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Many and Various Doctrines
Since this is the Dhamma-ending age, there are a lot of false teachings about. Take care that what you study and practise is the genuine teaching of the Buddha.
The followers of this school regard other traditions as inferior. They disparage the original teachings of the Buddha as the Hīnayāna, and regard Arahants as inferior to Bodhisattvas. They say that the attainment of Arahantship is only the completion of the lower path. After that one must cultivate bodhicitta and strive for the highest goal, which is the Omniscience of a Sammāsambuddha. Even Arahants like Venerable Sāriputta, the Mānayānists regard as inferior to others. The Arahants, they say, have only practised for their own benefit, and are ultimately of no benefit to others. The special esoteric teachings of this school preserved only in Sanskrit, were taught by the Buddha for only those especially intelligent ones who had the capacity to understand it. The teachings in the five Nikāyas, the Vinaya, and the Abhidhamma were just the basics for the less intelligent.
Holding such a view, why would these conceited fools pay respect to Arahants? The Buddha praised Arahantship as the highest goal. Those who achieve it are worthy of the greatest homage. The very meaning of the term “Arahaṃ” means “worthy.” Offering a spoonful of almsfood to an Arahant is a highly meritorious deed that leads to great benefits for the giver, so what can be said for paying reverential homage, providing a dwelling place for, or studying the Dhamma under such a pure-hearted individual?
As everyone should know, there is really only one path to the goal. That is the pure Vipassanā Satipaṭṭhāna method. As the Buddha said, “Ekāyano ayaṃ bhikkhave maggo ... this, monks, is the only way.” These narrow-minded people are on the right track, but their practice is immature. They know very little of the great breadth and depth of the Buddha’s teachings. They know about respiration meditation, as that is mentioned first in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, but they think that that is the only teaching in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. Anyone practising another method is regarded as giving off “bad vibrations” so you shouldn’t meditate in the same room as Ekayānists unless you follow the same practice.
Those who follow this school are not really followers at all, but leaders. They regard all schools as inferior to their own views and opinions. Picking what they like, and rejecting what they don’t approve of, they construct their own form of Buddhism, with bits and pieces they find in other philosophies and religions. In general, they reject any teaching about rebirth, recollection of previous lives, or psychic powers because their approach is pragmatic and scientific. “Seeing is believing” as the saying goes, so they believe whatever they see as right, and dismiss anything that they cannot understand.
“Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.” This is the philosophy of the Manyāna or Mañana. This world is just too impure a place to gain liberation nowadays. In this Dhamma ending age no one can practise the genuine Dhamma so the only thing to do is to pray for rebirth in an alleged Pure Land, where only Buddhas and Bodhisattvas dwell. There is no need to study the Tipiṭaka or to cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path, just chant some holy words, and everything will be alright tomorrow.
The followers of this school stress the practice of Samatha meditation. Without developing the fourfold rūpajhāna and arūpajhāna, they say, one cannot attain the goal. There are no shortcuts and no liberation by wisdom alone (paññāvimutti). They don’t understand the difference between concentration on concepts (paññatti) and concentration on realities (paramattha). If its not samatha jhāna, its not proper meditation. They are right that right concentration is required, but they are wrong, because they don’t understand about »» vipassanā jhāna, which is right concentration on realities using access concentration, not absorption concentration, which is gained by concentrating on concepts.
These food fanatics think that purity and impurity come from what you eat. Only vegetarians are true, compassionate Buddhists. Never mind that the Buddha himself ate meat, and that most of the great teachers of modern times ate meat, if you eat meat you cannot be enlightened, nor even hold any hope of gaining enlightenment. They don't know much about what the Buddha taught. All they know is that the Buddha was very compassionate, so he couldn’t possibly have eaten meat. If you eat only organic vegetables and soya beans you can easily attain enlightenment.
Some think that the Dhamma can be taught best by telling jokes and humurous anecdotes. This is also not the right path. The Buddha likened laughter to childishness in the discipline of the Noble Ones. In the same discourse he likened singing to lamentation, and dancing to madness. Enjoy a joke by all means, but remember that it is not the right path taught by the Buddha. The truth of suffering must be understood. The cause of suffering must be abandoned. The cessation of suffering must be realised, and the Path to the cessation of suffering must be cultivated.
