Assuming students are unenlightened, how can students have the chance to evaluate qualifications and accept a person as their teacher?

For example, recently there have been more sexual misconduct issues with famous teachers, such as Sogyal Rinpoche. Obviously, the students here were unable to evaluate the teacher.

What is the method for students to evaluate qualifications and accept a person as their teacher?

How can a person that knows very little of the Buddha's teaching evaluate if a person is a Buddha?

  • 3
    Is this a sincere question? Are you looking for the viewpoint of others or do think you already know the answer and just looking to teach the rest of us? Aug 25 '18 at 1:34
  • It is a very important question that can help a person with what looks like the mental defilement of rebelliousness against the Dhamma and all things & beneficial. Aug 25 '18 at 1:37
  • What are you looking for in a teacher: only a lack of sexual misconduct? And, which school?
    – ChrisW
    Aug 25 '18 at 2:40

One can immediately eliminate from consideration any teachers who might incur censure per AN8.88:

The lay followers may, if they wish, make a proclamation of confidence in a mendicant who has eight qualities.

They don’t try to prevent the lay people from getting material possessions. They don’t try to harm lay people. They don’t insult and abuse lay people. They don’t divide lay people against each other. They don’t criticize the Buddha, the teaching, and the Saṅgha. They’re not seen at an inappropriate place for collecting alms.

Note that many of the contemporary Sangha/teacher crises would raise doubts and lack of confidence because of the above.

The Rhinoceros Sutta suggests that we be prepared to wander alone as necessary in our search, not wasting our time, yet open to meeting the Sangha as found:

Follow that friend who’s deeply-learned,
Dharma-endowed and lucid, great,
knows meaning leading out of doubts,
fare singly as the rhino’s horn.


What is the method for students to evaluate qualifications and accept a person as their teacher?

It is always said in India (Buddhists and Hindus alike) that, When the disciple is ready the Guru (Teacher) arrives. The trick is that you start your search to Nibbana in all dedication and sincerity, rest of the events unfold.

There is no way a student can evaluate a teacher. I mean how on earth I can know anything about, say a 'Geshe' degree or if you are an academic or an Arhant?

Altough what can be done is you can do some background check before you commit, but if there is a shady teacher who is not yet exposed in that case nothing can be done.

But there is another thing, that is called as Innocense. Knowing lot of spiritual con-men I can attest that those trying to achieve the ability to fly in the air end up with the con-men and those with a sincere search for Nibbana will end up with right teacher. The cunning end up at feet of cunning. It takes masive deal of Karma on one's part to arrive at true teacher of Dhamma (not to be confused with saaying that victime are responsible for their troubles).

How can a person that knows very little of the Buddha's teaching evaluate if a person is a Buddha?

No, you cannot eveluate a Buddha, you just evaluate your own truthfulness and your own intentions.

In other words, "appo dipo bhava", be a light (island) into yourself.

"Monks, be islands unto yourselves,[1] be your own refuge, having no other; let the Dhamma be an island and a refuge to you, having no other. SN 22.43
-- Attadiipaa Sutta: An Island to Oneself

Also of interest is the Kalama sutta.

So in this case, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical deduction, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.'

When the Buddha says that you can't go by logical deduction, inference, or analogies, he's saying that you can't always trust your sense of reason. When he says that you can't go by agreement through pondering views (i.e., what seems to fit in with what you already believe) or by probability, he's saying that you can't always trust your common sense. And of course, you can't always trust teachers, scriptures, or traditions. So where can you place your trust? You have to put things to the test in your own thoughts, words, and deeds, to see what actually leads to suffering and what leads to its end.


Schrodinger's Cat.

  • MN 95 also contains a teaching about this. Aug 25 '18 at 6:24

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