Tulkus who have rejected their role

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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby hop.pala » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:58 am

The enlightenment not only nonattacment,it is permanent "mind-levelling" too,that can be later(next life) independent from enlightenment.
No step backward.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Knotty Veneer » Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:04 pm

Simon E. wrote:That pretty much sums up my own current thinking on the issue.
I think the Tulku model may have served its use.


I think you are right. The Tulku system is really the product of an essentially feudal monastic system. The destruction of that set-up by the Chinese invasion and the encounter with Western egalitarian ideas is problematic for the it.

The tulku system I think also will prove a hinderance to the wider spread of Vajrayana Buddhism beyond the Tibetan community. So far most Western tulkus have not really worked out and even some young Tibetan tulkus are rejecting the formal training in favour of a more Westernized lifestyle.

I think a more merit-driven system for selecting abbots however might eventually see more non-Tibetans taking leading roles and I think at the current juncture in time that is not going to be acceptable to most Tibetans. However, if it doesn't happen I think you are going to see interest in the West in Tibetan Buddhism wane as Westerners seek a system without a glass ceiling.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Tom » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:00 pm

Knotty Veneer wrote:
Simon E. wrote:That pretty much sums up my own current thinking on the issue.
I think the Tulku model may have served its use.


I think you are right. The Tulku system is really the product of an essentially feudal monastic system. The destruction of that set-up by the Chinese invasion and the encounter with Western egalitarian ideas is problematic for the it.

The tulku system I think also will prove a hinderance to the wider spread of Vajrayana Buddhism beyond the Tibetan community. So far most Western tulkus have not really worked out and even some young Tibetan tulkus are rejecting the formal training in favour of a more Westernized lifestyle.

I think a more merit-driven system for selecting abbots however might eventually see more non-Tibetans taking leading roles and I think at the current juncture in time that is not going to be acceptable to most Tibetans. However, if it doesn't happen I think you are going to see interest in the West in Tibetan Buddhism wane as Westerners seek a system without a glass ceiling.


I guess you all think Tertons and Termas should be abolished as well. They couldn't possibly be of benefit given that there have been fake Tertons :tongue: !
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Jikan » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:22 pm

hop.pala wrote:The enlightenment not only nonattacment,it is permanent "mind-levelling" too,that can be later(next life) independent from enlightenment.
No step backward.


Hi hop-pala, I am struggling to understand your posts in this thread. Perhaps there is a language gap. It may be that I am a poor reader. In any case, the only reason this matters is that I can't see how it relates to Buddhism generally or this topic specifically.

:shrug:
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Simon E. » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:25 pm

Tom wrote:
Knotty Veneer wrote:
Simon E. wrote:That pretty much sums up my own current thinking on the issue.
I think the Tulku model may have served its use.


I think you are right. The Tulku system is really the product of an essentially feudal monastic system. The destruction of that set-up by the Chinese invasion and the encounter with Western egalitarian ideas is problematic for the it.

The tulku system I think also will prove a hinderance to the wider spread of Vajrayana Buddhism beyond the Tibetan community. So far most Western tulkus have not really worked out and even some young Tibetan tulkus are rejecting the formal training in favour of a more Westernized lifestyle.

I think a more merit-driven system for selecting abbots however might eventually see more non-Tibetans taking leading roles and I think at the current juncture in time that is not going to be acceptable to most Tibetans. However, if it doesn't happen I think you are going to see interest in the West in Tibetan Buddhism wane as Westerners seek a system without a glass ceiling.


I guess you all think Tertons and Termas should be abolished as well. They couldn't possibly be of benefit given that there have been fake Tertons :tongue: !

Strawman. Tukus and Tertons are not interchangable in function.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Jikan » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:26 pm

Knotty Veneer wrote: I think you are going to see interest in the West in Tibetan Buddhism wane as Westerners seek a system without a glass ceiling.


This would be true if Westerners are seeking employment and promotion within Tibetan Buddhist institutions. That's what "glass ceiling" means: women tend not to seek employment (or have not tended to seek employment) in fields in which it is obvious a "glass ceiling" persists making earned promotion possible.

I suspect that there are few practitioners who practice Tibetan Buddhism with the aspiration to become the CEO or at least join middle management. I should hope that practitioners are in it to practice and thereby gain realization.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Jikan » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:27 pm

I'd thought all tertons are by definition tulkus in the sense that they are emanations or re-embodiments (the precise term escapes me, apologies) of one of Guru Padmasambhava's 25 main disciples. Am I mistaken?
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Knotty Veneer » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:37 pm

Jikan wrote:
Knotty Veneer wrote: I think you are going to see interest in the West in Tibetan Buddhism wane as Westerners seek a system without a glass ceiling.