Saying is easy, doing is difficult. Accumulating is easy, letting go is difficult. After 2,600 years, Buddhism has accumulated a whole lot of impediments. Extraneous clutter that never was taught by the Buddha. Rites and rituals, prayer beads, holy threads, mandalas and mantras, holy footprints, and all kinds of superstitious beliefs. If you know them for what they are you can use them in your practice, but if you mistake the inessential for what is essential your practice will lead nowhere.
Be especially careful what you accept as Dhamma. If it is not Dhamma you will be lead very far astray from the right path. Focus on the essentials, not on the outward form. If you think that this article is engaging in sect-bashing then you are a sectarian. A sect means a teaching that has split away from the genuine teaching. If it has deviated from the right path, then it deserves to be bashed. The genuine teaching of the Buddha will always stand up to being bashed and tested thoroughly. Bogus teachings cannot stand up to a few good knocks.
It depends on what you mean by God. If you mean a supreme and almighty being who created the world and all the beings in it, and who decides the destiny of those beings after death, then Buddhists do not believe in any such God. However, if you believe that there must be something that transcends the material realm of the senses, something eternal and real that can be personally realised, and that transforms the lives of those who realise it, then Buddhists do believe in such a reality. It is called nibbāna.
Buddhism talks a lot about suffering and impermanence because living beings are very strongly attached to life and to the enjoyment of sensual pleasures. It is this attachment and enjoyment that is the cause of suffering. If one follows the Buddhist path, attachment is gradually reduced and finally eradicated altogether. The complete absence of attachment is the highest possible bliss. Even a little less attachment means less suffering, so Buddhism is a path of joy and liberation from pain, disappointment, grief and despair. It is not pessimistic at all.
The idea of a self, person, me, or you is a misperception or illusion. There is a continuous chain of cause and effect throughout life, and this process does not come to an abrupt halt after death. Because the process is continuous, we perceive it as a fixed reality — as a person or soul. However, not one thought or one atom is permanent; everything is in a constant flux. The self is not destroyed by realising nibbāna, because the self is a non-existent thing. What is destroyed is the illusion of self. When the illusion is shattered, all doubts will disappear. See The Nature of Illusion and An Explanation of Rebirth.
Not at all. Monks and nuns make a full-time commitment to the practice and study of the Dhamma, hopefully because they have strong faith in the Buddha’s teaching. A layperson can also have strong faith in the Dhamma, but due to social responsibilities may be unable to follow the monastic life-style. Spiritual attainments depend on the maturity of one’s insight, not on one’s chosen vocation.
A lay Buddhist can make a free choice what he or she eats. A monk or nun has fewer options, and usually has to make do with what is offered. As long as one does not kill, urge to kill, rejoice in killing, nor speak in praise of it, one can buy and eat meat. The kamma depends on one’s intention. Those who kill or trade in animals to make a living will inherit their bad kamma. It is a wrong livelihood for a Buddhist, but not everyone in the world is a Buddhist. Even so, some Buddhists may be fishermen or may raise livestock. Growing fruit and vegetables nearly always involves the deliberate destruction of many living beings too. Not everyone can afford pure organic produce. See the Āmagandha Sutta.
The Buddha is not in heaven, nor “in” nibbāna. He put an end to all kinds of rebirth. See What is Nibbāna?
Yes, it is possible, but it is not easy. To realise nibbāna in this very life requires the utmost dedication, transparent honesty, and strenuous effort. Almost anyone may realise nibbāna if they try hard enough, the trouble is, most people just do not try hard enough, or are not wise enough so though they try hard, they don’t succeed because the method they are using is wrong. See »» In This Very Life?
Yes, of course. One could hardly believe otherwise if one just reads a dozen or so discourses of the Buddha. However, believing is one thing; knowing and seeing by means of psychic powers is far more difficult. The Buddha and his leading disciples had psychic powers so they could converse with celestial beings or see the evil-doers suffering in hell or as hungry ghosts due to their evil deeds. “Seeing is believing” as they say. If you cannot see, then you must believe. You don’t have to believe if you don’t wish to, as it is prudent not to accept anything on hearsay, but if you dismiss heaven and hell as mere allegories for pleasure and pain, then you would find this hard to justify from the Buddhist texts.
