Lila interviewed Christopher Titmuss for several years, on different themes and topics relevant to awakening in our life.
Christopher Titmuss, a senior meditation and Dharma teacher in the west, a former Buddhist monk in Thailand and India, offers Dharma teachings addressing the wide variety of issues in daily life including mindfulness, meditation, communication and wise action.
Lila and Christopher are long term friends and were teaching together since 2004, including in this MTTC course (Mindfulness teacher training course).
EXTRACTS FROM THE INTERVIEW MTTC course, June 2017 Germany
On becoming a Dharma teacher – criteria? Not exactly. Something else runs the show.
The primary interest is to give support for teachers to express their understanding in their way which is supportive to people. I'm not concerned if they use the language of the form (Silla, Samadhi, Pannya) or not, they need a person outside of themselves to tell them – you can do it.
I wanted to ask you about the next generation and how do you see your Role as a teacher, how do you chose.
Q - When you give teaching, what is for you the primary intention?
A - Liberation. That’s the thread that runs through. The liberation from the stuff, the freedom to be, the freedom to act. Something that is simultaneously transcendent but immanent, but close. That consistently what I wish to get across so It realized or understood
But not to make it into a criteria in any way. In teacher meetings people discussed qualities that makes a teacher. But I never participated. Why list all this, and who has got it perfect anyway? … In the last analysis, in a way, the sangha decides a teacher. You and I and others can give support, but if that person hasn’t got the dedication in and outside of retreat - they'll fade.
I opt for a general sense of potential that this person can flower in and with the role, given the right guidance and support from one who has done it for years. These can bring something deeper out if the person.
One of the most common things I hear from teachers is that how challenging it is to find the words around ultimate truth. I say to people – at least try to put in a sentence or two about where it's all going: Nibhana, liberation, the truth, the unconditioned, call it what you like. Keep it alive inside yourself as well as with the others.
If I sense the basics are there – Ethics, lifestyle, which is respectful to the earth – living modestly. A real love of the dharma, a sense of practices, connection and support with others- sangha, the India, Thailand, Burmese, experience. That itself is speaking to me. I'm not too concerned with the personality of the individual. And because of dependent arising – giving them more nourishment.
Looking back at your generation of teachers, when you were in your early 30 late 20, you didn’t have much experience with all these. But there was something else. Most of them couldn’t even tell me what the 4 noble truths are (laughter)… and saying all kind of things like "you create your own reality… and still do (laughter). I'll respond, but not as a criteria.
With the group of the MTTC I'm cutting the corners. I think the planet is chronic self doubt
What would be your advise for someone who would like to be a dharma teacher?
(21.48 min– starts a new topic )- what's your advice – what should people do to get the transcendent more immanent? A – the combination of retreats, coupled with the transcendent on a retreat, in the dialogue, in the listening, is the best climate possible.
3 kinds of teachers that I'm totally fine with:
one, is good with all the basics: sila- Samadhi-panna, methods and techniques, loving kindness meditation, mindfulness, 8 fold path etc. they teach on retreats and its totally fine. I encourage some people to do that.
Second kind of teacher has more to offer – could be jhanas, insight, more understanding of the psychology of people – deeper.
Third kind of teacher – a certain consistency with the ultimate.
There are overlapping and sometimes a gradual shift.