This would be true if Westerners are seeking employment and promotion within Tibetan Buddhist institutions. That's what "glass ceiling" means: women tend not to seek employment (or have not tended to seek employment) in fields in which it is obvious a "glass ceiling" persists making earned promotion possible.

I suspect that there are few practitioners who practice Tibetan Buddhism with the aspiration to become the CEO or at least join middle management. I should hope that practitioners are in it to practice and thereby gain realization.


I am not suggesting that all/any Westerners are only in it for the employment prospects. However, if the tulku system remains and tulkus remain largely of Tibetan origin it will give rise to a two-tier system where the realization of Westerners is not inculcated into the system. Westerners will remain second-class practitioners. I don't think that is good for the future spread of TBism.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Tom » Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:09 pm

Simon E. wrote: Strawman.


"Strawman" - so easy to say... actually not a strawman at all - I was just (tongue in cheek) offering you an example (sapakṣa) to add to your logical statement (it need not have the same function as the subject (paksha)). It seems you don't like the example and I wonder why... actually now that I think about it don't tertons and tulkus have a similar function which is revealing the dharma to others?
Last edited by Tom on Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:27 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Jikan » Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:17 pm

Knotty Veneer wrote:
I am not suggesting that all/any Westerners are only in it for the employment prospects. However, if the tulku system remains and tulkus remain largely of Tibetan origin it will give rise to a two-tier system where the realization of Westerners is not inculcated into the system. Westerners will remain second-class practitioners. I don't think that is good for the future spread of TBism.


OK, now I follow you. I think this should be a real concern.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Simon E. » Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:57 pm

Jikan wrote:I'd thought all tertons are by definition tulkus in the sense that they are emanations or re-embodiments (the precise term escapes me, apologies) of one of Guru Padmasambhava's 25 main disciples. Am I mistaken?

Most Tulkus are not Tertons.
To be blunt, the Tulku system arose from a socio/political need. The world has changed.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Tom » Mon Oct 21, 2013 3:22 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Jikan wrote:I'd thought all tertons are by definition tulkus in the sense that they are emanations or re-embodiments (the precise term escapes me, apologies) of one of Guru Padmasambhava's 25 main disciples. Am I mistaken?

Most Tulkus are not Tertons.
To be blunt, the Tulku system arose from a socio/political need. The world has changed.


That argument has been run against every aspect of religion. Why don't you also apply it to Tertons as well?

To be clear mine is not a criticism of Tertons. I am pro Tertons! I'm just using an example to point out what seems to me a hidden bias when I read these threads.

I also read some of the other thread on institutionalised Buddhism and I get the concern about rogue "tulkus" and the criticism of the tulku system but i still don't agree if the conclusion is: the world has changed and we don't need tulkus - that other thread is long enough so I will leave it be here.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Jikan » Mon Oct 21, 2013 4:05 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Jikan wrote:I'd thought all tertons are by definition tulkus in the sense that they are emanations or re-embodiments (the precise term escapes me, apologies) of one of Guru Padmasambhava's 25 main disciples. Am I mistaken?

Most Tulkus are not Tertons.
To be blunt, the Tulku system arose from a socio/political need. The world has changed.


I don't disagree with your second claim. The social institution of the tulku is an artifact of a particular historical moment.

I didn't claim that all tulkus are tertons. I repeated what I take to be the traditional position that all tertons are, recognized institutionally or not, tulkus. This is the opposite of the position you seem to be rebutting.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Simon E. » Mon Oct 21, 2013 4:07 pm

But I didn't say that the world has changed and the result is that we dont need Tulkus.
I said that the Tulku arose largely due to socio/political reasons which no longer prevail because the world has changed..there is a difference.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Simon E. » Mon Oct 21, 2013 4:12 pm

Jikan wrote:
Simon E. wrote:
Jikan wrote:I'd thought all tertons are by definition tulkus in the sense that they are emanations or re-embodiments (the precise term escapes me, apologies) of one of Guru Padmasambhava's 25 main disciples. Am I mistaken?

Most Tulkus are not Tertons.
To be blunt, the Tulku system arose from a socio/political need. The world has changed.


I don't disagree with your second claim. The social institution of the tulku is an artifact of a particular historical moment.