Not all present results are the results of kamma done in previous lives. If one drives carelessly and has a road accident one may end up disabled. However, some people are born with physical or mental disabilities, and some get killed or injured due to the carelessness of others. In such cases we must assume that the cause lies with the victim’s past kamma. It does not follow that careless or drunken drivers should not be prosecuted if they accidentally injure someone. Even though they had no intention to cause an accident, carelessness is blameworthy, Killing someone by recklessness is not murder, but it may be manslaughter, and should be punished severely. The likely result of such reckless or negligent behaviour is that at some point in the future one will suffer a similar fate, and be killed or injured through no fault of one’s own. See An Introduction to Kamma.
Yes, it is always unwholesome kamma with the unpleasant future result of disease, injury, or premature death. However, killing is always justifiable (sic). Even the terrorist can justify, at least to himself or herself, why he or she has to murder dozens of innocent civilians. If one were undeluded and totally mindful, there is no way that one could kill any living being. However, human beings are seldom undeluded, and rarely mindful, so they can always justify killing: “If I don’t kill the mosquitos I will get malaria,” or “If I don’t carry out this abortion, the mother may kill herself, or the baby will have a miserable existence as an unwanted child,” or “If we don’t execute this murderer he will kill many more people.” All such justifications make false assumptions based on one’s conditioning, which is nothing but the unskilful mental attitude of aversion, ill-will, or anger. Killing and anger is always justifiable, and only part of being human, but that doesn’t make it right. See Ethical Dilemmas.
Buddhism is the way of inquiry and analysis. Since all unenlightened beings are ignorant and biased they are apt to make biased statements of their own opinion. A Buddhist should weigh up any such statements carefully by comparing what is said with the texts to see if it really supportable or not. My statements below should also be examined in the same spirit of inquiry. If you don’t agree with me, that is fine, but don’t just leave it there. Check out the texts for yourself and broaden your knowledge so that you can understand why I say what I do. Then you may form an unbiased and unprejudiced opinion of my statements.
If this were true, the arising of an Omniscient Buddha would not be such an exceedingly rare event, and the Buddhadhamma would never disappear from the world. Everyone could easily gain enlightenment and only the wicked or foolish would have to suffer. Even within Buddhism there are many false teachings that are not the true teaching of the Buddha. Please forget about sectarian arguments. In the time of the Buddha there were no different sects, but there were still some who practised rightly and gained the goal, and some who practised wrongly. After the Buddha’s passing away, one monk suggested that the monks could now do as they wished without being constantly admonished by the Teacher. Spurred by this comment, Mahākassapa convened the First Buddhist Council to rehearse the Dhamma/Vinaya in order to preserve it for future generations. A hundred years later, some monks started accepting and using money, eating after midday, and followed a number of other unorthodox practices. The Second Council was convened and the true Dhamma/Vinaya was again agreed upon and restated. A few hundred years later, in the time of Emperor Asoka, the Third Council was convened because unorthodox practices and wrong views had again become prevalent. It was at this time that the Mahāyāna started to develop as some monks split away from the orthodox monks. Never mind about this sect or that tradition, just try to learn properly what is Dhamma/Vinaya and what is not Dhamma/not Vinaya, i.e. try to know and practise what the Buddha taught and disregard what the Buddha did not teach or practice.
It is true that the Buddha never slandered or abused anyone. He was completely free from jealousy and ill-will. However, he certainly did say some things that were displeasing to others. When he started teaching the Dhamma, the Brahmins were well-established as the “Church” of the day. They held that the Brahmins or priests were a superior caste to workers, farmers, merchants, and nobles. The Buddha ridiculed them in many ways, both in private with his loyal disciples and in public when non-believers were present. They lost most of their support, and conspired to discredit the Buddha by hiring a prostitute to pretend she had had an affair with him, then hiring some thugs to murder her.
The Buddha also criticised evil-doers among his own followers and constantly admonished his loyal disciples not to be heedless. He said, “Ānanda, I will not treat you [gently] as a potter treats an unbaked pot. I will instruct and admonish you repeatedly [robustly if necessary]. The sound core will stand the test.”
