above methods except exuding a good example, one would not be able to bring others to the Dharma. That is definitely very clear and by just being a good example of a Dharma practitioner alone, one can bring many to the Dharma.

Engaging in Dharma, I have lost friends too.
Friends that told me it was silly and delusional (duh..) to become "religious". They simply don't understand and their minds of attachment and delusion wishes not for these attachments and delusions to be threatened.
But then I have learned to accept that the friendship we had was conditional to specific social habits or beliefs.. not real friendship is it?
And I have learned that if I let them win their karma will be very bad (and mine).
And so my "friends" that try to remove me from my practice, I silence them and with time, they will come back to me for a much more grounded friendship.

Yet, I totally agree with you BU, it is through example that I can win these friens back, because they know deep inside that I am doing the right thing and they are waiting for me top prove them right or wrong, so their spiritual journey now depends directly on me leading them by example....

Leading by example is essential.

DSFriend

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 955
Re: The 4 ways of gathering disciples
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2012, 04:22:41 PM »

But then I have learned to accept that the friendship we had was conditional to specific social habits or beliefs.. not real friendship is it?
And I have learned that if I let them win their karma will be very bad (and mine).
And so my "friends" that try to remove me from my practice, I silence them and with time, they will come back to me for a much more grounded friendship.


I appreciate what Hope Rainbow said so well here which I is what most if not all friendships are built on...sadly. But we didn't know better. Then upon meeting the Dharma and launching off in a new path, we suddenly experience growing distance from those we used to be "closed" to..be it friends or even family members.


lotus1

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 557
Re: The 4 ways of gathering disciples
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2012, 08:41:34 PM »
Give material gifts/things
- I read about "when we offer to Sangha, we collect merits". If we take from Sangha, it is de-merits.
- So, should we take or not take when our Guru gives us gift?

kurava

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 292
    • Email
Re: The 4 ways of gathering disciples
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2012, 09:35:58 AM »
Give material gifts/things
- I read about "when we offer to Sangha, we collect merits". If we take from Sangha, it is de-merits.
- So, should we take or not take when our Guru gives us gift?

Dear Lotus1,

According to my understanding by "taking from the Sangha"  means if we take something from the sangha without seeking prior permission , in other words, it is stealing.

Obviously if your guru gives you a gift , it is not considered as "taking" in the above context because your Guru wants you to have that gift.

So, no worry . You will not collect any demerits at all  ;D

vajrastorm

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 706
Re: The 4 ways of gathering disciples
« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2012, 01:49:00 AM »
The four ways are skillful ways of drawing people to Dharma. The first way is to attract them in a worldly way by satisfying people's desire for material  gifts. However, giving gifts of Buddha images or Dharma books are an effective option. From experience, i have found that these gifts do kindle at least a little interest in the Dharma. However, we need to follow up quickly with the second way in the manner of attempting to quickly take advantage of the situation, by frequent, but not persistent contact and  communication. Listen to them and apply the second way of casually sharing Dharma with them in conversations, using very sweet and pleasant ways that draw them to Dharma via accepted normalities by "tapping'' into their level of intelligence and their aspirations. The third way is to do Dharma sharing for their benefit by teaching the Dharma and guiding them towards the Path in a skillful manner, according to their level of intelligence and aptitude. The fourth is ultimately the best way as we show them , by example, what it its to have the Dharma in us and  by walking the talk. 

From my own observation, my most highly qualified Spiritual Guide has been able to bring many to Dharma by employing the 4 ways masterfully and also by other very skillful, even wrathful, ways.My own experience, however, has shown me that I am not skillful enough especially with the last 3 ways. Finally, i would think that a great deal depends on the potential disciple, whether they have the merit or not, and whether they can overcome their laziness and make determined efforts to resist  the pulls and distractions of worldly pursuits.

As to making friends, I think we should be motivated by sincere motivations of wishing these potential friends to also have the Dharma for their own ultimate peace and happiness and not just want to gain their friendship for our own personal happiness and as a worldly pursuit of this life. In this case, we'are back to using the same four ways.