I didn't claim that all tulkus are tertons. I repeated what I take to be the traditional position that all tertons are, recognized institutionally or not, tulkus. This is the opposite of the position you seem to be rebutting.

Certainly Tertons are said to be Tulkus...Probably because the threat posed by Tertons to the established Sangha meant that they had to be institutionalised.. :smile: The Tulku system is a means of maintaining control by those who have most to gain by discovering them..
I realise that you were not claiming that all Tulkus are Tertons.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Jikan » Mon Oct 21, 2013 4:14 pm

Simon E. wrote:But I didn't say that the world has changed and the result is that we dont need Tulkus.
I said that the Tulku arose largely due to socio/political reasons which no longer prevail because the world has changed..there is a difference.


I'm with you here, actually. I meant "artifact" in my above in the sense that sociologists use the word "residual." Example: The profession of nursing is an artifact of the Crimean War. It's a good thing we have nurses today.

It's possible for someone to perform the role of a nurse, to nurse someone, without necessarily having heard of Florence Nightingale or passed any licensing exams. It's an imperfect analogy, but it points toward an important distinction: it may be possible for someone to have the qualities of a tulku without the institutional function.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Tom » Mon Oct 21, 2013 4:59 pm

Simon E. wrote:But I didn't say that the world has changed and the result is that we dont need Tulkus.
I said that the Tulku arose largely due to socio/political reasons which no longer prevail because the world has changed..there is a difference.


but I'm asking why don't you also apply this criticism to Tertons as well as Tulkus? I can't see why and it seems to due to of some bias. Do you accept Tertons but not the possibility of Tulkus?

If your response is that you accept the possibility of tulkus and your criticism is directed towards the tulku system, then I would say your criticism seems largely about scale and corruption, and that such criticism accompanies most systems. We could equally say lets get rid of monasteries, teaching institutions, lineages and so on... they all arose due to political reasons... I'm not sure that examples of corruption or a political birth provides some special reason for why a system is not beneficial. It is possible especially if there exists legit tulkus that some type of tulku system could be of benefit in todays world - just like these other institutions. Yes, it is also possible that no possible tulku system would be of benefit but I'm yet to hear the special reason why.

Of course, if you don't accept the possibility of what is meant by the term Tulku then I totally get why you would think the system is unnecessary.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby smcj » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:06 pm

However, if the tulku system remains and tulkus remain largely of Tibetan origin it will give rise to a two-tier system where the realization of Westerners is not inculcated into the system. Westerners will remain second-class practitioners.

There are plenty of western tulkus. To the best of my knowledge maybe 1 has followed through on their training. The rest of them hit puberty and that's the end of their tulku career.
The Tulku system is a means of maintaining control by those who have most to gain by discovering them..

The problem here is that the last incarnation's estate is kept intact for the next incarnation by a "labrang". A labrang is usually a family that is in charge of the estate, often times for many generations. They become powerful in their own right, and have no pretensions of a religious life.

So maybe we should do away with labrangs. Or maybe not. As we see with western tulkus, when they aren't raised in a conducive environment they get derailed.

Actually my own opinion is that tulkus shouldn't be "recognized" until after their training, and they have proved themselves. Otherwise what's the point? To lay a huge expectation of some poor kid that may just want to live his life like anybody else? If they choose to go that route, then fine. But until then, don't lay trips on them that they didn't sign up for.
[/quote]

I said that the Tulku arose largely due to socio/political reasons...

Actually the tulku system arose because the 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, figured out how to control and predict his own rebirth. Everybody else got it from him.

The big advantage is that tulkus theoretically don't need decades of training like a newbie would in order to get realization. Their meditation habits carry over, so they accomplish the practices quite readily. It's like if somebody knew how to play the piano but gave it up for a few years. When they went back to it they would be so rusty they'd have to learn all over again, but they would re-learn it very very quickly, at least up to the point where their abilities had been before. So it takes less resources to keep the transmission of realization alive and is something of a guarantee of continuity of enlightened masters. But of course that whole system just met the modern world, which is why we are talking about it.
Last edited by smcj on Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Adi » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:16 pm

I suppose, though, if we have tulkus or no tulkus it will be up to the tulkus themselves. (From the perspective, of course, if one has any confidence that in general they are tulkus.)
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Re: Tulkus who have rejected their role

Postby Tom » Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:21 pm

smcj wrote:[
Actually the tulku system arose because the 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, figured out how to control and predict his own rebirth. Everybody else got it from him.


Also, it seems likely that some early Tertons claimed to be from a line of reincarnated masters even before the Karmapas made such claims.
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