When the Buddha returned to Kapilavatthu he soon ordained his son Rāhula as a novice, but he did not then ordain his former wife, Yasodharā as a nun. The Buddha permitted the ordination of women only after the intervention of Venerable Ānanda, having already refused a direct request from his foster-mother three times. That is not equal treatment. What is equal between men and women is their ability to understand and practise the Dhamma to gain realisation of nibbāna. As regards spiritual maturity, virtue, and wisdom — the things that really matter — there is no difference. The physical and emotional needs of men and women are not identical.
If only! Some say that all striving is motivated by desire, and is therefore the cause of suffering. “Just chill out, be yourself. The Buddha is within and you are already enlightened. You just haven’t realised it yet.” Teachings like this do not fit well with the Pāḷi texts. No such teachings are found in the Tipiṭaka. Effort should be constant, continuous, and resolute. However, it must be balanced with tranquillity. One must be relaxed, but not lax. Attentive, but not tense. The lazy person is incapable of attaining anything, let alone enlightenment. “This Dhamma is for the energetic, not for the lazy.”
Since the time of the Buddha, wicked and lazy monks (and nuns) have been trying to find an easier route to nibbāna. It is only human nature. The rules were made to keep weaker disciples on track, not to make their lives more difficult. Those who refuse to follow the training rules as laid down by the Buddha have blocked their own spiritual progress. In the introduction to the Pātimokkha, which should be recited every fortnight wherever four monks reside together, it is said, “Whatever monk has committed an offence, but does not disclose it, is guilty of deliberate lying, which is obstructive to spiritual progress.” One cannot separate Dhamma from Vinaya. A lay person must fully observe the five precepts to make progress, and a monk must fully observe 227 precepts. If one admits one’s faults and strives to overcome one’s limitations, one can progress. Otherwise, one cannot. See »» The Heart of Buddhism.
There is control by force, and control by truth. The Buddha did not force his disciples to follow the training. If they did not follow properly, he taught Dhamma. If they refused to follow the training, he permitted the Saṅgha to ostracise them or excommunicate them. If lay people worked for the harm of the Saṅgha, trying to discredit them or prevent offerings to them, the Buddha permitted the Saṅgha to refuse gifts from those individuals.
A Buddhist can use reasonable force in self-defence. One does not have to meekly accept injustice as the result of one’s past bad kamma. However, one should consider carefully before acting, and be wary of acting in the heat of the moment, though that is often unavoidable. Hatred is never appeased by hatred, and harsh words lead to quarrels, even to the exchange of blows. Buddhists can resort to the law to defend their property rights or reputation. If one kills or injures others while retaliating in self-defence the kamma will depend on one’s intention. Martial arts that aim to disarm one’s assailant while inflicting no more pain than absolutely necessary, have developed out of the Buddhist ideology of non-violence.
Not quite true. The past is already gone, and the future is yet to come, so a Buddhist should live in the present. However, death is certain, and life is uncertain, so one should make plans for the future. A short Zen story may illustrate the opposing view-points.
Two monks were arguing. One maintained that it was vital to believe in rebirth to be a Buddhist, the other maintained that it was unnecessary, that one could understand the Dhamma only in the present moment.
The first went and asked the abbot whether it was essential to believe in rebirth. The abbot replied, “Yes you are right.” The second went to the abbot and asked whether one could understand the Dhamma only in the present moment. The abbot replied, “Yes you are right.”
The monks argued again, each saying that the abbot had told him he was right. So they went in together, and each said to the abbot, “You said I was right. We can't both be right.” The abbot thought for a while, and then replied, “Yes, you are right!”
The Buddha said that one can only find Noble Ones where the Noble Eightfold Path is found. There is no other way to realise nibbāna other than by following the Noble Eightfold Path. Right View, Right Mindfulness, and so forth are essential. Those who hold wrong views regarding God and the soul could not possibly practise the Eightfold Path in full, therefore they could not possibly gain enlightenment. Most other religions do not even teach about nibbāna as the highest goal of the spiritual life, so how could their followers ever realise it? Broadly speaking, other religions do not consider the end of rebirth as desirable.
Blameless sex may well be conducive to physical and emotional well-being. It is not immoral to have sex with one’s own wife or husband. However, it is not wholesome kamma either. Renunciation of sexual pleasures is wholesome kamma, and chastity is essential for those intent on gaining realisation of the Dhamma. “For as long as the slightest brushwood (of the passions) of man towards women is not cut down, so long is his mind in bondage, like the milch calf to its mother-cow.” (Dhp v.284) A lay person can enjoy sex from time to time, but it will inevitably lead to attachment, grief, and despair in the long term. It is therefore wise to treat it with respect, as one treats a fire in one’s own home.
A link to this article from E-Saṅgha was deleted from my Signature by moderators — perhaps by someone who mistakenly believes that these Bogus Sutras are genuine, or perhaps by a politically correct person who thinks that no one should ever criticise anything. Criticism that is aimed at benefit, and not at denigration, ridicule, or insult is not wrong speech according to the Buddha’s teaching. See FIB number 2 above. However, when criticising anything or anyone, do be careful that your intention is not polluted by ill-will, conceit, contempt, or other unwholesome mental states. The intention should be to establish truth and to debunk falsehood. No one benefits from following or promoting false Dhamma teachings, but it is equally true that no one benefits from insulting speech. If you have any criticisms of my article then post on the Dhamma Wheel Forum.
Quoted from: Buddhism Today: (An extract from “The Tree of Enlightenment” by Dr Peter Della Santina)
“The period between the Second Council and the first century B.C.E. saw the growth of Mahāyāna literature in India and the emergence of a number of important texts. The first to appear were transitional works like the Lalitavistara and Mahavastu, which belong to derivative schools of the Mahasanghikas and describe the career of the Buddha in exalted, supramundane terms. These were followed by more than a hundred definitive Mahayana sutras, like the former, composed in Sanskrit and hybrid Sanskrit. Most of these sutras are quite extensive; examples include the Lotus Sutra, the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in eight thousand lines, the Samadhiraja Sutra, and the Lankavatara Sutra. They make liberal use of parables and examples and put forward the major themes of the Mahayana tradition in a discursive, didactic way. These ideas were supported some time later by the systematic arguments found in the commentarial or exegetical literature, known as shastras, composed by outstanding figures like Nagarjuna, Asanga, and Vasubandhu.”
The Mahāyāna Sutras were never spoken by the Buddha, but were composed at a later date by shameless monks. To put one's own words into the mouth of the Buddha is heresy. Those who write or repeat such sutras slander the Tathāgata by saying that he taught what he did not teach. They mislead all who listen to them, and create serious obstructive kamma preventing their own realisation of the Dhamma. By promoting a false teaching they reject the original teachings of the Buddha and work for the disappearance of the true Dhamma. Those who originally composed these sutras were guilty of a serious crime for which they must now still be suffering in hell.
“Monks, these two slander the Tathāgata. Which two? He who explains what was not said or spoken by the Tathāgata as said or spoken by the Tathāgata. And he who explains what was said or spoken by the Tathāgata as not said or spoken by the Tathāgata. These are two who slander the Tathāgata.” (Abhāsita Sutta, What Was Not Said, Access to Insight)
I have had no end of trouble with those who believe these sutras to be genuine. If one does not agree with those who hold wrong views some resort to abuse and slander. I was called a Nazi by one person because I banned him for posting extracts from the Lotus Sutra on a Buddhist forum. The Nazis indulged in mass murder, they didn't just close down a few Jewish Newspapers. Why do Mahāyānists cling so tenaciously to these bogus sutras? If they were to study the Dhamma properly, they would be clearly seen for what they are — later compilations.
Consider this quote from the introduction to the commentary on the Shurangama Sutra by Gold Mountain Shramana Tripitaka Master Hua:
“If the Shurangama Sutra is regarded as true, then there is no problem. To verify its truth, let me say that if the Shurangama Sutra were phony, then I would willingly fall into the hells forever through all eternity — for being unable to recognize the Buddhadharma — for mistaking the false for true. If the Shurangama Sutra is true, then life after life in every time I make the vow to propagate the Great Dharma of the Shurangama, that I shall in every time and every place propagate the true principles of the Shurangama.”
If this Sutra was indeed the genuine teaching of the Buddha then it would bear the hallmark of authenticity that all the genuine suttas do, such as the Kālāma Sutta. This characteristic mark of authenticity is called “ehipassiko dhamma” — “come and see” Dhamma. Do not believe this teaching blindly, but investigate what it says and see if it true or not. Since genuine suttas have this fundamental virtue, they need no defence by the swearing of oaths or magnifying their importance. Their intrinsic value is self-evident and encourages critical study. Compare this quote from the Kesamutti Sutta (the Kālāma Sutta), and see how it contrasts to the above quote:
“Mā anussavena: Do not believe something just because it has been passed along and retold for many generations. Mā paramparāya: Do not believe something merely because it has become a traditional practice. Mā itikirāya: Do not believe something simply because it is well-known everywhere. Mā Pitakasampadanena: Do not believe something just because it is cited in a text. Mā takkahetu: Do not believe something solely on the grounds of logical reasoning. Mā nayahetu: Do not believe something merely because it accords with your philosophy. Mā akaraparivitakkena: Do not believe something because it appeals to "common sense." Mā ditthinijjhanakkhantiya: Do not believe something just because you like the idea. Mā bhabbarupataya: Do not believe something because the speaker seems trustworthy. Mā samano no garu ti: Do not believe something thinking, “This is what our teacher says.” When you yourselves know, “This is unwholesome, this is blameworthy, this is censured by the wise, these things when accepted and practised lead to harm and suffering, then you should give them up.”
All suttas and sutras should be read with an open mind, and compared with teachings in other discourses to see if they fit in with the Dhamma and Vinaya. In the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta the Buddha gave the Four Great References, which one should use to test the authenticity of any teaching that is alleged to be the teaching of the Buddha. What these four standards boil down to is that the reputation of the source is irrelevant, all that matters is “Does it fit in with what is found elsewhere in the Dhamma and Vinaya?” If it does, one should accept it. If it does not, one should reject it. Anyone studying Buddhism for the first time should therefore study the root discourses and teachings thoroughly first of all. There is very little divergence between the various schools when it comes to the root teachings: the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, Dependent Origination, the Five Precepts, etc.
The plain truth is that Pure Land Buddhism is neither pure, nor Buddhism. Nichiren Buddhism is the teaching of Nichiren, not the teaching of the Buddha. Mahāyāna Buddhism (the Great Vehicle) is a melting pot of teachings including some of the Buddha's, but also many assimilated from Hinduism and other religions. It is not a great vehicle at all, but an inferior teaching polluted by other doctrines. I have no doubt that Theravāda Buddhism has also been polluted — it is hard to find the original teachings of the Buddha actually being practised in Theravāda Buddhist countries. Too much superstition, rites, and rituals. Very little systematic study or diligent meditation. Too much accumulation and precious little renunciation. Due to this pollution of Buddhism by many and various teachings and wrong practices, we must be careful about what we accept.
Consider this quotation by someone who is arguably the most famous contemporary Buddhist teacher in the West. Is it the Buddha’s genuine teaching or not? Mā samano no garu ti: Do not believe something thinking, “This is what our teacher says.”
“Those Arahants who have conquered the disturbing emotions are in a temporary state. They have not attained a final state. Due to the remaining obscurations they regard body and speech as "mine". Even though they are no longer motivated by disturbing emotions, the cognitive obscuration, which is a sense of a self, an "I" and "mine" manifests in their physical and verbal activities. Their conquests and achievements for their own sake are temporary. They are not capable of benefiting others ultimately. Therefore, one should consider the one-sided peace of relinquishing the disturbing emotions as being defective and also as a danger. Having understood the defects of this state, one combines this with one's understanding of the faults in the state of existence. Seeing both faults, one resolves to reach a state beyond both extremes — the State of Omniscience.” (The Dalai Lama)
The above teaching denigrates the Arahants. It says that they have not reached the final goal of Buddhism, that they are ultimately of no benefit to others. Anyone who has had the good fortune to study with an Arahant or any other Noble One would strongly disagree that their teacher’s impartial guidance was of no benefit. I wouldn’t debate for one minute that to study with an Omniscient Buddha would be much better than studying with any other teacher, but to boldly declare that Arahants are ultimately of no benefit to others — from which Bogus Sutra does that BS derive?
You are responsible for your own happiness and sorrow. If you believe in Bogus Sutras and follow their teachings, you will go very far astray from the right path. Therefore, before you accept any teaching as genuine — and that includes the teaching in this post — make a proper investigation. Doctors examine the patient properly and carry out tests, they do not let the patient make the diagnosis and prescribe the medicine. Seek out a qualified teacher, and heed their advice, but don’t test the depth of the water with both feet at once!